Musings on sexual identity: Views from other bloggers

I don’t have time at present to comment at length on the following links from various bloggers but I wanted to note them.

Disputed Mutability has a series of posts regarding the abandonment of a gay identity. The links are as follows: Okay, here we go! Why I Forsook Gay Identity, Part 1, Introduction, ack! (2 points of clarification), Why I Forsook Gay Identity, Part 2: What Gay Identity Meant To Me, Why I Forsook Gay Identity, Part 3: Openness. For those interested in how people find congruence with a traditional sexual ethic, here is some provocative reading.

Over at Adventures of a Christian Collegian, CollegeJay pens a person response to the posts from Disputed Mutability. He notes that definitions are elusive and while reading, it occured to me that what gay means may cut along generational lines. Younger people may think of gay as an adjective on par with homosexual or same-sex attracted without conveying intention to act or approve. Older folks may see gay as describing a political and/or moral statement, as in, ‘I approve of gay.’

The Peter Ould at his personal blog gives an explanation of his preference for the term “post-gay” over “ex-gay.” I like his differentiation between ontological meaning and directional meaning. Another reason to dislike ex-gay: the term implies that sexuality is binary – you are either thoroughly hetero or homo – which of course flies in the face of reality for many people.

Feel free to suggest in commenting other sites and posts that grapple with identity issues.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter O

    That last link, that’s the best of the lot

  • http://www.collegejay.blogspot.com Jay

    Thanks for the link, Dr. Throckmorton. I’m really honored. Hope all is going well for you.

  • http://disputedmutability.wordpress.com disputed mutability

    While I greatly prefer a directional/vectorial concept to an ontological one, the fundamental problem I have with “post-gay” is that it has already been taken by “the other side”. It has been in use for over a decade by those who are perfectly happy having homosexual sex but want to move away from or transcend some or all of the political/cultural/identity baggage of second-half-of-the-20th century gayness.

    However my relationship to my gayness is best described, I think it is importantly different from that of a woman sexually intimate with her female partner, without any moral convictions on the subject, who is simply weary of or just plain bored with identity politics.

    dm

  • Steve Boese

    There are so many layers and components of identity, making this an interesting topic.

    Historically, the questions have been asked of minority groups along the lines of, “I know you’re such-and-such, but why do you have to be SO such-and-such? Why not assimilate better?”

    I read a fascinating book a while back about black churches founded after the Civil War, many of them supported by white Northern Baptists who wanted to see the churches flourish but often found worship styles to be unseemly or uncivilized. If you wanted to integrate into the fabric of church-going society, the thinking went, you needed to adapt to its customs and not draw attention to yourself or to the distinctions between yourself and others.

    Jay’s description of folks for whom “sexuality is very low on their list of self-descriptive terms” is applicable to a lot of people I know. Still, those words probably mean different things to him and to me, because he expands on that with, “They don’t walk in parades or have any part in activism. They just date members of the same sex,” and I know a lot of folks for whom there isn’t a conflict between the two.

    I had thought that my coming-out might turn out to be a significant, yet not activism-inspiring sequence of events… I didn’t want to be closeted, but I didn’t want one aspect myself to become everything about me.

    But, it hasn’t turned out exactly that way. Wrestling though difficult legal battles during the divorce, being estranged from family members, surviving the loss of my partner to suicide later after he’d been rejected by churches, challenging political voices who say I should not be allowed to parent, meeting peers who have been shunned or abused by their loved ones… all of those things have challenged me to speak up, to be openly, visibly gay, to do what I can to make the world a tiny bit safer, more compassionate, more fair.

    So, that’s where identity questions get interesting for me. Do I have to be SO gay? I end up not fitting many gay stereotypes… I’ll never end up a clone, a drone, or fabulous… but the answer for me is, “Yup, if I’m going to honor Dale’s life (my partner who committed suicide) and his struggle, if I’m going to be somewhat aware and compassionate, if I’m going to play a tiny role in making the world a better place, I’ve got to be THIS gay.

    Just my 3 cents-worth…

  • Michael Bussee

    Enough, already, with this sexual identity “new speak”! If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s still a duck. Call it what you will, but if a person is predominately or exclusively attracted to the same sex, they are still homosexual, not heterosexual. Straights don’t struggle with same-sex attractions. That’s what unhappy gay, bisexual and “exgay” people do.

    And if you are not “thoroughly hetero or homo”, well, we already have a clear, commonly understood, descriptive term for that — bisexual. I wish folks would quit making up words to cloud the issue. If you don’t like the term “gay” (which most people nowadays understand is a synonym for homosexual) because to YOU “gay” implies “a political and/or moral statement, as in, ‘I approve of gay.’ — then say so.

    Say, “I am STILL exclusively same-sex attracted or bisexually attracted, but I don’t like the term “gay”. “Ex-gay”, “post-gay”, “from-gay”, “formerly gay-identified” and any other provocative, convenient or media-vexing term you make up CONCEALS more than it REVEALS. You may not approve of the political or moral “implications”, but you still quack.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    I would probably agree more with Michael here. And for some at least, it appears that distance from the “ex-gay” term is motivated by the (legitimate) baggage is carries. I think it would be more honest to clean up that reputation than to try to escape it with a name change.

    All these new pseudo-terms and the way they are doggedly used (Exodus decided at some point to start using “gay-identified,” “formerly gay-identified,” etc.) comes across to me as a bizarre kind of ex-gay political correctness.

  • David Blakeslee

    I remember these comments before…like “we have all the terms we need and we don’t like yours, so you can’t have any…”

    Give ’em a break…it is offensive to call them pseudo-terms, derogatory of their experience and their journey.

  • Michael Bussee

    David: I mean no disrepect to their experience OR their journey. But “post-gay”, “from-gay”, “ex-gay” and the like ARE “pseudo-terms”! Why can’t they express their experience and journey using terms that are already in use, are NOT insulting or demeaning, are not vague, confusing or misleading — and that communicate clearly to others?

    They can make up any terms they like — as long as they fully explain them. They can call themselves “mugwumps” or “plattersplats” for all I care — but they should not use terms to give false impressions of orientation change to new recruits or to the media. That’s lying and false advertizing. Under persistent pressure fromt their critics, their leaders even ADMIT that the terms don’t mean “heteroseual” or “straight”.

    When pressed HARD for an explanation, their (normally evasive) leaders ADMIT that they these terms are “just a convenience” and that such terms are meant (at least in part) to “vex” and “provoke” the media.

    Why not say, “I am still homosexually attracted. I am not heterosexual, but I have decided to be celibate”, or “I have decided not to act on my attractions for religious reasons?”. They can even say, “I use to call myself gay, but I don’t like the cultural/political connotations anymore”. Or, “Over time, my gay feelings have diminished somehwat and I now have some attractions to one particular girl…” Or, “I have have always been attracted to BOTH, but now I have stronger feelings towards the opposite sex” (as is the case with Joe Dallas of EXODUS)

    It’s not a matter of us already having terms and not allowing them to have any. There are already PLENTY of commonly used and commonly understood terms available that do not give false wtiness or manipulate the media.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Give ‘em a break…it is offensive to call them pseudo-terms, derogatory of their experience and their journey.

    You are off base David. These terms are designed to avoid the statement that sexual orientation can ever legitimately be something other that heterosexual, i.e. people only “identify” as gay. That is what is truly derogatory of experience and journey – and reality.

  • http://www.collegejay.blogspot.com Jay

    Why not say, “I am still homosexually attracted. I am not heterosexual, but I have decided to be celibate”, or “I have decided not to act on my attractions for religious reasons?”. They can even say, “I use to call myself gay, but I don’t like the cultural/political connotations anymore”. Or, “Over time, my gay feelings have diminished somehwat and I now have some attractions to one particular girl…” Or, “I have have always been attracted to BOTH, but now I have stronger feelings towards the opposite sex” (as is the case with Joe Dallas of EXODUS)

    I loved this. I think most people do use this type of simple language. I do, at least. It’s the leaders of the “ex-gay” movement, not the laymen, so to speak, who typically use the language that causes confusion.

    Oh, and Steve, I hope none of my comments offended you in any way. Our concepts are not too far apart. I don’t think that activism, or even pride, is a sign that one is “gay-identified.” I mean, I hate that term anyway, and I hope that at least was clear in my post.

    I am sorry for the loss of your partner, and I loved this: “if I’m going to be somewhat aware and compassionate, if I’m going to play a tiny role in making the world a better place, I’ve got to be THIS gay.”

    If that’s the case, then by all means man, be that gay. Ironically, you’re probably still not as gay as me (with my ripped Abercrombie jeans, purple t-shirt, crazy hair, and iPod filled with Coldplay songs). 😉

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    First off, I am not sure how new terms acquire meaning if they cannot be used. That said, I acknowledge that simply saying what is works just as well as terms for casual conversation. It may work as well for media but it takes a discipline to keep using it rather than to give way to sound bite pressures.

    Now, there is the Coldplay thing again… :)

  • Steve Boese

    Nope, Jay, no offense taken…

    …you’re probably still not as gay as me (with my ripped Abercrombie jeans, purple t-shirt, crazy hair, and iPod filled with Coldplay songs).

    One of the changes I see, and like, between my high school days in the 70s and today is that guys have so many options. In clothes, hair, how we carry ourselves, express ourselves. Extreme grooming then was the guy version of Farrah Fawcett blow-dried hair and maybe one tiny earring. Today, guys have all kinds of options with grooming, hair, clothes, the way they carry themselves, etc., that aren’t assumed to be effeminate or gay.

    To me, it means simply that the labels matter less. I’m comfortable as a guy approaching 50 who feels no pressure to look or act like Ward Cleaver like I might have 50 years ago. My shoulder-length hair, simple jeans and grooming habits, and the extra weight I’m carrying don’t add up to being a gay look or straight look, just my look.

    Take care…

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: You asked how “new terms acquire meaning if they cannot be used.”

    I am not saying they cannot be used. I am saying they should be defined. That’s all.

  • http://disputedmutability.wordpress.com disputed mutability

    Yawn.

    I just have a hard time getting real excited about the label stuff. That’s why my identity series isn’t about labels at all…it’s about how I thought about myself and my life. That’s more interesting to me than everybody getting their knickers in a twist about which words we can and can’t use.

    Yes, I use the label “exgay” from time to time, usually in online circles where everybody knows darn well what it means. I also copiously use language like “still somewhat homo-attracted”, “bisexual,” etc., and carefully explain to every one whom this subject comes up with that I still dig chicks. On the very rare occasions when other bloggers have written about me as “straight” or “heterosexual”, I have personally taken them to task for it.

    While I have never been shy about saying who I’m sexually attracted to, I would nonetheless like an easy way to refer to my comrades on this journey–wherever they may be at Kinsey-wise. Currently “exgay,” despite all its imperfections, seems to do the trick better than any other word I know of. So I use it sometimes. Big whoop.

    dm

  • Michael Bussee

    DIsputed Mutabiulity: No one is saying what words you “can and cannot use”. It’s a free country. You are certainly free to use (or not use) any labels you please. But honestly, come on! An “ex-gay” who “digs chicks”, is “bisexual”, and “still somewhat homo-attracted” — but is “not straight”….. Huh?

    What on earth on you talking about? If that is “Ex-gay” means, you prove my point entirely. I am left with no real information about your journey except that you meet the commonly accepted dictionary definition of “bisexual”. Were you always bisexual — or is this a recent thing?

    “Ex-gay” is a completely meaningless term because it can mean ANYTHING to ANYBODY — as the above post clearly points out. And you claim that in online circles “EVERYBODY knows darn well what it means”? Can you run that by be again — REAL slow, because that all sounded like complete nonsense and gobbledygook to me…. I am NOT demeaning your journey, just your sloppiness with the English language.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    My main concern about terms is their political and media usage. I don’t care about the used of the term ex-gay among people who understand what the other means. For all of the reasons we have talked about for months, ex-gay is not often a beneficial term that communicates the meaning intended.

    Speaking for myself, I had no trouble understanding what DM said. In clinical terms, she sounds bisexual. Going from predominantly homosexual to bisexual is still a shift and one that sounds like it is just fine with her.

  • Michael Bussee

    Yes, going from predominantly homosexual to bisexual IS indeed a “shift”. “Part way to achieveing heterosexual identity”. I suspect that most “ex-gays” think it is somehow morally superior to being “strictly homo”. I also suspect that women are more like to be able to pull of such a “shift” — and back again for that matter. Nothing new here. I am glad it works for her.

    Over the past 30+ years, I have talked with many, MANY “ex-gays” and they have meant any of the following:

    (1) I have developed SOME straight sttractions. (2) I have experienced NO change in my orientation and am actually having MORE gay sex now that I am finally meeting people like me at “ex-gay” prayer meetings — but I call myself “ex-gay” because I repent each time I fall. (3) I never DID have much of a sex drive anyway (gay or straight) and am still not attracted to the opposite sex. (4) I don’t have sex with other people, but I masturbate to gay fantasies. But I call myself “ex-gay” because calling myself “gay” implies to some people that I like being gay. (5) I have to think about the gay sex to reach orgasm with my wife. (6) I trust that someday God WILL make me straight, so I call myself “ex-gay” as an expression of that faith.

    The list goes on and on. “EXODUS has ALWAYS had a problem with definitions” — quoting Robbi Kenney, one of the founders of EXODUS. It’s not a question of “what works” or what people choose to call themselves, it’s a matter or clearly communicating with others — especially “new recruits” — those who may be drawn to EXODUS hoping that it will make them straight. And, for the record, I have NEVER met a person who was homosexual (in the commonly understood sense of that term) who became heterosexual (in the commonly understood sense of that term). NEVER.

  • http://disputedmutability.wordpress.com disputed mutability

    Hi Michael,

    I said I liked the word as a way to refer to my comrades on this journey wherever they may be at Kinsey-wise. If you have any better ideas for words that would communicate that idea, I would be happy to consider them. I fully agree that “exgay” is inadequate and useless as a way of communicating specific information about one’s sexual attractions, which is why I don’t use it for that purpose.

    In your list of the varying definitions which you interpret exgays as using, I think you are mistaken in assuming that all uses of the word “exgay” refer to a particular state of attractions they are experiencing or hope to experience. From what I have seen, many use it to refer to this path that they are on and those who share that path with them.

    As a latecomer to the scene, the word “exgay” was in use long before I ever applied it to myself. In the circles I inhabited, it was commonly understood who was being talked about. I still believe this is the case. The sites I link to and the people I discuss these issues with, both gay and exgay, generally use the word “exgay” (with or without scarequotes) freely to refer to a particular group of people–*not* a specific state of sexual attraction. You yourself say you talked with many “exgays”–but how can you know this if you have no idea what an “exgay” is? And if no one knew who the exgays were, how would Mike Airhart and company know whom to watch? :)

    My point is simply that whether or not we are in love with the word–and I am most definitely not–as a matter of fact it is in relatively common use in certain internet circles for discussing these issues and this one particular group. When I recently talked with Peterson Toscano about exgays, he wasn’t like, “Huh? I have no idea who you are talking about.” In fact I think he may well have brought up the term first. And I didn’t get the feeling we were talking past each other–somehow, mysteriously, we both had roughly the same definition in mind. Which is handy, because I don’t yet know of a better word to refer to that group. And even if we did come up with a better word, “exgay” still has a big advantage because it is relatively widely used and understood.

    I agree that the term “exgay” is not ideal for speaking to the broader world. It is not part of my general vocabulary, for use with people who have no familiarity with these debates and discussions. But within these circles, I don’t think most people are really all that confused.

    dm

  • Michael Bussee

    DM: I appreciate your thoughtful response. When I said that I have talked to many “ex-gays”, I meant only that I have talked with many who applied the label to themselves — not that I identified them as such. None of them could give me a very clear explanation.

    I did notice some commonalities: They were all Christians. They all believed it was (always) sinful to act on same-sex attractions. They were all trying (some harder than others) to not engage in gay sex. They were trying to let go of old, self-destructive behavior patterns and to develop healthier (drug free and non-sexually addicted) lifestyles.

    They were all hoping that someday God might make them heterosexual. Some had decided to be celibate in spite of the fact that they had only gay attractions. Others had gotten married or were trying to make some sort of “heterosexual adaptation”. None of them were heterosexual.

    Perjhaps Joe Dallas of EXODUS said it best: “Ex-gay does NOT mean ex-homosexual. It’s just a convenient way of saying: a person with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies”. Alan Chambers of EXODUS said: “I think we should do away with the term entirely and see that it is never used again. It’s more negative than anything and does not accurately convey the change process.” I tend to agree with both oi them.

    I do not have another “label” to suggest — something that would be readily understood, would not mislead the media and would not give the false hope that one will someday become straight — if only they have enough faith. I think that simply telling the personal story is the probably the best approach. Describe the path you are on. Tell the truth about your sexual orientation. Don’t manipulate, provoke or vex the media — or promise/imply that one will become heterosexual as a result of “walking the path”. Just be honest.

  • Anon2

    Micheal,

    This is why I now look at myself as same-sex attracted, bottom line. That represents what I am experiencing. I cannot say I relate to the “gay” subculture and I know I cannot say I am no longer attracted to those of the same sex. My attraction has definitely changed over the years, but it may never be gone completely. For many years I was led to believe that it was one or the other, you are either straight or gay, well that is no longer true, there are many levels inbetween. The labelling is simply a political ploy used by both sides of this debate and neither position truly defines my experience or I suspect many others either. It is all a numbers game that I believe is hurting more people than it is helping. As long as we continue to allow others to polarize us into one category or the other we are not being accepted for where we are at. Where I am at today may be very different 5 years from now depending on what new experiences I have, just as who I was 5 years ago is very different from how I see myself today.

  • Michael Bussee

    DM: I appreciate your honesty. I don’t see the “labeling” of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual as a “political ploy”. At least, I do not use them in this way. I see these as clinicalluy descriptive terms of the prevailing DIRECTION of a person’s sexual attractions — to the opposite sex, the same sex or both.

    I never considered myself “gay” and was not part of any “gay subculture” or “gay identity” PRIOR to becoming a Christian and helping to start EXODUS. I never went to a gay bar or saw a gay parade. I didn’t even know such things existed. I really thought I was “the only one” — until I read that there were many more like me.

    I had had “gay” sex only three times before becoming an “ex-gay” in 1974. These were brief, mutual masturbatory experiences. I did not like the term “gay”. I was not happy with my homosexual attractions and wanted to be “normal”.

    So “ex-gay” never really fit. I was never “gay identified” so I could not call myself “formerly gay identified”. We chose “ex-gay” as a statement of hope and faith that God would heal us and make us straight. He did not.

    I came to the conclusion that he didn’t “fix” it because it wasn’t “broken”. Now, I consider myself a Christian gay man. I use gay only as a synonym for homosexual. In spite of being married and doing everything I knew to do to become “ex-gay”, THAT never changed.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    I, for one, don’t object too much to the term “ex-gay”. It certainly is better than “former homosexual” (which is for most a wildly false claim), or “formerly identified as gay” (which misses the point entirely).

    I think many folks are starting to understand that “ex-gay” doesn’t mean “no longer attracted to the same sex”. In fact, recent news coverage has been pretty good at letting the readers know that many ex-gays are not making that claim.

    The problem is not with the term. The problem is that some in leadership are deliberately seeking to deceive. With all the “walking away” and “former” and “change”, there seems to be a campaign to hide the realities of Jay and DM and to fool the world into thinking, hey presto, heterosexuality.

    I mean for heavens sake we have Alan this week telling ABC news “It’s not an easy process, but someone can choose not to be a homosexual”.

    Huh? Really?

    It takes every inch of my charitable nature to find that sentence anything other than a blatant lie and a transparent effort to reintroduce “it’s a choice” as a political justification for his efforts at political discrimination. With crap like that for comparison, the problems with “ex-gay” seem tame.

  • Eddy

    Re: comment 21738.

    I was the one quoted at the very end of paragraph 3. The blog they were lifted from appears elsewhere on this site. In that context, I was saying that the media had a pre-conceived notion of who we were and what we were about and I liked the term ‘ex-gay’ because I thought it would vex them and provoke them to ask more questions (rather than jump to conclusions).

    Anyway, I feel I should clarify that I was never an Exodus leader…never sat on the board, never attended a board meeting. I was the co-director (later the director) of a prominent member ministry and did teach at a number of their conferences though.

    The classes I was invited to teach were what we jokingly called ‘brutal truth’. Topics included: The Reality of Temptation, Reckoning with the Roots, Overcoming the Obstacles, Burning the Bridges, Understanding Freedom. Gutsy stuff for dealing with the everyday struggles–sexual or otherwise. These were endorsed by Exodus (they kept inviting me back…) so I don’t think they were hiding any reality.

    Biblically, we no longer felt comfortable with calling ourselves “homosexual”; realistically, we didn’t feel comfortable with calling ourselves “heterosexual” either. We needed a new word for what we were…not a six-word description. At the time, “ex-gay” seemed to do it. I still prefer it but mainly because I always saw the ‘ex” meaning “from”. (I’m an ex-Pennsylvanian. I’m FROM there. If you listen close, you can still hear it in my voice. Expressions, mannerisms. How fast I talk. You can tell I’m from out East.) An Ex-Gay was someone from a homosexual background, no matter where they were on their journey OR what they thought the destination was.

    LOL! Michael expanded this definition beautifully in a later post…

    “They were all Christians. They all believed it was (always) sinful to act on same-sex attractions. They were all trying (some harder than others) to not engage in gay sex. They were trying to let go of old, self-destructive behavior patterns and to develop healthier (drug free and non-sexually addicted) lifestyles.

    They were all hoping that someday God might make them heterosexual. Some had decided to be celibate in spite of the fact that they had only gay attractions. Others had gotten married or were trying to make some sort of “heterosexual adaptation”.”

    There’s more to the ‘from’ part though. We were a pretty mixed bag. Some had come from the streets, from the young bar and club scene, some had been flamboyant while others were conservative. Some came from a lifetime of involvement with their local gay network, some from committed relationships, some struggling in a heterosexual marriage. Some had no Bible background whatsoever; others were pastors or deacons. Some had other emotional and/or psychological issues to contend with. Some were HIV+.

    But, okay, if we couple Michael’s definition with mine, I think we’ve finally got the expanded definition of ‘ex-gay’. In the meantime, I’m sticking with “someone from a homosexual background, no matter where they are on their journey or what they think their destination is.”

    (BTW: if we do replace “ex-gay”, we need a word that can incorporate all of the above.)

  • Michael Bussee

    If we accept Eddy’s definition of “ex-gay” as “someone from a homosexual background, no matter where they are on their journey or what they think their destination is,” then I would STILL be “ex-gay” (!) — and so would EVERY OTHER same-sex attracted person! Bottom line: Whatever “ex-gay” means, it certainly does not mean “HETEROSEXUAL”. I agree with Alan Chambers. DUMP the term.

  • Mary

    Words, terminology have always been kinetic and changing. Black, african american, negro – all have their unique social perspective, meaning, and place in the minds of those who identified as such and those who pointed to those who identified as such. And today the understanding of those terms is still in discussion and still undergoing definition.

    So as it is with all or at least many social definitions – such as family, sexuality, social systems etc… ex gay is just a term that was used to make a mark of difference from having been engaged in gay living and changing – whatever changing happens to be. And though it is not perfect and exactly defined the same from one person to the next, it’s pretty broad in it’s scope and context, it gets the idea across to others.

    That gays resist any term or word used by ex gays is obviously going to be questioned, doubted, and discouraged simply because the definition for homosexual means something different to gays than it does to ex gays. So how can you get from two different points of perspective on homosexuality to not homosexual anymore? I don’t think you can.

    So be it. Gays don’t like the term. So what. I agree with DM – we all pretty much have the idea of what we are saying.

    I happen to like post gay myself as that comes closest to my experience. I think I’ll take that out for a while and try it on. I really like the idea of moving on beyond gay and ex gay.

  • Eddy

    I read Peter Ould’s piece and was in total agreement with everything except the premise. The notion of “ex-gay” meaning “straight” or “heterosexual” is a total fallacy. I’ve been around since the term was coined and I’ve never yet been willing to call myself “straight” or “heterosexual”. For some, it DID mean heterosexuality–and those are the stories the media found newsworthy–but to MOST it was the journey of Exodus (the Book).

    I, personally, expected a rather fascinating journey that may or may not end up in straightness and I taught “lessons for the battlefield” at Exodus Conferences. Question: if ex-gays all went straight with no more homosexual temptations why would we need such a class?? When I ministered out of Dallas, Texas between my two stints at Outpost, I christened that one Joshua Ministries, again identifying with the journey. (By it’s third or fourth year, Exodus (the organization) was nearly half evangelical or conservative protestant as opposed to the early charismatic predominance.) The term was evolving along with Exodus but NEVER did it mean “heterosexual”; it applied to EVERYbody from the moment they felt convicted to leave homosexuality behind regardless of where they thought they were heading.

    In that sense, I see it as no different from “post-gay” so could probably become comfortable with that term. Can I keep the hyphen, though? Post-gay? Post gay? Is either one okay? (apologies for any Seuss brain-loops that might provoke…)

    And how would we establish its definition before it had a chance to be twisted or corrupted? I’d hate to have to come up with a new politically correct term every decade or so :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks, Ed, for this straight-forward honesty. This is really all we have been asking for for the past 30 years: “The notion of “ex-gay” meaning “straight” or “heterosexual” is a total fallacy.” To quote Robbi Kenney (one of EXODUS’s founders): “EXODUS has ALWAYS had a problem with definitions”.

    Mary says: “Gays don’t like the term. So what.” It’s not just “gays” that don’t like it. Joe Dallas doesn’t like it. ALAN CHAMBERS doesn’t like it. The “so what” is that it is confusing and misleading. YOU may know what you mean when you use it, but what about the “new recruits” and those who are hoping for orientation change? What about the media and the general public?

    “Ex-gay” creates a false expectation that a person is now heterosexual. It gives the impression, intentionally or not, that a person will become straight as a result of this faith journey. And, as Ed has pointed out, that’s “a total fallacy”.

  • Michael Bussee

    Just for the record, Dr. Throckmorton doesn’t like “ex-gay” either. He’s not “gay”, as far as I know. Reading Warren, above: “For all of the reasons we have talked about for months, ex-gay is not often a beneficial term that communicates the meaning intended.”