Year in review: Top Ten Stories from 2007

Since it was so much fun last year, I decided to compile a top ten list of stories of the year on the blog. Since I am the only voter, the list is subjective and regular readers might arrange them differently or think I should have included another story over one of these. The stories are arranged in the order of the interest they seemed to create here on the blog and elsewhere.

1. APA Task Force on sexual orientation – I first reported here that the APA had convened a task force to review APA policy regarding therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. Initial information released from the APA noted that gay advocacy groups sought assistance from the APA in order to negatively evaluate efforts to change sexual orientation. The charge also involves therapeutic responses to individuals who wish to alter behavioral expression of their sexuality. The issue was the subject of a CNN segment involving yours truly, an Associated Press article and was the subject of several posts on the blog. A large coalition of religious groups and interested individuals wrote the APA regarding the religious aspects of the committee’s charge. Efforts to further regulate orientation change efforts spilled over to other professions, notably, the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The APA Task Force will likely be featured as a top story again since the report is expected to be released sometime in 2008.

2. The sexual identity therapy framework – The SIT framework was the subject of national news stories and identified by Stephanie Simon of the LA Times as an important component of changes in therapy for those in conflict over sexual identity. I did numerous posts on the framework in an attempt to distinguish it from other approaches. Mark Yarhouse and I presented aspects of the framework at the American Psychological Association convention, the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference and other local conferences. A revision of the framework and several high level presentations are slated for 2008. 

3. The release of the Exodus outcomes study by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse – After months of speculation, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse released the results of their longitudinal study of Exodus International participants at the AACC conference in September.  Although the study garnered little national media attention, many blogs, (including this one), and the gay and religiously based news services thoroughly covered the study. With additional data to be collected and reported, this story will most likely reappear in 2008.   

4. Donnie Davies – For a short time in January and February, blogosphere was captivated by the “Rev. Davies” and the “The Bible Says” music video. In a kind of “Where’s Waldo” cyber hunt, numerous bloggers were eager to crack the case and learn find out who Donnie Davies was, where was he hiding, and to learn if his act for real. I did 11 posts on the subject and became acquaited via email with Joey Oglesby, the actor behind the spoof. We even wondered if Mr. Oglesby and Rev. Davies were twins separated at birth because of their uncanny resemblance. Will Donnie do an anniversary reunion tour in January? Stay tuned.

5. The Cameron Eastern Psychological Association presentation - In March, Paul and Kirk Cameron released a series of news spots claiming that data from Canada, Norway and Denmark supported their contention that gays die between 20-30 younger than straights. In reviewing their study, first presented as a poster session at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting, I disputed key assumptions underlying their claims. In addition, Danish epidemiologist, Morten Frisch reviewed the study here on the blog finding it inadequate. Paul and Kirk Cameron provided rebuttals to criticisms and a nine-part series resulted.

6. New Warriors Training Adventure and the Mankind Project – A post regarding the suicide of Michael Scinto in an October issue of the Houston Press led to a series of posts about the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. I received numerous emails from men who attest to benefit and those who believe NWTA was harmful and coercive. One irony about NWTA is that public proponents of reparative therapy and gay affirmative therapy both recommend NWTA to clients to enhance masculinity. Reparative therapists believe NWTA may lead to reduced same-sex attraction and gay therapists believe NWTA can enhance security in a gay identity. I remain curious about the mechanisms inherent in NWTA and other such programs to effect either benefit or harm. With the Scinto trial schedule for later in 2008, this story will remain of interest through the next year.

7. Montel Williams show on reparative therapy – The Montel Williams show purporting to examine reparative therapy was a lightning rod for controversy. On the show, psychiatrist Alicia Salzar falsely claimed that science has shown that 96% of people attempting to change orientation cannot do so and experience harm. Her claim was based on a study, the authors of which acknowledged cannot be used to make such a claim. The unwillingness of the show to retract the statement led to a ethics complaint against Dr. Salzar, filed by Exodus International. 

8. Pro-life/abortion related stories – The most viewed post on the blog consisted of an interview with Grove City College colleague and historian Paul Kengor regarding the religious beliefs of Hillary Clinton.  Other such interviews have been immensely popular with readers as well. Another APA task force, this one on abortion and mental health issues, stimulated grassroots activism, reported here in November. 

9. Emergence of the ex-ex-gay movement – At this year’s Exodus conference, a group of people once involved in ex-gay efforts had a parallel conference to discuss their efforts to recover from their experiences. Perhaps, the newest ex-ex-gay, James Stabile is a 19 year old young man from Dallas who encountered evangelists from the Heartland World Ministry Church in early September. Recorded on film and broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network, it appeared that Mr. Stabile was dramatically converted and even reported change in homosexuality. Later it was learned that Mr. Stabile had not changed and was back home with his parents after a stay at ex-gay residential program, Pure Life Ministry.

10. Richard Cohen – An early 2007 debacle on John Stewart’s Daily Show led Mr. Cohen to pledge on my blog that he would do no additional media appearances. He ended his email with a fundraising appeal. In response to this appearance, Exodus issued a statement distancing the organization from Cohen’s work, and NARTH and PFOX quietly removed references to Mr. Cohen from their websites. Cohen made something of a comeback however, with You Tube videos including his family, and a new edition of one of his books with Evangelical publisher, Intervarsity Press. Then, later, I looked into the Unification Church connections of Mr. Cohen’s assistant director and former board member, Hilde Wiemann. Both Cohen and Wiemann initially denied these connections but they were clear enough that cult expert, Steve Hassan, briefly placed the International Healing Foundation back on his list of Unification Church connected groups. Eventually, Mrs. Wiemann acknowledged, in contrast to the initial claims, that she had been involved in the church and had only recently left it. After her repudiation of Moon, Mr. Hassan then again removed the IHF from his list of Unification connected groups.    

Well, that was quite a year. I suppose one could make a case for other stories, e.g., the Omaha websites advocating violence, the quick emergence and then retreat of Michael Glatze as an ex-gay spokesman, Ted Haggard’s three week therapy, the wide stance of Larry Craig, the Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger, Stephen Bennett’s public division with Exodus, Al Mohler’s comments on biology and homosexuality, the retirement of I Do Exist, and my musical comeback and resultant #1 Internet hit.

Now cast your opinion – What would your top ten list for this blog look like for 2007?

Godspeed to all and a Happy New Year!

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  • Phillips

    8 part series, part nine had nothing to do with the research, merely an outlet you twisted and used to hammer them since you lost the debate…

    Happy New Year.

  • Noa Resare

    Congratulations Warren on another year of interesting perspectives and commentary on your blog.

    I’m especially happy that you have decided to mention the ex-gay survivor movement in your yearly review. The fact that former ex-gay leaders publicly apologized for what they perceived as hurtful and abusive things that they did when part of the ex-gay movement is something that seems to be met with almost complete silence from people in the current ex-gay camp.

    I also think that recognizing and talking openly about the hurt and abuse that obviously exists in and around ex-gay ministries, as you did back in october (100 comments, wow!) is very encouraging and important.

    /noa

  • http://behindtheducttape.blogspot.com Vincent Cervantes

    Great perspectives Warren! I’m really impressed.

    Like Noa, I am very happy that you decided to mention the “ex-gay” survivor movement of this past year in your yearly review. It has been a great year for the survivors of the “ex-gay” movement. With the Beyond Ex-Gay Survivors Conference, the historical apology of former leaders that caught national attention, and the amount of people coming out as survivors and sharing their testimonies has been amazing.

    I myself came out as an “ex-gay” survivor this year and it was a liberating experience to be able to share my testimony of going through reparative therapy when I was 18 years old.

    It’s been an encouraging year!

  • Ivan

    With all due respect Noa, while I am in sympathy with your dissappointment that EXODUS didn’t acknowledge and/or apologize… What can one expect when the ex ex gay movement refuses to believe ex gays even exist? I don’t mean this to attack what you wrote, because in many ways I agree… but it’s a two way street.

  • jayhuck

    Ivan,

    No one in the Ex-Ex Gay movement ever said Ex-Gays don’t exist!

  • Ivan

    Jayhuck,

    True, they don’t say it blatantly, but they do say it, albeit with a little bit more complexity. I give the Ex Ex Gays a little bit more credit that that. :-)

    I will say that a few here and there have said that maybe some people in some cases experience some kind change at some point in time, but that isn’t how the Ex Gay Movement would describe itself, so I think my point still stands.

  • jayhuck

    Ivan,

    It has been my experience that the term ex-gay is nebulous. It seems to mean different things to different people. Even to one, such as myself, who could easily fall under the ex-gay “banner”.

  • Ivan

    But that isn’t how the Ex Gay Movement would describe itself, so I think my point still stands, regardless of how you describe “Ex Gay.”

  • Noa Resare

    Ivan, when you describe ex-ex-gays as people who doesn’t recognize the existence of ex-gays that doesn’t match my experience.

    On the contrary, all ex-gay survivors I know of encourage everyone to find out as much as possible about the ex-gay movement. Of course, much of the commentary is critical but when ex-gay leaders does things that doesn’t fit the “ex-gay movement is abusive to it’s core” story line I read about it on places like ex-gay watch and box turtle bulletin.

    I think generally that criticism such as the one you present benefits from being specific and not general.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    But that isn’t how the Ex Gay Movement would describe itself

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. When I was talking about having problems with defining what Ex-Gay means, I was talking about the people within the movement itself – what are YOU talking about when you say the Ex-Gay Movement?

  • jayhuck

    Sorry – that post above should be addressed to IVAN, not EVAN :)

  • Ivan

    Noa,

    Encouraging people to find out about ex gays isn’t the same as recognizing them as they describe themselves, i.e., as “happy content ex gays.” Normally, I’d definitely expect an apology or some kind of recognition, but ex gays and the ex gay movement are treated as a joke pretty much. And you will respond that they are a joke, but still, the point stands. The ex gay movement isn’t all that bad that one can’t recognize any good that they do. They are seen as one big farce.

  • Ivan

    Jayhuck,

    Noa referred to the ex gay movement as the “ex gay camp.” This is all I meant. I don’t see the relevance of how ex gays describe themselves — As long as they identify with “the camp.”


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