Ex-Gay Watch 2.0?

Some background, back in the Exodus days there was a very active blog with a very high volume of traffic called Ex-gay Watch. They were a “watchdog” group of bloggers that ripped apart (at least that’s what it felt like at the time) anything and everything we, our member agencies or the “ex-gay” movement at large would do. They haven’t been posting for almost two years but in their time… whew! From their about page:

Ex-Gay Watch fact-checks political and religious movements which seek to make gay people straight.

We provide critical analysis of the political tactics, religious rationalizations, research findings, health claims, and apparent motives of organizations which claim that sexual orientation is a choice.

Ex-Gay Watch was launched in July 2002. Then and now, evangelicals and conservative U.S. Catholics lobby to jail sexual minorities, deny them protection from politically and religiously motivated violence, and promote discrimination in housing, employment, and public services.

A subset of that movement, popularly known as “ex-gays,” seeks to profit from these campaigns, charging people with “unwanted same-sex attraction” thousands of dollars to attend regular support groups, conferences, and therapy sessions led by persons with sketchy mental-health credentials. Proclaiming themselves cured, “ex-gays” rationalize discrimination, criminalization and violence as necessary tools to coerce people to change their sexual orientation…

Of course, now I am like “YES!” but back then I was like, “OH MY GOD leave us alone!” They often drove me crazy, and I am glad some of my offline reactions were never recorded and put online :).

I never actually hated the bloggers themselves. I thought they were as honest with what they knew as they could be and passionate. I will always respect the sincere and passionate. But boy did they give me headaches when they would tear apart something we or our member ministries did. We would tell people to not read their blog but, of course, they all did. As a point person for all the Member Agencies to contact the Exodus office, this would often cause me to want to drink some alcohol before noon.

Since shutting down Exodus, and especially after I came back out of the closet, there have been a few suggestions from friends that maybe I could incorporate taking on a “watchdog” role. That I could blog about the organizations that continue to operate under The Gospel According to Conversion Therapy; to do so with a similar purpose as Ex-Gay Watch. Honestly, it is very tempting because of how easy it would be. Just a brief scan of three ex-gay/conversion ministry leaders profiles today gave me enough blog material for a week!

But there is a part of me that thinks that era is over so why feed the beast? The ex-gay/conversion ministry world is fading away (it started to well before Exodus shut down). I mean consider, all the “new” RHN ministries are still coming from the list of old Exodus ministries. The RHN leaders weren’t included as initial signatories of the anti-LGBT+ Nashville Statement. Ex-gay watch isn’t blogging anymore, and the religious right isn’t turning to RHN as the “go to” resource like they once did with Exodus. It would seem they have been relegated to non-relevance; an unnecessary and unreliable distraction.

Would drawing attention to them (directly) empower the pain and hurt to continue?

However, religious stigma with horrible consequences against LGBT+ people seems to be on the rise. LGBT+ people are still being bullied, systematically stigmatized, and forced into the closet with incredibly harmful consequences. These will all be issues long after the last RHN “member ministry” folds. Plus, negative attention is their only marketing strategy. I think their current leadership truly relishes and enjoys being seen as old testament “I can be a jerk because God told me to be one” type of prophets. Again, would consistently drawing any kind of attention to the perpetuate harm?

So, obviously, I am still thinking through this. I don’t have any desire to do Ex-gay Watch 2.0, but I am considering providing similar analysis when it can be confronted and redirected toward helping people leave the ex-gay/conversion world. Any input in the comments or privately would be welcomed.

Being free is good,