Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Love Won Out: Way, Way Out

A couple of days before the spirits beg for candy in Boston, the day-long conference Love Won Out® will try to scare parents, homosexual and others. Its recent performance in Seattle, Washington, repeats here.

For the, if you pardon, straight and negative, try The Stranger's piece by anti-ex-gay guru Wayne Besen. His eponymous site has lots of related info too. He has no patience with this type of hateful carrying on.

You can also get The Seattle Times' let's-make-nice version here. This looks like a rookie reporter trying to be balanced and afraid to call a schmuck a schmuck.

Besen is by far the better writer and the intellectual of the two. He notes that LWO conferences are desperate affairs. As he put it:
The parents are also quick to flash their credit cards to buy a plethora of books, videos, and audiotapes hoping to get "insight" on how their straight sons and daughters picked up a homosexual habit.

Ambling through the corridors, you will spot a handful of distraught young fundamentalists who believe God has forsaken them because they can't pray away the gay. Visibly depressed, they repeat the empty mantra that they are on a "journey" or in the process of "healing." There will also be a few teenagers with knowing smirks on their faces. They have accepted that they are gay and have moved on with their lives. However, their devastated parents threaten to stop providing college tuition or car payments unless the child attends the mystical seminar with the magical Christian cures.

The final group is the real target audience: the media. Love Won Out is, if nothing else, a slick public-relations campaign with the simple message that sexual orientation is not immutable. It is a tightly packaged production worthy of Broadway, where scripts are read and tears are shed. By the end of the weekend, with the help of reporters at daily papers and television stations, Seattle will be saturated with anti-gay talking points. It is a remarkably successful operation designed to make Americans believe homosexuality is a casual choice, like what to eat for breakfast.
LWO's related groups have an abominable record of alleged and almost always very short-term conversions. Yet the conference is peddling hope to the emotionally weak and doing it well in small groups. The media love this. There are sound bytes galore and clever pegs for the headline writers.

Besen is relentless in his evaluation:
The most tragic part of Love Won Out is that it uses disproved, outdated science to blame parents for turning their children gay. Nicolosi claims that a distant father is responsible for creating a gay son. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this theory. Sure, some fathers may create distance when their sons express more interest in ice skating than ice hockey. But it ignores the incontrovertible fact that countless gay children are close to both parents, while many heterosexuals have estranged paternal relationships.

At Love Won Out, one will also hear that homosexuality is learned, but no evidence of this is offered. However, if this were true, why do so many gay children come from fundamentalist homes where homosexuality is strongly discouraged? I doubt that Alan Keyes taught his daughter Maya how be a lesbian. Did the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly enroll her son John in a gay university? I doubt that Dick Cheney schooled his daughter Mary in the fine art of lesbianism. How does Focus on the Family explain this phenomenon?

And how does Focus on the Family explain the fact that so many of its media-friendly ex-gay spokespeople have returned to gay life?
If you can spare the day and have the stomach for it, the LWO conference is grand theater...so long as you are not too emotionally involved. As Besen concludes:
The producers of Love Won Out do not offer up compassion, sound science, or rational explanations. The goal of the conference is to perpetuate stereotypes and malign a minority, and mainstream newspapers and television news programs that allow themselves to be used to disseminate anti-gay propaganda are complicit. Love Won Out is a dangerous anti-gay experiment that is shattering lives and breaking spirits.


Ryvr said...

You raise an important point about how "balanced" is broadly misunderstood with regard to the media. I've written a post referencing yours about this.


massmarrier said...

And you cut to the key point in
your post
. "Simply to portray everything as two sides that disagree, dutifully quoting each side, with no reference back to the thing called 'reality' is simply a form of fiction based on things actually heard" is just right.

My wife used to edit one of Scholastic Magazine's kids' weeklies -- the one for sixth and seventh graders. They were under orders to find two viewpoints for anything the least bit controversial. Three were too many and one was "not balanced."

Maybe that's the right approach for most 13-year-olds (I say it is patronizing for them too). It is certainly not what adults should expect from news media.

Your post has it right. This-but-that reporting is worse than useless.