Tuesday, July 10, 2007

why Michael Glatze pisses me off

I think that I am getting sick, so I am going to console myself by deconstructing this article.

It's written by Michael Glatze, who recently came out as ex-gay. This was a guy who was active in the LGBTQ community for ten years, even created and edited a gay magazine.
Homosexuality came easy to me, because I was already weak.

Doesn't mince words, does he? So straight off the bat he conflates homosexuality with weakness. Fine, but then he has to justify the possibility that at least some gays and lesbians aren't weak. This isn't even getting into what he means by weakness.
My mom died when I was 19. My father had died when I was 13. At an early age, I was already confused about who I was and how I felt about others.

My confusion about "desire" and the fact that I noticed I was "attracted" to guys made me put myself into the "gay" category at age 14. At age 20, I came out as gay to everybody else around me.

Here's the mandatory implication that homosexuality in general is the result of traumatic early experiences. Naturally. Show me someone who didn't have some childhood trauma (or a man who didn't have father issues). But it's really the next sentence that may just take the cake for the entire article: he was "attracted" to guys. "Inappropriate" use of "scare quotes" aside, if you are a guy who notices that you are attracted you guys, you just might actually be gay.

At age 22, I became an editor of the first magazine aimed at a young, gay male audience. It bordered on pornography in its photographic content, but I figured I could use it as a platform to bigger and better things.

Sure enough, Young Gay America came around. It was meant to fill the void that the other magazine I'd worked for had created – namely, anything not-so-pornographic, aimed at the population of young, gay Americans. Young Gay America took off.

Sexual imagery and hypersexuality in the gay male community is its own bag of chips, but he isn't writing this in a vacuum. He is writing it for a specific conservative audience for whom he knows that implications of pornography will fit quite neatly into a pre-existing image of what it means to gay (although it doesn't say much for the lesbian experience). Playing on that image without discussing it in greater depth is, at the least, irresponsible. At worst it is dishonest. After a couple more paragraphs highlighting his achievements,

Young Gay America launched YGA Magazine in 2004, to pretend to provide a "virtuous counterpart" to the other newsstand media aimed at gay youth. I say "pretend" because the truth was, YGA was as damaging as anything else out there, just not overtly pornographic, so it was more "respected."

In case you missed it the first time, gay = pornographic. Even if it isn't pornographic. It just is. Makes sense to me! And this comes without any evidence for that claim.

It took me almost 16 years to discover that homosexuality itself is not exactly "virtuous." It was difficult for me to clarify my feelings on the issue, given that my life was so caught up in it.

Homosexuality, delivered to young minds, is by its very nature pornographic. It destroys impressionable minds and confuses their developing sexuality; I did not realize this, however, until I was 30 years old.

One wonders (and by one I mean me) if heterosexuality is by its nature virtuous. Or if wearing socks is virtuous. Or eating Ramen. My point being that he doesn't clearly define what he means by "virtuous." But he is also talking about having experienced some difficult personal conflicts about himself as gay, which I respect.

But onward to the meat and potatoes! Homosexuality (the sex? the attraction? the penchant for Madonna music?) is by its nature pornographic. It harms developing minds. How? Why? What does actually mean?
YGA Magazine sold out of its first issue in several North American cities. There was extreme support, by all sides, for YGA Magazine; schools, parent groups, libraries, governmental associations, everyone seemed to want it. It tapped right into the zeitgeist of "accepting and promoting" homosexuality, and I was considered a leader. I was asked to speak on the prestigious JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2005.

It was, after viewing my words on a videotape of that "performance," that I began to seriously doubt what I was doing with my life and influence.

Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God; I'd developed a growing relationship with God, thanks to a debilitating bout with intestinal cramps caused by the upset stomach-inducing behaviors I'd been engaged in.

Soon, I began to understand things I'd never known could possibly be real, such as the fact that I was leading a movement of sin and corruption – which is not to sound as though my discovery was based on dogma, because decidedly it was not.

I came to the conclusions on my own.

Aha! A conversion experience! I saw the wickedness of my ways (on VHS, no less) and realized my error. Well, that and the intestinal cramps. Why was he getting intestinal cramps? Methinks as a former peer counselor and gay advocate, he would know better than to do something that could result in intestinal cramps. Certainly they aren't the logical consequence of living a (sexually active) gay life. Not that he mentions that.

And then he comes to God. On his own, mind you, he wasn't brainwashed into it (ahem). Simply put, if his decision actually weren't based on dogma, I would be expecting much better arguments for the claims he makes in this article. Rather, he seems not even to consider them worth questioning. While his position has changed, there is no indication that he has actually learned something: no deeper understanding so far of where it was he actually went wrong.

It became clear to me, as I really thought about it – and really prayed about it – that homosexuality prevents us from finding our true self within. We cannot see the truth when we're blinded by homosexuality.

We believe, under the influence of homosexuality, that lust is not just acceptable, but a virtue. But there is no homosexual "desire" that is apart from lust.

In denial of this fact, I'd fought to erase such truth at all costs, and participated in the various popular ways of taking responsibility out of human hands for challenging the temptations of lust and other behaviors. I was sure – thanks to culture and world leaders – that I was doing the right thing.

Driven to look for truth, because nothing felt right, I looked within. Jesus Christ repeatedly advises us not to trust anybody other than Him. I did what He said, knowing that the Kingdom of God does reside in the heart and mind of every man.

Alright, so what we are being asked to swallow here is that his was a purely experiential conversion. He didn't learn anything, he wasn't brainwashed, he just finally prayed hard enough and God cured him. Of course, if it worked for him, it really ought to be working for anybody who has same-sex attractions. So for all those people who are raised in strict Christian households and still come out, even after years of praying; well, it wasn't quite enough for them. Try harder, LGBT people.

Meanwhile, he decided not to trust anyone other than Jesus. Whom, by the way, never said a damn thing about homosexuality. This is an article that clearly avoids being influenced by modern interpretations of Scripture. As any fool could tell.

What I discovered – what I learned – about homosexuality was amazing. How I'd first "discovered" homosexual desires back in high school was by noticing that I looked at other guys. How I healed, when it became decidedly clear that I should – or risk hurting more people – is that I paid attention to myself.

Every time I was tempted to lust, I noticed it, caught it, dealt with it. I called it what it was, and then just let it disappear on its own. A huge and vital difference exists between superficial admiration – of yourself, or others – and integral admiration. In loving ourselves fully, we no longer need anything from the "outside" world of lustful desire, recognition from others, or physical satisfaction. Our drives become intrinsic to our very essence, unbridled by neurotic distractions.

He overcame the gay when he stopped looking at other guys... and started looking at himself. It's so Zen it makes me want to poop myself. Besides that, do you follow the broader logic here? I had same-sex attraction. I overcame same-sex attraction. Ergo, same-sex attraction is bad. Because none of my straight friends ever have desires. And I kind of wonder, if he used his newfound emotional responsibility to overcome his gayness, does that mean that a straight person could use it to overcome their straightness and become gay? Of course not, it isn't the natural state. But see, while I buy that it is possible to overcome desire generally, I have a harder time believing that most people can change their desires. So he must be about to mention his new girlfriend, right?

Homosexuality allows us to avoid digging deeper, through superficiality and lust-inspired attractions – at least, as long as it remains "accepted" by law. As a result, countless miss out on their truest self, their God-given Christ-self.

Did you catch that oh-so-subtle dig at gay rights legislation? It was so embedded in a completely appropriate context that you may just have missed it. By the way, gay Christians? yeah, you still aren't getting it. Try harder until you hit your true, completely straight-like-me self.

God is regarded as an enemy by many in the grip of homosexuality or other lustful behavior, because He reminds them of who and what they truly are meant to be. People caught in the act would rather stay "blissfully ignorant" by silencing truth and those who speak it, through antagonism, condemnation and calling them words like "racist," "insensitive," "evil" and "discriminatory."

"Insensitive"? Sure. "Discriminatory"? Often. "Racist"? Natura... wait, what? "Evil"? Uh, wait, we call them that? And if we get a little antagonistic at being told we are in the grip of Satan, well, sorry, didn't mean to step on your toes there. Whereby my "truest self" means, fuck off.
Healing from the wounds caused by homosexuality is not easy – there's little obvious support. What support remains is shamed, ridiculed, silenced by rhetoric or made illegal by twisting of laws. I had to sift through my own embarrassment and the disapproving "voices" of all I'd ever known to find it. Part of the homosexual agenda is getting people to stop considering that conversion is even a viable question to be asked, let alone whether or not it works.

Because really, it is us gays who are trying to twist the laws to our viewpoints, and ridicule our opposition into silence. None of that going on with conservative Christians... bah! Of course the debate gets heated sometimes, and since the debate is over our hearts and souls, yeah, we take it personally.

But here's the thing: when he talks about there being little support for gays, or rather, the wounds caused by homosexuality, one wonders what he thinks he is doing right now. Does this article offer any such support? Any useful advice for someone struggling with their sexuality and their religion? No: just the tired implication that if you just pray hard enough, it will go away.

See, I could imagine being sympathetic to an ex-gay, as long as they were honest about their reasons and sensitive towards the realistic issues that gay people face. As a man who was so involved in the gay community, he is clearly aware of these issues. He ignores them, and he's damn well writing to the sterotypes of an audience who hasn't genuinely considered the other side. And while the ethos of this article is about a lost sheep finding the flock, the very clear implication just beneath is that this is someone who is intentionally distorting the truth based on their newfound faith. That outright pisses me off, because it is so easy to read it and think he just made an honest soul-searching effort to change his life. Whatever his truth may be, the gospel he is trying to preach is clearly flawed, and it stinks.

There's more of the article that I won't go into. I have to go punch a wall.


rjamm said...

He pisses me off too.

And that part about how abused poor Christians are when they try to make gays see the light reminds me of people who complain about reverse racism. They've been abusive for years, but as soon as someone speaks out against them, they start wailing about how abused they are, just like people who have had every advantage of being white shit themselves at affirmative action. It's very frustrating when people can't objectively look at themselves, but then again I suppose that is pretty hard. It might be nice if they just tried a little though.

And, hey, don't let jackasses get you down. He only fueled a fire that wasn't about to die down anyway. The most damage was done to impressionable gay youngsters who are probably going to figure out on their own from personal experience that praying isn't the cure all this guy suggests it is. Overall it seems his contribution is still positive (the magazine he founded and the award winning movie on gay teen suicide), so try not to get too worked up about his unfortunate change of heart.

Steven said...

That was a nice deconstruction of that article. Just for kicks here's my interpretation of the article.

Points which I agree with:
1) A life of meaningless sex and pornography is ultimately unfulfilling.
2) To be happy you have to love yourself, and that requires a lot of introspection.

Where the author goes wrong:
a) He conflates meaningless sex and pornography with being gay.
b) He confuses unfulfilling with evil.
c) He equates introspection and self-discovery with finding god.

I started to write a lot more about each of the above points but decided to keep it simple. In conclusion, it's a bummer that such a public figure came to such erroneous conclusions.

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