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My Conversation with an Ex-Gay Advocate

Among the many interesting people I’ve met at Breaking Stories, Breaking Waves, the LGBT Media Summit and National Convention, has been an individual I least expected to meet here. Allyson Smith, a Reporter/Researcher for Americans for Truth, a “national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda,” has been attending the convention and even sat in on my panel, “The Right Approach: Covering LGBT Conservatives.”

A few hours ago, while chatting with the Washington Blade‘s Kevin Naff in the hotel bar, we saw her walk back and asked Miss Smith to join us. Not only did she agree with alacrity, but when she spoke with us, she offered conversation that was both interesting and engaging — and of particular note, given one of my primary concerns, she was above all quite civil.

Her views of the conference were similar to my own, saying that “everyone has been very nice to me.” Wayne Besen, who moderated our panel yesterday and has written extensively on ex-gays, noted her attitude was similar to that of many such conservatives. When Allyson, Kevin and I discussed her civil reception, we all agreed that often we let political disagreement create animosity.

“If we disagree with people,” I said, “we feel we have to hate them.” Fortunately that wasn’t true with this representative of a group which holds a view of homosexuality at odds with the reality of the lives of so many gay men and lesbians.

Smith noted the amount of destructive behavior in the gay community, with people having promiscuous sex and often not taking precautions to prevent the spread of STDs. Kevin and I acknowledged that such behavior persists in the gay community, but noted that it is not limited to gay men—and that a number of straight men (and women) are also promiscuous, often destructively so.

And I pointed out that while there are exceptions, lesbians tend not to have the same self-destructive sexual behaviors as gay men, havings relationships which correspond with the heterosexual married ideal.

When she talked about how Christian values offer an alternative to homosexual behavior, I countered that gay men can bring (indeed many have brought) such values into their relationships with other men. Somewhat agreeing with her point defining a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman as the ideal, I pointed out that gay people could also be inspired by that ideal. (I even noted how I have blogged about it in posts filed under this category).

We did agree that promiscuous sex can lead to shame and emptiness.

And I pointed out that while there are exceptions, lesbians tend not to have the same self-destructive sexual behaviors as gay men and tend to for relationships which correspond with the heterosexual married ideal.

In all, it was a good conversation. I regretted having to end it so I could attend a panel which was considerbly less interesting than our exchange.

I very much appreciated her coming to the conference and taking the time to listen to a great variety of gay perspectives here. While we disagree strongly, I hope our conversation helped her see that there are gay men who define our orientation as involving more than immediate and frequent gratification of our sexual desires. That many of us are seeking the same sort of things that straight people are looking for, including socially conservative individuals of faith.

Given my commitment to civil discourse, I have offered Miss Smith a chance to respond to this post. I will post it as an addendum, even if I disagree with her ideas. And invite you to reply to her thoughts in the same manner (and tone) that she offers them.

ADDENDUM FROM ALLLYSON SMITH:

I appeciated the opportunity to speak with you and Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff at the NLGJA conference today. Our exchange was interesting and civil, and I was pleased that we were able to discuss our respective views in a respectful manner. And everyone else whom I’ve personally encountered at Breaking Stories, Breaking Waves has treated me with civility and kindness, which I didn’t expect and deeply appreciate. Thank you.

Even though there are many issues we will likely never agree upon–some of which arose in our conversation–I was happily surprised to find we concur that promiscuous sex persists in the homosexual community. “Our side”–we Christian conservatives (CCs)–often feel that when we point out such a fact, we are labeled with epithets such as “haters” or “bigots” or worse, when all we are attempting to do is point out the truth in love and concern.

[The rests of her addendum continues below the jump:]

In April 2005, I was present when my good friend, Philip Thorson, died at San Diego Hospice. Philip was an “ex-gay” who once practiced homosexuality but had renounced and repented of the lifestyle several years earlier, after a near-death experience. Philip was a handsome and intelligent individual with so much to offer, but he had contracted AIDS, and the disease finally took its toll when he was only 42. (Read the story at http://www.sdnewsnotes.com/ed/articles/2005/0507ak.htm.)

Watching Philip decline, develop dementia, and finally pass away was such a sorrowful experience. We who were his friends wonder how much more he could have accomplished and given to his family, friends and society had not AIDS cut him down in the prime of life. The loss of talented people like Philip is one reason why we CCs are troubled by and oppose homosexuality.

But I digress . . .

Dan, as you correctly noted, the issue of destructive sex applies not only to homosexuals but to heterosexuals. Plenty of heterosexuals engage in damaging sexual practices that can lead to shame and emptiness. I know this from bitter personal experience, which is why I oppose any sexual relationships outside the construct of monogamous, lifelong, traditional marriage.

As for your comments that lesbians tend not to have the same self-destructive sexual behaviors as gay men and that they have relationships that correspond more closely with the heterosexual married ideal, and that gay men can bring Christian values into their relationships with other men, I respond: While there may be elements of the heterosexual ideal in same-sex relationships, the truth is that such relationships can never fully match the ideal, simply because they’re not the “real deal.”

Males and females are designed for one another. That fact is evident from even casual observation. This natural design is apparent in both physical and emotional characteristics. The “real deal” consists in the joining of the two complementary sexes in a monogamous, lifelong union that, in most cases, results in the begetting of children whose welfare is of primary importance to both natural parents. Any other type of sexual union, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is a counterfeit.

Regarding your comment, “. . . I hope our conversation helped her see that there are gay men who define our orientation as involving more than immediate and frequent gratification of our sexual desires. That many of us are seeking the same sort of things that straight people are looking for, including socially conservative individuals of faith.”

I don’t doubt this. We CCs understand that not all gay men define their sexuality in those terms–but we are concerned about the number who do. We stand against the moral, physical, and spiritual destruction of individuals, whatever their sexual preference, that is caused by unfettered “sexual freedom” which I describe as “sexual anarchy.”

All of us–homosexual, heterosexual, or whatever–are looking for someone who can fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts. We are all searching for the one person who can really understand us, who will sacrifice their own interests to ours, and who will love us despite our shortcomings and failings.

But the truth is that we can never find such love, understanding, or sacrifice in any creatures, be they other people or material things. We can only find those things in God who loves us infinitely–warts, sins and all. As St. Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O Lord.”

Okay, Dan, I could continue but have to get to sleep now in order to put in a full day at NLGJA tomorrow. No doubt you’ll receive many blog comments after posting this addendum. :)

Thank you again for our conversation today and for your blog entry. We don’t see eye-to-eye and probably never will, but I appreciated our exchange and am glad you, Kevin and I had the opportunity to talk face-to-face.

God bless you,

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23 Comments

  1. Sounds like you are having a very interesting time in San Diego. I am very pleased that Allyson Smith is open minded enough to come to such an event, and that the event organizers invited her.

    The only way stereotypes will be broken down is when people with opposing views sit down and civilly talk to one another. We will never all agree on everything, but if at least we can get to the point of seeking common ground – it will make for a better society for all of us.

    Comment by Leah — August 31, 2007 @ 8:33 pm - August 31, 2007

  2. Dan, you rock. (even if there are a couple “duplicate” paragraphs about 2/3 of the way down ;-) )

    And if Allyson Smith has to meet 1,000 people like you before the penny finally drops and she is able to modify her views on homosexuality… well, maybe now she only has to meet 999.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 31, 2007 @ 8:58 pm - August 31, 2007

  3. Peter LaBarbara is also civil when you talk to him on the phone. He will never change his mind on this issue. I don’t believe Smith will. Let’s see if her writings change.

    Comment by Eva Young — August 31, 2007 @ 9:24 pm - August 31, 2007

  4. I don’t think people need to change their minds on things. People just need to show legitimate respect for other people’s different opinions. It’s funny how we all recognize that the modern political environment pushes the notion that, “If we disagree with people…we feel we have to hate them,” yet for some reason we still let the people in charge push the agenda that wa.

    Comment by Mr. Moderate — August 31, 2007 @ 10:04 pm - August 31, 2007

  5. [...] Original post by GayPatriotWest [...]

    Pingback by Politics: 2008 HQ » Blog Archive » My Conversation with an Ex-Gay Advocate — August 31, 2007 @ 10:11 pm - August 31, 2007

  6. Males and females are designed for one another.

    Correction (and kindly meant), Ms. Smith: Heterosexual males and heterosexual females are designed for one another.

    I was not designed for women. And I am the one in a position to know. It would be a seriously arrogant presumption on your part, if you should choose to contradict me.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 1, 2007 @ 10:51 am - September 1, 2007

  7. The loss of talented people like Philip is one reason why we CCs are troubled by and oppose homosexuality.

    Ms. Smith, I’m sorry for your loss.

    I must point out that your loss is a reason to oppose AIDS – not a reason to oppose homosexuality. You appear to be equating AIDS and homosexuality, which is wrong. (For illustration: Imagine if I were to equate cervical cancer and heterosexuality. Or, if you would like something more behavorial – imagine if I were to equate rape and heterosexuality. That level of error.)

    …[committed homosexual] relationships can never fully match the ideal, simply because they’re not the “real deal.”

    They’re not the “real heterosexual deal”, certainly. So what? You have said something which is true in a tautological, unimportant way. Homosexual relationships are meant (by God) to match the “real homosexual deal”, i.e., to be committed and moral fulfilling between the two homosexuals involved.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 1, 2007 @ 11:24 am - September 1, 2007

  8. (typo – moral *and* fulfilling)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 1, 2007 @ 11:25 am - September 1, 2007

  9. Interesting response from Allyson. I respect that she was open minded enough to really listen to Dan. Of course she won’t change her opinions, but at least she is willing to give respect to another point of view. That is quite an accomplishment.

    But the truth is that we can never find such love, understanding, or sacrifice in any creatures, be they other people or material things. We can only find those things in God

    Is where I totally disagree with Allyson. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, and so many things Christian are just foreign to me. One of the first things God did after creating man, was to create woman – and then comes the issue of the two becoming “one flesh”. Sure that can be viewed as a complete endorsement of heterosexual monogamous marriage. It is also a very clear statement that humans need one another, or as Allyson herself stated:

    All of us–homosexual, heterosexual, or whatever–are looking for someone who can fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts. We are all searching for the one person who can really understand us, who will sacrifice their own interests to ours, and who will love us despite our shortcomings and failings.

    To then state that such desires are wrong, and unabtainable – just doesn’t make any sense to me. If God is part of the equation – than the human relationship is all the stronger. But God cannot replace the human relationship.
    I’m not asking the CC’s to endorse gay marriage. I understand that striving for an ideal, (heterosexual, monogamous marriage) is a good thing for society on the whole, but a society that only accepts that model, is not one I want to live in.

    Comment by Leah — September 1, 2007 @ 12:39 pm - September 1, 2007

  10. Interesting reading. I myself believe that if there is a genetic latency towards sexual orientation, it can be controlled. I’ve a genetic disposition towards alcoholism, so I don’t drink, much.

    Then again, I believe that men are more agressive sexually than women, and are more prone to wander. No offence intended ILC, but I think men are made for women and vice versa not just in the physical (insert Tab A into slot B, not slot C) but also in the psychological. Men are the predators and the hunter gatherers, women are the social side, nurturers and keeping the structure together. That, at least on the surface, explains the enhanced level of stability in lesbian relationships, vs. their gay counterparts.

    At the same time though, I believe it’s our intellect that allows us to -not- follow instinct, so that’s why we’re not just animals.

    Leah Wrote

    I’m not asking the CC’s to endorse gay marriage. I understand that striving for an ideal, (heterosexual, monogamous marriage) is a good thing for society on the whole, but a society that only accepts that model, is not one I want to live in.

    That’s something we agree on Leah.

    As an aside, not trying to start anything, why is the concept that some people can change their sexual orientation (some, not all) so intimidating to some people?

    Comment by The Livewire — September 2, 2007 @ 2:14 pm - September 2, 2007

  11. Good blogging, Dan. The angels that have watched over me over the years are applauding you and Allyson right now.

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — September 3, 2007 @ 4:40 am - September 3, 2007

  12. I myself believe that if there is a genetic latency towards sexual orientation, it can be controlled. I’ve a genetic disposition towards alcoholism, so I don’t drink, much…I believe it’s our intellect that allows us to -not- follow instinct, so that’s why we’re not just animals.

    Livewire, good for you and I agree 1000%. (Btw: Here is a website which explains and employs that philosophy for those dealing with drugs, alcohol or other compulsions: http://www.rational.org)

    As regards sexual orientation, the next question is, how and why should a person – straight or gay – “control” their predisposition? Answer: to avoid destruction, that is, to avoid being at war with society and/or with reality. Seen in that light, there are inevitably going to be some gay relationships or actions which are wrong, and some which are right; just as with straight. There is no reason a naturally gay person shouldn’t do the ones which are right.

    I think men are made for women and vice versa not just in the physical (insert Tab A into slot B, not slot C) but also in the psychological. Men are the predators and the hunter gatherers, women are the social side, nurturers and keeping the structure together.

    Again, please speak for yourself. SOME men are predators, or men are a bit more predatory ON AVERAGE. And what good does an average do you, in talking about individuals? Similarly with your comments re: women. The fact that a certain category of people is a certain way ON AVERAGE, has nothing to do with what *a given individual* (e.g., myself, or any other gay person) is designed for.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 3, 2007 @ 1:52 pm - September 3, 2007

  13. Yeah, I’m generalizing. I’m good at that. I’m saying that the reason male/female relationships are the default because we’re mentally and physically built for it. If someone has a deviance (meant in the statistical sense, not the ‘evil’ conotations) towards same sex, multiple partners, etc. they’re cursed (or blessed depending on the POV) with having to take extra steps to maintain the relationships.

    Obiviously, hetro relationship are not ‘automatic pilot’ type relationships, my two marriages are proof of that. :( I just believe that men by the default are wired as predators.

    ILC, maybe you’re not a full blown predator type. I couldn’t pull the trigger while hunting deer as a kid.

    Please, no offence was intended, nor was I trying to single you out.

    Comment by The Livewire — September 3, 2007 @ 4:39 pm - September 3, 2007

  14. Where Have You Gone, Anita Bryant?…

    A “gay patriot” and an “ex-gay” journalist walk into a bar…….

    Trackback by Jeremayakovka — September 3, 2007 @ 6:33 pm - September 3, 2007

  15. I’m trying to imagine a “Conversation with an Ex-Gay Advocate” that might take place with one of our resident lefties.

    Ex-Gay Advocate: “I’m an ex-gay advocate.”
    gp leftie: SNARL SPIT SHRIEK SNARL SNARL SPIT

    Comment by V the K — September 5, 2007 @ 12:51 pm - September 5, 2007

  16. I’m trying to imagine a “Conversation with an Ex-Gay Advocate” that might take place with one of our resident lefties.

    Oh, you’re right, James, the “ex-gay” advocate would be polite and courteous–while damning the LGBTQ person and telling them:

    “destructive behavior in the gay community, with people having promiscuous sex”

    “Christian values offer an alternative to homosexual behavior”

    “While there may be elements of the heterosexual ideal in same-sex relationships, the truth is that such relationships can never fully match the ideal, simply because they’re not the ‘real deal.’”

    “Any other type of sexual union, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is a counterfeit”

    I’d rather be a snarling advocate for people to live their own lives free of government and religious interference, than be a smarmy, smiling bigot condemning those who don’t praise my God as sinners.

    Like the saying goes, “The devil won’t come to you in work gloves and coveralls with plain talk. He’ll come in a store bought suit with kind words.”

    Comment by Paul Raposo — September 5, 2007 @ 2:06 pm - September 5, 2007

  17. I’m saying that the reason male/female relationships are the default because we’re mentally and physically built for it.

    Again… MOST of us :-) And with that modifier added, I agree.

    I look at it this way: We’re all descended from people who liked heterosexual sex (or at least, who had it). If not all of our parents, then our grandparents or great-grandparents or as far back as you care to take it.

    Please, no offence was intended, nor was I trying to single you out.

    Oh, I understand. No offense taken. I am sorry, in my turn, if my slight OVERUSE of CAPS conveyed more emotion than I felt or intended. (I do love capitalism, after all ;-) )

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 5, 2007 @ 3:47 pm - September 5, 2007

  18. In the end what is the point? Are Christian Conservatives going to suddenly change their tune on gay rights? If they really believe that promiscuity is the real problem, then why not support marriage equality.

    I grew up around these folks. I know what they say. And I know it’s often a soft-pedaling of what they really believe. I don’t buy for a minute that they are concerned for gay people living happy and fulfilling lives. They want us to go back into the closet where they think we belong.

    And that is so not going to happen.

    Comment by Houndentenor — September 5, 2007 @ 3:53 pm - September 5, 2007

  19. If they really believe that promiscuity is the real problem, then why not support marriage equality.

    Because then they won’t be able to condemn us. LGBTQ’s living happy, fulfilling lives are their greatest fear.

    Comment by Paul Raposo — September 5, 2007 @ 5:04 pm - September 5, 2007

  20. Glad to hear ILC. No harm no foul. :-)

    Houndentenor, I think you’re being as guilty as I myself of overgeneralizing. I’m definately a Christian Conservative. Albiet, one who would likely be called a heritic. Point is, to say that “Christian Conservatives going to suddenly change their tune on gay rights” lumps a large amount of people into a small group. I’ve been arguing for some time about the support for domestic partnerships., but still consider myself a Christian Conservative. Not all of us want to burn GBLT (a term I hate, sounds like a sandwich) at the stake. I assume you aren’t implying that everyone who voted for DOMA ammendments are in the ‘Chridtian Conservative’ circle. If they are, then you’re woefully outnumbered and better go hide in the bathroom…

    Comment by The Livewire — September 5, 2007 @ 6:08 pm - September 5, 2007

  21. Houndentenor, I sorta agree with you, but it would be easier to contain promiscuity if instead of using empty terms like “marriage equality” which turn the ancient & honorable institution into a right and instead look for terms which focus on the responsibilities of marriage.

    And until gay marriage advocates start doing that, I highly doubt that the marriage debate will help promote a significant change in the culture.

    So, let me put this in a more affirmative tone–talk about the meaning of marriage and how it benefits gay people so we can better counter the arguments of Allyson Smith et al.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — September 5, 2007 @ 7:43 pm - September 5, 2007

  22. Believe it or not, Ann Coulter has a great piece regarding Sen. Craig and the hypocrisy on the Left when it comes to “perversion” (Chris Matthews’ word).

    The link for it is here. Personally, I think she hits the nail on the head.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — September 6, 2007 @ 11:07 am - September 6, 2007

  23. Now if only let’s-have-a-rational-discussion-about-our-differing-views-and-be-civil-about-it was the basis for things that actually matter, like foreign policy…

    Comment by qqq — October 30, 2008 @ 5:58 am - October 30, 2008

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