Dodging The Question As Jesus Would
On the outside, this seemed like a good thing. I was skeptical, no doubt, but I held out hope that what I would find was a no-strings-attached call to America's evangelical Christians to seriously reconsider not only their treatment of homosexuals in this country, but their perceptions of them which are largely based on stereotypes and perpetuate on comfortable ignorance. I have to give Chad credit, he did make those calls to Christians in the audience and everywhere, and he also made sure to always use "I statements," which is a fancy way of saying you make sure never to speak for others, only for yourself, which in Chad's case would be when he described why he thinks he was a homosexual.
The conversation started heading south, in my mind, when the more political side of Chad's message started to show. It started with Chad pointing out that it may seem like a contradiction for Christians to say that they love homosexuals, when at the same time so many Christian organizations, including multiple ones Chad is tied to himself, politicize themselves so strongly on anti-gay legislation and fighting pro-gay legislation. Having identified the very real contradiction, he sort of just left it at that, not really resolving the contradiction or condemning the religious right's political targeting of queer people but just sort of saying that it's not really a contradiction because they love us. Pay no attention to the agenda behind the curtain.
Following that was a light presentation of out-dated and easily refutable ex-gay propaganda about research concerning the origins of homosexuality which, fortunately for Chad, aren't really that easily refutable when the only place to call him out on it is a very brief Q&A session following his talk.
I don't want to go in to details, let's just say he needs to know that "genetic" doesn't mean a literal gay gene, and that when articles about research use catchy titles referring to the abstract "gay gene," any legitimate data and theories brought up in said research can't be dismissed by claiming that the "gay gene" doesn't exist. That's called a straw man. If I can take just a second to soapbox on the idea of nature v. nurture, whether it is nature or nurture that brings a person to their identity and their sexuality, if they are content with that identity or sexuality then any suggestion that they need "fixing" is a direct affront to their dignity.
During the Q&A session he was asked questions solely by queer people in the audience, and they made up less than half of that audience (honestly I think Chad was a bit more conservative than UCSB's more liberal-leaning Christians are used to). When confronted about the contradictions in both his opinions and arguments presented in his speech, Chad would generally sort of just dodge the question and bring the focus on something else. I called Chad out on the contradiction that he identified himself and then promptly swept under the rug, asking him how he can ask Christians to show unconditional love to homosexuals while at the same time use the power of their vote to see to it that queer people do not enjoy the same opportunities and protections as they do. I brought up the issue of same-sex marriage, pointing out that in Michigan 80% of evangelical Christian voters voted to ban same-sex marriage, and thanks to the wording of the amendment, just this past month it was used to void benefits that had been granted to same-sex domestic partners since before the same-sex marriage wave that swept country in recent years.
Chad avoided the issue of same-sex marriage and responded by talking about anti-discrimination law, saying that if such legislation were approved then he would be arrested for talking to me as an ex-gay. In the most polite way I could muster I told him that his response was so much bullshit, and asked him how he could justify voting against legislation that would protect a person from being denied equal opportunities for employment or housing simply because he was afraid of some bizarre situation that would be thrown out of court faster than you could say "wasting ministry time and paper" (nod to Brazil! fans). Chad was asked by the person after me to give just one concrete piece of reasoning as to how same-sex marriage could be harmful and thus justly voted against, and all he could offer were proof substitutes about how the "breakdown of the family unit" has been shown to increase rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, wanton sex parties at my house, etc, which was also a fallacy of false cause I might add.
To sum it up, Chad's basic premise behind his response to the attitude of evangelical Christians toward queer people is that "gay people do it to us too," and how he's "had more difficulty from gay people by being an ex-gay than he ever had from straight people by being gay." You know what Chad? Let me break out my violin while I bask in the irony of a politically motivated professional ex-gay who actively supports anti-gay legislation trying to kid himself that gay people would have a grudge against him just because he made a personal decision about his identity based on his faith.
Lastly, Chad described being ex-gay as a lifelong struggle for many, and that when a person like Ted Haggard or John Paulk are caught dabbling in the forbidden fruit, it's simply a "relapse," and that doesn't mean that they're still gay, just that they're human, because after all none of us are perfect (hell I know straight guys that relapse in to gay sex all the time!) The real point I'm getting to is that someone came up for a great idea for Queer Student Union's next shirt design: