I listened to an interesting 2005 half-hour documentary about gay history from Radio Netherlands entitled “Pride and Prejudice.” (I got this as a MP3 podcast feed but I’m not sure how I got it.) It reviewed the state of gay (male, mostly) self-worth and self-identity from the Victorian era to the pre-Liberation (post-1969) period in as good terms as one can in thirty minutes. I was glad to hear the real live voices of older gay men who had tales to tell.
Recall that homosexuality was classed a disease, that this was seen as progress from its status as sin, and that some medical professionals tried to treat or cure it. As the documentary reported, there were gay men, even ones who lived relatively open lives, who sought a cure. (This comes out in the 1970 film, The Boys in the Band, which inspired how this blog is ironically named.) An interesting tidbit is how psychological texts with records of well-adjusted gay men became best sellers, even if the research was predicated on an insult that many of the readers understood but excused. So rare were the voices that described their lives. And as we know, with a few irregular holdouts, the medical and psychological professions have come around. In short, it’s society that has the problem.
Consider the ex-gay movement. From what I’ve read recently, it seems to know it will not make bona fide heterosexuals from its victims. At best, it tries to eliminate the practical and mental sin that separates gays from God — as they see it — and some of the participants, missing that closeness with God, will “take the cure” on its own terms. But I’ve known a lot of gay people who live faithful lives with a real, vibrant and healthy nearness to God.
In time, I can imagine the ex-gay cause splintering into a continuation of its current, ill-fated mission; a movement of deliberately celebate gay Evangelical men (perhaps living in a supportive community); and an ex-ex-gay movement that tries to cultivate gay relationships on a tight reading of scripture (I don’t see modern gays described in the commonly-recapitulated biblical injunctions) a mutually-accountable mode of sexual ethics and a lively spiritual practice.
It may be wishful thinking to hope the ex-gay-ers might morph into something wholesome, but God has a habit of leaving no follower unshaken.