Ex-gay. Does that term bother you? Are you skeptical that some people can change from gay to straight? A tremendous diversity of opinion exists about the topic and we often hear about such matters in the news. However, you may never have read about people who have reoriented their homosexuality in your local paper. Why? Because many in the print media are quite skeptical about the possibility of such change.
I have had many respectful discussions with reporters and editors on this issue. However, I recently ran into a newspaper editor who did not even want to hear about ex-gay issues because she doesn’t think ex-gays are real.
Penny Weaver, night editor for the Journal Gazette in Mattoon, IL and the Times-Courier in Charleston, IL recently received a news release from the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) describing the organization's recent lobbying days in Washington, DC. News releases come from hundreds of sources daily to the nation's newspapers. Many are used, many are not; but this is how people get information in a free press. However, when Ms. Weaver received the email news release from PFOX, she wrote the leadership back requesting to be removed from their mailing list because, "there is no such thing as an ex-gay."
The only response from the paper was an email reply from the paper’s publisher, Carl Walworth. He wrote that Ms. Weaver’s statement was not the official position of the Journal-Gazette and Times-Courier and that the paper had never written an editorial on the subject. He refused to comment, however, about the appropriateness of Ms. Weaver’s statement.
I can only imagine how someone who has created a new life with a new and preferred set of affections might feel upon being told: “there is no such thing as you.” I suspect if someone told me I didn’t exist I might want to find a way that would leave little doubt about my authenticity.
Ms. Weaver did not return my emails so it is hard to say what she meant by her comment. Maybe she has never known anyone that has gone from completely homosexual to completely heterosexual. She doesn’t seem terribly open to the idea but I could introduce her to such people.
If she meant that ex-gays were never gay all along but rather are bisexuals suppressing their homosexual affections, then I wonder if the term “ex-bisexual” would suit her. People who seek to dismiss ex-gays in this manner seem to forget that being bisexual is considered by many in the gay and lesbian advocacy world to be a bona fide sexual orientation. If you are bisexual, then theoretically you are responsive to both genders as an aspect of identity. However if those who describe themselves as ex-gay no longer have attractions to the same sex, then how much does it matter from where they started? Something changed and given the general skepticism about it all, such change is news.
In any event, despite the fact that Ms. Weaver summarily dismissed and disrespected an entire group of people, she continues to sit in her role as an editor of a regional newspaper, deciding what is newsworthy and what is not. Can she be truly objective about such matters? Will her readers ever get to read anything about former homosexuals and form their own perspective about the issue?
It seems highly unlikely. Too bad. It really is news when folks like my friends Noe, Randy, Greg, Cheryl, Alan, Rick, Sarah, Joe, Mike, Sam, Chad, Jeralee, Jim, Peter, JoAnn and others live in a way that many say is impossible.