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Archives, June 23 to June 30, 2005

Thursday June 30, 2005

Fundamentalists And Their Offerings

John Smid has responded to the Queer Action Coalition’s offer to teach a workshop at LIA/R (i.e.: Love In Action/Refuge. such apt initials, eh?). Predictably, Smid turned them down. Reckon he’s too busy dealing with the public relations fallout to even at least Try gaming QAC.

Pay a visit to QAC to see Smid’s entire response. Feel free to send him a piece of your mind at info@loveinaction.org or if you’re feeling talkative, give them a ring at (901)-751-2468.

To: John Smid
From: Bruce Garrett

I see the kids over at the Queer Action Coalition have made you an offer to let them do a workshop at Love In Action. Adorable aren’t they? And I’d consider dialogue between the two of you good for both sides in this matter, if only because I don’t think either of you fully realize yet what you’re dealing with. They are still laboring under the assumption that there is a bottom to that open sewer a fundamentalist calls a conscience. And you don’t seem to fully appreciate how deeply you’ve wounded a lot of young people, not just in Memphis but all over the world, and how resolved they are now to see your walls come tumblin down. But…I see you’ve already turned them away. Probably just as well…

At Love In Action, we offer a conservative Christian viewpoint in which we believe that homosexual sex and romantic relationships are against scripture.

That’s only a half truth though, isn’t it John? You “offer” much, much more then merely a conservative christian viewpoint. You “offer” bogus facts about homosexuals and homosexuality, dressed up as honest science. You “offer” therapy that’s been roundly denounced by professional mental health experts as potentially hazardous to patients. So your outfit isn’t merely a religious based ministry, but something posing as both a therapeutic institution and a resource for facts about homosexuality…neither of which you actually are. It’s one thing to preach a particular religious viewpoint, to assert that however pleased homosexuals are with their lives they’re still living against God’s will, and another to lie outright about them, and about their lives. Where in scripture, does Jesus tell his followers to lie through their teeth when it suits their political ends?

And besides John, you’re not offering anything here…you’re forcing yourselves on helpless teenagers. That’s offering a christian viewpoint, like Dennis Rader was offering Wichita a strangulation service.

Based upon the convictions of the parents who enroll their kids in our program, we offer them what they are seeking.

No John, you don’t. You can’t. They’re coming to you wanting their gay kids turned straight and even you have admitted that Love In Action couldn’t do that to you. It certainly didn’t do it for Jack McIntyre. You think about him every now and then John, or do you consider that a job well done?

Of course, if all parents are seeking is to punish a gay child simply for being gay, then they’ve certainly come to the right man. You’ve been punishing yourself for decades now haven’t you? I’ve heard ex-ex-gays call you a victim of ex-gay ministries too. Problem is though, you’ve never had the inner strength to rise above it, have you? Say…isn’t it true that grown men with self esteem issues often take out their feelings of guilt and self loathing on helpless children?

The parent's guardianship is in place and we cooperate with them to bring their children what they are looking for.

For a tidy sum, that no doubt guarantees nothing…right John? By some estimates you’re yanking over five grand out of Zach’s parent’s and they’re just getting started with you aren’t they? I’ll bet some parents take out second mortgages to pay your bills. You give them advice on how to go about it by any chance? Do you offer full refunds to parents whose children stroll happily back into the gay community once they’ve turned eighteen, and can’t be forced to listen to one of your ex addict staff members lecture them about how their sexual orientation will lead them to bestiality. Do you offer refunds to parent’s whose children kill themselves because you’ve convinced them that God hates them for what they are?

There are other places where a young person can look in to other viewpoints. As a matter of fact, I am sure they have already done that before coming here.

Once again…they don’t come there John…they’re dragged there. Considering the one poor kid in your clutches right now that the world knows of, who was perfectly content to be who he was four weeks ago, I’m sure you know damn well “they have already done that”, and that a lot of the kids imprisoned in your little Pray Away The Gay camp “have already done that”, and were perfectly fine with who and what they are until they found themselves being frog marched around your campus one bright sunny day, ordered not to make eye contact with anyone, made to submit to invasive examinations of their clothing, told what music to listen to, how to wear their hair, what kind of underwear to wear, even how much time to spend in the bathroom.

And there’s the real contribution you’ve made John, to the fight for gay and lesbian civil rights. All these years the ex-gay movement has been telling people that you’re only about giving people an alternative to homosexuality. It was a smarmy, dazzlingly transparent lie, but effective public relations rhetoric. By forcing teens into your little camp, with it’s cult like mind control rules, you’ve utterly obliterated it.

A couple weeks ago, during the first of the protests against the forced commitment of the teen named Zach, an eyewitness caught a glimpse, just a glimpse, of how you systematically brutalize gay teens with his own eyes, and shocked and distraught, told the world what he saw…

Whilst in this centre he [Zach] had to spend the first three days in total silence unable to talk while he was talked to by their counsellors. An eye witness has reported "When we drove around to the front...we saw these men and trailing behind them--four young guys, all with their heads hung, staring at the ground as they walked. They are not allowed to make eyecontact with ANYONE for the first few days.so they are forced to fucking...i'm crying now...but...they have to look at the ground as they walk, for three days it's a walk of shame, their heads hanging for being themselves, for having the courage to stand up and say "this is who i am"...and now all these people are saying 'no you aren't and we will change it. and you will be punished for thinking such things.' I will NEVER get that picture out of my head. those four guys..."

Nor, I rather imagine, will anyone else. Still don’t understand? That happened on a sunny day in Memphis. Less then One Day Later, I saw people from England quoting that witness. His story found its way to a gay web site in England. From there it’s been linked to by blogs from Australia to Norway. The image that one distraught youth will never forget became in less then a week, an image the world will never forget. There’s Love In Action being honest, authentic and real. There’s the image the world is going to see from now on, every time the ex-gay movement open its trap about mutual respect, and the right to choose change. The smiling faces on the We Changed So Can You billboards, becomes four helpless teenagers, treated by ersatz men of god like so much human garbage.

So fire up the next round of YOU CAN CHANGE advertising. You’ve got a monkey on your back that needs the next fix of fresh young kids, all full of the hopes and dreams that you never had the courage of character to reach for yourself. Because as long as they can reach for their dreams, that means you could have too, doesn’t it John. And it only makes you more determined to snuff those dreams out one by one…doesn’t it John? Treat addictive behaviors do you? Then physician heal thyself of the one that keeps giving you permission to emotionally rape gay teenagers and keep calling yourself a man of God…the one that keeps telling you that reality doesn’t matter, the one that keeps telling you that you can believe a yellow wall blue.

To paraphrase Galileo, “And yet it’s yellow…”

The usual regards,

Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Spain Goes With Freedom

Spain has become the third nation to allow same sex couples to marry, beating out Canada by a hair it would seem. To see how far the religious right has already dragged America into the gutter, try to imagine President I’m A Uniter Not A Divider actually talking like he was a uniter and not a divider, actually saying something like what the Spanish Prime Minister did the other day:

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other two countries that allow gay marriage nationwide. Canada's House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday that would legalize gay marriage; its Senate is expected to pass the bill into law by the end of July.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero noted this in debate before the vote.

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality," he told the chamber.

Zapatero said the reform of Spanish legal code simply adds one dry paragraph of legalese but means much more.

He called it "a small change in wording that means an immense change in the lives of thousands of citizens. We are not legislating, ladies and gentlemen, for remote unknown people. We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives."

We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives… I’m trying to imagine president smirking jackass fratboy saying those words and I just can’t. There’s the president he could have been. But he’d have had to want to be that president first.

Much is made in the American press over the Catholic church’s opposition to this, and how much power it has in Spanish politics. But, and this is eminently typical of the mainstream American news media, they’re looking Spanish politics through American eyes, and consequently they’re missing something.

The Roman Catholic Church, which held much sway over the government just a generation ago when Gen. Francisco Franco was in power, had adamantly opposed gay marriage. In its first display of anti-government activism in 20 years, it endorsed a June 18 rally in which hundreds of thousands marched through Madrid in opposition to the bill. Some 20 bishops took part in the June 18 rally.

...

Despite the street protests in Madrid and elsewhere and the petition drive, polls suggest Spaniards supported gay marriage.

You cannot understand Spanish politics today, without understanding what Franco’s dictatorship did to Spain for decades. Franco brutalized Spain, and his rule didn’t end until after he died. Spanish fascists still think of those days fondly, but for everyone else who lived through it, Franco is still very much a raw nerve. The vote that put the socialists into power, widely reported by the same babbling American news media as a capitulation to terrorists, was in fact a reaction by average Spaniards to the manipulation of news by a conservative government. Just days before the election, Spaniards learned that their government knew full well the Madrid train bombs were not the work of the Basque terrorist group ETA, but al-Qaida, even as it was blaming ETA. Leftist politicians had come under fire previously, for meeting secretly with ETA and advocating dialog with them. So it was assumed, rightly, that the government was trying to use the bombing to manipulate the election. That brought memories of Franco rushing back, and it scared the hell out of enough voters that the socialists won. It wasn’t about appeasing terrorists at all…it was the lingering fear of fascism.

And the Catholic church is widely viewed in Spain as having been a willing supporter of Franco’s dictatorship. As deeply as the Spanish may feel themselves to be Catholic, they remember Franco’s rule, and the church’s support of the dictator, and they don’t want the church meddling in their politics anymore. Repression of Gay people is a standard feature of tyranny. One of the first things the Spanish did after leaving the darkness of Franco was begin to liberalize the laws targeting their gay and lesbian neighbors. The church bellyached then, and they’re bellyaching now. But the church was just a tad too cozy with Franco for the average Spaniard to want to listen to them. The crowds that marched with the church against same sex marriage some days ago, were more then likely full of old Spanish fascists, still longing for the days of Franco. That is why the protests had no effect on the government. The church hierarchy is linked now, in too many minds, with Franco. The Spanish may love their church, but they want it out of their politics.

It’s a lesson we should pay attention to here in America. Church and state can become partners only by way of dictatorship, only where freedom of conscience is not permitted.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday June 29, 2005

Marriage And Freedom

One thing you hear often from the kook pews, is how we gays forced the same sex marriage fight on them. Oh, say they, we wouldn’t be trying to pass all these constitutional amendments if you horrible gays weren’t trying so hard to change the fundamental institution of human society.

Actually, as Russell Shorto wrote in all too sickening detail in the New York Times recently (registration required), the problem for them isn’t same sex marriage at all…it’s us. And over the decades of this civil rights struggle, the homophobes have made same sex marriage an issue every step of the way. The latest example is in Maine, where once more the decent folks are trying to get an anti discrimination law to stay on the books, and the bigots are trying to tear it out again. Here’s a letter to the editor that describes how it went

Please know that the way in which the Christian Civics League garnered all the signatures needed was to spread misinformation through their petition campaign. They got people to sign the petition by telling them it was for a bill to ban gay marriage! I probably would have signed that too. THE BILL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GAY MARRIAGE!! The bill was simply to make sure that all humans have equal rights and equal protection against discrimination.

To which the fundamentalists in Maine would I’m sure, handily reply that one thing leads to another and before you know it the faggots are getting married. It’s the argument they’ve used for decades now to oppose our fight for every little crumb of the vast cornucopia of rights heterosexuals take for granted every day. Oh no, we can’t let the gays have equal rights in jobs and housing…that would lead to same sex marriage. Oh no, we can’t let the gays have hospital visitation rights…that would lead to same sex marriage. Oh no, we can’t abolish the sodomy laws…that would lead to same sex marriage. And so on, and so on…

They’ve made every fight a fight for same sex marriage. So it’s only logical, only proper, that we finally engage that fight wholeheartedly ourselves. They have been more right about what this fight is all along then we have. It isn’t about the right to hold down a job. It isn’t about the right to visit the one you love in the hospital. It isn’t even about the right to have sex. This was always a fight for our right to love and be loved, always a fight for our hearts, always a fight for our human identity. The fight between fundamentalism and civilization is always that fight.

It didn’t have to be marriage. If polls showed more people were alarmed at the prospect of gay couples having sex then getting married, the fundamentalists would have called every fight a fight to abolish the sodomy laws instead. Marriage is a hot button still, so the fundamentalists keep pressing it. But they aren’t fighting against same sex marriage. If you doubt that, read the Times article. They’re fighting Us. They want us extinct. Never mind that homosexuality just happens. Never mind that even if they could wipe out every faggot on the face of the earth right this moment, in twenty years there would be a new generation of us walking the earth once more. These are people who will reliably choose to live inside their own hallucinations then deal honorably with reality, because reality doesn’t place them at the right arm of God Almighty. It is exactly the same mindset that once silenced Galileo, threatening him with torture, for acknowledging that the earth moved around the sun, instead of accepting the truth of the Maker’s design.

How do you even reason with that? You can’t. How do you compromise with it. There is no compromise possible. They hate us. They hate us from that place that no reason can reach. They know marriage is the best weapon they have right now against us politically, and they’ll make every civil rights fight we wage into a fight over same sex marriage. A lot of gay people, reading the polls, would rather not fight that fight. But we have no choice.

And besides…it gets us all closer to the right fight after all. Even regarding marriage, our struggle isn’t about couples’ benefits, joint checking accounts, or even critical health care guardianship. It’s about what all of that springs from: our right to love, in our own way, according to our own need. This was always a fight for our hearts, always a fight for our human identity. The fight between fundamentalism and civilization is always that fight. The fundamentalists claim ownership of marriage, as a way of claiming ownership over all of humanity. And they want to define us out of it.

On June 27, 1969, in New York City, gay people began fighting back. Thirty-five years later, the sons and daughters of American liberty, gay and straight alike, are taking that fight back to the haters of the human spirit.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday June 28, 2005

Okay…Now I Know Why The Cowboys Had All Those Homoerotic Overtones To It…

As is usual for my favorite books, I found the film adaptation of William Dale Jennings The Cowboys somewhat less satisfying then the book. Not that I ever really expected scenes like this one to be translated to film faithfully…

Wil began to fret when Cimarron didn't show up. It just about had to mean the beautiful little bastard had got himself into some sort of trouble down to the south. The Old Woman said, "No, maybe he just got himself loose in the foots and free in the fancy. Cimarron ain't no fireside boy, you know. He don't belong to nothing and nobody except himself. Could be he just cut his pocket pin and drifted."

Everybody was looking at him. Wil felt tired and mean. He turned to young Charlie Schwartz and asked, "You're his bunkie. You think that's what he did?"

Young Charlie looked at the ground in what would have been blushing confusion if he hadn't been so tanned. Then he looked up and set Wil Andersen back on his heels. "It takes more then sleeping with a man to know what's on his mind."

Wil looked at the ground. The Old Woman was smiling, but it was a good point. Wil almost liked the boy for a moment, because you could see he was worried about Cimarron too.

Can’t you just picture that in a John Wayne movie? No…neither can I.

The book has remained a favorite for years. It treads a very fine line between coming of age innocence and a tacit assumption that there was more going on between males in the American frontier then you read about in a Zane Gray novel. Jennings certainly seemed to have a real depth of appreciation for the real American West, as opposed to the Hollywood West. But I always wondered how much of the overtones in it were because the author had any real understanding of gay people. Well, now I know.

Damn. I am simply amazed that Hollywood touched this book at all, even allowing for the fact that of course they had to de-faggot it. Maybe someday someone will do a faithful adaptation. Especially, there are scenes at the end of the book where, after having avenged the brutal murder of their trail boss, bringing the herd back together and finishing the long cattle drive, the boys ride their herd into town and quietly but firmly demand respect from the town elders. That should have been in the film too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Love It!

My respect for the grass roots youth organizers at The Queer Action Coalition just keeps growing and growing. These kids are Good!

QAC Offers LIA Workshops to "Show the Other Side" During todays rally at Love In Action headquarters Tommy Corman (read his testimony here), Development Director at LIA extended a hand of friendship to Queer Action Coalition. Our offers of dialog with John Smid were not repulsed and Tommy also stated on camera that LIA's Refuge program was created to "help children and their parents see another side of homosexuality" this and John Smid's statement that Love in Action "[has] nothing to hide" led us to offer the following:

* QAC will host a workshop for the youth going through the Refuge program so that they can get to know queer youth like themselves and have the ability to make informed choices.

If you would like to see this happen send an e-mail of support to Tommy at info@loveinaction.org or give them a call at (901)-751-2468. We hope that Love in Action accepts our offer.

Now that’s impressive!

Everyone reading, please send Tommy your thoughts on this. After all…the kids in his program can’t very well see the “other side” of homosexuality, until they’ve seen all sides…right? Or does he think there is only one side to homosexuality…the side that says that gay is no different from bestiality. If John Smid has nothing to hide, then why is he hiding what he does to kids behind closed doors, and carefully controlled press conferences? Ask Tommy if he would mind if Refuge were brought under the same state oversight other mental health and adolescent therapy institutions are. If that is, they have only the best interests of the child at heart, and have nothing to hide. Oh…and ask him if Refuge is licensed. Not whether or not they have licensed staff, but is Love In Action itself, in fact licensed to provide sex therapy to minors for a fee. He’ll answer that, because they have nothing to hide…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tennessee Child Protective Services Punts

The American Psychiatric Association, says this about reparative therapy:

The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."

The state of Tennessee on the other hand, seems to feel that forcing gay teens into this sort of thing is not child abuse, as last night it was announced that they’ve concluded their investigation into John Smid’s little Pray Away The Gay camp for teens and found no evidence of child abuse. But you had to know this one was a long shot in the bible belt state that once amused a nation with the Scopes Monkey Trial, and where that same county decades later, actually tried to pass a ban on homosexuals.

E.J. over at Cherry Blossom Special, who has been doing a fabulous job keeping people informed and energized, reminds us that this is not a defeat

...because it is, after all, only one investigation. This particular investigation, as many of you reading will know, is very difficult to prove -- we are talking about proving psychological abuse after all. There are a series of ongoing investigations by watchdogs, concerned citizens, and others regarding LIA/R's practices in regards to children.

So we’ve only passed one milestone in what will be a long and at times heartbreaking road. But even though Love In Action is not yet brought down, ironically these past three weeks they’ve been instrumental in ripping apart one of the ex-gay movements primary cover stories: that they are only a group of kindly caring christian people, who only seek to help troubled gays change if they want to. That lie is obliterated by the bizzare and disturbing cult environment the entire world has now seen for itself, that gay teens are being forced into.

1. All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client on safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians. In case of a practical need, Safekeeping clients may write down their question or request and show it to another client, staff member, or their parent or guardian. Writing may only be used when absolutely necessary. Parents and guardians must enforce their child's safekeeping status at home or in their temporary lodging.

-from the Refuge Program Rules (Exceptions to program rules will be granted by C.O.C. (Chain of Command) only.)

Whilst in this centre he [Zach] had to spend the first three days in total silence unable to talk while he was talked to by their counsellors. An eye witness has reported "When we drove around to the front...we saw these men and trailing behind them--four young guys, all with their heads hung, staring at the ground as they walked. They are not allowed to make eyecontact with ANYONE for the first few days.so they are forced to fucking...i'm crying now...but...they have to look at the ground as they walk, for three days it's a walk of shame, their heads hanging for being themselves, for having the courage to stand up and say "this is who i am"...and now all these people are saying 'no you aren't and we will change it. and you will be punished for thinking such things.' I will NEVER get that picture out of my head. those four guys..."

Queerplanet, Turning A Blind Eye

I saw John Smid walking in my direction. He recognized me from my two years in the program.

After some chit chat I questioned him about first-hand reports I heard in January about minors in his residential program placed their against their wills. Also I heard they teens attended sessions with adults. Some of these adults have been involved in bestiality and other extreme sexual practices.

Smid confirmed that minors attend the program and that although they are sometimes placed in the it unwillingly, they usually grow to respect the staff, even while they continue to have problems with their parents for forcing them to attend.

He also confirmed that adults and minors meet in sessions together, but that the conversation is controlled to only focus on feelings and not issues.

(I refrained from saying that any 16-year-old I know is clever enough to figure out pretty quickly what everyone is in for. They will also dicipher the unspoken message that their same-sex attractions are on the same level as a man screwing a pony. That is sick and in my opinion child abuse).

Peterson Toscano's blog

I think for many years now, the gay community has been fairly content to merely ridicule these ex-gay groups. And sure, we can all have a good laugh at John Paulk wandering into Mr. P’s, what was then the seediest of the DuPont Circle gay bars, only months after Exodus had plastered his happy I Changed And So Can You face in newspaper and magazine ads all over the country. It was an all too predictable hoot. But these groups are quietly and deadly serious in their intentions. They, and their big bucks religious right supporters are profoundly eliminationist, asserting time and again that homosexuals do not, and should not exist.

The roll ex-gay ministries play in the religious right’s the political fight to keep gay and lesbian Americans second class citizens is well understood. What’s changed now, irrevocably, is that the two faced nature of their appeal to individual choice is finally out on the table for everyone to see. It is a lie. On a sad spring morning in Memphis a couple weeks ago, Andrew Stopps of Queerplanet saw with his own eyes, four young teens who had utterly no choice at all, being frogged marched into John Smid’s tender loving care, into a closed off world where teens are routinely tossed into sex therapy sessions side by side with adults who have engaged in bestiality.

So the fight goes on, as it will and must. We have not won a battle…Love In Action has won it for us. They have done more to damage the credibility of the ex-gay ministries then a hundred John Paulks visiting a hundred seedy drag bars could ever have. John Smid has obliterated utterly, the claim that ex-gay ministries act out of compassion for troubled gays and only want to give them a choice. They are neither compassionate, nor respectful of individual choice. And now the world can see them for the predators they are.

Zach, the teen whose desperate plea for help energized this fight, now has combined over two thousand messages of love and support in the comments of several of his last blog entries (there are now one or two trolls posting there too now, who I strongly suspect are associated somehow with Love In Action, but you had to see that coming). He hasn’t logged on himself, but friends have said that he is aware of the support. You have to join MySpace to leave a comment, but it is free, and if you feel so inclined you might give the kid some support here. Or if you just want to see the power of the human spirit, and genuine love in action, just visit and read the messages. If you click on the comments section of Zach’s last post, the one with the astonishing 1400 plus messages, sad to say, but you’ll have to click past page one and go straight to page three or four and read from there. The Love In Action trolls have flamebait all over the first two pages now alas. On the other hand, there’s nothing like seeing religious right bullies kicking a helpless kid in the face, to stiffen your resolve to fight back, and keep fighting back no matter what…

Hey, you don't know me either, but I read about this. I just gotta say hold on. You've got thousands of people behind you now! Don't give in to this christian right propoganda. I'm not gay, but I can support everything you're doing! Keep it up, don't let em bring you down! Maybe someone post some contact details for these assholes at the "Love in Action" place.

-- just be YOURSELF!

Look, I don't know you at all, but I read your blog...and I wish you the best of luck, really. Over everything else, be brave, be yourself, and I hope everything will be allright.

All my luck goes out to you.

Don't worry ma padna. I am confidant that you will get through this. I wish you the most luck. Those places are evil and against Jesus' will because he preached acceptance and love.

Dear Zach,

Please be strong, and try to remember that you are right, you are a good person, and there is nothing "wrong" with you. It is your parents who are simply ignorant.

I came across this randomly, but I just wanted to say that my thoughts are with you. I'm writing a letter, even though I'm far away, and this story has certainly reached far and wide over the internet (you should see all the livejournal communities posting about it!)

I hope that everything works out.

Sweetie, if you can read this, a straight woman at my LJ said she was going to have nightmares about this tonight.

She suggested that you treat it the way a soldier would treat being interrogated by the enemy.

Wow. Reading all the support you've gotten from complete strangers brought a tear to my eye.

This is Goddamned wrong. I'm a Christian myself, and every time I hear about right-wing douchebags pulling shit like this, I start to feel ashamed by association.

I found you through my friend Zack on Live Journal. I created this just because I wanted to say that I'm sorry you have to go through this. Yet another example of how overzealous religions are tearing apart families and destroying lives. Please stay strong. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Jo

Hi, sweetie. I know that you have no bloody idea who the heck I am, but my name's Sara and I'm behind you, 150%. Your parents are the ones that are going to suffer from this, believe me. In a few years, they're going to feel like sick freaks (which they are), and regret every hurtful thing they've ever done to you. You're such a good person, never give up. As you can see, all of us are doing all we can to help, so all I can say for now is, hang in there. I plan on contacting GLAAD through one of my former classmates, who's in her college branch.

Best of luck,

*~* Sara *~*

I also just read about your awful situation on another message board. Please be strong and don't let the ignorance and the fear destroy you. There is nothing wrong with being gay and it's not a matter of choice. God could care less about sexual preferences-all that's asked is that we love one another -gender and genitals have nothing to do with it.. I will hold you in my prayers daily.

Hang in there. I'm sorry your family has reacted so badly, but stay strong. The world is full of people who support you and who are wishing the very best for you.

I wish there was more I could offer.

Yet another person you don't know Zach, but I heard about your plight from the Pam's House Blend blog. You are to be commended for being strong to this point, and like everyone else I urge you to stay strong.

Found out about what was going on through a forum, so here's a random stranger wishing you luck and sending good feelings your way.

I hope you get through it whole, hon. I'll be sure to send that place a letter letting them know exactly what I think of them.

Just remember: You are who you are. There is nothing wrong with that, God made you as you are. Stay strong.

Just a comment from a girl in Oklahoma who is keeping you in her heart and thoughts.

I just wanted to say, like many others have said, stay strong and don't let your will fade. Just keep going, and don't ever let them try to change who are you (Not that I think you would allow that)

You have so many people supporting you through this tough time, and the number continues to grow. We will continue to protest this dehumanizing treatment, and maybe, one day, we can keep other's from having to suffer through this same fate.

Just keep swimming...

Blessings to you, Zach -- I'm pulling for you!

Hey, kid,

You don't know me, but I heard about this and just wanted to offer my love and support. just remember that no matter what anyone tells you about what you should be. In your heart you know who you are. Never deny that. I wish I had your courage at such a young age. I don't even know if you'll get a chance to read this, but just never forget who you know you are. no matter what happens.

Zach

Stay strong. Always be yourself, and dont let ANYONE change that. You can make it through this, just stay strong.

Zach,

Stay strong. You're a fighter, and you just need to keep fighting.

Even though you feel alone, there are thousands of us out here who are thinking about you, praying for you and willing you to come out of this safe, well, and happy.

You're perfect just the way you are, being gay is a part of who you are, and something you should be proud of.

I know this is the lowest point in your life, but think of the high points to come. You've got your whole life ahead of you, to live out in freedom, with friends and lovers who care about you. Focus on the future, focus on the possibilities, focus on achieving your potential.

Keep doing whatever you need to do in order to survive this, and know that none of this will last forever.

You're in my thoughts.

Take care of yourself, the world needs more people like you in it.

hey, you don't know me either but i just wanted to say hang in there.

You see, Zach, there are hundreds of people out there, just like me, that don't know you from Adam, but we still love you and care for you. You've got hundreds of people praying for you.

All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Zach - Just another person here who read about you. Hang in there! It's got to be absolutely crazy right now, but hold on and believe in yourself and what is right for you.

I am another stranger, moved to tears by your story. I am so sorry you must endure such torment for who you are. It is simply wrong.

I am so heartened to see there are people protesting this cruel institution; and those of us that are far away will keep you in our thoughts.

I don't know you, my friend (who I don't think knows you either) had a link to your blog in her blog. I don't know what to say, except that I agree with what you and everyone else has said and those people are completely insane and should be locked away forever. If you are reading this, and if it means anything coming from a stranger-- hang in there. You're really brave.

oh sweetheart, i wish i could somehow help you. i dont know what i could say over the internet from 1,500 other than my heart is with you. knowing that this kind of terrible thing can be going on in a supposed "free" country is amazing to me.

just get through it is all thats important. get through it and never compromise who you are. you are beautiful and there is NOTHIGN wrong with you no matter what they tell you. NEVER FORGET THAT!

Hi Zach. You don't know me, but just stay strong, be yourself and keep fighting! You are who you are and that's that all that matters! I think it's awful that you're having to going through this. I'm 19 and living in north Mississippi. I wanted to post and give you my full support. I think it's horrible that your parents would sink so low as to do this to you. I'll keep you in my thoughts, just hang in there.

Hey -
Another stranger here who found this from a concerned person on LJ. There's very little I can say that hasn't already been said on here. I read the rules of this "camp" and was completely outraged. Hopefully one of those many organizations that have heard of this will have a hand in shutting this "camp" down. Meanwhile, stay true to yourself. Whatever god is out there does not hate you for being who you are. Listen to the many voices supporting you on here, then decide to do what is right for you.

I, as well as many, many others, will be keeping you in my thoughts.

Thinking of you, kid. Hang in there. People you don't even know love and feel for you and are rooting for you. Screw these fascist bastards. I'm so sorry.

Be strong, kid, and try to be true to yourself. All of this will pass, though it does not seem like it ever will. The Lord does his own loving and he surely loves you: who is anyone else to tell you otherwise?

Good luck.

Now visit The Queer Action Coalition and get involved.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday June 26, 2005

Night Out With The Boys

Went out to the clubs in D.C. last night with longtime friend Jon Laramore and his boyfriend Joe. I’m not much for the scene, but after all the stress the past couple weeks, and especially plumbing the gutter that calls itself Love In Action. I needed a break, and to spend time with a few decent friends to get my balance back. There is more to this world, I had to keep telling myself every day, over and over for a while, then louts like John Smid. John and Joe took me here and there in the little gay neighborhood around DuPont Circle, and after a while of seeing all the carefree faces and happy, contented couples (and one or two really really cute longhaired guys), and talking for some hours with a couple old friends able to hold an intelligent conversation, I could feel at least some of the stress of the past couple days sloughing off. It was good. Thanks much guys. I really needed that.

Jon started the GLIB (Gay and Lesbian Information Bureau) BBS back in the mid 80s, which was a godsend for many of us shy gay geeks in the area. If you felt out of place in the bar scene there really weren’t many places you could go to meet people and make friends back then.

Jon created GLIB to be a resource of news and information for the local gay community, and eventually as it grew in size and scope many of us (including me) volunteered to help keep it running. In the days before the Internet was open to all, GLIB was a place were you could meet and chat with people in a context that wasn’t all about hooking up. We had message boards where everything from politics to computers (BBSs back then attracted mostly the computer geek crowd), to just random Washington D.C. area social chit-chat. Eventually we started having regular Friday night gatherings. A lot of us still remember that time fondly.

There’s a new documentary out about the BBS phenomena of the 80s, titled BBS: The Documentary, and Jon is one of the people in it interviewed. GLIB won Boardwatch’s best BBS system award many years in a row, an amazing achievement for a system that catered to a minority that still struggles daily against prejudice and hate. But GLIB was run in such a diligent professional manner, and was loved by so many people all over the country, that in the hayday of BBS systems it just kept getting one kudo after another. I was glad to see him still getting some recognition for his work.

GLIB still exists, but as a web site now. The Internet pretty much drew the wind out of the BBS phenomena. There is so much now for gay people to access on the net, compared to what used to be. Nearly all the local gay community newspapers have their own presence on the web, and several large sites offer a range of features, from news to chat to personals. It’s a very different world now. But some of us will never forget what GLIB, and the GayCom BBS network that sprang up around it for a while, did for our lives.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Rally Monday Afternoon At Love In Action Campus In Memphis

At: 4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee, 1.5 miles north of I-40 on Austin Peay Hwy. More details Here. Spread the word. If you’re in the Memphis area, please consider joining in.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday June 25, 2005

When I Knew

Because June is Pride Month, I want to get my new cartoon series started here sometime before it’s over. It’s a Coming Out To Self story, which for me is one of the best parts of Pride. Every year you see more and more of them. It’s a way we gay folk have of reclaiming our past from the haters who insist that our sexuality is the result of damage. If there are wounds in our past it’s because they put them there, and this claim they make now that as adults we are just so much damaged goods is only their way of perpetuating the wound, of making sure we never stop hating ourselves as much as they hate us. So we tell our stories. To the world surely, or at any rate that part of the world that is open to the evidence of our lives. But more importantly, we tell our stories to each other. In one way or another, we are all survivors.

It’s something gay bloggers especially should do more of. I saw the liberating power of the personal computer and computer networks back in the 80s when, while part of a small gay BBS network, I saw a post from a teenage boy in the Netherlands, telling the group that he thought he might be gay, but wasn’t sure, and he wanted us to tell him how it was we first knew about ourselves. From all over the world this kid got Coming Out To Self stories, and I knew then that we as a people would never have to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes ever again. In these times, when the religious right is going on a rampage against gay and lesbian people, the simple honest stories of our own lives are probably our best weapon of self defense. They say the truth will set you free. It is certainly empowering.

I first wrote my story some years ago. In this week’s Advocate, Bruce Steele writes Mom, I Kind Of Like Him, about an early clue to his own sexual orientation he found in his fascination with 1970 teeny pop icons Jack Wilde, Donny Osmond, and David Cassidy. Oh gosh…I have that Pufnstuf soundtrack myself, and I can still hear Momma Cass singing Different (my other favorite track was Zap The World. Dang…Billie Hayes did the best witch ever…). And just a while ago I ran across this great post from Prosaic, titled When I Knew.

When did I know? Well, and I’m surely not alone in this regard, I have two answers to that. There is when I finally admitted it to myself, finally spoke the words “I’m Gay” (I literally looked at myself in a mirror while I did it, because I had to prove to myself I had the nerve to go on dealing with it honestly, because I knew it was either that or the closet and its relentless downward spiral of self destruction, and I was determined at that point that I wasn’t going there). And then there is when I first began to realize I had this thing for other guys that I couldn’t quite explain to myself. Not only was I simply not ready for it when I was a very young kid, I literally had no vocabulary for it. In 1960s suburbia, ‘gay’ did not have the meaning in the school yard it does now, and using words like ‘homo’ and ‘fag’ would get you a slapping by the teacher (they could do that back then), so I seldom heard them, and had not a clue as to what they meant, other then some bigger kid was picking on you.

So there was a period of time in my life, when I would find myself suddenly arrested by the sight of a magazine or newspaper swimsuit or underwear ad, simultaneously unable to tear my eyes away, terrified that someone would catch me looking, and utterly confused about what was going on inside of me. Even at a tender age, I knew that guys weren’t supposed to be interested in other guys that way. Especially other guys who weren’t wearing much. Yet ironically enough, being raised in a Baptist household I was constantly barraged with the message that young men shouldn’t be looking at girls too closely either. That part I had absolutely no problem with. Straight boys of my generation sometimes talk about sneaking peeks at Playboys during that time in their lives. For me it was the Sears catalogue, and stolen glances at the other boys at the beach. At that age my thoughts were not sexual, I had no real understanding at that time in my life about sex. The sight of an unclothed male body produced in me only a deeply felt yearning I could put no words to, which was both confusing and at the same time thrilling.

I had no language for it, but knew without a doubt that if anyone caught me looking I was in for it. In junior high school I got tagged with the ‘dork’ label for being a tad too vocal at the wrong time and the wrong place about my general disdain for the company of girls. It wasn’t that I hated women. By then the peer pressure to be interested in girls was on. It started the moment we all began our journey though puberty, and I hated it. It kept spoiling the fun I was having in the company of my male friends. One moment the conversation would be about cars or TV or monster movies or firecrackers, the next it would be about girls’ bodies, usually in language strong enough to make a young Baptist really uncomfortable anyway. When that happened I would just zone out on the conversation. It wasn’t long before I realized that everyone around me could plainly see my disinterest in girls. But I was a stubborn young thing, and rather then fake an interest, I dug in my heels and asserted an above it all attitude. The only thing that saved me from being branded a queer was that little of what any of us had been taught back then about homosexuals fit me. I wasn’t girlish, and I wasn’t psycho. I was just a skinny little twerp from a very religious family. So by the time I entered high school, everyone pretty much took me for a late blooming dweeb.

And that only deepened my resentment of all the peer pressure to start dating. I began writing off the whole dating thing as something only dumb jocks and other morons bothered with. While watching movies, when the obligatory romance scenes would begin, I was immediately out to the lobby to get myself a treat. Nothing bored me to tears more, not even mom’s hawaiian music records. I just couldn’t sit though it. But I could sit down and contentedly watch a whole Partridge Family episode and I didn’t even like the character David Cassidy was playing, let alone the music they made him play.

By the time I was sixteen I knew two things about myself perfectly well: That I didn’t have the slightest interest in girls, and that I had an almost electric response to good looking guys, especially ones that weren’t wearing much. I knew enough about sex by then to know where I didn’t want my thoughts straying. The only thing that got me though gym class showers without getting a hard-on was my ability to completely tune out the world around me on demand, and be somewhere far away in my imagination…a trick Vacation Bible School taught me. But how to reconcile the two without going somewhere I just wasn’t ready to go? I found a kind of dual solace in art.

Since elementary school I’d been a compulsive drawer and painter. My notebooks were more full of doodles then notes, (my first grade teacher, I later learned, once wrote in my file that I took “excessive interest in personal art projects”…perhaps detecting a hint of the budding queer in me…). At my drawing table I could sketch all the handsome boys in class I wanted to, secure in the knowledge that I was just doing something every artist does, paying tribute to beauty. Even male beauty was not off limits for an artist after all. Oh, and…uhm…studying anatomy. I created a self image as artist, in which I was allowed to be both different, and noticing of male beauty. It was a self image of equal parts self honesty and self deception. The need to make art is at least as powerful a force within me as is sex. But I was hiding my sexual orientation within it from my peers, and more urgently, from myself. Looking back on it, I realize I had to do it that way.

I still have memories of that time, and those quiet adolescent moments by myself at my drawing table, deathly concentrating on a drawing of a beautiful male classmate. My technical pencil would carefully, lovingly, describe each and every part of his body. Part of me had to know then. But the rest of me didn’t want to. And because of that I very nearly missed out on one of the great joys of life: that first high school romance.

And that’s what I’ll never forgive the bigots for doing to me, and my generation, and the generations before mine.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday June 24, 2005

If God Didn’t Want Us To Lie, He Wouldn’t Have Given Us Mouths…

The story of the state of Tennessee’s investigation into John Smid’s little Pray Away The Gay camp for teens is making the mainstream press now. A.P. has a story up, and in it Smid reverts to his deceptions about the involuntary nature of his program:

"The Internet accusations on holding kids without their permission ... and the other crazy allegations are ridiculous," said John Smid, the group's executive director.

...

Earlier this month, a Web logger going by the name of "Zach" said his parents were sending him to a religious organization that would try to convert him to heterosexuality.

The teen identified himself as a 16-year-old from Bartlett, Tenn., and said his parents "tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me. ... I'm a big screwup to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears ... and I can't help it."

Edwards said DCS can't say if its investigation is related to that boy's situation, or even specify when the complaint was filed.

But Smid says it is connected. He said the accusation was probably filed by someone who read the blog and used it "as a foundation to stir up a bunch of stuff."

"The doors are not locked down and the kids are not required to be here, and they come here with their parents," Smid said.

This is what Smid was saying during his press conference last week:

We feel deeply convicted in the scriptural principle of the responsibility of Christian parents to raise their minor children in spiritual training in life and behavior as described in Ephesians 6:4.

We facilitate a ministry called 'Refuge.' It is our intent with this program to assist the parents of minor children in bringing forth information and awareness in helping these young people in making informed decisions about how they will chose to act upon their sexuality upon reaching adulthood.

This program is operated on the will of the guardian or parent. We will work with the minor children as long as they are not overtly distracting to their own program or the program of others.

So to Memphis he’s saying that the volition of the teen is not his concern. This program is operated on the will of the guardian or parent. In other words, parents not only can, but according to Smid have a christian obligation, to force gay teens into programs like his. But to the Associated Press he says that charges teens are being forced into the program are ridiculous. Can you say “Two Faced Liar”?

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor…But Against Thyself, Hey, Go Ahead And Lie Through Your Teeth…

So. To summarize. We don’t keep teens in the program against their will. We don’t care whether or not a teen wants to be in the program, because we operate on the will of the parent. And this is all the fault of outside agitators.

The wall is yellow. The wall is blue.

John Smid, Man of God. You know…the one sometimes referred to as the father of lies.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Ahh…False Alarm… (or Image or Something…)

Zach’s profile and his blog are still up after all. Apparently MySpace was having some general profile issues, and none of Zach’s things were actually deleted. So the messages of love and support can keep coming in, which is good. I only raised the alarm because the friggin’ MySpace message I got earlier was that the account had either been closed or deleted. The good thing to come of all this is that it’s scared some people over in the Free Zach group enough to make them start archiving the pages. Good.

Sorry to everyone about the false alarm. It’s been a stressful few weeks for everyone I know.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

I Was Waiting For This

And of course, the instant the Investigation by Tennessee authorities into child abuse at Love In Action gets announced publicly, Zach’s MySpace account gets deleted. You have to figure that all those messages of love and support Zach was getting from all over the world were really starting to get to them (at last count there were over 1251 added to his last message on his blog).

I’d actually been surprised this hadn’t happened before. But you had to know it was going to happen. Smid wants to erase Zach from the inside out. To do that, he needs to cut the poor kid off from everything he has ever known, every friend he has ever made, every wonder and joy he has ever discovered about life. This is what Smid does to everyone who comes into his clutches. If you are going to pay attention to what these ex-gay groups are doing to people, you have to have a certain stomach for watching this slow steady, deliberate erasure of a human spirit happen. To do the work of defending the people trapped in these groups you must be strong, because Smid, and all the others of his kind, want you to look away. Just remember…

And if you look long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Stay strong people, those of you who are in this fight. You are fighting the good fight. Every time you refuse to let anger turn to hate, every moment you refuse to let horror and despair make you look the other way, you defeat hate.

There is a Free Zach blog on MySpace, which has been staying on the case. When I get a chance I’ll post a list of all the other blogs close to the case. I’ve already mentioned the Queer Action Coalition. They’re presently calling for another rally at the Love In Action HQ. They’re also accepting Donations now, via PayPal.

What: Queer Action Coalition Rally at Love in Action Head Quarters
When: 4:30-5:30pm Monday June 27th,2005
What you can do: Attend the rally and/or publicize this event to your friends and family and get in touch with your local politician here.

Queer Action Coalition invites all interested members of the public to show their support for the youth going through the Love In Action program Refuge. Refuge is a program that aims to change the sexual orientation of youth and adults through "Bible based reparative therapy". Come and show your support on Monday for open and honest dialog and for all people affected by this issue.

This rally will be fun. We also encourage all those that couldn't make it to the previous rallies to come to this one. The more people the stronger the message.

Check back tomorrow for a downloadable flyer.

4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee, 1.5 miles north of I-40 on Austin Peay Hwy

They’re also planning a press conference for this week sometime, and are looking for professionals to help out.

QAC will be holding a press conference this week. We are looking for people with professional religious, medical, psychiatric or counseling experience. If you know someone (a preacher from your church, a doctor or psychiatrist) please contact fighting.homophobia@gmail.com with any information. This is urgent and we would really like support from you guys. Thank you all so much!

Please give them any support you can.

John Smid…are you reading this? I’m not going away. And there are thousands here on the net, just like me…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

I’m Writing You Up For Being A Heathen

Maybe I should just stay the hell out of the bible belt until after the rapture

GREER, S.C. -- A volunteer police officer in Greer is under investigation after a Greenville County couple accused the officer of promoting his religion during a traffic stop.

Tony Gainey and D.J. Gainey said reserve officer Tony Stewart pulled them over because of the bumper stickers on their car. One of the stickers read, "It's a druid thing."

Both of them believe in druidism -- a nature-and-art focused religion.

The officer cited Tony Gainey for driving with a suspended license, not having proper license plates or proof of insurance.

Gainey said Stewart asked them about their bumper stickers. They said a few days later they received a card and letter from Stewart.

In the card he wrote: "God is calling you to listen to words from the Baptists. This is clear! If you deny this, then you are pushing away the hand of God and that would not be wise."

D.J. Gainey said, "He really felt like he was led to talk to us, to give us the message that God wanted us to hear because we were not following the right way."

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday June 24, 2005

YES!!!

Finally… someone in charge starts paying attention:

The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.

K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.

Gay activists protested outside an unlicensed 'ex-gay' facility run by Love In Action, which Tennessee officials are investigating to see if teens are being mistreated.

Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen's communications office.

Refuge, Love in Action's program for adolescents, became the focus of public concern earlier this month after a Bartlett, Tenn., teen who uses the blogger name Zach, posted online entries that say his parents had responded to his coming out as gay by sending him to a religious institution to be converted to heterosexuality.

"Emotional abuse is difficult to prove in the state of Tennessee," said Pamela Dickey, director of the advocacy center for Childhelp USA in Knoxville. "You have to document that the child is undergoing depression or suicidal ideation, that he can't sleep, or can't eat."

Well…there is his plea for help in his last blog entry, where he talks about suicide. Hopefully they can talk to Zach in private during this investigation, ideally with a doctor who still thinks science matters, unlike Stephan Rice who seems perfectly content to blow off the findings of the professional organization he was once a local president of, in favor of John Smid’s delusional The Yellow Wall Is Blue voodoo. Even better if they could then extend the investigation to all the other kids imprisoned there.

Once more, here is the contact information for the various authorities that should be involved:

Tennessee Board of Health
Office of Investigations
Third Floor Cordell Hull Building,
425 Fifth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37247

The website of the Tennessee Department of Health is here.

It might be helpful to point them to Peterson Toscano’s blog entry, where he says Smid confirmed to him that adults and minors meet in sessions together, and that some of those adults (and for all anyone knows, people on Smid’s staff) were involved in bestiality and other extreme sexual practices. Be polite, but insistant, and ask the good folks at the Tennessee Department of Health if Smid should be mixing minors with adults like that while treating adolescents for sexual issues. Ask them what they’re doing to bring some oversight to these organizations and protect minors whose parents or guardians have committed them into them.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

In Their Own Words…(continued)

Peterson Toscano, whose upcoming one man show in Memphis I’ve mentioned in a post below, is also writing a book, soon he says to be published, about his experiences going through various ex-gay programs. It is titled, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement, and it looks like it will be a really great read. He has a chapter excerpt on his web site, with some details about his two year (!) experience in John Smid’s Love In Action program. He’s clearly able to look back on it all now with some humor, which is just great to see. But reading it is still more then a little disturbing, when you consider that this stuff is also being done to young teens who are imprisoned there against their will…

Each Tuesday night at "Rules Rap" participants confessed to the group the rules they broke in the previous week. Sometimes the staff or even a participant questioned someone about a pattern of rule breaking. "Phil, this is the third week in a row that you confessed to not making your bed. Whatís behind that?"

Every week I presented a list of various rules that I broke, but there were two I succumbed to regularly. The one stated that we had to report all false image (or F.I.) behavior. This rule constantly confused and challenged all of us. Basically, the staff wanted to weed out all behavior, dress and manner of speech that was false to our identity of healthy, celibate, ex-gay, godly, manly men. They believed that gay men hid behind certain clothing and stylized behavior to mask their shame and the inner hurt that derived from so much sinning. At any moment, a participant or staff member challenged someone about F.I. behavior or clothing. A typical challenge would go like this, "Martin, I want to challenge you," often said with more of an inflection of a question than an assertive statement. A pause of up to 15 seconds gave Martin a chance to stand up and brace himself. The challenger continued, "The way that you are always humming to yourself seems isolating. It may also be F.I. behavior. I want you to look at the possibility that you are hiding behind the unrealistic dream of being an up and coming contemporary Christian recording artist."

...

We had more F.I. challenges flying around that house than Mississippi Delta mosquitos...

Go read the whole thing. This is pretty standard cult brainwashing technique, for beating down individualism and self esteem and replacing it with groupthink. Also note the heavy reliance on insider buzzwords (“False Image” in this example)…another well documented trait of cult behavior. As I’ve said before, the involuntary nature of Refuge changes everything. It’s one thing to see it being done to people who have gone in willingly (or at any rate as willing as anyone who’s been programmed to hate themselves can be said to be). It’s another for this sort of thing to be done to teens who were otherwise content with themselves, by coldly selfish and contemptible parents. It’s like watching in a kind of dull horror, while a mother bird pecks the wings off of her own chick.

Toscano went in of his own accord, but even so, that he can look back on it with this kind of insight and humor is a powerful testament to the human spirit, and the first thing I’ve seen in nearly three weeks that has really lifted my spirits. When his book is released, I intend to snatch up the first copy I see.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Request For Information

Ex Gay Watch is putting out a request for help locating all the so-called live-in ministries (read: prisons) of the ex-gay cult movement:

Where's A 'Live-In Ministry' Near You?

Exodus calls them "live-in ministries" and helps market them.

Critics call them "ex-gay camps" or compulsory "brainwashing" facilities.

Whatever one calls them -- we'd like to know where more of them are.

Exodus boasts of four -- in Georgia, Kansas, Montana and Tennessee.

Where are others -- the ones nearest you? Let us know, via the comments.

Check out the comments section on this post here, and if you know of one that isn’t mentioned, or can confirm one that is, please leave a comment letting them know.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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