Showing posts with label Randy Thomas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Randy Thomas. Show all posts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fighting against Self-Righteous Fundamentalism and Bigotry

Yesterday, I received an email from an old friend who was really upset by my efforts with Joel 2:25 International and Reparative Therapy. His email includes the misunderstandings I hear most often from those critical of my journey and my ministry work. I hear their anger. I also believe though that they are transferring the anger they have toward self-righteous fundamentalists who have said and done hurtful things in the past. 

It appears that they also assume that I am saying and supporting that same bigotry. I am NOT. If there is one thing I wish they would understand, it is that we really are on the same side in the fight against Self-Righteous Fundamentalism and Shame.

I have provided his original email along with my responses below:
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Dear Jeremy:

I just read the article in Towleroad where you are promoting David Pickup, your mentor's reparative therapy billboard that just went up in Dallas.  Given our past conversations, I have held my tongue because I felt like I was addressing a brick wall, but I really can no longer be silent. http://www.towleroad.com/2015/01/billboards-promoting-reparative-therapy-planned-in-dallas.html?onswipe_redirect=no&oswrr=1 I've also read on your Facebook recently where you were touting your Russian launch of Joel 2:25 (your reparative therapy organization).   Given the hatred the Russian president and government has put into law in Russia and the torture that we've seen gays endure in those horrific videos there, I now find your organization even more disgusting.  

If you were to ask anyone in our Russian group, they would tell you that Joel 2:25 has been a source of support and encouragement for them. Everything we do is about improving self-esteem and self-worth and reducing or eliminating shame. We fight hard against bigotry, intolerance, and violence and we have been able to help a few men and women escape from family situations that were as you described.

An investigative reporter who initially had the same view interviewed several of our guys from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. She originally thought she would prove that we were causing "harm." After she interviewed them though, she contacted me and said she had changed her mind. Everyone she talked to said that Joel 2:25 was one of the best things that had ever happened to them. She is still critical of our views, but when she published her article, she was fair in sharing what these men had actually said about their experiences in Joel 2:25: LINK: Gay Men in Homophobic Countries Turn to Controversial U.S. Groups for Help 

I gave an hour long television interview which was broadcast via satelite to Iran. My entire focus was on helping the viewers understand that Same-Sex Attraction was NOT a choice and that it was no one's "fault." I also got a few minutes at the end to speak directly to anyone watching who was experiencing SSA themselves. Here is what I said in those last few minutes: VIDEO LINK: Message to Iranians with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) - Farsi

I, along with others in the gay community, the community you were once a part of and have now rejected, will continue to fight your dangerous organization along with the others like Northstar that you so proudly congratulate on your Facebbook page, along with your praise of the cast of "My Husband Is NOT Gay."  Your words:  "I'm thankful for the courage and bravery of my friends Curtis & Tera, Prett & Megan, Ty, Jeff & Tanya and others from NorthStar and Joel 2:25 who have been willing to share their testimonies with many of us for several years and now in a very public way."  I  too watched the show and I find those GAY men, like YOU, who are trying to suppress and live a life that is UNNATURAL to the way they were created by God just sad and pathetic, full of frustration and yes, self loathing.  I find their wives even sadder, non-trusting and frustrated in a sham of a marriage!  (they and you should read this article -- how unsuccessful gay Mormon men and straight women are with marriage -- 70% end in divorce compared to 25% straight Mormans.

Religion has damaged so many of us, but thankfully, many of us have used the minds and intelligence we were given to learn that we are perfect just as we were created.  I've said it before to you -- you question the creation -- YOU --  you are questioning the Creator - GOD.

I'm sure you read the suicide note of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, the transgender teen who took her life recently.  Her note stated that her parents had put her into Christian therapy where she was told that she was WRONG.   They tried to repair someone who WAS NOT BROKEN, just as you were not broken before you immersed yourself in reparative therapy.  (her letter is below if you haven't read it)

I read Joshua Alcorn's post and am as devastated by his suicide as you are. It is a horrific tragedy. I cannot imagine the pain that he must have gone through which led to his Gender Identity Disorder and then to his suicide. This young man needed unconditional love - not to have his genitals surgically mutilated at the age of 16. There was nothing wrong with him or his male body. It is a tragedy that the "transgender" propaganda convinced him that the only way he could be happy would be change who he is.

I do not know what kind of church his family went to or what kind of counselor they talked to. I do know that IF he had gone for real Reparative Therapy it would have helped him to heal and accept himself as a man. I have three friends in Joel 2:25 who are Ex-"Transgendered." They would also encourage anyone in Joshua's position to seek out healing. I do not know what other emotional wounds he had though so I do not know whether that would have prevented this suicide. This kind of tragedy goes much deeper than politics.

Just this week, Randy Thomas, a former "ex-gay" poster boy and VP of the now defunct Exodus International (the organization that you were once a part of that you once highly praised to me) came out as gay BECAUSE a gay Christian friend of his committed suicide.   "His death shook me to my core and made all the questions I had been asking were even more stark, consequential and pressing."

I've known Randy for several years. He's never really been an "ex-gay poster boy."  He never went for Reparative Therapy nor attempted to address any of the underlying issues he had. During his time at Exodus, he was proud to be a "celibate gay christian" and fought against everything anyone tried to do to bring real healing and address the real issues (rather than "pray away" or "white knuckling"). His recent "coming out" is not a change. He never left the "gay" identity in the first place. That is his choice and I respect his right to make his own decisions, but he and Alan Chambers have never been spokespersons for the rest of us. 

You once were very troubled and asked why I once told you that  "Blood is on your hands, Jeremy".  Well, these are just two examples.  There are thousands more and if you can't see that, Jeremy, you simply aren't looking and DO NOT WANT TO know the truth and the danger of your mission.

I am strongly against you and Joel 2:25 and other reparative therapy organizations because THEY ARE KILLING PEOPLE, making people feel less than, perpetuating self-loathing.   So, I will increase my fight to counter and fight you by showing those with religious damage and family rejection that they are PERFECT, just as they were created.   I will fight you and these organizations, especially on behalf of gay and transgender teens like Leelah, who have no choice when their parents force them into reparative therapy which kills the spirit of a young person, defeats them where suicide many times feels like their only option!  

I can understand your anger toward fundamentalists who have judged and shamed people like us. I am angry at them too. I fight alongside you against that bigotry. I am saddened that my work and that of RT has been in any way associated with that in many people's minds. Everything we do in Joel 2:25 and everything about Reparative Therapy is focused on improving self-esteem, self-worth, and self-acceptance while eliminating shame. 

You have fought and continue to fight to keep laws from passing that prevent reparative therapy for children, those under 18.  I will continue to fight UNTIL more laws are passed (like in CA and NJ). I will fight you until Joel 2:25, Northstar and David Pickup and your rhetoric are extinct, just like Exodus International and Evergreen have gone belly-up!   You have proudly authored the endorsement of reparative therapy in the Texas Republican platform.  Well, I will say it again and yes, I know my words are strong and harsh - but they are true -- BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS!l   

Do you not find it ironic that you argued above that Joshua Alcorn should have had his genitals surgically mutilated at the age of 16 to CHANGE his entire gender and yet you want to ban counseling for anyone that age who wants to change their sexual behavior? Which is more invasive and likely to cause lifelong harm?  Why not encourage young men like Joshua to accept themselves as they were BORN instead of forcing 16 year olds who do not want the gay life to embrace your "gay" label?

 I find you and these organizations extremely dangerous, appalling and disgusting -- not unlike the 9-ex-leaders of Gay Conversion Therapy who recently apologized to the LGBT community. (http://time.com/3065495/9-ex-leaders-of-the-gay-conversion-therapy-movement-apologize/)

Just like Randy, these 9 self-proclaimed "leaders" never went for Reparative Therapy. None of what they describe has anything to do with what we promote. They fought against the idea of emotional healing from the beginning. They went from being fundamentalist "pray it away" to the opposite extreme. Neither of which is healthy. They have nothing to say on the topic because they have participated in or experienced any of what they now claim to be experts on.

The billboard you've endorsed reads:  Reparative Therapy.  Real Therapy.  Really Works.  Given our conversation about how you still have SAME SEX ATTRACTION (which are three words for one -- GAY) -- you're own life proves it does not!   In other words, to quote my character 'Brother Boy' (a character you've quoted to me) -- IT AIN'T A WORKIN'! " 

Yes, I have seen a massive decrease in my SSA, but that's not really the main focus of Reparative Therapy. The focus is on removing shame and healing emotional wounds. It is not expected to be a "cure" becuase the SSA is not a disease. It is a normal need that must be met in healthy ways. The therapy has helped me (and everyone I know who has ever actually tried it) to find peace, self-acceptance, and healing. 

So, yes, I'm angry and fed up with you and your cohorts -- and you have a fight, and a very public one on your hands, as you will hear on The Del & Emerson Show today (if you choose to listen) as long as you keep spouting that  which disputes those authorities who I promise use their brains (American Medical Association,  American Psychological Association and most leading professional medical and social science organizations) instead of holding on to an archaic book that promotes slavery, stoning adulterers and rebellious children AND equates eating shellfish as the same abomination as men lying with me.  

The AMA and others have all copied from the one general statement issued by the APA Council on LGBT which consisted of 7 therapists. 6 of these 7 are openly gay (a strong bias) and none of these 7 ever practiced SOCE (Reparative Therapy) nor spoke to anyone who had.

They re-stated the general "warning" given for ALL therapies but said on page 87 of their report that they had not found any specific evidence of anyone being harmed by Reparative Therapy itself.  Even if I took their biased political stunt as authoritative, it provides no indication that RT has ever actually harmed anyone.

Everything we do in Joel 2:25 and everything about Reparative Therapy is focused on improving self-esteem, self-worth, and self-acceptance while eliminating shame. Those are all good things regardless of what choices a person makes in the future.

I acutally heard from a lady last night who has been in our Joel 2:25 women's group for the past year who said finding our group saved her life. I have heard from many guys in our other groups that every aspect of their lives have improved from being a part of this community. I hear this feedback all the time from all over the world.

Pax Christi,
          Jeremy Schwab  
          Jeremy@Joel225.org  
http://www.Joel225.org