COMMENTARY: The term “straight supremacy” has been tossed around for a while now, but it seems to be making more and more sense in a growing number of minds with the recent rash of blatant examples. Apple allowed for the “gay cure” iPhone app to go public. Lisa Ling, on her Oprah Network TV show, painted a few “ex-gay” leaders as sincere ministers without showing the real harm these “ministries” cause to most of the people who attend them. In some American communities, the idea of monogamous marriage is clutched so tightly to their heterosexual bosoms that they have all but suffocated their validity. Even bullying, in essence, is a testament to straight dominance and conformity.
It is one thing for our species to recognize its errors of ignorance and grow accordingly. We all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. It’s particularly unconscionable when we know better, but little is done to correct it. Such is the case with the church. Mainstream religions and their fear-based conformity continue to be much of the source of harm to anyone who is even perceived to be “un-heterosexual.” In fact, hetero-supremacy and the church are such tight bedfellows, the term might as well be “religious straight supremacy.”
It’s so disillusioning when we are taught to look to religious leaders as examples of respect, hope, fairness, and understanding, yet they seem to have abandoned it all for literal interpretations, so-called Christian culturalism, and judgment. It’s as if their God has scooted over to make room on his throne for heterosexuality. It’s as if the unconditional love of God suddenly has a “but you gotta be straight” clause. What is worse, just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, churches seem utterly blind to the reality that their message of freedom and love has long been poisoned from within.
It is not my intention to simply church-bash, but you would be hard-pressed to find any ex-gay atheists. I know there are whole chunks of the church that authentically and joyfully embrace the diversity of their communities, including their LGBTQ members. God bless them, but it isn’t enough. All of religion is being drowned out by people like Fred Phelps and ministries like Focus on the Family and Exodus International. To quote Peterson Toscano, cofounder of BeyondExGay.com who spent $30,000 and 17 years in Exodus trying to change his gay sexuality, “Exodus believes that heterosexuality, straight marriage, and gender-normative behavior are superior to anything LGBTQ people have going in their lives. They say over and over that LGBTQ folks are morally, spiritually, and developmentally damaged.”
This is where the real harm occurs. Under the auspices of “helping and
ministering” to people, they attempt to fix what is not broken with
disastrous results. This is what the media continues to miss when it
comes to an iPhone app, or a 50 minute TV show. As an ex-gay survivor
myself, I nearly killed myself trying to measure up to the standards
asked of me by the ex-gay group I attended. I am far from alone. There
are thousands of people who have submerged themselves in these harmful
processes to gain the acceptance of their church, family, and friends,
only to find that it caused deep wounds.
Their ex-gay experiences
caused psychological damage, sexual dysfunction, spiritual
disillusionment, an avoidance and distrust of intimacy, depression,
despondency, emotional repression — and some even committed suicide.
These are just some of the devastating consequences of enforced
heterosexuality by these groups. Even by their own skewed calculation, at
least 70% of those who attend their groups never change their
sexuality. But you aren’t going to hear that from them when the cameras
are on. Usually the media won’t take the time to do thorough reporting. It’s a crime of omission.