Michael Hamar

Why George Rekers and Those Like Him Deserve No Compassion

Filed By Michael Hamar | May 10, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living
Tags: anti-gay bigotry, closet cases, closeted clergy, false Christians, Family Research Council, George Rekers, James Dobson, male escort, NARTH

Perhaps I am more hard-hearted than some, but contrary to some other contributors, I find it difficult to feel any compassion for reparative therapy guru George Rekers.

A column in Newsweek looks at the ongoing self-incurred destruction now consuming Rekers who literally made a career disseminating anti-gay lies and harming LGBT Americans. The column goes on to ask the question of "Why do people just mock and turn away?"

Anyone who can ask that question demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the untold damage Rekers and other self-loathing closeted gays have done/continue to do to countless individuals.

The better question is how many gays chose suicide because they could not change as claimed by Rekers and his other witch doctor like cronies at NARTH (I lost two friends to suicide for this very reason)? Or maybe ask how many LGBT youths were thrown out of their homes because their parents believed the garbage that Rekers was peddling? Or how about how many LGBT individuals have suffered miserable lives and second class citizenship because of the efforts of Rekers and his comrades who have generated faux expert testimony which has helped support anti-gay laws and homophobia in general?*

Only after detailed answers to these questions and an assessment of the true damage done by Rekers is it perhaps time to ask why Rekers deserves anything more than mockery and jubilation at his self-immolation. I suspect that once the true extent of the harm Rekers has done is fully known, few would expect any compassion for the man. Rekers consciously chose to do evil against others rather than face and accept who he was. Actions should have consequences. Here are some highlights from the misguided Newsweek column:

The delight could hardly be concealed in the coverage of Christian-right leader George Alan Rekers's 10-day European vacation with a "rent boy."

The liberal, gay, and mainstream blogosphere lit up in delight these past two days, especially with efforts by Rekers to control the damage. "Rekers has a new explanation for the trip," according to The Huffington Post. "'I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them,' he said in a statement posted on Facebook." Late-night comedian Stephen Colbert applauded Rekers for "publicly condemning man love while privately being man's best friend" and joked that many of his crew had been hired from Rentboy.com's Web site.

But now what? So yet another crusader turns out to be gay. But the typical reaction--delight at the exposure of hypocrisy--is always short-lived. "This happens again and again, but do we ever sit down and wonder why it happens?" asks LGBT media expert Cathy Renna. There is the obvious chatter--the person is full of self-hate, is ashamed, is overcompensating to hide his homosexuality. But the true effect of that overcompensation can be dire. "There is an insidious and horrible impact of internalized homophobia. I have no problem pinning someone like Rekers as the kind of person who is responsible for the suicides of young LGBT people, and he's hired a rent boy?"

UC Davis psychology professor Gregory Herek is a leading U.S. specialist in homophobia. "Many heterosexual people do a lot to make it clear they are not gay, such as men not touching each other, or not behaving effeminately." People who are gay, or who discover they are gay later in life, may take those actions to a deeper extreme.... Let's see if anyone defends Rekers.

I fully support the outing of individuals like Rekers. Indeed, the more of the members of the professional anti-gay set that can be exposed as frauds and liars the better. Rekers has joined a list of others who, in my opinion, received the justice they tried to deny to others. Here's a list of just a few of them: Roy Ashburn, Republican California state senator, Edward L. Schrock, Virginia Congressman, Larry Craig, senator from Idaho, Mark Foley, US Representative from Florida, Ted Haggard, televangelist, Jim West, former mayor. A column in the New Blaze correctly sums up the situation:

Why can't all these pro-family and vehemently anti-gay organizations like "Focus on the Family" and "Family Research Council" admit the obvious: Homosexuality is normal, and there are gays and lesbians everywhere including in Christian ministries. Rekers should do the Christian thing: Tell the truth, embrace his homosexuality, and stop demonizing gays and lesbians. . . . Homosexuality isn't a sin, but deceit, hypocrisy, and persecution of a minority are serious transgressions.

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I think the most important thing to remember is that Rekers is, himself, a victim of the very hate he peddles. Surely, it was his own internal homophobia that motivated his actions for all these decades.

The religious right regularly uses the excuse that life for gays is hard. Obviously, that's an ontological explanation, since they themselves perpetuate that negativity. While Rekers does need to be held accountable for his actions, doesn't he also deserve our empathy and compassion for the lie he's made of his own life? His denial of being gay is sad (and perhaps laughable), but we are only continuing the cycle if we don't recognize that he, too, is a victim of these lies.

Zack, I can't see him as a victim. He thinks torturing kids into compliance is OK. It's fine to leave welts and bruises, and only "serious injury" or "permanent damage" should be considered contrary to law. And any amount of psychological torture can be used. It's fine if the child is illiterate, enumerate, and with severe psychosis due to the beatings, as long as they're not starved or maimed.

He's said so publicly in his writings.

We deny that...the so-called offenses of "emotional neglect," "emotional abuse," "educational neglect," etc., which form the bulk of substantiated reports of "child abuse and neglect," are in fact crimes against children; that the state has any right to administer criminal penalties or usurp custody in neglect cases except when a child's life or physical health is obviously endangered; and that the state should ever administer criminal penalties or usurp custody in cases where the only accusation concerns mental health....

We affirm that Biblical spanking may cause temporary and superficial bruises or welts that do not constitute child abuse, but...permanent disfigurement or serious injury should be punished by law

There is a difference between victimhood and evil. He was involved in the "therapeutic" torture of trans and gay kids at UCLA in the 70's, and advocates it in his books.

If he hadn't mainly targeted gay and trans kids for this treatment, and cloaked himself in the venir of respectability of a baptist minister, he wouldn't have slipped through the cracks. He's been a practicing "Child Psychologist" for many years. There needs to be an investigation of just how many of his patients have attempted or completed suicide after his "therapy".

It is because he was actively damaging the rights of queer people that I feel no sympathy for him. The fact that he hates himself doesn't ameliorate the fact that he hates queer people.

I do, however, feel sympathy for older closeted men who don't work against queer rights. Everyone has different situations and not everyone can come out without sacrificing everything in their life, or without sacrificing their life. If this had been a married banker, for example, I would feel some pity for the fact that he felt that he had to hide, but I do not feel pity for anti-gays just because they get caught with a dude.

Homosexuality isn't a sin, but deceit, hypocrisy, and persecution of a minority are serious transgressions.


I agree 100% with you, Cathy. The problem here is not that the guy is gay and closeted, perhaps not in touch with his feelings (or maybe even conscious of it), but that he so viciously attacks other gay people, etc. I cannot be sympathetic toward that...even if it is his own reaction formation. He's mean...just plain mean.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 11, 2010 8:27 AM

Of course he should never be forgiven. Nevertheless Rekers is a minnow and there are sharks out there who have far bigger teeth.

Never forgive Bill Clinton for signing DADT and DOMA and boasting about it.

Never forgive George Bush and KKKarl Rove for the 40 or so state DOMAs they imposed on us.

Never forgive Barak Obama for "gawd's in the mix".

Not only should he not be forgiven, he should be stripped of any medical license and locked up where he can't psychologically abuse anyone any longer.

I agree with Newsweek in that ridiculing this guy isn't all we should be doing. We should also be figuring out how to disarm people like him.

Raymond Paquette | May 20, 2010 12:20 PM

Maybe he can be forgiven. Someday. If and when he acknowledges the errors of his ways, asks for forgiveness.

But until then, he deserves everything he gets.