Bil Browning

CPAC: Ex-gay Leader Supports Gay Relationships?

Filed By Bil Browning | February 12, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living
Tags: CPAC, Elaine Berg, ex-gay, Jonah International

Going to CPAC was like dropping down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. I stopped by the PFOX booth to talk to ex-gay leader Elaine Berg from Jonah International. Before we could do the interview, Elaine made me promise that I wouldn't cut and edit the video to make her look bad, so this is the entire video I shot - including the parts I'd normally edit out like when I start coughing.

Mostly I let Elaine talk so she could give me the spiel, but I tried to question some of her logic. As we followed it down the path she was going, I was surprised to find out that she supports LGBT monogamous relationships, full equality, and says that the Stonewall riot was completely justified.

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These videos are absolutely fascinating! However, I have to wonder if they're spinning positively for the gay media. JONAH sounds rather innocuous in this video, but I wonder what would happen if, say, CWA had this same interview.

JONAH is the Jewish version of NARTH and Exodus. Its very presence at CPAC belies Ms. Berg's statements that her group takes no political stance on gay rights.

This woman, and all other "ex-gay" proselytizers, would essentially like to obliterate queerness from the face of the earth. That is in itself a violent and brutal act. Nothing can excuse her and her organization's stance (I'm not saying you endorse that, Bil, just pointing it out).

As for couching it as "it's okay if they want a traditional lifestyle" and saying that Stonewall was justified - well, how different is that really from conservative gays say about why marriage is important (although conservative gays also tend to forget the presence of trans folk and drag queens, as if HRC was born in the moment of Stonewall).

Perhaps this is also a hint that the gay community should consider dropping its obsession with whether or queerness is inborn or socially produced. The simple response should be: who cares? No one deserves obliteration, regardless of what is proven or not.

My grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher. I remember he and my grandmother, god rest her cold black heart, sitting me down and telling me that my "homosexual lifestyle" was unacceptable to them.

To which of course I replied that it was not a "lifestyle" and that I was born Gay. That was impossible my wicked grandmother told me because "god does not make homosexuals and they are an abomination". They went on to tell me that I was just confused and wanted to know who had molested me as a child.

It is critical that we not allow the christian types to hijack our lives. If homosexuality is a social construct then it can be cured by their logic and they can continue to demonize it. If we are born Gay or Lesbian then it's game over.

I was born Gay and love my life.

Christopher, if you were as evil as your grandmother, you could have told her that it was your grandfather who molested you as a child! I wouldn't advocate that, but since she believed in fairy tales, that would be just one more.

Anyway, your grandmother's theology is pretty shaky. Why would there be an abomination for somethimg that didn't exist? And was she denying that God created everything? How about the oldy but goody, God doesn't make mistakes?

I don't actually care about convincing the God types that even within their own framework, they're full of shit. Or that their framework is absurd. I was just struck by what you wrote about your grandmother.

I almost stopped paying attention when she denounced Kinsey as a non-schooled charlatan. But I sat through the ret of it.

She tip-toes around the edges of multiple studies and facts, claiming one piece of their overall worth, and then she redefines her corral of acceptance, issue by issue, in a disgusting and vile manner.

"We're not political," she says over and over, but in fact she's adopted a common political tactic of her CPAC brethren. She reels you in by agreeing with one-tenth of your pronounced view, then slices and dices you with slim facts and empty declarations. You get the sense her soul is void.

She and her ilk should be denounced in a very resounding manner. She, not Kinsey, is disgusting.

Oy vey.

these comments reflect something that has been happening slowly over the last few decades. The ex-gay message is slowly being watered down and becoming increasing irrelevant. its generational mostly.

In Australia ex-gay ministries have changed their message several times.

the ex-gay groups and not the cause...they are the symptom......eventually as we progress in society people will realise two things. Our morality are choices. Our sexual orientation however isn't.

"Our sexual orientation however isn't."
And what if it turns out that it is?

By trying to fight this organization and others like it on the same specious grounds that they dig up - moral gays are good, sexuality is a choice - we're simply saying that it's okay to discriminate against those who might, for instance, be promiscuous. Or those who seem to choose their sexual orientation. Why even engage them on those terms?

I'd say the same thing to Christopher above: it shouldn't matter whether or not gayness is a social construct (and nobody really says that - the notion of the social construction of sexuality does not mean that no one is gay, it's simply pointing to the ways identity gets recognized differently over a period of time).

If, tomorrow, scientific evidence that we can believe were to tell us that sexual orientation is a choice and not genetic, are we supposed to then turn around to straight society and say, "Hey, you know what we said about treating us as if we were human? You can forget that now. Turns out we're just a bunch of sickos who choose to be this way, so go ahead, continue with your gay-bashing."

Surely the larger point should be, nobody should care either way. I don't see straights having to defend themselves on similar grounds.

I do agree with you that the ex-gay movement has had to change tactics - Berg's ridiculously contradictory spiel indicates that it has never been a particularly coherent movement to start with and is now grasping at straws (Stonewall was justified! We love committed gays!) to justify its existence. Although I'd also caution that its very existence is proof of the, frankly, murderous impulse to eradicate queers.

So anti-gay discrimination in the past was wrong? What about discrimination in the present? We can still be legally fired in 29 states for being gay, and in 38 states for being transgender. It's easy to disagree with past discrimination because you don't have to do anything about it.

Ms. Berg comments that the vast majority of siblings of gay identical twins are straight. This is deceptive, because gay people are a small minority. Research shows that gay identical twins are about twice as likely as gay fraternal twins to have gay siblings, and they in turn are about twice as likely as gay non-twins to have gay siblings. This shows that homosexuality has a strong genetic component.

She also argues that depression is high among gay people in Denmark and other progressive countries, but she doesn't say how high. Psychologists and other professionals in relevant fields have reached a consensus that the problems gay people have are due to the abuse and inequality they suffer -- and abuse and inequality still exist in countries like Denmark, there's just less of it.

She says gay people should have all rights, but also that she opposes marriage and is equivocal on civil unions. Which is it?

Finally, Ms. Berg says repeatedly that JONAH uses "traditional" therapy to help people leave their homosexuality if they wish. Since reparative therapy has been discredited, in what sense is it ever "traditional"?

All in all, it seems to me that Ms. Berg has the lie of omission down to an art form. She'll throw out a suggestive research finding, vaguely presented with few or no numbers, and leave out a great deal of information that's essential to understanding the topic.

I did find this article interesting and will link from my site. It was refreshing to hear a somewhat neutral stance coming from an Ex-Gay Group - however, Bil, you should have pushed her on the studies she quoted to give her statements either validity or show their weaknesses.

I spent a bit of time this morning trying to find a study that would substantiate her comments regarding the study of Gay Twins - What I did find seems to not coincide with what she stated. Plastered everywhere is a study from Northwestern University (1991)found that there is a 52 percent chance that if one identical twin is gay, both are; and a 22 percent chance both fraternal twins are gay if one is gay.

I did find a recent study that is in Progress from UCLA,( but even this study is in conflict with what Elaine was trying to articulate about twins.

Regardless, Great Reporting Bil!

thanks Joe......I was under the impression that the twin studies were not saying what Elaine was saying but in line with what you have posted here. It is not unusual though for people from these kind of groups to focus on a particular research project which seems to disagree with all other findings......

This was nauseating. Most people DO NOT have same sex attraction. But those who do are normal. PERIOD.

Just a note: Subarctic and far north countries like Denmark tend toward higher rates of depression. It's attributed to lower levels of sunlight. Alaska happens to have the highest suicide in the U.S.

Bill, thanks so much for being a stand-up guy and showing the entire video as I requested. Here's a link to an article by one of the world's experts on homosexuality discussing the twin studies that I mentioned. Thanks again, Elaine from JONAH

Rory: While everyone is free to advocate for LGBT rights in whatever spheres they are comfortable -- or not -- doing so, there are literally MILLIONS OF GOOD REASONS why we should "actually care about convincing the God types that even within their own framework, they're full of shit" regardless of whether or not you believe "that their framework is absurd."

Namely, the MILLIONS of our little brothers and sisters -- LGBT and straight alike -- being raised in "the church." They have birthrights and civil rights as well. The "separation of church and state" cuts both ways and we turn our backs on religious institutions at the kids' and our own peril. By virtue of their tax-exemptions, which are essentially public subsidies, these ARE public institutions, which in its own back-ass-wards way even the US Supreme Court has affirmed, when it declared the Boy Scouts of America - an organization chartered by the United States Congress - to be a "religious organization."

At the end of the day, the largely pyrrhic prohibition against political activity (as if) is the real absurdity and merely ensures that these exemption-based subsidies -- coupled with the tribe's "laissez faire" abandonment of the faith terrain -- will fund hate and the emotional abuse of kids of all stripes.

We simply can't afford to leave the youth of America in the unchallenged, largely hateful clutches of the church generic. "You are on your own little man" is unacceptable.
-pastor scott-

I checked out the studies and research located in the article by Ms. Elaine Berk, and it seems she is correct. Upon further research, I found a longer article addressing the gay gene and twin-studies issue by the same author. Dr. Neil Whitehead:

He also has a paper on the gay gene issue which is quite fascinating:

I looked into further twin studies, but it seems all the currently published ones are addressed in the paper. A new study by Sanders et al. is currently being conducted, but it seems doubtful that it will contradict the earlier (large and well-designed) studies.