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Announcement :: Gender : GLBT/Queer
Boston Bashes Back Against Exodus: Radical Queers Disrupt Ex-Gay Ministry Training
03 May 2009
At 9AM on Tuesday April 28th, somewhere between 50-70 people came to the iconic Park Street Church across from Boston Common to attend an Exodus Ministries training. Attendees watched a video wherein 'former homosexuals' and 'former lesbians' spoke of the power of god to heal 'sexual brokenness' and restore heterosexual desires to the most fallen of souls. During the 'male homosexuality' portion of the training, 'former homosexual' Jeff Buchanan shared his experience of having turned from his homosexual past, as well as the causes of male homosexuality, which include resentment of male authority and lack of bonding with fathers. This had been going on for quite some time when Jason Lydon, pastor of the Community Church of Boston, whom the event organizers had foolishly invited, stood up and informed the attendees of their culpability in the suicides of two eleven year old boys in April 2009, both prompted by anti-gay bullying.
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As security moved to stop him from distributing 'JESUS WAS GAY' flyers, he continued, 'If Jesus Christ walked into this church today, he would overturn your tables because you have turned his house into a den of thieves!' As he was removed from the building, attendees' ears rang with the echo of, 'GOD LOVES QUEEEERS!' Attendees were very shaken indeed, with one calling for a prayer to refocus the event, which continued. After Buchanan, Melanie Spinks, a 'former lesbian,' took the lectern to address the essence of womanhood, the causes of 'female homosexuality,' and which profiles of women tend to struggle with same-sex attraction.

Event-goers had just been informed that lesbians can be attractive when an attractive young woman stood, declared her rejection of Exodus Ministries and her affection for another young woman two tables away. The two ran to each other in an affectionate, snogular embrace, held hands and skipped out the door before security could reach them. Ever mischievous, the two ran around back outside the giant window of the conference room, bringing them into the Granary Burying Ground, final resting place of such patriarchs as Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, visiting place of hordes of schoolchildren. What better setting to engage in gratuitous homoerotic canoodling?

It is not known to the authors what transpired in the conference room after this, as, to the best of their knowledge, all radical queers had excised themselves from the training at this point in the program.

So what is Exodus Ministries? According to their website, 'Exodus is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian organization promoting the message of Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.' Yes, they're awful, but perhaps not quite in the way an outsider might envision. Exodus ≠ Fred Phelps; these folks are incredibly polite and sweet, diverse and intergenerational, and they are convinced that they love all us rug munchers and peter puffers. In fact, they are 'former homosexuals' themselves. They reject a surprising number of harmful notions, though, as might be expected, they have their own set of harmful notions with which to replace them. They teach that attraction is involuntary and 'homosexuality meets legitimate emotional needs.' Naturally, however, they believe that same-sex pairings are 'illegitimate' and 'wrong' ways to meet these legitimate needs, and teach that all people can and should engage in none but the most godly, heteromonogamarital sexual relationships. It is not surprising that Exodus and other ex-gay ministries frequently drive their quarries into suicide, a phenomenon well enough known that it made its way onto <a href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/103199/?autoplay=false";>South Park</a>.

As the conference disrupters sat on the Common and reflected on what had transpired inside, they marveled how vitally crucial a monomaniacal insistence on gender binarism was to Exodus' concerns; while the two are not mutually exclusive, gender conformity nevertheless seemed to be elevated above sexual conformity on their list of priorities. Exodus' discussion of the causes of homosexual behavior involved parental influences and the centrality of male authority. Melanie Spinks explained that fathers should always approach their daughters; for a girl to approach a man and to take initiative is a masculine trait and she might grow up with an appetite for box lunch. Jeff Buchanan nauseated the radical queers when he insisted that the role of a father is to impart masculinity to male children and to affirm femininity in female children. He recommended that fathers take their daughters on dates, tell them they're beautiful, that they're princesses. It was a strange, alternate universe wherein fundamentalist Christians proclaim radical feminist assertions, here eerily echoing Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy who once wrote, 'Masculinity is what [men] do to keep women feminized. Femininity is what women do to keep from being pathologized, criminalized, ostracized, jailed, raped, and butchered.'

'If gender roles are so natural,' queried a disrupter, 'why do they need to work so hard to make sure people fit into them?'

Exodus' hatred of women was on abundant display throughout the session. In proclaiming his own heterosexual success, Jeff Buchanan drew attention to 'his' wife staffing the check-in table and, speaking in the imperative, demanded, 'Wave, honey!' While male-perpetuated abuse featured prominently in their discussions as causes or galvanizing influences of homosexuality, they presented absolutely no analysis, systemic or otherwise, on why men feel entitled to the bodies of children or women. Melanie Spinks proclaimed gender essentializing stereotypes as fact, averring that 'relationship is essential to femaleness,' further insisting that this is a 'gift, not a weakness.' On the value of women, Spinks asserted, 'There is not a woman on earth who can give you a sense of identity, purpose and security.'

Between the sections on male and female homosexuality, national speakers stepped down and allowed local queer-hatin orgs to speak. One such, the Massachusetts Family Institute, had their white cotton panties in a twist over a bill pending in the Massachusetts state legislature, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes. This bill aims to include gender identity and expression in Massachusetts' non-discrimination statute and amend existing hate crime laws to include trans and gender variant folks. Inexplicably, our fundy friends and media have termed it 'The Bathroom Bill,' shrieking that, if this bill passes, men will be able to go into women's bathrooms and rape the shit out of everyone inside. We hate to break it to them, but, as chromosome checks are not in place outside public facilities, there is currently nothing stopping men from doing this as things now stand. Meanwhile, as much as these radical queers support whatever it takes to end discrimination against trans and gender non-conforming people, we cannot support hate crimes legislation. To quote the <a href="<http://srlp.org/node/301";>Sylvia Rivera Law Project</a>, 'Rather than serving as protection for oppressed people, the hate crimes portion of this law may expose our communities to more danger—from prejudiced institutions far more powerful and pervasive than individual bigots.' Read the whole thing.

The disrupters sat waiting on the Common until, right at noon, protesters showed up from Join the Impact, a pro-marriage LGBT rights group. Choosing a spot on the Common far from Park Street Church, Join the Impact brought signs and chants, delivered through a bullhorn. The three radical queers ran over to join the energetic crowd and tell them of their deeds. Would the disrupters like to speak over the bullhorn? And how! The three took turns attempting to impart a liberationist, pro-feminist, pro-trans message and to encourage the crowd to move closer to the church where they could be heard by Exodus attendees. The leadership's response was that they had a permit and that the lady trying to talk about trans issues ought to give the bullhorn back. As the protest wore on, the disrupters were disheartened to observe that only cis men were asked/permitted by the leadership to speak over the bullhorn and that they kept to androcentric messages generally. Considering the violent misogyny of Exodus, whom the protest was called to counter, more attention needs to be given to the alarming ways in which gay/queer organizing can replicate the very unsavory power dynamics against which we are struggling. None of us will be free until we are all free.

This story has a happy ending, however! After a while, disregarding their leadership, the protesters were enticed by the idea of abandoning their permitted spot and marching over toward Park Street Church where Exodus could hear that they were not welcome in Boston. After a minute or so in front of the church, the crowd was amenable to marching around back into the Granary Burying Ground. There, on the final resting place of Crispus Attucks and Mother Goose, Exodus attendees were forced to hear high-octane, righteous queer rage against their poisonous message. With chants resounding, with sirens wailing, with queer faces peering down at them and cameras snapping at them, a much-shaken Exodus audience sought window coverings. We've got news for you, Exodus: we don't go away when you close your eyes.

This work is in the public domain.
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