Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Psychological Harm of Anti-Gay Ballot Campaigns -- November Election 2008

Beyond Homophobia -- A weblog sexual orientation, prejudice, science, and policy by Gregory Herek, Ph.D

November 25, 2008

Here’s how the New York Times article began:

They sat around a cafe table two days after the election, but nobody felt much like eating. It seemed like they had just been on trial. And the verdict was not pleasant.

“I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach,” said Lawrence Pacheco, a 23-year-old gay man. “Do they really hate us that much?”

Strategies for Coping and Healing

As with my summary of Dr. Russell’s research, a brief blog entry can’t do justice to the findings of Dr. Rostosky and her colleagues. But in the wake of the recent antigay votes, even this short synopsis of their work may be helpful to many lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals.

If you were touched by the campaigns in California, Arizona, Florida, or Arkansas, and if you’ve been experiencing post-election psychological distress — whether it takes the form of anger, sadness, irritability, feelings of betrayal, revenge fantasies, sleep difficulties, or something else — the research suggests you’re not alone. What you’re feeling these days is a natural and normal response to the attacks you endured during the months leading up to November 4, and to the trauma of election night.

What can you do about it? Different people have different coping styles so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Moreover, as a nonclinician, I don’t have the expertise to offer mental health advice. But I believe it’s important to understand that the research described above not only documents the damage inflicted by antigay ballot campaigns — it also shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are remarkably resilient in dealing with those assaults.

Antigay attacks have a long history, and many participants in the Rostosky team’s study who didn’t reside in a state with a 2006 marriage amendment nevertheless had endured earlier marriage amendment battles. Their relatively low levels of psychological distress indicate they had recovered over the years from those negative campaigns.

In terms of facilitating such recovery, Dr. Rostosky and her coauthors suggest that sexual minority individuals should avoid blaming themselves or accepting antigay stigma and prejudice as valid. Instead, it’s important to remind oneself that the people who foment antigay hostility are the ones who deserve blame.

They also point to the importance of actively focusing on positive events and messages in one’s environment, and increasing one’s exposure to these messages by building stronger relationships and social support networks. This doesn’t mean engaging in self-deception or denying reality. But it’s important to find areas in your life that are positive and affirming, and to give yourself permission to take a break from dealing directly with prejudice and stigma to the extent that you can.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Would King Solomon Do? - - - - - - - - - - by Jack Drescher MD

The following article written by Jack Drescher MD, “What Would King Solomon Do?” is found on The Bilerico Project daily experiments in LGBTQ, blog. It is reproduced here with permission from The Bilerico Project Blog.


Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jack Drescher, M.D. is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and presently serves as a Consultant to APA's Committee on Public Affairs. He is a member of the DSM-V Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders. He is the author of Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man (The Analytic Press) and has edited twenty books dealing with gender, sexuality and the health and mental health of LGBT communities.

February 23, 2009

What Would King Solomon Do?

A recent New York Times op-ed by David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch, usually on opposing sides of the marriage equality debate, suggests a compromise solution to one of the most contentious social issues of our time: They write, 

"Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill."

The LGBT community's mixed reactions to this "modest proposal" brings to mind a story of King Solomon, once asked to resolve the issue of maternity between two women claiming the same child. "Cut the baby in two and give each woman a half," was his solution. The real mother objected and asked to spare the child and give it to the other woman. Solomon acknowledged her as the true mother and gave her custody of the child.

It is not clear today who in the LGBT community is the "true mother" of the marriage equality movement. Those who advocate for full equality and insist on going without any protections at all until they get all its benefits, or those who think half a baby is better than none?

I favor an incremental approach based on events following a historical watershed in gay civil rights: the 1973 removal of homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual, the DSM.

At the time, the APA decision was highly contentious, pitting psychiatrists of different theoretical persuasions against each other. When the dust cleared, homosexuality was out, although not entirely. In its place stood a diagnosis first called "sexual orientation disturbance" and later renamed as "ego-dystonic homosexuality" (EDH).

EDH was APA's Solomonic compromise to keep the organization intact. It meant that only homosexuals unhappy about their sexuality were mentally ill and provided cover (and insurance reimbursement) to psychiatrists who would still "treat" their gay patients for "homosexuality. " The rest of us gay folks were perfectly fine, thank you very much.

Frank Kameny, a gay activist who played a pivotal role in the APA decision of 1973, had no objection to the new category. He thought anyone distressed at being homosexual was "clearly crazy and in need of treatment by a gay counselor to get rid of societally induced homophobia."
Yet, by 1987, with little resistance from within APA, ego dystonic homosexuality was also taken out of a revised DSM. Why was there no battle this time around?

The EDH compromise made it possible for LGB psychiatrists to come out and openly participate in the APA. Their straight colleagues got to know them and to hear, understand and respect their points of view. The political conditions necessitating a compromise in 1973 no longer existed and in a gay-friendlier APA, no one objected when it was pointed out that unhappiness about one's homosexuality is hardly grounds for calling someone mentally ill.

Despite its imperfections, a federal compromise on marriage along the lines suggested by Blankenhorn and Rauch could go a long way in changing the straight public's perception of gay people. It would make it safer for more gay people to come out. Although it would not change attitudes overnight, it would inevitably lead to change. Perhaps not fast enough for some people, but soon enough for me.

The following article written by Jack Drescher MD, “What Would King Solomon Do?” is found on The Bilerico Project daily experiments in LGBTQ, blog. It is reproduced here with permission from The Bilerico Project Blog.

To read more and learn more visit: 

The Bilerico Project - daily experiments in LGBTQ

I would like to highlight, a blog worth investigating, presenting a board range of perspectives from a diverse group of LGBTQ  professionals in their fields.

(below found on the About Us page of The Bilerico Project blog)

The Bilerico Project is the web's largest LGBTQ group blog with 50 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and genderqueer contributors. The Project is the coming out and together of LGBTQ activists, politicos, journalists, novelists, advice columnists, and video bloggers.

You'll find news and opinion on the Project from 50 different perspectives and backgrounds. You'll agree with some, disagree with others, and be somewhere in the middle with most. But wherever we're all coming from, we can bridge the geographic divides and have creative and productive conversations about issues important to the LGBT community.

Since the Bilerico Project re-launched on July 9th, 2007, we've been nominated for the 2007 and 2008 Weblog Best LGBT Award and the 2007 Gay Verve Awards for Best Brand New blog and Best Political or News blog. We were also named one of Advocate magazine's top ten blogs of 2007. Don't just take their word for it, here are just a few of the things people are saying about the Bilerico Project:

  • "Think of The Bilerico Project as the love child created if The Huffington Post and our infamous "gay agenda" were to mate...."

  • "Smart...intelligent...well written...wonderfully diverse contributors...."
    Best Gay Blogs

To read more and learn more visit: 

Friday, February 20, 2009

“Pray Away the Gay” “Groups that proclaim to ‘cure’ gay people of their sexual orientation lack any legitimate medical backing, cause harm ..."

Posted February 20th, 2009

Friday, Feb. 20, 2009

Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: 917-691-5118
E-Mail: wbesen@truthwinsout.org

New Landmark Publication By Truth Wins Out and Lambda Legal Offers Legal Options To Those Hurt By Ex-Gay Programs

If You Have Been Harmed By ‘Ex-Gay’ Programs, ‘Ex-Gay & The Law’ Is For You

CHARLOTTE – Truth Wins Out and Lambda Legal released a landmark publication today, “Ex-Gay & The Law“, that aims to educate victims of “ex-gay” programs of their legal options. This work was inspired by the many people who have had their lives damaged by programs that seek to “pray away the gay” or use questionable counseling techniques.

“Ex-Gay & the Law helps survivors of ex-gay programs explore their legal rights if they believe they have been harmed,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “This groundbreaking publication offers practical legal advice so important questions can be answered.”

“We are pleased to help support this publication and to be a part of this effort,” said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal. “Groups that proclaim to ‘cure’ gay people of their sexual orientation lack any legitimate medical backing, cause harm, and sometimes operate unlawfully and unethically. If you have experienced any of the scenarios outlined in the last pages of ‘Ex-Gay & the Law‘, we welcome you to contact or Legal Help Desk.”

Each year, thousands of men and women enter “ex-gay” programs. Adolescents are even forced into these boot camps by their parents. While their stories differ, nearly all of these individuals have one thing in common: They are harmed by the traumatizing experience.

The American Psychiatric Association says, “The potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self destructive behavior.”

To read more:

‘Ex-Gay & The Law’ Released by Truth Wins Out and Lambda Legal

The pdf can be downloaded at



If you or someone you know has been harmed by so-called “ex-gay” programs (information on your legal rights, from Lambda Legal):

Lambda Legal has been working for decades to expand and enforce the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We know firsthand that pursing action through the courts can succeed against anti-LGBT discrimination and protect and empower our communities.

Anyone who may have been harmed by any sort of counselor or therapist should contact Lambda Legal or a local lawyer as soon as possible. All states have a “statute of limitations” which limits the length of time for filing a lawsuit. These periods vary greatly, and may have exceptions if the patient is a minor. To best protect your legal rights, it is very important to consult an attorney sooner rather than later.

Whether or not someone can take legal action against an “ex-gay” counselor or facility will depend on factors including the law of the state where you met with the practitioner and the specific facts.

There are many reasons “ex-gay” programs or practitioners may be liable for harm.

*If representatives of an “ex-gay” program make false claims, they may have committed fraud, breach of contract, or violated state laws against unfair business practices.

*If a practitioner does not adequately describe the potential harms of an “ex-gay” program, he or she may be liable for violating the duty to get consent from a person seeking care.

*If a practitioner is not qualified to provide therapy for a specific mental health condition and fails to refer to a qualified doctor or psychologist, he or she may be liable for negligence or violating rules governing professional licenses.

*If a counselor threatens to “out” you to your community if you decide you do not want to continue therapy, he or she may be liable under state law.

*If a practitioner tells third parties about details of your life or your same-sex attractions, that could violate your right to privacy.

It is impossible to list all of the factors that might be important in evaluating whether or not someone harmed by an “ex- gay” program or practitioner may be able to sue in court or take other legal actions, so it is important to consult an attorney. Minors as well as adults have legal rights, including the right to consult with an attorney.

If you think you have been harmed by an “ex- gay” program or any other form of anti-lgbt discrimination, please call one of Lambda Legal’s regional help desk.

toll-free: 866-542-8336.
national headquarters: 212-809-8585

Western Regional Office
for Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming

Midwest Regional Office
for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin

Southern Regional Office
for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia

South Central Office
for Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas

To read more:

Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation
(Reparative or Conversion Therapies) POSITION STATEMENT

aversion therapy

conversion therapy



Lambda Legal

Love Won Out

Pray Away the Gay


Truth Wins Out

Wayne Besen

Other related documentations:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Homosexual orientation is not sinful. However, any acting upon that orientation is gravely, objectively sinful?


Beginning this discussion are several quotations about ignorance, which must mean ignorance of the truth. My comment is a question: what is the theology of homosexuality? Officially, as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a homosexual orientation is not sinful in itself (#2357 Chastity and homosexuality). However, any acting upon that orientation is gravely, objectively sinful. Evidently the Church hierarchy or the theologians who represent the teaching authority of the Church see no contradiction in those two statements.

Would someone please explain why God creates or at least permits the psychosexual development of a large group of people to be oriented toward sin, why he allows them to be oriented a certain way, a way acknowledged by the theologians as truly existing in this world in many human beings? In an area of life so crucial as sexuality--as human love--is there in fact a group of people destined to live either as complete celibates or, if they choose the evil that somehow they are "oriented" toward, to live in what the hierarchy defines as grave sin? What kind of theology is that? It sounds so much as though the theological authorities want to be seen as modern and scientific and cognizant and educated in human nature, yet at the same time, in a fiercely unscientific, unrealistic way, they consign so many thousands and millions of human beings to a struggle not of their choosing and, it seems, not entirely a matter of will.

Saint Augustine wrote (Confessions, VII, 16) that iniquity (a word associated for centuries with homosexual desire and action) is not a "substance" in the ancient sense. It is a lack, a minus sign. He called it the perversity of a will turned away from the highest substance, God, and turned instead toward the lowest, toward evil. So, an act of will is critical! Where is the act of will in the homosexual orientation? If the theologians say the orientation is not sinful, there is no act of will in possessing it or being affected by it. The people are innocent of the desire they feel. Sin comes with the act of will, the choice to do something other than pray, fast, live the life of a monk or a nun. How can this reasoning make sense?

To repeat, why is the official teaching so harsh and so incomprehensible? Why are so many people set apart? Why is only the Cinderella story of a Catholic virgin woman and a Catholic virgin man marrying at Mass free of sin? Desperately, the theological world needs to come to an understanding of human nature. Ignorance about human nature, about need, desire, and love, is a fearful thing.

Written by Madeline Wright, Ph.D., M.S.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Michigan Television Station Pulls Misleading AFA Program Following Announcement of National Action Alert By Human Rights Campaign

Station manager releases statement: "The Offer is now off the table."

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today issued a national action alert against the American Family Association's (AFA) one-hour television special called "Speechless: Silencing Christians," which is promoted to "reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom." Within an hour of that action alert announcement, the Grand Rapids, MI station which had planned to air the deceptive programming rescinded that offer.

WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski posted the following announcement just before 4 p.m. saying it would not run the AFA paid 60-minute program on Saturday as planned:

"We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period. It's been 24 hours and we had no response," Kniowski said. "Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else's fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TransEpiscopal -- a group of transgender Episcopalians

is a group of transgender Episcopalians and our significant others, families, friends and allies dedicated to enriching our spiritual lives and to making the Episcopal Church a welcoming and empowering place that all of us truly can call our spiritual home. http://www.transepiscopal.blogspot.com/


Starting in 2007, several of us started building a group called the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality (ICTE), and last week this group, along with Keshet (which works for the full inclusion of LGBT people in Jewish life), held its first event, called "An Act of Faith: Massachusetts Communities of Faith Speak Out for Transgender Equality." You can learn more about ICTE here and about Keshet here. I've described my own experience of "An Act of Faith" here. To read more


Last Thursday, November 20th, my parish, St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (or ‘SLAM,’ as it is affectionately known) hosted Boston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). For coverage of the event by the Allston/Brighton Tab, click here, and for coverage by Bay Windows, click here. Bay Windows photographer Marilyn Humphries took some wonderful photos, which you can view here. To read more

Other Links found on      

Peculiar Honors
Reflections from various community-based contexts: ecclesial (especially Episcopal/Anglican); academic studies of religion, early Christianity, and theology; LGBTQ theory and politics; and life in the Boston Area. http://peculiar-honors.blogspot.com/

Declaration of Religious and Faith-Based Support for Massachusetts Legislation, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes 

"Keshet is a lifeline. It affirms that there is an honorable place in the Jewish community for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities."

Monday, February 2, 2009


David / Bhakti Ananda Goswami said...

Dear Fr.
Kurylowicz and Friends,

Here is the website of
OII-USA, our Organisation Intersex International.

We are inclusive and welcome transgendered and transsexual persons, and anyone else, to collaborate with us in our mission to educate everyone about human sex differentiation. This education is what is necessary to establish a scientific reality-based global standard for universal human rights. 

Godhead's Love for the Finite Person
Judeo-Catholic 'Bridal' and Love Mysticism 

The Person is infinitely more than the sum of their physical parts, and our bodies are themselves infinitely complex. However in spite of our metaphysical and physical complexity, in Catholic theology the core revelation of Godhead to us, and for us, is extremely simple. GOD IS LOVE. This God has created us out of love, to love and to be loved. To our God-Who-Is-Love, each of us is precious and lovable, JUST AS WE ARE. We are His beloved 'OTHER', the object of His love. We infinite number of finite beings are actually attractive to God, drawing-out the endless and infinite expressions of His love, which create and maintain the infinite number of spiritual and material worlds. And when we misbehave with our minute independence and get fouled-up in the knotty consequences of abusing our own free will, He comes to untangle us. He continuously and personally comes to us and for us, joining us in all of the hells of our own making, just to save us from the ultimate spiritual consequence of our sin, which is loveless SEPARATION FROM GOD AND OTHERS!

Sexism is Specifically Rejected
in the
Gospel of Jesus Christ 

Is this Ultimate Source and Transcendent Saving Godhead a Being who would reject whole classes of people because they were not physically typical males or females? What a ridiculous proposition! Sexism cannot be reconciled with authentic Catholic Christian theology. 

The New Testament declares that: 'In Christ there is no Greek or Jew’. NO RACISM. 'In Christ...there is no slave or free'. NO CLASSISM. ' In Christ...there is no MALE OR FEMALE.' NO SEXISM. 

What part of this is not perfectly clear? In 'The World' these divisive distinctions are certainly there, but Christians are called to be 'in the world, but not OF the World'. God's love In Christ should empower us to transcend all divisive 'worldliness', rising above all impersonal prejudices to know and love one another as the uniquely lovable individuals that we truly are. In Christ's divine love, we should experience that same holy attraction for each other, that attracts God Himself to us! 

The universally redeeming Love of God in Christ is the Gospel 'Good News' of the Catholic Apostolic Christian Revelation. It is the primary mission of the Church to deliver this Good News, and to LIVE THIS LOVE FOR HUMANITY. How is the Church's mission, both Its message and ministry of Christ's Love, served by racism, classism and sexism? Today's Catholic Communion is a great global force of opposition to racism and classism. But sadly the Church is still crippled by the sexism of various cultures, now abetted by newer versions of the old post-Victorian era pseudo-sciences of sex. Every area of the Church's ministry, from the work of dogmatic and moral theologians, to the welfare workers in the streets, is impacted by this problem. There is a profound discordance between the universal-saving-grace inclusiveness of the Gospel Message, and the exclusiveness of the Church's recent practices, which all but demonize any and all humans perceived as 'other' than somehow ideally male or female. 

The LBGT&Q communities each have their own issues with the Church, but the question of how the Church acknowledges or ignores, accepts or rejects intersexed (including naturally "sex-reversed") people, is actually the one question that is at the very heart of its dogmatic theology of the universal salvation offered to humanity through Jesus Christ. By focusing on the question of same-sex behavior / acts as an issue of moral theology, the Church is avoiding the more profound question of what it is to BE A SAVE-able HUMAN, in dogmatic theology. 

The Irreducible and Unavoidable Question

The question is at its essence about WHO or WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN, and therefore to have a claim to human rights, both in the mundane order of humankind and in the divine order of Godhead. 

In India they say that if you have a million rupees, all of your ten rupee problems are solved. All of the related ten rupee behavioral problems in Catholic moral theology will be solved when the erroneous simplistic 19th Century pseudo-scientific view of human sexual differentiation is corrected. 

In dogmatic theology, the question of what it means to be human is essential to the Church's doctrine of salvation. If God made only males or females (or males and females), then who has created intersex people, and are they still human and save-able through the once-and-all-sufficient self-sacrifice of God as Jesus Christ?

Are intersex people entirely fit as humans to receive the Sacraments or to take Holy Orders? If intersex people are not deemed fit, and do not share in the religious rights of all other Catholics to worship and serve Jesus in His Church, why not ? 

There is the challenge. This is the real battle. Are the intersexed, including naturally sex-reversed people, fully human and loved by God? If naturally sex-reversed XY women exist, some of whom can even naturally conceive and bear normal children, what is the implication for other XY women? If naturally sex-reversed XX men exist, if countless millions of complex Human Wonders of atypical sex differentiation exist, what is the implication of their existence for LBGT and Q people? The information war of liberation, which finally frees intersexed and sex-reversed humanity from its prison of shamed silence and societal denial, will also begin the liberation of the rest of humanity from the cruel and impersonal oppression of every other form of sexism. We do not need to find a 'gay gene' or a region of the brain to blame for 'Gender Identity Disorder'. We do not need to understand the minutia of genetics or the psychology of Freud or Jung to simply acknowledge that there are millions of physically sexually atypical humans alive today, who present a countless number of 'intersex' variations...too many to ever be cataloged or understood. 

This is the million rupee truth about the human condition, which puts an end to all of the little ten rupee lies about our simplistic sexual dimorphism. The logical side-effect of successfully meeting this challenge to educate Catholic leaders about the reality of human intersex, will be a profound impact on almost every other sex and gender issue facing the Church, in the realms of moral and dogmatic theology today. Most important is the task of reaching the Magisterium with this truth about our wonderfully diverse humanity, this truth that can set us free, and also free the Church from the sexism that oppresses it now.

David / Bhakti Ananda Goswami first letter

To learn more about Intersex:
(click on titles to the links)

a non-profit organisation incorporated
in the
Province of Quebec, Canada