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Religion Last Updated: Dec 31st, 2005 - 13:52:10

"Mr. Heterosexual" and other pathologies
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 19, 2005, 01:11

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From a December 8, "Family News in Focus" story:

Massachusetts Pastor has Contest for Mr. Straight
by Kim Trobee

In reaction to Gay Promotions, like Mr. Gay International, this one will find Mr. Hetero.

The homosexual community has flooding [sic] the marketplace with products and opportunities exclusively for gays and lesbians. Now a talk show host in Massachusetts is turning the tables. Tom Crouse, pastor of Holland Congregational Church and host of the radio program "Engaging Your World" is launching a "contest" to name the most heterosexual guy in Massachusetts. . . . The contest will feature such manly events as how many Oprah magazines you can tear at once and a sixty second dissertation on the uses of duct tape. [link mine]

"Flooding the marketplace with products and opportunities exclusively for gays and lesbians"? Like what? Shouldn't such an extravagant postdiluvian assertion offer at least some examples? Unless, of course, there are none to offer.

Heterosexuality is defined by "how many Oprah magazines you can tear at once" and the number of uses you can find for duct tape?

But the punch line was Pastor Crouse's justification for the event: "We're just looking for tolerance for heterosexuals."

"Tolerance for heterosexuals" wins The Most Asinine Statement Ever Made contest. (And the competition from George W. Bush was formidable.)

If current estimates are accurate, and gays and lesbians represent 2-4 percent of the population, is Pastor Crouse asking 96-98 percent of the population to be tolerant of themselves? Or is the victimizer once again playing victim? And considering what we now call "homosexuality" existed in all cultures throughout all of recorded history, one must conclude homosexuals are very much part of "God's design."

The gay and lesbian community is a cross section that includes all groups, whether they're defined by race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, religion, or any other label used to categorize and segregate people. That community has never been intolerant of heterosexuality. Tolerance and civil equality are the core beliefs that gay and lesbian Americans are fighting for.

Gays, lesbians and fair-minded Americans who believe in civil equality, liberty and justice for all do, however, have a problem with those who pervert religion for their own political purposes and then hide behind "religious freedom" in order to further disenfranchise, demean, denigrate and hurt fellow human beings.

"Family News in Focus," where the Mr. Heterosexual story appeared, is "a web site of Focus on the Family," an organization founded and lorded over by James Dobson. You remember him: the Christian leader who did battle with SpongeBob's use in a video that promoted the We Are Family Foundation's "Tolerance Pledge." The flap was over the term "sexual identity" in WAFF's original pledge:

Tolerance is a personal decision that comes from a belief that every person is a treasure. I believe that America's diversity is its strength. I also recognize that ignorance, insensitivity and bigotry can turn that diversity into a source of prejudice and discrimination.

To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own.

Interesting how the Christian Right wants what it's not willing to give: tolerance.

Rev. John H. Thomas, president of the 1.3 million member United Church of Christ, said it best: "While Dobson's silly accusation makes headlines, it's also one more concrete example of how religion is misused over and over to promote intolerance over inclusion." But religion is not the only thing Dobson misuses in order "to promote intolerance over inclusion."

On page 54 of his 2004 book, Marriage Under Fire, Dr. Dobson asserted that "some studies say" homosexuals "typically" have more than one thousand sex partners. The footnote attached to that assertion cites "A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), 308-9; see also Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1981)."

The title of the first text immediately suggests the ruse: "Homosexualities" and "Diversity." Dobson makes a blanket statement about all homosexuals today based on one table in a book about "homosexualities" and the "diversity" of behaviors.

The book's publication date confirms the deception. Data more than a quarter century old must be put into proper historical and cultural perspective, especially when dealing with a subject that has seen profound changes in the intervening decades.

Bell and Weinberg gathered their data in the mid-1970s during the height of the so-called "bathhouse culture" when, as Andrew Sullivan noted, the homosexual subculture "all but submerged itself in a sexualized frenzy." That "sexualized frenzy" ended rather abruptly when a mysterious retrovirus appeared and, in a matter of years, wiped out a whole generation of homosexual men, while "Christian" leaders like Jerry Falwell urged political leaders like Ronald Reagan to do nothing about the "gay plague." Today, HIV-AIDS afflicts far more heterosexuals than homosexuals.

But even during the days of the bathhouse culture, the statistics required demographic and geographic qualification. Three hundred to a thousand different partners is a lot of people, especially when gays make up only 2-4 percent of the population and not all of them live in large cities where that many different partners would be even remotely possible.

No doubt there were (and are) some gay men who have a large number of different sexual partners, just as there are heterosexual men who have a large number of different sexual partners. (Perhaps some of the latter will enter Pastor Crouse's "Mr. Hetero" contest.) But to assert that such behavior is "typical" of all gay men is a blatant lie with malicious intent.

The pages in Bell's and Weinberg's book (308-9) cited by Dobson contain tables. The one he alleged was "typical" of all homosexuals today appeared on page 308, in Appendix C. It's reproduced below:

Dr. Dobson seems interested only in gay men. He's also totally out of focus on families.

The "White Homosexual Female" (WHF) and "Black Homosexual Female" (BHF) results blatantly contradict his assertions. More recent statistics highlight the contradiction and Dobson's malicious intent. Two-thirds of the same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004 -- the first day gay and lesbian couples could legally be issued marriage licenses -- were women. This is not surprising since 43 percent of lesbians are "coupled" at any given time. Other pertinent demographics from May 17, 2004 in Massachusetts include:

  • 50 percent of the same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses had been together for at least a decade;
  • the most predominant age group was 40 to 49 years-old (the median age was 43);
  • 40 percent of those female couples had children in their households.

So much for Dobson's veracity and his "focus on the family" charade.

The second reference listed in Dobson's citation -- "Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1981)" -- is equally misleading since a theme in the book is "Sexual orientation, whether it be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, does not appear to be something that one chooses. Recent studies suggest that sexual orientation has a genetic or biological component, and is probably determined before or shortly after birth."

The leaders of the Christian Right maniacally campaign against gays and lesbians every chance they get. They seem obsessed with disenfranchising, demeaning, denigrating and hurting gays and lesbians in any and every way they can. Don Wildmon and his American Family Association (AFA) love to boycott major companies that treat their gay and lesbian employees equally or that contribute to organizations that promote civil equality. Their recent self-proclaimed "cultural" victory over Ford Motor Company is a case in point.

That Ford had financial troubles was well known. But the troubles were deeper than previously thought. Earlier reports said the company planned to shut down a few North American plants that employed approximately 7,000 workers, but according to

Ford Motor Co. plans to close at least 10 plants and cut 25,000 to 30,000 hourly jobs in North America within five years, according to a published report Wednesday. The Detroit News, quoting people familiar with the plan, said the deep cuts will be presented to the Ford board of directors for consideration Wednesday. It will not be revealed to the public until Jan. 23, according to the paper. The cuts are much deeper than earlier reports, which initially had Ford closing as few as three assembly plants and cutting only about 7,000 positions.

Apparently the "pro-family" AFA religious extremists saw a wounded animal and decided the time was right to strike. Leave it to the ideologues of the Christian Right to kick a guy when he's down. Their motivation for doing so seems clear: disenfranchise, demean and hurt gay and lesbian Americans, their children and their families.

Does it surprise anyone that the two Ford officials who supposedly brokered a deal with AFA -- Ziad Ojakli and David Leitch -- were former officials in the Bush White House. From The Washington Blade report:

Both Leitch and Ojakli have connections to the Bush administration. According to biographies of the men on Ford's website, Leitch joined the company in April following a stint as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. Leitch "advised the president on a variety of legal issues, including issues involving the war on terror, judicial nominations and ethics," the biography states. Ojakli joined Ford in 2004 after a four-year stint as principal deputy for legislative affairs for Bush. He is credited with assisting in strategy and policy development.

But, as usual, AFA was simply blowing its own horn with its abundant hot air. On December 14, Ford vice president Joe W. Laymon sent a letter to the gay and lesbians groups that met with Ford after AFA's announcement. As the Washington Blade reported, "The statement was in response to reports last week that Ford made a deal with the conservative American Family Association to cease some advertising in gay publications and support for gay organizations to avoid a boycott. Media reports said Ford had agreed to not advertise its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications."

Ford was blunt:

You asked us specifically to reaffirm our principles of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness. We agreed, without any reservations, and issued a statement immediately after the meeting in which Bill Ford did so personally. We pointed out that Ford Motor Company and its brands value diversity among all of our constituents and pride ourselves on strong and clear values--respect for our customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers; acceptance of our differences; inclusion of different people with different perspectives; and integrity. That commitment is unchanged and we believe it is reflected in our policies, practices and marketing.

The complete text of Mr. Laymon's letter is available at

Undaunted by yet another failure and always looking for new opportunities to disenfranchise, demean, denigrate and hurt gays and lesbian Americans, AFA is now bristling about Wal-Mart. The following is from a December 15 article posted by the Christian news service Agape Press:

AFA spokesman Randy Sharp says his organization has obtained a copy of a Wal-Mart staff memo inviting home office associates to a seminar on December 16 entitled "Why Market to Gay America?" The memo, dated December 8, notes that America's homosexual community has $610 billion in purchasing power, and that the seminar -- sponsored by Wal-Mart's Office of Diversity -- will "provide insight into the purchasing decisions of GLBT . . . customers." . . .

"Basically what they're doing is they're giving their stamp of approval on homosexuality, recognizing it as a facet in America that deserves their support and their encouragement," he says. "And they want their business. [italics mine]

Apparently Mr. Sharp is unaware that the purpose of retail businesses is to sell things to people who have the money to buy them. Sharp's other statement betrays his blindness. Homosexuals, their children and their families are a facet of America, whether he likes it or not. But then again, what can be expected from someone who works for an organization headed by Rev. Wildmon whose comment had no connection to reality, reason or logic, only hate and bias: "Based on the memo, Wal-Mart is recognizing homosexuality as equal to race and national origin . . . it is only a matter of time before this group demands same-sex partner health benefits, 'pride parades,' and diversity workshops." Wildmon's wallowing is not surprising: equality and diversity are anathema to hate-mongering theocrats and ultra-conservatives. One organization offers T-shirts that proclaim it.

But no one is more obsessed with disenfranchising, demeaning, denigrating and hurting gays and lesbians, their children and their families than Rev. Lou Sheldon and his Traditional Values Coalition (TVC). Since 1972 Sheldon has been on a homophobic rampage. He perverts and uses the most vile stereotypes of gay Americans in his crusades. His rhetoric defines "homophobia." Rev. Sheldon has suggested rounding up gays and HIV+ people and putting them in "cities of refuge" (aka concentration camps). Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sheldon argued against giving aid to the surviving members of gay and lesbian partnerships, many of whom had children.

Most of the time a majority of the "articles" and "special reports" available at the TVC web site are hate-filled, pathological attacks on gay and lesbian Americans. For example, on July 31, 2004, TVC's web site featured their "Top Ten Reports":

  1. Homosexuals Recruit Public School Children
  2. Homosexuality 101: A Primer
  3. Homosexual Propaganda Campaign Based on Hitler's 'Big Lie' Technique
  4. A Gender Identity Disorder Goes Mainstream
  5. Homosexual Behavior Fuels AIDS and STD Epidemic
  6. Homosexual Sex = Death from HIV Infection
  7. Traditional Values Coalition Exposes Homosexual Agenda
  8. Judicial Tyranny
  9. Homosexual Child Molesters

10.   Federal AIDS Dollars Fund Homosexual Proms And Fisting Seminars

The following item has been posted for quite some time and well represents TVC's continued perversion of already perverted -- and baseless -- stereotypes as well as their primary MO, fear-mongering:

The Homosexual Movement And Pedophilia

The homosexual activist movement and organized pedophiles are linked together by a common goal: To gain access to children for seduction into homosexuality.

The TVC has a long, deep history of fear and hate-mongering. On November 10, 2004, the Traditional Values Coalition's executive director Andrea Lafferty spoke at the "Regeneration" conference. Regeneration is a Christian ministry dedicated to "curing" homosexuals. The "ex-gay" sham is regularly used by the Christian Right to support their theocratic, discriminatory causes.

In her Regeneration presentation Lafferty claimed homosexuals have targeted and recruited children in the public schools for the last 20 years. She also encouraged parents to remove their children from "pro-homosexual teachings." Her accusations relied heavily on the recruiting molester stereotype delivered with McCarthy-like flare: "What most parents don't realize is that homosexual teachers have included recruitment materials into nearly every subject -- from math problems to English assignments."

Sadly, Andrea Lafferty -- Lou Sheldon's daughter -- would deem any mention of gays and lesbians and their desire to be seen as equal citizens as "pro-homosexual" and, therefore, "recruitment materials." Intolerance is blindness striking out at the reality it can't see.

In an "Action Alert" and plea for funds sent on December 11, Rev. Sheldon made clear his pathological intolerance:

Homo-fascism is alive and well -- and things are only going to get worse if we do not awaken the nation to the dangers ahead if homosexuals succeed in their goals. . . . We cannot give them an inch. I truly believe that the future of free speech, religion, and association will die in this nation if homo-fascists get their way. [italics mine]

"Homo-fascists?" What gay and lesbian Americans want was succinctly expressed by Rep. Barney Frank in his speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

In addition to inspiring fear, the Christian Right's pathological propaganda has another function. It encourages and justifies hate, and targets a group of people who are then blamed for most (if not all) of society's ills. Just as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei blamed the minority Jewish (and homosexual) population for all of Germany's ills, the evangelical Christian Right blames homosexuals and non-believers for all of America's ills (including terrorist attacks and hurricanes). And Sheldon had the nerve to title one of his rants "Homosexual Propaganda Campaign Based on Hitler's 'Big Lie' Technique"? (It's volume 18, number 10 of Sheldon's "special reports, available as a pdf download.)

Such rhetoric inspires a twisted, unhealthy state of mind and a twisted, pathological reaction to social reality. One has to wonder about the mental health of those who dedicated their lives to persecuting and hurting people. Such hate junkies could, in turn, affect the mental health of those who buy into their delusions and paranoia.

Shankar Vedantam's December 10 Washington Post article, "Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an Illness," noted:

The 48-year-old man turned down a job because he feared that a co-worker would be gay. He was upset that gay culture was becoming mainstream and blamed most of his personal, professional and emotional problems on the gay and lesbian movement.

These fixations preoccupied him every day. Articles in magazines about gays made him agitated. He confessed that his fears had left him socially isolated and unemployed for years: A recovering alcoholic, the man even avoided 12-step meetings out of fear he might encounter a gay person. "He had a fixed delusion about the world," said Sondra E. Solomon, a psychologist at the University of Vermont who treated the man for two years. "He felt under attack, he felt threatened." . . .

As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis.

Yet another "psychological disorder" is definitely not what's needed, especially one that could be used as a defense for homophobes who violently assault or kill gays. But perhaps a warning label -- "This product is known to causes fear and paranoia, and can result in terminal irrationality" -- would be appropriate for the toxic waste and blatant lies Sheldon's TVC, Dobson's FOF and Wildmon's AFA shill for power and profit, and "shill" is exactly the right word. TVC gleefully promotes its antigay video and Sheldon's version of the Malleus Maleficarum. Dobson spits out misleading book after misleading book, and Wildmon's AFA boycotts equality-minded companies and promotes a certain video.

Wayne Besen is the author of Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. He's demanding "that the antigay group American Family Association stop promoting and selling a video featuring a man who claims he has been 'cured' of homosexuality who has since been dumped as a spokesman for the group for continuing to have sex with men. The video, It's Not Gay, features Michael Johnston, who once said he had been 'cured' his homosexuality through the 'power of Jesus Christ.' Johnston, who is HIV-positive, stopped serving as a spokesman for so-called ex-gay groups in 2003 after reportedly continuing to meet men through the Internet and having unsafe sex with them."

Mr. Besen didn't mince words: "The American Family Association is blatantly committing fraud by suggesting that Johnston is heterosexual, and they are promoting the spread of HIV by continuing to use him as a spokesperson. . . . This episode suggests a stunning lack of integrity on the part of the American Family Association and utter contempt for the truth. If they have a shred of decency and morality, they will immediately stop selling the tape and apologize for their disgraceful behavior."

AFA produced the It's Not Gay video in 2000 and has been distributing it ever since: that's two years and counting after the Michael Johnston "miracle" was exposed as a fraud.

According to their PR, AFA claims the video has "been shown in over 10,000 churches." But Wildmon claims it's appropriate in other settings as well: "It fits the time period for Sunday School class use or a short Bible study or even a mid-week worship service." AFA claims "the video's content is suitable for adults and older youth." Lies presented as truth in churches and Bible study groups: a perfect fit.

As of this writing, the AFA "store" still features the following promo:

It's Not Gay
SKU: V04

It's Not Gay presents a story that few have heard, allowing former homosexuals the opportunity to tell their own story in their own words. Along with medical and mental health experts, these individuals express a clear warning that the sanitized version of homosexuality being presented to students is not the whole truth. Uncompromising, yet compassionate, It's Not Gay is a fair and balanced approach to this challenging subject.

Runtime is 28 minutes.

Suggested Donation: $15.00

Available now on DVD!

This attests to AFA's continued, updated and enthusiastic shilling of what can only be called a blatant lie. And what's their motivation for doing so? To disenfranchise, demean, denigrate and hurt gays, lesbians, their children and their families. The AFA record supports that assertion.

"Disenfranchise, demean, denigratey and hurt." Surely the leaders of the Christian Right are smart enough to realize their vitriolic antigay rhetoric and accompanying actions have other consequences. Or perhaps those consequences are just part of the master plan.

John D. Moore is the author of Confusing Love With Obsession: When You Can't Stop Controlling Your Partner and the Relationship and professor of health sciences and psychology at American Public University. On March 8, 2004, featured an article by Dr. Moore that addressed the effects of antigay rhetoric and campaigns on young people:

When President George W. Bush decided to publicly embrace a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, cloaking his remarks in the guise of religion, he psychologically violated millions upon millions of gay and lesbian youth around the nation as well as the many millions more who are their parents and relatives. In short, Mr. Bush has made it fashionable to declare "open season" on a segment of our society. Make no mistake -- his intolerant message was quite clear: "You and your family are not part of the American family." . . .

Consider what one 20-year-old student wrote in an essay about this topic in a class I instruct on gender psychology: "I have beaten up faggots before, and I used to feel guilty -- not anymore! Bush says fags don't count, so I guess it's cool to do it."

Bob Hague, in his December 6, article, "Voicemail message suggests 'open season' on gays," wrote:

State Senator Dave Hansen says he's disturbed by a message calling for "an open season" on gays, on the eve of the debate over same sex marriage. The suggestion came at the end of a crude and offensive voicemail left with Hansen's Madison [Wisconsin] office. "Maybe we should have open season on those people, and just let 'em know how we really think," the caller said . . . AUDIO (Voicemail message from Senator Hansen's office)

Is that the point? Is that the goal? "Open season" on gays and lesbians?

When Rev. Don Wildmon and the American Family Association launch one of their boycotts, what are they really trying to accomplish? When Rev. Lou Sheldon and the Traditional Values Coalition rant and rave against gays and lesbians, what are they really saying and what are their motives for saying it? When Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson writes a book claiming that if civil marriage were extended to gays and lesbians, the world will end, what's he saying and what's he really advocating?

Pastor Crouse's "Mr. Hetero" contest may be . . ."amusing." But what underwrites the feigned comedy is lethal.

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