pray away the gay

Someone who needs no introduction, another guest post by our
good friend Sara Whitman. Read more about Sara and her life on her
blog at

Now I know where my mother failed. She didn’t want me to be a
lesbian and asked me if I could simply be asexual. Not involved
with anyone. Worked for her, so why not?

What she really needed to do was have me pray. Read the bible.
Study scripture. Find God and embrace him.

He’s a man, after all.

Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Pat
Robertson University are releasing today study results, if that’s
what you call it, at the regional conference of Christian
Counselors in Nashville. (The full study results will be released
on Oct. 10, in the form of a book by Christian publisher
InterVarsity Press.)

Too bad my mother was an atheist.

“It comes as no shock that anti-gay ‘researchers’ at Wheaton
College and Pat Robertson University would release a study that
claims you can pray away the gay,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director
Wayne Besen
. “I suppose their next study will provide support
for Pat Robertson’s theory that homosexuality causes meteors and

I wonder if that has worked for Ted Haggard? I mean, it didn’t
help him being the head of a ministry, but maybe all those men on
their knees at the alter was too much pressure?

On one hand, if a bunch of Christian Fundamentalists want to
believe that you can deny sexual feelings by immersing yourself in
prayer, then I applaud them. Personally, I don’t see the point.
As I told my mother at the tender age of 20, you mean, you want me
to NEVER have sex?

Yes, was her very firm answer. What’s the big deal about sex?

That’s when I dropped the conversation because I was not going to
explain to my mother that sex actually kinda rocked in my young,
earnest opinion and there was no way in hell I was going to give it
up. You just don’t go there with your mother who was raised
wearing white gloves and thought nothing of piling books on your
head to teach you how to walk the right way.

It breaks my heart when I read about young adults being pulled into
the belief that if they pray, be good to God, and really really
really try, they won’t be gay anymore.

The problem is, they are still going to be gay. And then what? Do
those Christian Counselors think about what kind of shame they are
filling these young people with? Do they take responsibility for
the attempted suicides and successful suicides of young LGBT

Anyone out there think they “doth protest too much?” Are they
just trying to scrub out their own ‘spots?’

I’m 44 years old. It took my mother ten years to come around and
finally not only accept me for who I am, but to read garbage put
out by the likes of Jones and Yarhouse and understand how dangerous
it is for young, impressionable minds. She never admitted to being
wrong, but years later, in a quiet moment on a porch looking out
over the ocean, she asked me how I made it through whole.

Who helped you? She wanted to know. I thought all homosexuals were
unhappy, lonely people.

I shared with her the books by Ann Landers I read, the few friends
I confided in who still loved me, the panicked hang up calls to a
gay and lesbian group listed in the phone book and the ultimate
experience of going to a college LGBT group meeting.

I didn’t mention the part of about kissing a girl for the first
time and knowing, in my heart, that I finally knew who I was.

I told her I was lucky.

I remember how quiet she was after I told my story. She knew I was
lucky, too. There were so many other, incredibly destructive, ways
I could have ended up.

I’m old enough now to laugh off ridiculous, illegitimate studies
done by people trying to prove their own point. I read the fine
print, see the methodology used as beyond hokey and roll my eyes. I
have my family, my friends, and my community who supports me for
all of who I am, every day. I am ashamed when I don’t recycle
everything I can but never about marrying a woman.

There was, however, a time when I was ashamed. I am so grateful
there was no Christian Counselor telling me to “pray away the
gay.” I cannot imagine how I would have recovered.

And every time I read one of these studies, I vow to be as out, as
available and as open a role model as I can possibly be.