Friday, 13 April 2012

Reasons The Ex-Gay Bus Ads Were Stupid And Why They Shouldn't Be Banned

Yesterday a rather impressive Twitter storm raged after it was discovered Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust were going to mount a counter bus ad campaign to Stonewall's famous "Some people are gay. Get over it" ads. These have recently reappeared on buses thanks to Stonewall's new marriage equality campaign.

If they were aiming for massive exposure, they were successful even if the ads have now been refused by Transport for London thanks to Boris Johnson's (record time) intervention last night. But if they were aiming to enlighten the public, I feel they may have really missed an opportunity (thankfully for us LGBT rights enthusiasts!). So here's a few points on what is wrong with the advert (leaving out that ridiculous exclamation mark after Not Gay which is wrong on far too many levels).

1) The phrasing. "Ex-gay" and "Post-gay" are not really terms in common circulation. People like me (and probably you) know about ex-gays because of the harrowing stories we hear from organisations like Truth Wins Out. Christian fundamentalists know about ex-gays because they are good friends! Post-gay is a bit more confusing, as to me that means someone looking to a time when sexuality doesn't really matter. I don't think that was the intention of the advert, but I could be wrong! I really think this advert is far more likely to confuse than to enlighten it's target audience. On that front alone it was a bit of an own goal anyway.
2) The concept. The idea that one can change their sexuality is not one I'd argue against. I believe that is true, and that sexuality is far more fluid than we'd like to admit. And I'm certain that there are some people who have been successfully "helped" by ex-gay organisations. But their treatments are not scientific and are NOT likely to "cure" even a large minority of those who ask for their help. I'm all in favour of freedom so I think ex-gay organisations should be allowed to operate (with adults). However, it's not something one should brag about running. The treatments and tactics of these organisations are awful... Ex-Gay Watch has more on that.
3) It's possibly the least Christian response, to what they perceived as attack, that could be conceived! Whatever happened to turning the other cheek, offering a positive response or even a loving response?? Truly, truly bizarre from so-called Christians.

But saying that, I can nothing here to ban it. The advert is not offensive. I know, don't hate me, but it's not. If you find this offensive than I would ask you not read any more of the internet immediately. It's simply (alright not simply, I'm assume this is what it says given how unclear it is!) stating that straight people, ex-gays and gay folks who have moved beyond their sexuality exist and are proud too. And it makes no unscientific claims.

Recently I criticised Tim Farron for asking the ASA to give an exception to a Christian organisation that advertises that prayer heals. That is unscientific and is, 99% certainly, a false claim. No such false claim has been made in this case.

I think it should've been allowed to run on free speech grounds alone. It didn't incite violence, made no false claims (unless you deny the existence of people claiming to be ex-gay!) and isn't offensive. It was ridiculous, pointless and not very nice. But I really think all that a ban has done is kept the story, and exposure going (as proven by today's news the anti-gay organisations might attempt to sue).

People around the world want to silence LGBT people because they find what we say offensive, we must be better people than them.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist


penwing said...

I don't know that I agree people's sexuality can be artificially changed, what I think is possible is helping people to accept that they don't have to fit the expectations of being gay or being straight.

x x

Jae Kay said...

I don't really agree with that either, hence why I say I doubt ex-gay therapy's effectiveness. But I believe it often does change naturally over time. The idea of a fixed sexuality is just so unlikely to be almost impossible.

penwing said...

Change over time I can accept but artificial interference I don't think does anything. I think any genuine changes from ex-gay therapy will have been people who have labelled early or have changed since and accepted the expectations of the label and the therapy is only helping to break the attachment to the label (and a push towards forcing a straight label which may also not be accurate). The therapy doesn't change actual attraction just what you accept and how you act on it.

x x