I just finished listening to an interview between Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out and Mike Ensley of Exodus International. They were on the Alan Colmes radio show, and Michael Bussee also called in briefly during the open phones. I almost felt sorry for Mike, he really seemed unprepared for a serious interview. Wayne, on the other hand, should probably seek more radio and TV work, he excels in that type of exchange.
I only heard the last two-thirds, but that was enough. I don’t think I realized how acclimated I have become to the twisted byproducts of indoctrination that often come out of the ex-gay movement, not until I listened to the tortured answers Mike gave to the simplest questions. When Colmes would strain to get a simple reply, Mike would prattle on undeterred or complain that it was a complicated issue. Obfuscation is always more complicated than an open, direct approach. The problem for Mike is that, so far, he seems only to have sipped the Exodus Koolaid. Perhaps even he doesn’t believe some of what is coming from his mouth.
As Wayne noted, Mike (and most Exodus/ex-gay representatives) are vague in their message to the public. They have learned the general absurdity of asking people to accept the ever elusive “change,” (the definition of which has been beaten into the ground), so they have come up with creative slogans suggesting, for instance, “freedom” from homosexuality. Those of us who deal with ex-gay issues frequently know what this means (change by any other name…), yet when asked to explain (as Mike was tonight), the response is “freedom from the influence of same-sex desires.” Again, if not orientation change, what on earth does that mean? Celibacy? Asexuality?
An honest approach might be to tell people that, if they believe homosexual sex is wrong, they can be celibate. Or if you are bisexual, you might also be able to emphasize your heterosexual attractions. But as long as they continue to hawk change, as long as they do not accept a gay-affirming outlook as an equally acceptable outcome for the people they deal with, and as long as they continue to work against the rights of other GLBTs to live equally, Exodus will be a bad thing. That they are not open and honest about what they are doing just shows that they know we know.
In the mean time, I suspect Mike will be absent from live interviews for a while.
Addendum: In this audio clip, Mike responds to a simple question (Are you gay?) with various canned phrases and concepts which make up part of the Exodus newspeak lexicon. You can hear Colmes struggle as he plows through the muddled bits to get a “straight” answer. It’s no wonder Mike and his brethren feel so misunderstood – they don’t make any sense.[audio:alan_colmes.mp3]