My Ex-Gay Friend
An incredibly moving piece from the New York Times Magazine that is worth the full read.
Many young gay men looked up to him. He and his boyfriend at the time, Ben, who also worked at the magazine, made a handsome pair — but their appeal went deeper. On weekends we would go to raves together, and I would watch as gay boys gravitated toward the couple. Michael and Ben seemed unburdened (by shame, by self-doubt) and unapologetically pursued what the writer Paul Monette called the uniquely gay experience of “flagrant joy.” But unlike some of our friends who rode the flagrant joy train all the way to rehab, Michael and Ben rarely seemed out of control. There was a balance — a wisdom — to their quest for intense, authentic experience. Together they seemed to have figured out how to be young, gay and happy.
I thought about those times as I pulled my rental car into the Wyoming town where Michael now lives. A lot had happened in the decade since we last saw each other: he and Ben started a new gay magazine (Young Gay America, or Y.G.A.); they traveled the country for a documentary about gay teenagers; and Michael was fast becoming the leading voice for gay youth until the day, in July 2007, when he announced that he was no longer gay.
“Homosexuality came easy to me, because I was already weak,” he wrote in the opening line of an article for the far-right Web site, worldnetdaily.com. He went on to renounce his work at XY and Y.G.A. “Homosexuality, delivered to young minds, is by its very nature pornographic,” he claimed. In a second WorldNetDaily article a week later, he said that he was “repulsed to think about homosexuality” and that he was “going to do what I can to fight it.”
It’s hard for me to understand his current views now. It’s almost villifying of homosexuality. From his WND post:
It took me almost 16 years to discover that homosexuality itself is not exactly “virtuous.” It was difficult for me to clarify my feelings on the issue, given that my life was so caught up in it.
It was, after viewing my words on a videotape of that “performance,” that I began to seriously doubt what I was doing with my life and influence.
Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God; I’d developed a growing relationship with God, thanks to a debilitating bout with intestinal cramps caused by the upset stomach-inducing behaviors I’d been engaged in.
For someone who obviously cared about the well being of young gay men, creating a magazine to support them, having a committed partner of 10 years, to perform a turn-around of this epic proportion is nauseating.