Monday, February 13, 2012

"Ex-Gay" Pastor Calls for Dan Savage's Arrest

A Christian anti-gay activist named D.L. Foster has called for the arrest of Dan Savage, who played a role in founding the It Gets Better movement. [1] This self-professed "former homosexual" claims that Savage should be arrested for "propagating this lie - for these kids to have this false promise without any sort of information on what is 'it'." Foster points out that kids are still killing themselves even after believing Savage's message.

I'm both amused and disgusted by Foster's irrational tirade. Amused because 'it' is obviously meant to be life. The message of It Gets Better is that life gets better, that people will not always bully you with the same animosity that they do in grade school. That as you get older, your sexual orientation will become less of an issue for people, and those who still are bothered by it will be in the minority. That as time goes by, you may learn to love yourself for who you are, and will even meet someone else who will love you for who you are.

Of course, there will still be suicides, regardless of whether these kids believe Dan Savage or not. They may believe that life gets better and still be unwilling to wait it out. We've all been in situations where the light at the end of the tunnel seems far too distant and we feel like we are far too exhausted to keep going. But the It Gets Better campaign is not a false promise by any stretch of the imagination. The message isn't Everything Will Be Fine, it's simply It Gets Better. And it does. Life changes for all of us when we mature from a teen to an adult.

Foster is likely confused because the It Gets Better movement is not a supposed cure like the Christian anti-gay movement that's allegedly made Foster a "former homosexual." It's only about raising awareness and providing a message of hope. If we're criticizing anything for failed promises, it ought to be the claim of religious groups to cure homosexuals. The American Psychological Association studied the reparative therapy used by such groups for two years, concluding that it's not only ineffective, but can also produce depressive and suicidal tendencies. [2]

When something proves unsuccessful, we don't arrest people for that reason alone. How ludicrous would that be! Instead, we try to find out why it failed and reorganize for another attempt. In the case of the It Gets Better campaign, there's barely been enough time to start collecting data, as it began in September of 2010. Yet even if there turns out to be no decrease in the number of suicides due to bullying, it will be patently absurd to blame this on Dan Savage rather than the real cause: bullying. The It Gets Better project is probably not going to eliminate bullies, it's only a message of hope to help gays deal with bullying.

D.L. Foster is part of the problem too, since he is teaching that homosexuals must be 'fixed', implying that there is something wrong with them. This is not physical bullying, but it is still bigoted prejudice that facilitates bullying and dehumanizes gays. It's hypocritical that Mr. Foster wants Dan Savage arrested while groups like his are the real reason for why bullying persists and gay teens commit suicide. All we are saying is "Please don't give up". You are not unnatural. There's nothing wrong with you for being attracted to the same sex. Life will get better.

Contrast this message to the one delivered by the homophobic groups that pretend to cure homosexuality and it's easy to see where the false promises truly are. At least this bit of raving from Mr. Foster will expose him as the moron that he is, since an arrest made when there's no crime is a grievous violation of civil liberties. But this is just further evidence that the Religious Right doesn't care about reason or logic. All that matters to them is following the narrative of their favorite fairy tale. Fortunately, most of us eventually grow out of fairy tales, and the one about the dangers of homosexuality is gradually fading into obscurity.

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