People Can Change

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People Can Change

Can’t We All Just Get Along?
by Rich Wyler, republished with permission

That was the plaintive cry of police beating victim Rodney King during the 1992 Los Angeles riots that erupted after a jury found the police not guilty. I was working at a bank in downtown Los Angeles at the time, and was a firsthand witness to the rampant destruction that led Rodney King to go on television to plead for civility.

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Rodney King’s words come back to me as I contemplate this year’s planned “Day of Silence” on Friday, April 17, organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN. On the Day of Silence, high school and middle school students are encouraged to take a day-long vow of silence to symbolize solidarity with the supposed “silencing” of “GLBT” students and their supporters.

In response, more than 20 conservative groups are calling for a walk-out at participating middle and high schools, urging parents to keep their children home Friday, according to the Christian Post. Meanwhile, the Alliance Defense Fund has responded by organizing its own “Day of Truth,” scheduled for Monday April 20. Students are encouraged to wear T-shirts and pass out cards with messages like:

“I’m speaking the Truth to break the silence. True tolerance means that people with differing — even opposing — viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There’s freedom to change if you want to. Let’s talk.”

I find the claim of gays being silenced to be ironic to the point of Orwellian doublespeak. From where I sit, the gay lobby appears to have an enormous platform to speak out, including the world’s news media in their hands. Never has any “oppressed minority” overcome so much to become so celebrated and endorsed by the world’s media and political and entertainment elite in so few years.

Meanwhile, those who would dare claim that maybe gays are not “born that way,” and point out that some people have changed from gay to straight, are routinely and roundly ridiculed as small-minded, hate-mongering homophobes and are regularly shamed into silence. Try speaking out with this alternative viewpoint, and see who it is that is really being silenced. Your view will typically be labeled as divisive hate speech, and hate speech cannot be tolerated.

Nevertheless, the answer, in my view, is not to lash out at the gay lobby and fan the flames of dissent. The answer is to display true tolerance, not the artificial tolerance that is really a code word for “endorse-our-viewpoint-and-our-way-of-life-or-be-attacked-as-a-homophobe.”

Too many people want to make homosexuality and the possibility of change an us-versus-them, all-or-nothing issue with clear winners and losers. Small-minded, hate-mongering homophobes (allegedly) on one side versus lust-driven, devil-loving perverts (allegedly) on the other side.

Can’t we all just get along?

As the founder of People Can Change, I quite clearly represent the viewpoint that sexual orientation change is possible…at least for some people. Is it possible for everyone? How could I possibly know that?

I only know that I have experienced profound change, and am much happier for it. I also know that many of my friends and colleagues in this movement have experienced dramatic change, and are much happier for it. And that is the message I choose to share.

I have always said as much on the People Can Change Web site. I have stated it in my audio CD, Journey Out of Homosexuality. It is part of our organization’s foundational philosophies, which state in part:

— We recognize the inherent and equal worth of all people. We strongly object to “gay bashing” – just as we object to “ex-gay bashing” – and instead encourage compassion and understanding for all who deal with or have ever dealt with homosexuality, however they may choose to address it in their lives. We respect their dignity, worth, right to self-determination, and right to equal protection under the law.

— Significant sexual-orientation change may or may not be possible for every person who has homosexual desires. Likewise, pursuing change is not the only possible response to unwanted homosexual feelings and may or may not be the most appropriate resolution for any particular individual.

— No one can make anyone else change their sexual orientation against their will, nor do we believe anyone should attempt to force or pressure someone to change who is not intrinsically motivated to do so.

Despite this policy of tolerance and respect, I regularly receive hate email, lashing out at me as a homophobe and hate-monger, sometimes damning me to hell and wishing me an early and painful death.

Whatever happened to freedom of choice? To the right to self determination? And simply to free speech?

Sharing my personal story, and the path that worked for me and has worked for so many others, is not anti-gay.

It is pro-individual.

It is pro-self-determination.

It is pro-choice.

If we could all show more respect for the individual, for self-determination, for freedom of choice, then certainly we could all get along.

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5 Comments

  1. Mel said,

    April 23, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Excellent! I really appreciated your thoughts and personal story!

  2. Urabus said,

    April 23, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t agree with the flowery Rodney King approach to homosexual behavior noted above.
    Don’t forget where unnatural sex practices started in the first place. It was rebelious angles that ‘foresook their proper dwelling place in the heavens and took wives among the daughters of men’. So it was demons that started diviant sex practices on Earth. Their offsprings were gigantic freaks among men. And the world deteriorated from that point on until the flood came and swept them all away.

    Today, it is satanic influence and the demons that drives the homosexual adgenda. And yes, every single homosexual can reject unnatural, unhealthy and demonic influences by accepting Christ and turning their life around to serve him. To even hint that some people may not have control over their basic body functions is the same as saying that God created them to be destroyed on purpose.

    All homosexuals can change. But they need to know that it is they that have to make the transformation from the gross, violent sin against the body. They have to turn their lives around. It takes internal strength and faith in Jesus ransom sacrafice to accomplish this and to recieve forgiveness from him.

    Homosexual behavior is a gross act of violence against another human being, even if the people involved like to do it and claim to be in love. It is a violent act of rape against the Devine design of man and woman. While many people do not know this, once they are told and are given witness to Gods will and the sacrafice of his son Jesus, they alone bear the burden of rebuking their gross sins and changing their way. If they do not do so, it is on their account alone that they will suffer destruction at the hand of God. God is not one to be mocked.

  3. beetlebabee said,

    April 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Urabus, I’m not sure we see things eye to eye, but thanks for your comment. While I do believe that change is possible for some people, for me, the orientation is not where the choice comes in.

  4. Frank said,

    April 25, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Bettle,

    Most gay kids in high school are virgins. Letting freaks like Urabus counsel them is an act of violence against them.

    As for conversion therapy, it has to be an individual choice. It can’t be a political solution. When Matthew Shepard was crucified, the religious right took out full page adds in prominent U.S.newspapers offering conversion therapy as an alternative to being murdered. The message was clear: Shut up or be murdered.

    Urabus, you need to be reminded what real violence is.

  5. leslie said,

    April 29, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Urabus-
    Do you have a reference for your quote – I’ve never heard the Bible interpreted that way before.
    My view of Christianity is that Christ taught self-control, overcoming sin and repentance. Desires should be controlled and not given in to, but I don’t know if that means the desire goes away. In a sexual context that means that if you are attracted to someone you shouldn’t be – someone other than your spouse, if you’re married, or someone of the same sex – you do not give in to the desire. Or – celibacy for the single and monogamy for the married. The sin is in the action rather than in the thought. Although the 10 commandments say not to lust after your neighbors wife, perhaps lusting would be allowing yourself to continue to think about the attraction rather than working to ignore it.


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