I would just love to get the 911 tape of the woman saying: "There are lesbians here with bugs!" I expect that it would be hilarious! :) :)
And there are details of the horrendous, cult-like treatment of gays by Exodus International's ministries. Including enforced imprisonment against one's will, constant overbearing pressure, etc, etc. In fact, the treatment described below almost sounds Scientology-like, no?
Rod "....ennnnjoy!" Swift :)
THE LESBIAN AVENGERS a direct action group of lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women focused on issues vital to our survival and visibility. Hotline: (415) 267-6195.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
For more information, contact Liz Harris at (415) 824-8509.
PHOTOS AVAILABLE FROM:
Rick Gerharter, (415) 824-5300. Or Jane Cleland, (415) 661-3878. Or Judi Parks, (510) 268-8260.
Anti-Queer Agency Targeted for Protest
Exodus International Swarmed by Plague of Locusts
SAN RAFAEL, CALIF., FEBRUARY 8, 1995 -- The San Francisco Lesbian Avengers summoned a "plague of locusts" onto Exodus International today, a cult-like organization whose mission is to "cure" people of their homosexuality. The San Francisco Avengers chose to target Exodus because "conversion" programs, a largely invisible form of Christian Right organizing, have profoundly devastating effects on lesbian, bisexual, and gay people.
"If anyone deserves a plague of Biblical proportions right now, it's the Radical Right," said Avenger Liz Harris.
Five Avengers stormed the organization's headquarters, carrying signs proclaiming "Queer Love Is Not A Disease," and chanting "Exodus, stop your hate and fear! Help like yours is killing queers!" Once inside, the activists climbed onto the reception desk, shouted "We don't need to be cured," and released 1,000 "locusts" (crickets) in an attempt to shut the operation down. The Exodus staff watched dumbfounded as a swarming pile of crickets spread across their office floor. One woman picked up the phone and dialed 911, shaking as she said, "There are lesbians here with bugs." By the time she was able to convince the police that it wasn't a prank call, the Avengers were on their way back to San Francisco.
An umbrella referral agency, Exodus claims to have "converted" 100,000 people since 1976 through a network of 75 "ex-gay ministries" in North America, and affiliated organizations in England, Singapore, Australia, and the Philippines. "Freedom from homosexuality," according to Exodus promotional materials, "is increasingly experienced as the former homosexual matures through ongoing submission to the Lordship of Christ and His Church."
Such major right-wing operations as Focus on the Family, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the 700 Club refer people to Exodus for placement in groups and live-in conversion programs.
The Avengers say that groups like Exodus fit into a wider Radical Right attack on bisexuals, lesbians, and gays. They say conversion programs work to covertly eliminate individual homosexuals, while more overt legislative initiatives are designed to create a hostile social climate for queer people.
"'Ex-gays' are the trophies of the far Right," says Avenger Katie Hern. "They're used in right wing propaganda to prove that homosexuality is a chosen perversion. And that we therefore don't deserve basic civil rights."
The Plague of Locusts demonstration is part of a broader campaign the Avengers are waging against the Christian Right. Fight the Right actions have been staged by many of the more than 60 Avenger chapters across the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and Russia. And the New York chapter's Civil Rights Organizing Project were instrumental in defeating Proposition One, the anti-queer initiative on Idaho's November ballot.
Many bisexuals, lesbians and gays become involved in conversion programs because they can't reconcile their conservative religious backgrounds to their sexual orientation. Some have been devastated by learning they are HIV-positive and are searching for emotional support.
"The ex-gay ministries pretend to provide a service to struggling, traumatized people" says Lesbian Avenger Harris, "In reality, this is a cult."
According to past participants who have rejected program teachings -- ex-ex-gays -- Exodus leaders zero in on people's weakest emotional areas. For example, HIV-positive gay men are told that they are being punished by God for their homosexuality. Kathy, who was forced into a live-in program by her family, was told that she was only a lesbian because she had been raped. Program leaders insisted that if she turned to Christ for support, she could overcome what they called her hostility toward men.
"Of the women I spoke with," says Kathy, who asked that her last name not be used, "I would say 99.9% of us had a history of being sexually, physically, or emotionally abused. And they really used that."
At the home where she was placed, five monitors kept constant watch over the seven women participants. Doors were locked from the outside during "support groups." And participants were informed that, to avoid temptation, they could go nowhere by themselves during the year-long program. Kathy was expelled after only two days for resisting treatment, but program leaders continued to call her three times a week until she left the area. Their calls alternated between two messages: that they loved her and that she was going to Hell. According to past participants, both Kathy's experiences at the treatment center and the harassment she endured afterwards are typical of ex-gay ministries under the Exodus umbrella.
Some turn to organizations like Evangelicals Concerned for help, a nation-wide, non-profit corporation founded in 1976, that helps people to reconcile their homosexuality with their Christianity (Hotline: 415-621-3297). They make furtive calls to the group's hotline during the rare moments they can get away from their "buddy." This can be especially difficult because they are usually employed in program-designated jobs, where at least one leader or fellow participant is always present to monitor them. Others seek out Evangelicals Concerned after they are expelled from conversion programs for questioning their orthodoxy and methodology.
Few participants actually become heterosexuals. According to the documentary, One Nation Under God, Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, the gay male founders of Exodus, have been lovers since 1979 and have publicly denounced the organization.
"What's insidious about the whole thing," says Jallen Rix, an ex-ex-gay and Evangelicals Concerned volunteer, "is that the ministries are very convinced they're being loving. They would never believe they're being hateful."
Rix says that after years of praying, watching only program-approved television and movies, memorizing scripture, and rigorously modifying their behavior, participants often become despondent when they can't change their underlying sexual attractions. He has seen many become obsessive, mentally ill, and even suicidal. One man's suicide note particularly affected Rix: "He wrote, 'I would rather kill myself and be with God than live as a gay person and spend eternity in Hell.'"