|Challenge Weekly devoted space to the book "101 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality." Guess who visited their website?
I thought the publisher's name sounded suspiciously familiar, so I did a topic search, and lo and behold, one Joe Dallas popped up.
Dallas is a mainstay of the US ex-gay movement's flagship organisation, and Harvest House also publishes "A Strong Delusion" (an attack on LGBT Christians), "When Homosexuality Hits Home" (LG family members), "Desires in Conflict" (another ex-gay pseudoscientific survey) etc. It's also publisher of a small monograph entitled "Facts About Homosexuality" by two fundamentalist activists, John Ankerberg and John Weldon. From spying on Ankerberg and Weldon's excerpt, as well as "101 Answers," I concluded that Harvest House is on the lower rung of US fundamentalist publishing, and it quotes entirely from subcultural luminaries like Joseph Nicolosi, avatar of the discredited "reparative therapy" movement. It's unlikely to convince anyone outside the narrow confines of the fundamentalist ghetto. It will come as no great surprise that the author of this piece is one Mike Haley, now Director of Focus on the Family's "Gender and Culture Institute." Gender? Yes, apparently when we come out, gay men immediately head for the nearest op shop and compulsively dress up in tacky wigs, tawdry frocks and make ourselves up badly, while lesbians buy motorbike manuals and take leather jacket fittings. Five words. Lipstick lesbians. Gay rugby players. Fact is, gender is a social construct. Lesbians, gays and transpeople aren't the only gender dissidents around either, and isn't it rather quaint to talk about female submission in a country like ours, where the Prime Minister, Governor General, Telecom CEO and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are all female? Some postmodernists regard gender as a performance, which may explain why some feminists love Absolutely Fabulous. Patsy performs heterosexual gender quite badly indeed, although she's not the only one. And why has Coro Street's Bet Lynch suddenly turned into a drag queen? We might laugh at all this, but there's a sinister undertone to this book. When the Christian Right talks about "preventing" adolescent homosexuality, it's worth remembering that this once meant involuntary incarceration in psychiatric institutions and dosage with inappropriate psychiatric medication. Ten years ago. And finally, one Mike Haley is in charge of this outfit. It used to be John Paulk, but this ex-gay was outed when he turned up in a decidedly downmarket gay bar, and it's easy to see why John dropped out of homosexuality when one witnesses Candi, his awful drag persona. Obviously he was critiqued by one too many divas. Isn't there something slightly camp about these protestations of rugged masculinity and simpering retro femininity? Why do some heterosexuals feel this odd need to exchange in compulsive role playing? And why do they think we all want to imitate them? Craig Young - 9th August 2004