When I read the news a couple of days ago the Michael Glatze, former editor of Young Gay America Magazine, and one of the filmmakers behind the incredible queer youth documentary Jim In Bold, had come out as “ex-gay,” I was flabbergasted. That makes two editors of queer magazines in the last several months that have “found Jesus” and become poster children for the lunatic right. The other “journalist formerly known as gay” is Charlene Cothran, publisher of Venus Magazine, which used to be aimed at queer women of colour. After being miraculously cured of “the gay,” Cothran has now re-focused the magazine to speak to women who want to escape “the life.”
As a lesbian writer, I’m not sure what part of this story makes my skin crawl more. The idea that even journalists are susceptible to propaganda? The thought that that Glatze and Cothran’s previous good work is now tainted by their own self-hatred and denial? The fact that queer teens are now being condemned by a couple of their former most trusted allies?
I also don’t want to condemn Glatze and Cothran simply because they had a religious awakening. Lots of radicals (or former radicals) have discovered some sort of spiritual side — most famously, American feminist Naomi Wolf, who recently described seeing a vision of herself as a 13-year-old boy confronting Jesus (I kid you not). Still, to my knowledge, Wolf hasn’t sworn off feminism or told young girls that they should now ascribe to the “beauty myth.” In fact, she seems a bit embarrassed by the whole thing, and has skillfully steered the rest of her public statements to focus on her work, rather than her private hallucinations.
I’ve been stumbling to find some way to analyze this, other than saying that’s it’s sad, upsetting, and puzzling. I especially feel bad for Benjie Nycum, who was co-editor of YGA Magazine, and co-producer of Jim In Bold. I used to sit on the board of directors of an LGBT rights organization with him, and once profiled him for Capital Xtra. I can only imagine what it feels like to wake up one morning, and see someone that you worked so closely with denounce everything that you strove to do together.
Wayne Besen has an interesting comment about this fiasco on 365gay.com. He maintains that both Glatze and Cothran went looking for God, after their long-term relationships failed. “In a sense,” he writes, “it seems like these break-ups caused nervous breakdowns where the embittered party tried to punish an ‘ex’ by becoming ex-gay.”
Still, it’s never too late to say you’re sorry. Last week, three former leaders of Exodus International (the most prominent “ex-gay” group in the U.S.) apologized for “the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that [the anti-gay] message creates.”
The press conference featured Michael Bussee, the co-founder of Exodus, Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder and former director of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency based in California. Also present was Rev. Mel White, founder and president of the faith-based gay rights group Soulforce. White was the ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell’s autobiography and later came out as gay.
Perhaps Bussee’s approach holds out hope for a reconciliation between the newly converted and “formerly” gay:
“God’s love and forgiveness does indeed change people,” said Bussee. “It changed me. It just didn’t make me straight.”
— Cross-posted to Dykes Against Harper