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Messy Monday June 11: Ex-gay therapy, tales from the Vatican, and one more reason to love Sweden

Katie Toth

Hello, This Kiddos.

Today I woke up and read that ex-gay therapy is still being presented as the way to “help” kids who are dealing with homophobic harassment and thoughts of suicide. Oh man, guys, I’m so vexed about this I can’t even find something witty to write.

Ex-gay therapy is promoted as solution to teen depression. Actually.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey now. ThinkProgress reports that Focus on the Family is promoting ex-gay therapy as a solution to depression in LGBT teens.

As lots of scientists and clients/survivors have said, ex-gay therapy doesn’t work. The model of connecting depression to homosexuality, however, might.

I spoke to an ex-ex-gay once named Tyson Skriver. Tyson didn’t do the whole hog of ex-gay therapy, but he did attend Exodus workshops and conferences, and bought their books, hoping to pray his gay away, he says. As a Christian, he was sure that it was his sexuality that was making him so depressed—so he wanted to get rid of it.

“I was like, ‘This is what I want,’ because everything that everyone told me about being gay, I found in my own life. They say that — I was actually told this straight to my face — that gay people are unhappy,” he said.

“I thought … of course if that’s what’s causing me to be unhappy, then I don’t want that in my life.’ So I felt that Exodus would be the way out of my sadness, of my grief for being the way that I was.”

Ex-gay therapy capitalizes on a black-and-white model of religion built by religious fundamentalists and well-meaning secularist gay activists alike. But gay kids aren’t just gay—many of them also live rich spiritual lives in their churches and faith communities.

For Tyson, a good-doing missionary type from rural Alberta, the church was his entire life. “Of course I’m going to choose community over this other thing, because this other thing, it would seem, just popped into my head.”

Since then, Tyson’s worked with his local United Church to make gay-friendly policy. “That was such a good feeling… because growing up I always thought these people would never accept me,” he said.

Making church a good time doesn’t have to be on the top of every gay activist’s list. But safe, affirming, queer-positive religious spaces are worth fighting for.

Vatican discussing nun crackdown on Tuesday

You may have heard that the Vatican has been getting some flak as of late, particularly because of their crackdown of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—the major umbrella group of U.S. nuns—for being too “feminist.”

Now, Associated Press reports that the Vatican is seeking “reciprocal understanding” over the event. Does that mean they’re backing down? Well, the nuns aren’t: they say the decision was “flawed.”  They’ll be meeting tomorrow with the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office to discuss their concerns.

Sweden is cool, though.

How’s this for participatory nation-building? In Sweden, a new citizen takes on the nation’s twitter account every week. The New York Times reports,

The @Sweden program, known as Curators of Sweden, came about when the Swedish Institute and Visit Sweden, the government tourist agency, sought to develop a plan to present the country to the world on Twitter. They hired an advertising company, Volontaire.

“Sweden stands for certain values — being progressive, democratic, creative,” Patrick Kampmann, Volontaire’s creative director, said in an interview. “We believed the best way to prove it was to handle the account in a progressive way and give control of it to ordinary Swedes.”

The first tweeter, Jack Werner, became known as the “masturbating Swede” for his brutal honesty about his leisure activities. Right now, the account’s under the wing of Sonja Abrahamsson, a 27-year old single mother of two living in Gothenburg.

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