Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Until recently conversion therapy was uniquely American. Now we are getting word that therapists in Britain have been inspired by these American “conversions” and are introducing this harmful practice to the United Kingdom. The Advocate is reporting that “Professor Michael King of University College London is one of six UK psychiatrists and psychotherapists who have sought to reduce or change a patient’s sexual orientation. And with the help of the American conversion therapy movement, practitioners in the UK, along with a clutch of international “conversion” organizations, are becoming unified and coordinated. They plan to gain credibility, university backing, and government funding. In some cases, the NHS (National Health Service) is even paying for the treatment.”
British journalist Patrick Strudwick, who is gay, went undercover for several months with conversion therapists. According to Strudwick, “I asked [one of the therapists] how she views homosexuality – as a mental illness, an addiction, or an anti-religious phenomenon? ‘It’s all of that,’ she replies. And then we pray. ‘Oh Father, we give you permission to work in Matthew’s (Patrick’s undercover name) life to bring complete light and healing into every part of his being.’ After asking God to heal me, she opens her eyes. ‘I know the boundaries to keep within.’”
[To read the entirety of Patrick’s journey in “conversion” therapy, click here.]
This leaves us wondering: if this practice is being admired by those in London, will conversion therapy spread elsewhere? One place where we are keeping an eye out is Uganda, a country that has recently proposed a violent and inhumane bill in regards to the treatment of its LGBT citizens. According to the bill:
• Gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced, at a minimum, to life in prison
• People who tested positive for HIV may be executed
• Gays and lesbians who have sex with a minor or who engage in gay sex more than once may receive the death penalty
• Organizations that work in HIV/AIDS prevention would not be banned for “promoting homosexuality”
• Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place but doesn’t report it would risk up to three years in prison
Homosexuality in Uganda is already illegal. This bill is overkill. But it could also become the next breeding ground for the “ex-gay” movement. Is it illogical to think that “conversion” therapists won’t seize upon this opportunity of a entire nation in fear to impart their agenda and “expertise” at ridding the body of same-sex attraction? We certainly hope not.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Says Smith of the visit, "It was a fantastic opportunity for all of us. It was especially helpful to me because I can see that PFLAG has moved from support to advocacy, a move which is far less developed in Britain – we need good role models and you are providing one."
She added, "John and Char told us that the most successful PFLAG groups in the States focus not only on support for parents, but also on education and advocacy. This draws in parents who are not necessarily seeking support, but who want to effect change for their sons and daughters."
Click here to visit Families Together London and see some of the work Marjorie's group is accomplishing "across the pond" and be sure to share your thoughts on how groups such as FTL and PFLAG can work together.
Monday, August 11, 2008
On July 31st, 2008, bishops at the Lambeth Conference entertained the topic of human sexuality during the portion of the conference titled, “Listening to God and Each Other.” They continued the conversation on August 1 as well, although with more focus being placed on creating a covenant. It was definitely an emotional conversation for all bishops to be having and their mere engagement was demonstrative of their commitment- not to either side changing the other, but to both conservatives and liberals affecting each other. In the end, it seems that the Anglican community, much like any community of faith, has an interesting dilemma: how to solve human matters using a spiritual perspective or, or more specifically, whether or not to allow GLBT people to serve openly, in other locations than the Episcopal Church USA.
For many who are allies or members of the GLBT community this may seem to be a rather easy dilemma to solve. But, when you consider that the Archbishop of Canterbury [pictured, left] is doing everything he can to prevent schisms and model the Anglican community after the concept of unity, in which unity is attained not by erasing differences, but by embracing them, it is understandably a matter that will take longer to resolve than 3 days at a conference. It is a conversation that must and will continue.
So, despite admitted disappointment that in a conference that only happens every ten years there was no grand resolution or public acknowledgment affirming that for God to be heard, GLBT members and leaders are children of God whose voices must be heard too, they did take some positive steps forward. Beginning to develop a covenant is vital for the resolution of future problems rather than allowing the infamous “Anglican discussions” that were criticized throughout these particular hearings to continue. As for the current matter, regarding sexuality, dialogue will continue.
Despite all the praise I have for the Anglican Church undertaking a difficult task with grace, I also must draw attention to the fact that 1) if schisms occur in the church, it does not have to mean that the people/leaders are no longer in communion with each other 2) maybe unity (as described above) does not mean staying together at the expense of honoring God’s gifts in GLBT leaders, but rather how to relate to someone that is not in the “in group,” both within/without the church and within/without heterosexual norms. With this perspective, the Church may have more to learn from dealing with a schism under the concept of unity then prolonging what may be inevitable if ever a conversation will lead to resolution.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Lambeth Conference is held every 10 years, and it was five years ago that openly gay Bishop Robinson was appointed Bishop in the Episcopalian Church here in the States. The head of the Anglican Communion, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Clive Handford told the BBC today that the Communion remains at an impasse. As Bishop Handford said, "Through modern technology there has been active fear-mongering, deliberate distortion and demonising. Politicisation has overtaken Christian discernment."
Anglicans and non-Anglicans alike watching the Lambeth Conference can agree that this should be a time of putting aside differences and being able to move forward. However some bishops, like Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng, have called for Robinson to resign. One has to wonder why the mere presence of openly gay people in the clergy are enough to potentially create a schism.
Schism vs. Welcoming
Equality in the Anglican Communion
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Lambeth Conference is the Anglican’s denominational meeting hosted every ten years in Canterbury, England in which all bishops (Archbishops, diocesan, assistant and suffragan bishops) are invited to meet for worship, study and conversation.
Although the conference meets in England, it is an influential meeting for denominations who are intricately connected to the Anglican community in the United States, such as the Episcopal Church. Similar to other denominations’ general assembly’s there is an agenda of issues to discuss, which includes sexuality. Although this conference began on July 16th and goes until August 3rd, precedent has already been set with regards to sexuality.
Gene Robinson [pictured], well known for being the first openly gay ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2004 and featured speaker at the 2007 PFLAG National Convention, has been barred from the conference. It seems contradictory to the idea of community to bar someone from a conference intended to “deepen awareness of how we are responsible to and for each other,” and the confusion beset intensifies when the mission of the conference is considered.
The welcome statements quote Jesus saying “Do not be afraid.” They continue, “These are words which I hope will echo for us each day as we meet and talk here. But they will sound in our hearts only when we have our eyes fixed on the reality of Christ’s unique saving person and on the world-transforming power of his resurrection." In light of these statements, the decision to bar one of their own, a well established and devout Bishop, from the conference seems at best contradictory.
If they are interested in healing any of the schisms they perceive in this world, they are going to want to work hard over the next few weeks to heal the very schism that has already divided their community, even before the conference began. That seems a sad way to begin such a deeply needed and potentially powerful conversation.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
In the first programme, John Barrowman embarks on a journey of self-discovery to find out the truth about his sexuality. John is a successful actor, musical performer, dancer, singer and TV presenter. For as long as he has been aware of his sexuality, John has been convinced that he was born gay and firmly believes that homosexuality is not a choice. But did nature really mould him or did nurture have a part to play?
John undertakes a series of tests including a DNA examination that is compared with his straight brother's, and he takes to the streets of LA to try out a theory that the origin of homosexuality is linked to events in the womb that may affect the foetus.
Throughout the programme, as well as picking up clues from psychologists and scientists, John also meets some celebrities and extraordinary people who help shed light on the origins of their traits.
John Barrowman: The Making of Me airs Thursday, July 24 on BBC 1.
Monday, July 7, 2008
For all of our PFLAG supporters in Great Britain . . .
On Thursday, July 24, BBC 1 will premiere John Barrowman: The Making of Me, a new documentary from director Harvey Lilley featuring out British actor John Barrowman (pictured) of Torchwood, Doctor Who and Central Park West fame.
The show, which follows Barrowman as he explores all of the theories, beliefs and myths about sexual orientation and families with LGBT kids, will also feature PFLAG executive director Jody Huckaby and three of his siblings, who discuss growing up in a family with multiple gay children. The Huckabys will be appearing together for the second time, following their appearance, in 2007, on Oprah, where they shared their story with millions of viewers across the globe.
We're still waiting on word about a U.S. broadcast date, and will have more details here at the PFLAG blog as those become available. And, we hope to have preview video snippets of John and the Huckabys soon, too.
But in the meantime, if you're in the U.K., be sure to tune in on July 24th on BBC 1. And come back here, in the coming weeks, for more information on The Making of Me.