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Negativity against Queers is Uncalled for

Guest Column by Joseph C. Davis

I was taken aback by the amount of negativism toward the queer community's response to Peter N. Robicheau's IAP seminar, "Introduction to Change for the Homosexual." Regardless to one's opinion of the pamphlets -- which do not reflect the views of the entire queer community -- it is disheartening to see no positive comments on what was a large response by this community and some heterosexual friends who were interested in upholding basic human rights.

It was upsetting to see one respondent ["Robicheau Seminar Is Matter of Free Speech," Jan. 24] comment that the "Jews for Jesus lady" affects him in the same manner that Robicheau's beliefs affect the queer community. Let me assure him that unless the views of this woman are pushed on him by popular culture and cause him to lay awake crying at night and even cause him to consider destroying his body -- which he has been trained by the Jews for Jesus to hate -- he does not react to her in the same way as many of the queer community to Robicheau's seminar.

Many people attended this seminar not to block Robicheau's free speech, but because they believe the methods of ex-gay organizations like Robicheau's use religious and societal fears and false logic to entice people to join them.

I was profoundly disturbed by the apparent double-standards and selective deletion of information that could be useful for a Christian person struggling with his or her sexuality. There was no mention by Robicheau of the fact that several mainstream Christian churches readily welcome homosexuals in their congregations. If his organization really has no problems with homosexuals, why do they insist that homosexuality is a sin punished with eternal suffering?

Apart from the moral contradictions, members of the audience pulled apart studies toted by Robicheau as proof of the change process. Audience members asked him to produce a reference for his suggestion of a cause for lesbianism, which he was unable to do. He illustrated flaws in two studies as manifestation of the fact that there is no genetic basis for homosexual behavior, while he neglected the many good behavioral genetics studies that suggest otherwise. He even used a study where 11 individuals were selected form a sample pool of 300 to show that change is possible, ignoring the fact that two of those 11 men got married to each other after the study. He also used work by psychologists that have never been published in a mainstream journal. If anything, I thought the queer community would be praised for its defense of sound scientific methods and research.

I was also struck by the immense diversity of the audience. There were men and women from many ethnicities, religious backgrounds, political beliefs, economic backgrounds, and age. The group was primarily lesbigay with a few exceptions, but I don't believe I have witnessed as heterogeneous a group for any other event on this campus. Some agreed with the views on the pamphlet; others didn't. Some agreed that homosexuality is a Biblical sin; some did not. In fact, the group's beliefs on any issue were definitely split. If anything, I thought the queer community would be applauded for bringing such a diverse group together, if even for only an hour.

It was also encouraging to see the standing-room-only turnout of the queer community. In this society, it is very common for people to lose friends and family by identifying themselves as queer. It is possible to lose one's job, and in some states without legal recompense. More and more, this country is also seeing a rise in violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. If anything, I thought the queer community would be recognized for their courage in attending such an event and being seen.

I do not take issue with arguments that the Institute should allow should allow seminars like Robicheau's during IAP. I believe it is protected under his freedom of speech. I am happy, however, that the queer community was able to peaceably assemble and protest that someone would use logically unsound information to draw frightened and confused people into a program that may or may not be damaging to their mental health.

Nonetheless, to not focus on the overwhelmingly positive aspects of the queer community's response is nothing short of disrespectful to a group of intelligent and diverse people who sometimes risk the loss of friends and family, livelihood, and unfortunately, even life to speak what they believe is true.