Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I'm Signing's Petition to iPhone

Recently, Exodus International has released an iPhone app which makes it easier for people to send "help" to young folks questioning their sexuality. Translation: If you want to scare and shame a teenager you know into a so-called ex-gay ministry, there's an app for that.

Now if any group wants to offer an app, that's their right. But for Apple to rate such a feature as having "no objectionable content"? I beg to differ.

At best, the claims of these groups to "cure" homosexuality through prayer and/or "reparative therapy" is incredibly dubious. Many of these ministries don't even do long-term follow-up studies on the effectiveness of their programs.

And that's the best you can say about them. From what many men and women who have endured those programs have reported, the potential for psychological harm is very high and very real.

From a spiritual perspective, it seems to me that the whole basis of ex-gay ministries is a legalistic dogma -- that being gay and being "right with God" are mutually exclusive, based on a biased reading of six Bible passages. Now we can debate the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek, and the context of those passages, but instead I'll just pose one simple question:

If you believe that all things are possible with God, then why not the possibility that there's nothing inherently wrong with same-gender love?

The Exodus app is at the very least false advertising, and at worst it is selling poison as medicine. Please join me in signing's petition, and demand that Apple stop supporting the Exodus app.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Yes, I know I haven't blogged in quite some time. Other things have taken attention and energy, so much so I've felt too exhausted to go through the whole process.

So, what exactly have I been doing?

Well, there is Sacred Eros, the sexuality discussion group at Arlington Street Church. January and February I invited others to kick off conversations on different topics (unfortunately, our February speaker wound up in the hospital, so we had to "wing it").

I've long lamented that Boston's kink community seems too inwardly drawn, too focused on parties and clubbing, or the next class on some BDSM technique, while so many continue to complain about our legal and political situation. That has finally changed, starting first with a serious discussion on Fetlife, and now a series of roundtable discussions on how we can make our city and state a safer place for kinky folks. This month's roundtable will be brainstorming on educational efforts. Not to mention an all-day conference on legal issues affecting the BDSM community, hosted by Princess Kali of the Kink Academy.

Back at Arlington Street Church, I've raised the issue of how we can better respond to the issue of sexual abuse and misconduct by leaders. As Debra Haffner pointed out in her recent report, for all the good which Unitarian Universalists have done around sexuality and gender equity issues, this is actually one of the weakest areas in terms of having a clear and consistent policy for both preventing and responding to such incidents. At the very least, congregations should consider what they can do, and I hope and trust that my own congregation's leadership will help set an example to follow.

And finally, what about all of us who are both Unitarian Universalist and kinky? I keep hearing from many who are still hesitant to come out, even in confidence to their ministers. I've had ministers and seminarians asking for information, wondering how they can minister to us. Fortunately there are some positive steps being taken, some as part of a more comprehensive effort to equip UU ministers and educators. One grassroots effort is a new website: Leather & Grace, providing information and resources on BDSM to the wider UU world.

Yes, it's been a busy time. But it's also been productive. Hope abounds, and the work goes on...