left biblioblography: Allegories Gone Wild: ‘Exorcising The Gay’

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Allegories Gone Wild: ‘Exorcising The Gay’

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
demons of stupidityIt grows tiresome, these idiotic insistences of the deluded:Ex-gay survivor's tales of exorcism in middle England

After $30,000 for controversial conversion therapy, three attempts at exorcism and one failed marriage, Peterson Toscano finally resolved the conflict between his faith and sexuality - he was gay.

It took 17 years to accept it.

Whether called gay to straight, conversion or reparative therapy, the practice Mr. Toscano put himself through purports to help individuals change their sexual orientation.

There are those who claim the practice, largely supported by fundamentalist Christian churches, to have changed them from homosexual to heterosexual. They are know as "ex-gay".

But as far as Mr. Toscano - who calls himself an "ex-gay survivor" - is concerned, not only does it not work, the process is "psychologically damaging".

Mr. Toscano, now 47, grew up in an average Italian American Catholic home in Upstate New York.

But as a devout Christian, and member of the Evangelical Church, he found it difficult to resolve what he saw as a conflict between his sexual orientation and his faith.

"I was doing something spiritually and morally wrong that I would be punished for in the afterlife. And so there was a lot of fear and terrible desperation," he told BBC Religion.

As a teenager in early 1980s America, Mr. Toscano experienced a time when the word "gay" was synonymous with Aids. Up to 1973, US psychiatrists had been classifying homosexuals as insane.

"I put two and two together and made what I thought was a logical equation at the time of saying 'that's wrong, that's bad, I need to fix it'. And then 17 years later I finally woke up and came to my senses," he said.

His years of treatment are painful for him to recall. After an interview with US National Public Radio that triggered a period of depression, he now avoids recalling the specifics.

However, he recounts one of the darkest incidents in some of his performance work. During a two-year residential stay at Love in Action, now called Restoration Path, in Memphis, Tennessee, Mr Toscano was required to record all the homosexual encounters he ever had.

He was then told to choose the most embarrassing to read out to his family.

Mind you, this is not an isolated example (as many religious people will claim): this is a regular occurrence in many countries especially (I am ashamed to say) in America. If anything proves that prayer fails spectacularly, it is this assinity of ‘pray the gay away’.

There’s more to this ludicrous story (unfortunately):

The post-exorcism cuppa

Such therapy was not confined to the US. Mr Toscano visited England for an extended stay in the 1990s as part of his quest to suppress his sexual identity.

Most tourists plan trips to London or Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon; Mr Toscano took a trip to Kidderminster for an exorcism in a cottage overlooking a safari park.

He had already undergone two failed attempts at exorcism in the US. But he describes his experience with a minister in Worcestershire as "more like Reiki than deliverance".

"She never touched me, there was no screaming, there were no buckets of vomit like previous experiences I've had," he said.

"She felt the demons were dislodged enough to come out and then she just said in the most sweet gentle way, 'all right the demons are ready to come out now, all you need to do is take a very deep breath out and poof. There they go'.

"And then she literally put on the kettle and we had tea.

"She was very well meaning, but yet again she re-enforced this notion that there was something, very, very wrong with my insides, that my feelings weren't natural, they were actually demonic.

"That sort of teaching is so psychologically damaging, especially to young people. If you believe that, you will then do whatever you can to rip up your own soul."

In the US, moves are now under way to partially ban the practice in California. Governor Jerry Brown is currently considering a bill to make reparative therapy illegal for children in the state. If this is enacted it will be the first of its kind in the US.

The Evangelical Alliance, which oversees the UK Evangelical community, did not wish to comment on Mr Toscano's experience.

However, there are those within the Anglican community who believe in offering different kinds of support to people of faith conflicted by their sexuality.

And here we strike the sticking-point: there is and always will be  a conflict between sexuality and religion, because the religious do more damage by their intolerance to difference; it is always their way to the heavenly highway. The ancient Israelites wiped out entire clans based on that clans’ sexual proclivity. And over the centuries, the Big Three of Monotheism has done more to suppress natural desire than all the cold showers ever taken or saltpeter ever administered.

As for this ‘partial ban’ nonsense: it should be entirely banned. It has no foundation in reality whatsoever, and is as big a wash as those abstinence programs.

Keep religion out of our bedrooms, out of our schools, and out of legislation, and then hell yes we can get along like adults.

Those are the three rules. Can’t abide by them? Then put up your dukes, we’ll surely have it out.

Till the next post, then.

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