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(en) US, Olympia, Washington, Pink and Black Attack #2 - Boston Bashes Back - Against Exodus

Date Sat, 09 May 2009 16:31:57 +0300

At 9AM on Tuesday April 28th, somewhere between 50-70 people came to the iconic Park
Street Church across from Boston Common to attend an Exodus Ministries training. At 9AM on
Tuesday April 28th, somewhere between 50-70 people came to the iconic Park Street Church
across from Boston Common to attend an Exodus Ministries training. Attendees watched a
video wherein ‘former homosexuals’ and ‘former lesbians’ spoke of the power of god to heal
’sexual brokenness’ and restore heterosexual desires to the most fallen of souls. During
the ‘male homosexuality’ portion of the training, ‘former homosexual’ Jeff Buchanan shared
his experience of having turned from his homosexual past, as well as the causes of male
homosexuality, which include resentment of male authority and lack of bonding with athers.

This had been going on for quite some time when Jason Lydon, pastor of
the Community Church of Boston, whom the event organizers had foolishly
invited, stood up and informed the attendees of their culpability
in the suicides of two eleven year old boys in April 2009, both prompted
by anti-gay bullying. As security moved to stop him from distributing
‘JESUS WAS GAY’ flyers, he continued, ‘If Jesus Christ walked into this church
today, he would overturn your tables because you have turned his house into
a den of thieves!’ As he was removed from the building, attendees’ ears rang
with the echo of, ‘GOD LOVES QUEEEERS!’ Attendees were very shaken indeed, with
one calling for a prayer to refocus the event, which continued. After Buchanan,
Melanie Spinks, a ‘former lesbian,’ took the lectern to address the essence of
womanhood, the causes of ‘female homosexuality,’ and which profiles of women
tend to struggle with same-sex attraction. Event-goers had just been informed
that lesbians can be attractive when an attractive young woman stood, declared
her rejection of Exodus Ministries and her affection for another young
woman two tables away. The two ran to each other in an affectionate, snogular
embrace, held hands and skipped out the door before security could reach
them. Ever mischievous, the two ran around back outside the giant window
of the conference room, bringing them into the Granary Burying Ground, final
resting place of such patriarchs as Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock,
visiting place of hordes of schoolchildren. What better setting to engage
in gratuitous homoerotic canoodling?

It is not known to the authors what transpired in the conference room after
this, as, to the best of their knowledge, all radical queers had excised themselves
from the training at this point in the program.

So what is Exodus Ministries? According to their website, ‘Exodus is a nonprofit,
interdenominational Christian organization promoting the message of Freedom from
homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.’ Yes, they’re awful, but perhaps not
quite in the way an outsider might envision. Exodus . Fred Phelps; these folks are
incredibly polite and sweet, diverse and intergenerational, and they are convinced that
they love all us rug munchers and peter puffers. In fact, they are ‘former homosexuals’
themselves. They reject a surprising number of harmful notions, though, as might
be expected, they have their own set of harmful notions with which to replace
them. They teach that attraction is involuntary and ‘homosexuality meets
legitimate emotional needs.’ Naturally, however, they believe that same-sex
pairings are ‘illegitimate’ and ‘wrong’ ways to meet these legitimate needs, and
teach that all people can and should engage in none but the most godly,
heteromonogamarital sexual relationships. It is not surprising that Exodus and
other ex-gay ministries frequently drive their quarries into suicide, a phenomenon
well enough known that it made its way onto South Park.

As the conference disrupters sat on the Common and reflected on what had
transpired inside, they marveled how vitally crucial a monomaniacal insistence
on gender binarism was to Exodus’ concerns; while the two are not mutually
exclusive, gender conformity nevertheless seemed to be elevated above
sexual conformity on their list of priorities. Exodus’ discussion of the causes of
homosexual behavior involved parental influences and the centrality of male
authority. Melanie Spinks explained that fathers should always approach
their daughters; for a girl to approach a man and to take initiative is a masculine
trait and she might grow up with an appetite for box lunch. Jeff Buchanan
nauseated the radical queers when he insisted that the role of a father is
to impart masculinity to male children and to affirm femininity in female children.
He recommended that fathers take their daughters on dates, tell them
they’re beautiful, that they’re princesses. It was a strange, alternate universe
wherein fundamentalist Christians proclaim radical feminist assertions, here
eerily echoing Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy who once wrote, ‘Masculinity is
what [men] do to keep women feminized. Femininity is what women do to keep from
being pathologized, criminalized, ostracized, jailed, raped, and butchered.’

‘If gender roles are so natural,’ queried a disrupter, ‘why do they need to work
so hard to make sure people fit into them?’

Exodus’ hatred of women was on abundant display throughout the session. In
proclaiming his own heterosexual success, Jeff Buchanan drew attention to
‘his’ wife staffing the check-in table and, speaking in the imperative, demanded,
‘Wave, honey!’ While male-perpetuated abuse featured prominently in their discussions
as causes or galvanizing influences of homosexuality, they presented
absolutely no analysis, systemic or otherwise, on why men feel entitled to the
bodies of children or women. Melanie Spinks proclaimed gender essentializing
stereotypes as fact, averring that ‘relationship is essential to femaleness,’
further insisting that this is a ‘gift, not a weakness.’ On the value of women,
Spinks asserted, ‘There is not a woman on earth who can give you a sense of
identity, purpose and security.’

Between the sections on male and female homosexuality, national speakers
stepped down and allowed local queer-hatin orgs to speak. One such, the Massachusetts
Family Institute, had their white cotton panties in a twist over a
bill pending in the Massachusetts state legislature, An Act Relative to Gender-
Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes. This bill aims to include gender identity
and expression in Massachusetts’ non-discrimination statute and amend existing
hate crime laws to include trans and gender variant folks. Inexplicably,
our fundy friends and media have termed it ‘The Bathroom Bill,’ shrieking that,
if this bill passes, men will be able to go into women’s bathrooms and rape the
shit out of everyone inside. We hate to break it to them, but, as chromosome
checks are not in place outside public facilities, there is currently nothing
stopping men from doing this as things now stand. Meanwhile, as much as these
radical queers support whatever it takes to end discrimination against trans
and gender non-conforming people, we cannot support hate crimes legislation.
To quote the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, ‘Rather than serving as protection for
oppressed people, the hate crimes portion of this law may expose our communities
to more danger—from prejudiced institutions far more powerful and pervasive
than individual bigots.’ Read the whole thing.

The disrupters sat waiting on the Common until, right at noon, protesters
showed up from Join the Impact, a pro-marriage LGBT rights group. Choosing a
spot on the Common far from Park Street Church, Join the Impact brought signs
and chants, delivered through a bullhorn. The three radical queers ran over
to join the energetic crowd and tell them of their deeds. Would the disrupters
like to speak over the bullhorn? And how! The three took turns attempting to
impart a liberationist, pro-feminist, pro-trans message and to encourage the
crowd to move closer to the church where they could be heard by Exodus attendees.
The leadership’s response was that they had a permit and that the
lady trying to talk about trans issues ought to give the bullhorn back. As the
protest wore on, the disrupters were disheartened to observe that only cis men
were asked/permitted by the leadership to speak over the bullhorn and that
they kept to androcentric messages generally. Considering the violent misogyny
of Exodus, whom the protest was called to counter, more attention needs
to be given to the alarming ways in which gay/queer organizing can replicate
the very unsavory power dynamics against which we are struggling. None of us
will be free until we are all free.

This story has a happy ending, however! After a while, disregarding their leadership,
the protesters were enticed by the idea of abandoning their permitted
spot and marching over toward Park Street Church where Exodus could hear
that they were not welcome in Boston. After a minute or so in front of the
church, the crowd was amenable to marching around back into the Granary
Burying Ground. There, on the final resting place of Crispus Attucks and Mother
Goose, Exodus attendees were forced to hear high-octane, righteous queer rage
against their poisonous message. With chants resounding, with sirens wailing,
with queer faces peering down at them and cameras snapping at them, a much-
shaken Exodus audience sought window coverings. We’ve got news for you, Exodus:
we don’t go away when you close your eyes.

Bashing Back in Boston

more attention needs to be given to the alarming
ways in which gay/queer organizing can
replicate the very unsavory power dynamics
against which we are struggling
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