(Exodus’ Randy Thomas schmoozing with Karl Rove in headier times)
Is the once active “ex-gay” organization Exodus International on the decline?
Those who follow the group have noticed fewer events scheduled and virtually no media presence. The last press release for Exodus was posted on October 6, and the group’s front page promotes an event as far back as June. In terms of messaging, the group appears to be stuck in a rut and its once vital campaigns have grown predictable and stale.
Needless to say, I’m pleased with this development!
It is unclear if Exodus’ woes are a result of an internal shake-up, or if financial setbacks have hobbled the organization. Perhaps, they are not working as closely with Focus on the Family, which augmented Exodus’ past campaigns with creativity and professionalism. Ever since Focus on the Family handed over the flashy “ex-gay” road show Love Won Out to Exodus, it appears that the standing of Exodus has diminished.
The only evidence the group is still alive comes from Vice President Randy Thomas’ blog posts. But, even this venue suffers from inertia and rust, with Thomas posting offensive videos of Chambers preaching hate in 2006. Are there no new videos or messages to highlight?
In 2010 the organization left hardly a footprint. Its sluggish efforts lacked energy, and its impact had noticeably diminished. It will be interesting to see if Exodus comes out of its slumber and recovers in 2011.
The “ex-gay” group People Can Change (PCC) is increasingly filling the void left by Exodus. PCC runs Journey Into Manhood (JIM) weekends, which is a scam that takes gay men into the woods for $650, with the goal of making them more masculine. The group recently gained notoriety after ABC Nightline filmed a puff piece highlighting the group’s work. (A more accurate description of the group might be Journey into Manhunt)
The good news is that PCC is particularly vulnerable to scandal and outright collapse. This heavily Mormon organization adheres to the bizarre therapy model of Richard Cohen, the laughable and discredited “Sexual Reorientation Coach” who runs the bizarre International Healing Foundation. Convicted Wall Street hood, Arthur Abba Goldberg, is responsible for funneling a good number of paying clients into the group. (I’d love to see what’s in it for him) The organization’s senior trainer, Alan Downing, faced credible accusations of sexual misconduct by two clients earlier this year.
The PCC scheme is likely on borrowed time and is making a mistake by stepping out so publicly. Journalist Ted Cox wrote a fabulous expose showing the creepy and peculiar happenings at Journey into Manhood weekends. We had hoped that ABC Nightline would have engaged in real journalism and corroborated Cox’s story. However, they eschewed investigative reporting for cheap access to the camp, leading to a disappointing and woefully incomplete depiction and representation of Journey into Manhood weekends.
Still, it is only a matter of time before committed broadcast journalists with standards of excellence infiltrate JIM to reveal the closety, homo-erotic exercises that are offered in the camp’s “Cuddle Room”. When this happens, the entire program will turn into a punchline. I can hardly wait.
PFOX is also trying to assert itself, but its ties to the colorful and outrageous sexual engineer, Richard Cohen, will likely retard the group’s progress. The organization’s president, Greg Quinlan, appears angry and unstable, further hindering PFOX’s efforts to have an impact and gain mainstream credibility. And, Executive Director Regina Griggs is no more than a figurehead who avoids public appearances outside the safety of adoring fundamenalist Christian audiences. Indeed, PFOX may simply be a shell group for the Family Research Council and a number of Christian legal groups that want to show that “ex-gays” exist for political reasons. (To its detriment, PFOX embarrassingly can’t find real “ex-gays” to show, unless they work for the group, like Quinlan)
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) remains a dangerous organization, because their members pose as legitimate experts on homosexuality. However, they consistently underachieve because they fail to produce respectable peer review studies. Instead, they offer up transparent propaganda that has undermined the organization’s reputation with the public and media.
It will be interesting to see which one of these organizations — or perhaps a new one — comes out of the woodwork to pick up the slack. Hopefully, the answer is “None of the above.”
Richard Cohen, continues to undermine “ex-gay” groups