Thursday, January 26, 2006

struggling "ex-gay"?

I read this post the other day on the Yahoo! Group, exgaymensministry, which is a group for 'ex-gay' men:

I was just chatting to a 22 yo male student, on teaching practice in my school. I'm his mentor and I check how his day has gone after school each day.

Today I was checking on his well-being, tiredness, pace, leisure/wind down activities. I brought the conversation around to sharing, caring and trusting, because he'd had no lunch and didn't tell anyone. Then asked the question "Are you a Christian ? " He said "YES ! Are you a believer, too, Tone? I had my suspicions as you're often whistling hymns and choruses".

He is such a handsome, manly, sporty guy with bulging muscles and my height - so huggable. Praise the LORD. We hugged tightly and prayed, seated, heads bowed, holding hands in my classroom just before we left.

Tone <><

PS: On a different note, I'm going to see 'Brokeback Mountain', with a friend who's a pastor, tonight.

Maybe it's just me, but the tone of this posting creeps me out. This 42-year-old man (according to his Yahoo! profile) who apparently struggles with same-sex attractions is mentoring and tightly hugging a 22 year-old student who he describes as "a handsome, manly, sporty guy with bulging muscles and my height - so huggable. Praise the LORD.".

It's been some time since I was in the ex-gay lifestyle, but I remember there was a big deal about developing boundaries such as having "A-frame hugs" and being careful about friendships with same-sex people who you may be attracted to. However, there was also a simulataneous emphasis on developing non-sexual relationships with straight men -- preferable straight Christian men. So this ex-gay man seems to be providing a praise report that he has befriended a straight Christian man.

On the other hand, I'm not sure why it was so important for Tone to provide a physical description of the younger man. Nor, do I think very many ex-gay leaders would consider this an ideal relationship. Afterall, this is hardly a relationship of equals. This mentor has befriended a younger student who seems to have some vulnerabilities. I wonder if Tone told the student about his own "struggle". I also wonder if Tone's true motive was to seek input from other ex-gay members'.

I'm still debating whether to respond to this guy's post on exgaymensministry. As a member with an opposing viewpoint, I'm probably on the verge of being banned. I'm just surprised no other members have questioned this guy's post.

UPDATES: As noted in the comments, I did post a reply to Tone noting several of my concerns.

Tone defended his relationship stating, "EVERYTHING we have done is above board." and that "cwtching" (a Welsh word for masculine hugs?) is "NORMal in my country". He used a silly word play with my name and accused me of not having "mormal male friendships". He did not respond to my concerns that he was attracted to his friend and that he did not disclose his sexual orientation to his friend. He did clarify that his friend was a fellow teacher -- not a subordinate student.

So I thanked him for his clarification, specifically qouted his "handsome...bulging muscles..." description, noted my surprise that the other members did not hold his comments accountable, and again apologized if I offended him.

Tone further clarified that the misunderstanding was due to differences in British and American English. He stated that his 22-year-old friend was a "student-teacher" and that he would never have conducted such a relationship with a "PUPIL" (which is apparently a minor student). Although his new friend is a co-worker and not a subordinate student or illegal minor, it still seems he has some authority as the student-teacher's older mentor. He again avoided specifically responding to questions I and others had about whether he was attracted to this younger man.

Our exchanges seemed to have sparked other interesting conversations, so I don't feel the need to press the issues with Tone.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Lewis & Clark Bicentennial zzzzzzz.....

Scott and I went to Lewis & Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition at the Oregon Historical Society yesterday. The exhibit displayed many artifacts, documents, and maps from the Corps of Discovery. It seemed that most of the exhibit focused on the expedition's planning and early days while the Oregon portion seemed to be tacked-on. The bias may be due to the exhibit being organized by the Missouri Historical Society. I also thought the exhibit spent a too much time focusing on the Native American culture even though it admitted that Native Americans, at that time, did not consider the expedition to be a signficant event. Although the audio commentaries that were available through the provided headsets were interesting, I didn't find the exhibit as interesting as some of the documentaries I seen or heard on about the expedition such as PBS' Ken Burns television documentary, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; the OPB radio series, Unfinished Journey: The Lewis and Clark Expedition; and the National Geographic IMAX film, Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West. Maybe my expectations are too high. Afterall, the exhibit did what it was suppose to do: displayed inanimate objects. I suppose I was expecting more of a celebration. Afterall, Portland hosted a world's fair for the expedition's centennial, Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair. Now that it's 2006, it seems Oregon has allowed the bicentennial to pass without using it to showcase Oregon's history or tourism. Other than Fort Clatsop and some Oregon/Washington state parks being made into a scattered national park, the bicentennial seems without any major event. It seems Oregon and Washington could have at least built a new Columbia river bridge to replace the inadequate Interstate Bridge. Afterall, St. Louis built an arch.