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    Clipping: Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2004 http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lopez28jul28,1,5860296.column Points West: RANDY IS JUST DANDY -- OR IS HE?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2004
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      Clipping:  Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2004



      Points West:



      Commentary by Steve Lopez, Times Columnist


      Nearly 200 readers complained to The Times about a full-page ad last week in which a guy named Randy said he'd been cured of homosexuality, thanks to a group called Exodus. "Shame on you," wrote one reader, saying the ad spit in the faces of gays. Another reader wondered how The Times could accept money to spread hatred.


      This, of course, is a very sensitive matter. That's why the newspaper called on its advertising standards department, which wrote the following in response to angry readers: "Advocacy ads must meet our advertising standards and communicate their points of view legally and responsibly. This particular ad met those requirements." No word on what those "advertising standards" might be. But what would you expect from an outfit that rakes in bazillions of dollars from brassiere ads?


      As a 1st Amendment issue, I think people ought to be able to say what they wish and be judged by their words. But before I get back to the ad in question, here's a little background on Exodus:


      The Florida-based group was inspired nearly 30 years ago in Anaheim by charismatic Christian leaders who declared homosexuality a sin. Just one problem. The two men who helped get the movement started were counseling gays to go straight when, lo and behold, they fell in love with each other.




      The two men dumped their wives, abandoned Exodus, and wore each other's wedding bands. Whatever you do, don't tell Randy.


      In the text of the ad for Exodus, which claims to have been "proclaiming freedom from homosexuality since 1976," Randy explained the evil force that pushed him over to the dark side. He said he was abandoned by his father and "felt desperate for the physical touch only a father can give." I don't remember my father ever sticking his hand down my pants, but I think I catch Randy's drift. He said that when a male co-worker showed interest in him, "I was like putty in his hands."


      Soon Randy - that's with a capital R, right? - developed a gay identity and did the club scene for several years, bouncing from guy to guy. But then an old friend helped him realize he was simply "medicating" his emptiness with sex, and he began to wonder if he was really a homosexual, after all. "Today I am an ex-gay," Randy says in the ad. "No, wait . I don't define myself anymore with a sexual identity. I'm just . Randy."


      Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Whether he knows it or not, Randy may be a switch hitter. Not that there's anything wrong with being bisexual.


      Just out of curiosity, I put in a call to Randy to find out whether more women, or men, responded to what looked like the largest singles ad in publishing history. While waiting for a callback, I perused the Exodus website. Seems the group had a conference at Azusa Pacific University last week as part of its campaign "challenging mainstream America to question homosexuality and encourage the Church to provide the answer."


      I don't know how many sinners were rescued at Azusa Pacific. But by coincidence, this is an election year in which President Bush needs the Christian right to flock to the polls, and the Exodus website lauds Bush for his "courageous political stand" against gay marriage.


      The Exodus site also offers a handy question-and-answer section:


      Q: Is homosexuality genetic?


      A: Probably not, according to Exodus. But even if it were, God declares that homosexual and lesbian activities are sin.


      Q: If AIDS is God's judgment against homosexuals, doesn't befriending them interfere with his will?


      A: You must decide that for yourself, Exodus says. But Jesus saves even the worst sinners.


      Q: What can I do to help a gay person change?


      A: Pray the Lord will help them reconnect with his original design and purpose for them as a man or woman. In the case of a man, if prayer doesn't work, try showing him some brassiere ads from Macy's. If there's no spark after seven days, switch to Robinsons-May bra ads. If that doesn't work, it isn't God's will.


      But don't count me a doubter. In fact, Randy wasn't the only reason I called Exodus. I wanted to find out what else they can cure. My sexual orientation is not in question, but sometimes I wonder who I am. I grew up with a father who spoke Spanish, but when he switched to English to fit in, I felt conflicted and abandoned.


      Naturally, I was putty in the hands of people who spoke Spanish. I fell in love with Mrs. Torres, my seventh-grade Spanish teacher, on the day we learned how to say, "Where's the library?" and "Do you like meatball soup?" But while I tried to be Hispanic on the outside, I was all gringo on the inside. Am I a switch hitter too?


      Help me, Exodus. Por favor. Give me the strength to say: "Today I am an ex-Hispanic wannabe. No, wait . I don't define myself anymore with an ethnic identity. I'm just . Steven."


      Randy, are you out there? Throw me a lifeline, amigo.


      [Steve Lopez can be reached at steve.lopez@... .]


      Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times






      My sexual orientation is not a sickness to be healed or a sin to be forgiven. My sexual orientation is a gift from my Creator to be accepted, celebrated, and lived with integrity.




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