If you’ve been anywhere online in the last week-or-so, chances are you’ve come across someone jumping up-and-down about a so-called “anti-gay” app that had been approved and let through into the Apple iTunes App Store.
Well, rest assured that the furore will die down soon enough – Apple have pulled the app.
This, also, may not be “news” to some of you, but I really just wanted to talk about it for a few reasons, so please bear with me while I discuss several underlying themes that came along with this whole sordid episode.
Exodus International is the Christian ministry that authored the app, with a view to provide information to the public on how to deal with “ex-gay” people, especially youths.
The information authored, gathered and presented on their (Exodus International) website, in their words, is meant to be “a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders.”
This, by way of translation, is basically saying that they’re giving out information on the ‘management and treatment’ of “ex-gay” people and people who want to “be free” of their homosexuality.
I call bullshit.
Groups like this, not entirely but most often Christian, will dress their words up in such fine clothing that even the most discerning of readers may have a hard time reading between the lines to find the ugly truth that’s lurking just beneath the surface.
That truth is the fact that, whether consciously or not, the religious and social bigotry exhibited by these people is often more offensive and hostile than the things they get upset about.
These extremist groups of religious proselytisers take it upon themselves to live their entire lives through their religion and feel it’s their right to go around shoving their points-of-view and beliefs down anyone else’s throats.
The biggest excuse and shield being used by Exodus International and their supporters is that this move by Apple is in violation of their rights to “Freedom of Speech”.
Screaming that your rights to free speech have been denied while simultaneously denying the exact same rights to countless other groups in society, simply because you either do not agree with them or your beliefs tell you not to allow them the same rights that you enjoy, is just the sort of underhanded, two-faced bullshit that groups like Exodus International employ all the time.
If you’re going to crack the shits about your rights being denied, then take a step back and look at all the people that you shun and deny any base rights, let alone the ones you demand of them to give to you.
The app provided information on “ex-gay therapy” — “treatment” meant to “cure” gay people of their sexual orientation.
First of all, homosexuality is NOT a disease. Say it with me folks, “Homosexuality. Is. Not. A. Disease.” There, was that really so fucking hard?
Seriously, where the hell do these people get off (teehee) saying that homosexuality is a sin, is evil, is dirty, is wrong, is <insert bullshit fear-based lie here>, etc?? I mean, their own Bible features homosexuality and the earliest translations (if I remember rightly) didn’t put very much weight on whether one’s sexual alignment made you more evil than others…
I would seriously love to know where this all came about. I mean, when you look back at the closing chapters of the Greek Empire and the time of the Roman Empire, sodomy and homosexual relationships were completely normal. No judgement was passed upon people who chose to live their life with same or opposite sex – it was everyone’s right to choose.
Christianity gained traction when Roman Emperor Constantine, a life-long Pagan devotee to the Roman Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses converted to Christianity on his deathbed for fear of ending up in “hell”. Even in those earliest of days, Christianity was adopted by people out of fear.
The Christian Bible, Muslim Koran (to an extent) and also the Jewish Torah (also, to an extent) are the three major “book” religions in our world and all rule through fear, dominance (priest class) and submission (the people), and misinformation. I mean, it was fucking illegal for a peasant to even learn to read, let alone read the Bible, in the middle ages! If he actually owned a copy of the Bible, then he was completely screwed.
The fact that the Bible was translated from Aramaic to Greek and through Greek to Latin, then English and other European languages later on, coupled with the fact that only the priest class and the monks who transcribed it could actually read it left the doors wide open for the stories to be re-written whichever way they wanted them to be.
Misinterpretations could be employed and the people would be none the wiser. Laws would be changed, the powerful and rich becoming ever more powerful and rich and protected against accusation or suspicion where the poor and downtrodden would be forever condemned as worms beneath the feet of the righteous.
What kind of sick person feels any pride in that history? Moreover, what kind of arsehole still feels that this should be the case today; that the righteous should rule over the masses, protected and supported by laws and restrictions that only serve their interests and further pollute the already confused and broken people?
Sexuality is a huge part of being alive. You look in any direction in nature and you can find sexuality in abundance, with hetero- and homosexual couplings occurring in species that operate on mere base instincts; those who have no ability even remotely resembling the ability to “choose” something so simple and animal as physical and emotional attraction.
To say that being gay/straight/other (or not being gay/straight/other) is a “choice” makes you sound like an idiot, plain and simple.
Exodus International would have you believe that they are helping people who “no longer want to be homosexual”, however what they really mean is that they help confuse and blind vulnerable people with lies and religious indoctrination so that they believe that they are either cured, and thus “ex-gay”, or live a life denying what they feel and who they truly are.
You’d expect this sort of disturbing story of reprogramming and misinformation to be about the Church of Scientology, but no, this is just another bunch of bigoted Christian zealots that are out to stake their claim on as much of society and the world as they can, driven by greed, fear and a lustful hate of people who oppose them.
I say again, homosexuality is NOT a disease, nor is it a choice. It is a perfectly legitimate, natural and honourable way to live one’s life. All homosexuals are doing is being honest with themselves, their partners and the world and really, isn’t honesty the best policy?
(On that note, I have to say this: Honesty when it comes to being a brain dead fuckwit that is just bad mouthing other people for living their lives in a way that you may not approve of is just not cool. That’s called being a douchebag.)
Truth Wins Out began a petition on Change.org which would receive 150,000+ signatures in a single fortnight.
Truth Wins Out (TWO) describes themselves as “a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism”, certainly a noble cause to be fighting in this time of hysterical stupidity and ignorant oppression.
As part of their work against the release of this app, TWO created a petition on popular online petition site Change.org in the hope that word would spread among the people and support would be given to pressure Apple to remove this app.
I want to post the overview from the petition page, especially in the event that the petition page is taken down:
Exodus International, the notorious “ex-gay” organization, has just released an iPhone app that, according to its website, is “designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders.” The Exodus website further boasts that its app received a 4+ rating from Apple, meaning that it contains “no objectionable content.”
No objectionable content? We beg to differ. Exodus’ message is hateful and bigoted. They claim to offer “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ” and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients. They endorse the use of so-called “reparative therapy” to “change” the sexual orientation of their clients, despite the fact that this form of “therapy” has been rejected by every major professional medical organization including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association. But reparative therapy isn’t just bad medicine — it’s also very damaging to the self-esteem and mental health of its victims.
This new iPhone app is the latest move in Exodus’ dangerous new strategy of targeting youth. In light of the recent wave of LGBT youth suicides, this tactic is particularly galling as it creates, legitimizes, and fuels the ostracism of LGBT youth by their families. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their family were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).
Apple’s app guidelines, released last September, detailed rules on how the company decides what can and cannot be sold through its store: “Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms way will be rejected,” the company states.
Apple doesn’t allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it is giving the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a “sin that will make your heart sick” and a “counterfeit.” This is a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences.
Apple needs to be told, loud and clear, that this is unacceptable. Stand with Truth Wins Out – demand that the iTunes store stop supporting homophobia and remove the Exodus app.
You’ll be happy to know (I hope) that the app was removed and the petition has been closed and marked as a success.
The petition was put up on Change.org on the 10th of March and Apple released their official statement some sixteen days later, two days after the app was apparently not available for download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple, facing major public and media (new and traditional) backlash, decides to pull the app.
Taken from the Cult of Mac website:
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said Wednesday:
“We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.” (Emphasis ours).
After the news spread like wildfire around the globe, with traditional and new media websites and news shows taking up the story with many varied views and opinions, not to mention the increasing numbers of signatures being dropped onto the petition mentioned above, Apple began to feel the pressure from the people.
By far, one of the best write-ups on this comes in the form of an open letter to Steve Jobs by Rabbi David M. Horowitz, President of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) – you can read it here: An Open Letter to Apple’s Steve Jobs From PFLAG National President David M. Horowitz
I love how personal this letter is while it is still very much professional and my favourite parts are where he quotes the app store guidelines:
The reason for the removal of such apps is explained in the app guidelines themselves. Section 14.1 states “Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms *sic+ way will be rejected.”
There is no question in my mind, as one who has worked with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community for more than 30 years, that the Exodus International app will place LGBT people in harm’s way.
Additionally, Section 19 of Apple’s app guidelines reads:
“19.1 Religion, culture, and ethnicity Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected
19.2 Apps may contain or quote religious text provided the quotes or translations are accurate and not misleading. Commentary should be educational or informative rather than inflammatory”
Finally, the app guidelines state, “We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps, and parental controls don’t work unless the parents set them up (many don’t). So know that we’re keeping an eye out for the kids.”
As I said, there was a lot of commentary, but Rabbi Horowitz spells out the truth and facts clear as day. Bravo sir.
In 2011, religious organisations are holding back social growth as much as they did to keep humanity in the “dark ages” over 1000 years ago.
Remember I mentioned the Dark Ages earlier? Yeah, well, I’m going there again.
Part of the problem that the people faced when the Christian religion swept across the world was the fact that it was incredibly jealous and dominating with regard to practically every. Single. Thing in society, be it religion, politics, industry or even the private lives of the people – they wanted control of everything.
Entire belief systems that were native to the lands prior to Christian invasion and conversion were wiped out, simply for existing. (Where was Jesus’ tolerance back then, huh?)
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that, with such a tight hold on the day-to-day lives of the countries under their power and the evolutionary path of our species making its way forward, the Church simply didn’t want anything happening without their express permission.
Science in any form was tightly monitored. Philosophers, so common in the old world, were now few-and-far-between and were often ridiculed, shunned or killed should they speak out against the Church-sanctioned “reality”.
(Despite it having been common belief many years earlier, the common story of Columbus being ridiculed and punished by the Church for speaking out about a spherical Earth is based in factual history on the early days of Christian belief, showing that even back then their zealotry and intolerance for alternate beliefs or points-of-view could result in extreme acts against those who oppose their views.)
How does this relate to modern day?
Look at the number of Christian people in power in parliaments around the world. Look at the number of Christians that run businesses, that are in our public education system, that stick to their own church halls but stick poke their noses in everyone else’s business around their towns.
Now look at all the things that the various Christian denominations do to block various different progressive developments in our society based purely on their beliefs.
Same-sex attraction, relationships, parenting – they oppose anything homosexual because it is their belief that homosexuality is a sin. Their numbers give them the power necessary to either have their way straight up or pressure those in power to concede to their point-of-view or else “risk alienating a large portion of the population”…
Abortion and controlled-parenting – the blanket opposition of planned parenting, contraception and abortion is driven by the belief that an early termination is still “murdering one of God’s children”. This utterly fanatical and fucking stupid belief ends up putting millions of people each year through physical, emotional, financial, social (and probably more) hardships, contributing to a bloated and over-populated society that is struggling to support the current numbers. Moreover, there are places in the world that attribute criminal punishments on those who seek these treatments, again based purely on beliefs.
There are other examples that I could go into, those of science, engineering, business, politics, but I really don’t want to start too many fights today.
Suffice it to say that I fully believe that Christianity is one of the major things holding back positive evolution and change in our societies. I don’t begrudge anyone their beliefs and fully support the freedom of choice of belief for all people, but the Christian faith as it stands is so old-fashioned, rigid and decayed that it simply does not belong in this modern world.
Homophobia, fostered by misinformation and lies, breeds intolerance, violence and unnecessary pain.
This says it best: “There is no question in my mind…that the Exodus International app will place LGBT people in harm’s way.” (Rabbi Horowitz)
What many of the people defending Exodus International and their supposed “right to free speech” don’t get is that this app spreads lies and misinformation and certain people will always take things a little too far.
Here’s some scenarios we just don’t want to see happening:
A small town, largely Christian, discovers two young boys have engaged in a homosexual relationship. Their families, not knowing what to do, seeks the help of the minister and so, with the help of a number of the townsfolk, he sets about “curing” the boys’ sinful behaviour by forcing them apart, locking them in rooms and yelling scripture at them, engaging in various forms of torture (food or sleep deprivation, light deprivation, solitary confinement, dangerous exorcisms or rituals, etc.) The boys survive but are permanently damaged and could grow up to become sociopaths, serial killers, rapists, child molesters or they could simply live out their lives alone, eternally sad and potentially even commit suicide because they never truly let go of their true nature.
A young girl in her late teens or early twenties is open about her sexuality but does not flaunt it or ram it down anyone’s throats. Still, some of the local men (pick an age group – this sort of thing happens with groups of guys in their early teens right up to men in later life) feel that her sinful ways need to be broken out of her and that they’d be doing God’s work by taking her into an alley or abandoned house or factory and gang raping her to cure her of her wrongful ways. (Don’t believe this happens? Have a read of this petition and please consider signing it – “corrective rape” is employed in Africa and other parts of the world where such extremist beliefs are allowed to influence laws and politics…)
A young boy/girl in the early years of high school (average age for this is between 10-17) is beaten up and bullied every day for being gay. S/he speaks to his teachers who do nothing. S/he speaks to her parents who speak to the school and still nothing is done. Her/his friends slowly drift away from her/him and some even take part in the teasing and bulling. In a final act of desperation, feeling as though there is no way out and no support for them at all, they take their own life. (This doesn’t only happen to gay kids either – bullying effects so many lives. Bullying because of sexual orientation, whether the kid is actually gay or not, is one of the biggest causes of youth suicide and is utterly appalling. If you wish to stand against such violent oppression, head over to FCKH8.COM and help spread their message.)
These are just some extreme examples. The spectrum extends far beyond the edges of these cases, with major and minor cases being just as sad and terrible – nobody should have to suffer for something that comes naturally to them.
Exploration / experimentation of sexuality in youths is normal for many people.
It is a common fact that humans experience the most intense period of hormonal imbalance and overload when we go through puberty. It is often during this time, at an age where sexual maturity is reached and our natural instinct to find a partner is kicking into gear, that people often realise and settle into their sexual orientation.
I had my first kiss with a girl when I was seventeen, but I was definitely attracted to girls for many years prior. I went through a stage where I experimented with my orientation, believing that I may have been bi-sexual but it turned out not to be the case. That experimentation was not a choice I had, I was simply attracted to a friend of mine and he happened to be a guy. The feelings lasted a while but faded back into a sense of heterosexuality.
For some, this is all that happens. Others start out gay and stay gay; some start feeling that they are gay but turn out to be straight. Still others have no idea and generally don’t let it bother them. There’s too many variables to cover all scenarios, but we’ll just agree that teenagers are in the “experimental stage” in life.
To come over the top of this natural period in our lives and slap down religious dogma into our confused heads is just plain wrong. Fire and brimstone and eternal damnation for feeling or expressing our natural, carnal desires is just fucking awful and people should be ashamed of themselves – especially those who did it themselves as children and are now forcing their own fears and hang-ups on the next generation(s).
Ultimately, kids are going to experiment and fool around and have sex and have their hearts broken and do the normal teenage thing, regardless of what hell they’re supposedly going to or how many people tell them not to do what comes naturally.
Societal pressures and prejudices force repression, shame and silence upon many GLBT youths and adults due to their own confusions about whether they’re right or wrong to feel the way they do.
As I mentioned above in one of my scenarios, it’s all-too-often the case that GLBT folk suffer in silence or even go so far as to pretend to be straight so that they don’t have to “suffer the shame” or live in fear of being punished for feeling the way they do.
You’ve probably heard of a guy in your town or somebody your parents or friends knew that got married and had kids and “woke up one morning and left his family because he realised he was gay”.
Are you fucking kidding me? This poor guy probably had it drilled into him (heyo!) that homosexuality was a sin, that he would go to hell and that he’d be committing genocide on butterflies and angels if he turned out gay…
He probably lived his entire life knowing he was gay but trying not to let anyone else find out but one day, after years of unhappiness and repressing his feelings, he snapped and said, “You know what? This is my fucking life! I should be living to make myself happy, not conforming to other peoples’ views of how I should live my life!”
And as said as that is for his family, it’s what he should have done and should have been able to do without fear since he was young.
I’m not saying that this is always the case in situations like this, but it’s one of the most common stories I’ve heard.
What you should do if you are a teen, young adult or older adult struggling with your sexuality.
If you are a kid / teen / youth / young adult / adult and you find that you are struggling with your sexual orientation or feelings that you may be having, please know that you are not alone! In fact, people struggle every day in all corners of the globe, in all races and religions.
Also know that there is nothing wrong with you! You are feeling something natural and beautiful and something that should never be repressed or avoided.
Take a deep breath, go to Google and search for support groups in your area / country.
Where you can seek help, advice, support, community and confidential counselling, if required.
As I’m Australian, I’m really only familiar with support groups and organisations here in my country but if you have links to support networks in your country, please drop a comment below and I’ll update this article with their details here. (If you’re are troll and think that you can post links to Christian websites or 4Chan or things like that, understand that comments are moderated and I’ll simply delete your comments.)
Headspace – Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation – headspace do amazing work in working with youths about a whole range of issues. They are a free service and offer confidential counselling and have offices around the country with many more to come in the next few years. Go to www.headspace.org.au to read some of their information and talk to someone.
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 (Australia only) or www.kidshelp.com.au – The Kids Helpline is there to offer confidential counselling, advice and support for kids in need. If you just need someone to talk to and don’t feel like you can talk to your family or friends, give them a call.
Suicide Prevention Australia – If you or someone you know is feeling really down or feel like you have no way out, please visit www.suicidepreventionaust.org or give them a call to talk (again confidential) before acting. There is always a solution other than suicide, so please do not feel like you have to go it alone or do something rash.
What if you are taught by your religion that homosexuality is wrong?
I don’t want to go undermining your religious beliefs here, but I just want you to understand something: ALL religions are man-made. Every single religious tenet or dogmatic rule or belief that has ever been expressed was made up by a man or woman at some point in history.
The fact that there is no one “true” religion that everyone can agree on shows that it’s all up to personal interpretation.
Ask yourself this question: If the god/deity/higher being, etc. of you religion is meant to be kind, compassionate and all-forgiving, why would s/he condemn us for living our lives according to the instincts and urges that s/he built us with?
I’m also not saying that you should abandon your beliefs because of your sexual orientation, but just be aware that there is no “official” religion and nobody has all the answers. If you find Catholicism too restrictive, try another form of Christianity*. The choice is always yours, never let anyone take that from you.
* Some people are under the belief that “Christianity” is a specific form of religion, different to Catholics or Protestants. This is not true.
Any religion that believes in and/or follows the teachings of the Judeo-Christian Bible can be called “Christian” (a follower of Christ). There are so many different forms of “Christianity” that it’d be impossible to list them all, but here’s a phrase for you to remember:
(I’m using Catholics as an example, but replace Catholic with any other religion that uses the Bible in its many forms)
All Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics.
What if you’re an Atheist but you still think that homosexuality is wrong?
Well, to be completely honest, I cannot answer that question.
If you’re not wrapped up in a religious system of any kind but oppose basic human rights for things like equal marriage, equality for all sexual orientations, abortion and other rights that are highly personal and ultimately nobody has the right to decide whether or not you have the right to do these things, then you’ve got me stumped.
Denying people the basic freedom of choice for how they want to live their lives is just something that we should all be avoiding doing – nobody has the right, religious or not, to tell someone else that their lifestyle is wrong. Unless of course they are a paedophile or rapist or murderer, in which case they just suck and need to be castrated.
Double standard? I think not. Crime is different to simply being attracted to the same sex. Learn to tell the difference and we’ll have a wonderful world to live in.
What if you don’t agree with me?
Too bad. No, no, I’m kidding.
If you don’t agree with me, in whole or part, that’s fine. That shows that you’ve got an opinion which is a personal point of view.
Let’s just hope that you have formed your own opinions and you’re not just a mindless drone following the dogmatic preaching of some racist, sexist, repressed and oppressive, dangerous, cult-like group of men who have nothing better to do in their lives but expect to get an easy ride by becoming clergy and spreading their message of hate, fear and dominance across the globe.
And if you’re an intelligent and respectful religious person, understand that I do not mean to belittle or insult your religious beliefs or that of the people who run your religions. I am, in fact, quite spiritual myself and have very strong beliefs in a wide range of things. I just cannot stand ignorance or intolerance, such as has been exhibited and defended time-and-again by various religious organisations that amass blind followers that are willing to do practically anything their leaders ask of them.
This just came across my path on twitter and I just couldn’t help but use it as an analogy for how stupid some religious groups sound when crying for their “rights” whilst excluding and oppressing the same people supposedly taking their rights.
Thank for writing such a long post. If I would have tried to write something on this topic it would have 99% swear words.
The huge amount of power groups driven by hate and intolerance have over our world is staggering and terrifying. It is one of the few things that I feel intolerance is the right choice. I don’t want to live my life based on the beliefs of someone else. No one should have to do that.
I read somewhere once (don’t ask me where or when) that if the dark ages hadn’t happened, our civilisation would have kept advancing at a faster rate than ever before. Roughly mathed-out this means that we would have had Facebook 1000 (one THOUSNAD) years ago. Man, we could have flying cars, portal guns, and personal jetpacks by now.
Fuck dogmatic religion of all kinds; Christ’s ultimate message was that love and sacrifice are what makes us human. A message that was twisted through the twisty corkscrew of greed and xenophobia and then violently enforced as law for a thounsand years. Thank smeg for the doubters (and the Christians who appreciated learning) who preseved the libraries and sanctuaries of knowledge throughout that peroid.
Great article once again, Laneth. Much appreciated.
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