Challenging The Idea of Gay ‘Exorcisms’

Christianist hate-monger Bryan Fischer, continues to insist that gay exorcisms work.

This really pisses me off on three levels –

First, as a gay/queer/GSRM person, the idea that who and how I love is something that needs to be forcibly driven out of a person is deeply offensive. Many of these ‘exorcisms’ are nothing more than brutal psychological and sometimes physical abuse, couched in a religious framework, and structured to encourage mental disassociation in a way not unlike some forms of CIA brainwashing.

Secondly, as I’ve discussed on NFABS many times before, my own religious/spiritual tradition includes the concepts of spirit/deity possession, and possessory work as part of spiritual practice.

Now obviously my cosmology is not anymore universal or ‘correct’ than Bryan Fischer’s or anyone else’s. But it bothers me to see sexual orientation treated as something external, or even as an independent entity that can be driven out. Even many of the right wing Christian groups that practice gay ‘exorcisms’ aren’t arguing that one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is an external force or consciousness, despite appropriating the trappings of possessory practice in the service of their bigotry.

The vast majority of traditions that incorporate the concept of possessory experience have the idea of something external coming into a person (usually invited), and then being asked or made to leave again after a period of time. This is radically different from an exorcism intended to excise a part of oneself. So based on my own exposure to these sorts of traditions and practices, I find the whole concept ‘gay exorcisms’ angering on a spiritual/religious level as well.

Finally, as a sexuality educator and advocate for healthy, active sex lives for all (save asexual people of course), there is the very real fact that what ‘ex-gay’ practices, including ‘exorcisms,’ are really doing is encouraging people to exorcise their desire.

The reality is that there are virtual no ‘ex-gays’ who’ve changed their sexual orientation (if there are any at all), but there are certainly some people who’ve managed to cut themselves off from their sexual selves (see point one about disassociation and brainwashing). If these programs were bodily castrating LGBT people there’d be swift condemnation from across the nation, and around the globe. But encouraging or forcing people to mentally and emotionally castrate themselves? That gets a pass as religious freedom.

You don’t have to be queer, do possessory work, or be a sexual advocate to be distressed by the idea of gay ‘exorcisms,’ but put all those together and you wind up with a perfect storm of opposition to the practice. 

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