Queer Action Coalition

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

STATEMENT ON ZACH, AND THE FUTURE...

The Queer Action Coalition itself began when it became clear that a 16yo kid was being taken to Love In Action "against his will" back in early June. These events came to public attention first when the teenager posted a bulletin through his MySpace account, which then took people to his blog, where people then began to spread the message, first through www.cherrybloss.org. The media then responded and people on the internet began to find his blog from all over the world, making thousands of comments and forming groups, such as FREE ZACH, which now has over 5,000 members. At this point it became very clear for QAC that we wanted to focus on what we knew about LIA, rather than a certain individual, simply because we were very concerned about the possibility of the individuals situation becoming worse, however we did want to show support. At this point, the media had already caught on, and the teenager, the issue, the organization, etc…were all now focused around “ZACH”. The protests remained anonymous in their message. No organized protest ever had a single sign mentioning Zach’s name, and it was very clear that we were to be respectful, and fair, simply because the objective was to offer a different side to something we saw as unfortunate, and potentially harmful.

Now we reach the end of Zach’s stay at LIA and he posts a new blog, and suddenly media, and hundreds of people all over the internet are again going wild about what’s next, or what Zach meant, or what he’ll do, or even debating on the matter how “his new statement” will effect what anyone has been doing recently to try and fight homophobia, and share messages of love and acceptance, we’ve had media calling from around the country asking for statements about Zach’s new blog entry. This is getting out of hand. Yes, this began with this teenagers “cry for help”, but the reason people answered his cry is because of the situation he was being put in. The real question has to be about why we responded to the “cry for help”…while Zach will make his own decisions about what he wants to say, and do, we of course send our words of support, and love, hoping that he can find peace with himself, his friends, family, and the world of people around him who have gotten involved. AS of course we will do all we can to support Zach, we ask everyone to respect this individual, and understand, again, why his “cry for help” was most likely sent out…and why you responded so as to see the bigger picture…


HERE IS THE BOTTOM LINE....

LOVE IN ACTION is an isolated physical structure that represents a larger problem. They say, very clearly, that being gay is not ok. Former clients, one after another, testify that the organization promotes self-hatred, shame, and fear. ALL MAJOR MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH organizations say that they do not approve of any sort of therapy practicing out of bias, as it is well know that it potentially harms people, furthering the problems the clients already have. It is also a fact that these organizations do not provide clients with other resources if they do indeed decide they want to be a healthy, out gay person...which basically leaves their clients with no alternative resources after they leave, giving the gay person a feeling of "no where to go", similar for parents, who are not given PFLAG info so that just in case, they can go on to find other parents who accept their kids, also leaving the parents feeling isolated and alone if they do decide to seek other resources. It is also a fact that they use outdated, and disproven statistics on gay people, which then further encourages fear, shame and rejection of the gay person.

Look no further than what they mention about who founded their organization where they do not mention the actual founders, John Evans, and Kent Philpott. One can only assume they do not mention this because John Evans is an openly gay Christian man, who has recently sent letters of support for all gay people, explaining that what LIA does is "dangerous", and has been so since it began in 1973. Evans left the group when his best friend, Jack McIntyre, who was a client, killed himself because he was so ashamed of being gay, and the program wasn’t working for him.

At the very least, we realize the importance of giving people truthful information, so that they can make informed decisions, as opposed to misleading them into believing things so that what you offer seems more appealing and credible.

That said, Love In Action, as has been stated by all of its clients, can be a very productive place. For the record, QAC stands firmly in our respect for all of LIA's clients, and staff. We wish to, and have been engaging in dialogue with them. We have never made it our goal to shut them down, or hurt them. We also did not play any upfront role in the investigations that came from the state involving Love In Action. We would like to say also, that we have attempted to educate those who have expressed overly slanted views in this situation, noting that in speaking to former clients, such as Brandon Tidwell, or Jeff Harwood has been a very educational experience for us, as they both have a great respect for the people at LIA, yet they all share the same view of its negative impact on those who seek out, and have received their care. We understand, and have explained that LIA is not filled with evil people. It's important to point out the positives that people have gotten out of their time there. However, these positives are rooted in issues any licensed therapist would be able to address, only without the shame, and promotion of self-hatred which eventually leads one down a path of rejection, and fear, simply due to the misinformation provided by biased counsel.

A licensed therapist cannot misinform people by supplying biased, slanted statistics, or using techniques that have been proven to be harmful by every major health organization. A therapist cannot do this, because they would lose their license, because it would be considered unethical. It would be considered unethical, because the well-being of a person would be endangered. One would hope that the well-being of any person is looked after the first and foremost when in a therapeutic setting.

THESE ARE OUR CONCERNS. There is a reason, time and time again that people go through these programs..why parents send their kids...PEOPLE ARE ASHAMED, BROKEN, FULL OF FEAR BECAUSE our a large portion of our society, and a large section of Chrisitans are sending messages to gay people...these messages are perfectly represented by LOVE IN ACTION: you should change, you should be ashamed, it's not right to be who you are.


We firmly believe in the importance of fighting these messages by giving examples of TRUE LOVE IN ACTION. We hope to provide truthful education, and to show that Gay people can be happy, productive, healthy people. This current fight began with Zach, but it's one that has been going on for a very long time, and one that will not end soon, as we to continue with education, advocacy, and the living of our lives in ways that will allow us to overcome what boundries are presented, therefore to live the change we seek....

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO BE ASHAMED OF BEING GAY. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO HATE THEMSELVES. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO BE SUBJECTED TO PEOPLE, OR ORGANIZATIONS THAT ENCOURAGE SHAME, SELF-HATRED, AND THE UTILIZATION OF BIASED INFORMATION TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS. WE HOPE THAT IT WILL BE EASIER AND EASIER FOR GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER, AND BISEXUAL PEOPLE, AND THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS TO BE ACCEPTING, AND EDUCATED ABOUT THEIR RELEVANT ISSUES.

More about out future plans soon.

12 Comments:

  • Excellent article...

    In fact it should be included in any media releases from QAC. Even though the jackals of the press would concentrate on Zach, our larger mission should not be lost. This essay would keep our true message alive.

    By Anonymous mudd, at 3:56 PM  

  • Hallelujah! I was really disappointed by many of the comments left on Zach's blog. He doesn't owe it to anyone to be anything other than himself. And his right to do that is exactly the point. Terrorizing Zach into being out and proud isn't exactly enlightened behavior! If he needs to get there, he will. If not, then that should be OK, too. You guys are doing great work.

    By Blogger abbyladybug, at 6:01 PM  

  • Honestly... despite Zach's somewhat brainwashed comments in his blog... we need to continue the protests. The real enemy here is LIA and homophobia and the people who are confused by a warped religion that claims they have a problem. The problem is intolerance and abuse of power. Keep the protests going. I for one will be outside LIA later this month.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 PM  

  • We have never made it our goal to shut them down, or hurt them.

    Why not shut them down ? Even if they change the wording and their procedures , do you expect them to change their philosophy ? What exactly is your goal then ?

    We also did not play any upfront role in the investigations that came from the state involving Love In Action.
    Why not ? And what is happening with the investigation ? Is anybody following it ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 PM  

  • The reason we cannot shut down LIA or their fellow travelers is that they have as much right to their opinions as we do. The bulk of LIA operations involved adults who choose to be there. We cannot take any option away from anyone, regardless how we feel, without becoming just as narrow-minded as they are. The issue for me stemmed from those individuals who attend without knowing all their options. I believe that QAC intends to address that concern by working to make other possibilities, other than LIA, known.

    By Anonymous mudd, at 8:23 AM  

  • But it's not about their opinions , it's about their actions which affect people's lives , for example accepting unwilling minors into the program , using brainwashing techniques , spreading misinformation etc .

    Other existing possibilities are easy enough to find on the internet , but in Zach's case it seems they were simply rejected or ignored . So how about creating some real possibilities for minors in similar situation ? I'm thinking safe place to stay and family mediation ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:34 AM  

  • You are correct--it is about actions. The best can can hope for is to inform people about the practices used and the misinformation spread by these groups. But even then, adults still have the right to seek these (mis)services.

    Now the issue of minors is more complex. Again knowledge of the practices and misinformation is power. Parents need to be more informed on this than the kids. But telling parents how to raise their children can only lead to trouble. When others questioned my parenting, I got angry and offended.

    When we begin to face off kids against the parents they love, we are reinforcing this stereotype: "Gay Recruiter". Many of those who support LIA and other ex-gay operations believe this piece of misinformation. They will circle the wagons to defend against the "Gay agenda to pervert the youth". Providing information alone is a better plan for us, even if it is ignored or rejected. But direct action or interference will create more enemies than it is worth.

    Should there be safe places for kids? If there is a clear and present danger, I believe so. But that would be more a matter for official inquiry and action. Any direct role by us might become more of a liability to the child.

    By Anonymous mudd, at 11:01 AM  

  • That said, Love In Action, as has been stated by all of its clients, can be a very productive place. For the record, QAC stands firmly in our respect for all of LIA's clients, and staff. We wish to, and have been engaging in dialogue with them. We have never made it our goal to shut them down, or hurt them.

    Then I believe the unregulated status of religion based programs should be challenged .

    We understand, and have explained that LIA is not filled with evil people.

    IMO , they are evil even more so because they appear nice . It only makes resisting their brainwashing more difficult . I still remember the feeling I got reading the few posts after some of you attended LIA open meeting . Hasn't the daze worn off yet ?

    We hope to provide truthful education, and to show that Gay people can be happy, productive, healthy people.

    Well , good luck . How exactly does one educate people who don't want to be educated ? All the information is already out there for people who are open to see it . But how does one reach nice good christian fundamentalist bigoted autoritharian parents like Zach's father ? Can't he google ?

    This current fight began with Zach, but it's one that has been going on for a very long time, and one that will not end soon, as we to continue with education, advocacy, and the living of our lives in ways that will allow us to overcome what boundries are presented, therefore to live the change we seek....

    Okay , but this might take generations . Meanwhile , how many 'Zachs' are out there right now ? Is anything going to be done for them right now ? I see every young person as a hope for the future of humanity and I'm not keen on sacrificing individuals for a greater cause .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:15 AM  

  • I'd like to apologise for the above post , it probably sounds mean and critical .I know you've all done a tremendous work and are probably very tired . I'm sorry .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:27 AM  

  • I would recommend your organization try to grow to do as many of the
    following as you can:

    Monitor "re-orientation" groups (Not just LIA/R but as many as you can)

    Provide balancing information about such organizations.

    Find out what possible legal recourse minors may have if their parents
    attempt to force them into a re-orientation program (start with Tenn, but
    perhaps try to extend this to as many states as possible).

    Provide information on how teens can get support (emotional, legal,
    medical, financial, etc) in dealing with parents who attempt to force them
    to "change"

    I'm sure there are many other items that can be added to this list. If
    even 1/4 of the people following this site/story are willing to devote
    time to helping I suspect you will be able to accomplish a lot.

    My recommendation is that you make a prioritized list of goals. Then
    start soliciting help to accomplish them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:51 AM  

  • Unsolicited advice is great. Here's some more: The best thing a person can do to help another person is to ask what help they need, not tell them what you think they need to do in order to satisfy you.

    This was hard lesson for me, but a great one. This applies to Zach, to QAC and to any other situation.

    By Blogger Hopespringseternal, at 10:22 PM  

  • What's going on guys? What's next? There's talk in the Free Z group (formerly Free Zach) of another 16 year old undergoing therapy right now. Just thought I'd let you know.

    By Blogger Willie Hewes, at 2:56 AM  

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