Matt Moore, the “ex-gay” blogger for Christian Post, made a humiliating apology this week after it was exposed that he still had an active Grindr profile, which he has been using to chat with other gay and bisexual men.
Just to remove any illusions here, Grindr is not a site where men go to chat about the weather. It’s a site primarily and overwhelmingly used to seek out sex. Like so many stories about closeted homophobes who end up being “found out,” this story has been met with a certain degree of sniggering, derision, and general schadenfreude, as well as impassioned criticisms of internalised homophobia. But when you read Moore’s columns, it’s hard to find the story anything other than extremely sad.
Even before he was found on Grindr, Matt Moore was a
terrible advert for so-called “gay cures.”
“Although I have same sex thoughts on a daily basis, I do not, in any way, feel compelled to ever return to a lifestyle of homosexuality,” he writes in one blog, entitled ‘What does God expect from gay people?” In another, he writes of “the fluctuation of my circumstances and emotions, the frustrations of having to build a completely new life, and the often very real and sometimes overwhelming loneliness [his emphasis] of this path I’m on.”
This isn’t funny, and nor is it offensive; it’s simply heartbreaking. If this was an unknown cult, or one of those “religions” most of us are happy to dismiss as a cult, this horrific practice of teaching people, sometimes from a very young age, to hate themselves; teaching people that who they are is sinful, and that natural feelings like lust and love are things they should waste their energy, time, and even their own mental wellbeing “struggling” against, it would surely be denounced, even in America, as nothing more than despicably cruel brainwashing. Why does Christianity keep getting a free pass to behave this way?
Anyone who dismisses these “gay cures” and “ex-gay advocates” as a matter of free choice should consider how they’d feel if there was a cult of gay adults raising straight kids to believe they are gay, forcing them to believe that heterosexuality is sinful, and demanding that they banish all feelings of desire or love towards any member of the opposite sex, perhaps even encouraging them to force themselves into romantic and/or sexual relationships with same sex partners. After all, there are a fair few heterosexuals who get their pants in a twist about such a scenario when it’s not even actually happening. I’m waiting, with baited breath, for Tory MP Bob Blackman, who recently called for Section 28 to be brought back on the off chance that some hypothetical teachers might “promote” homosexuality to some hypothetical kids in some hypothetical schools, to express their disgust and outrage at the torment being forced on actual people, right now, in real life, when heterosexuality is “promoted” to them in this way. It’s not just in America that these groups operate; although they are much more controversial in the UK than in the States. It was reported earlier in the year that pamphlets have even been handed out in some UK faith schools claiming that homosexuality is a psychiatric disorder. The TUC complained but Michael Gove dismissed the concerns, on the grounds that equalities legislation doesn’t apply to the curriculum. Where was the concern for the children that the Section 28 brigade are so keen on? The majority of them are disgracefully silent.
Moore has apologised to Christ for “talking to guys” on Grindr, but clarifies “I haven't changed my views on homosexuality, the bible, etc.” John Becker argues on his Huffington Post blog that Moore should instead apologise to the “many vulnerable LGBT youth to experience depression and anxiety, abuse drugs and attempt suicide” by the bigotry he has helped perpetuate. That’s an understandable sentiment, but although Matt Moore might not see himself as such; although he is now an adult, he is surely in need of support, not condemnation. I was a deeply unhappy bisexual teen and I can only speak for myself but I definitely don’t feel he owes me any apology. The only people who should be apologising here, to any of us, are the powerful homophobes who teach him and countless others that they can only be good people if they beat themselves up, make themselves sick, and drive themselves crazy for experiencing the most natural and beautiful human experience that there is.