At A Musing: How Sexual Abuse Made Me Ex-Gay.
Lots of "ex-gay" proponents claim that one of the causes of same-sex attraction is childhood sexual abuse. I don't think they are lying; they truly believe it. In fact, I imagine that the majority of people who attend their programs have been sexually abused, so in their logic they have concluded that sexual abuse + other factors (family, gender confusion, etc) = GAY.
Instead of searching for the elusive root causes of same-sex attraction, I wish they would ask themselves, "Why do our programs attract same-gender loving people who have also been sexually abused?"
I think of my own story. I was sexually abused as a young boy. Age seven. That abuse filled me with shame and guilt, partly because it was a much older boy who perpetrated it, and I actually enjoyed some of it. I was already gay before I was abused--I felt an attraction towards other boys.
Filled with shame and guilt, I grew up in a decidedly homophobic society that proclaimed that being gay was a sickness, an aberration, a sin, an abomination. Because of the abuse I suffered as a child, I felt dirty, evil, shame-filled and unloveable. (These feelings are common for many who have experienced sexual abuse.)
These negative feelings made me a target for the Evangelical church which promised that I could be a child of the King, a holy servant of God and a new creation with robes washed clean in the blood of the Lamb...
(more at link)
I think he's really onto something. I also think that there's a fair argument for calling homophobic shaming (or any sort of sexual shaming, for that matter; the "slut" labelling thing, for instance) a form of sexual abuse in itself.
But certainly I could understand how a history of abuse would make any ideology which boils down to follow these rules, and you will be purified attractive. First of all, your own boundaries, your internal radar, your ability to distinguish what you want and need from what someone else tells you you want and need, are already shot all to hell; that's the fundamental mechanism on which abuse turns in the first place, after all. All you probably consciously know for sure (if that) is that you feel really, really awful. Shameful, unworthy, dirty, as the man says. Bad.
Then, along comes a strong voice that affirms at least some part of you, possibly for the first time ever. Of course you're going to be all over that. And if the voice has some conditions for your continued presence in the circle of light? Well, that feels...familiar. Of course, there have to be conditions; there's no such thing as unconditional acceptance in this world, right? Certainly you've never experienced such a thing. And your world has been so out of control; of course you need rules. The stricter, the better, in fact. Just so you know where you are.
And then, too, there are rewards in this set-up: it feels old, but there's also something new: now you can be one of the good guys! The bad guys, they're over there. And what better way to spend the rest of your life than fighting the bad guys, now that they have a name, a face, and an identity that isn't you (anymore)?