Following the closure and apology of prominent ex-gay therapy organization Exodus International, other groups have stepped in to fill the void. The right-wing Family Research Council has launched two new ex-gay organizations, Voice of the Voiceless (VoV) and Equality and Justice for All, and formulated the first-ever “Ex-Gay Pride Month.”
VoV’s mission is to highlight the stories and experiences of “ex-gays” and defend their virulently anti-LGBTQ positions. VoV’s leadership declared July 2013 as a month to advocate for the rights of “former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions, and their families.” This “Ex-Gay Pride Month” is a direct counter to the annual LGBT Pride Month held in cities across the country each June.
In its official announcement for Ex-Gay Pride Month, VoV declares that “former homosexuals are the last invisible minority in American culture” who suffer discrimination and marginalization by the media and the gay activist lobby. It explains the choice of Washington, D.C. as the center for the ex-gay festivities because it is the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that has recognized “ex-gays” as a protected class. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is also partnering with VoV in the campaign to increase awareness of the discrimination VoV activists believe is plaguing the “ex-gay” community.
But VoV co-founder and president Chris Doyle, who himself identifies as “ex-gay,” and the FRC were apparently wrong in assuming that D.C. would welcome their celebration. In a July 12 press release, Doyle announced that the dinner and reception scheduled for July 31 would be postponed to September and take place in an undisclosed location due to security threats. Still, VoV’s website indicates that the group is still moving forward with many of its planned events for “Ex-Gay Pride Month.” VoV is also preparing for the first annual “Ex-Gay Awareness Month” in September, which VoV believes will provide “much needed exposure to students in secondary schools and colleges across the country to learn about the plights, challenges, and tribulations facing ex-gays in our culture.”
While some feel that “Ex-Gay Pride Month” is merely a publicity stunt, FRC’s most recent “ex-gay” initiative must be considered within a broader context, in which heterosexuals and “ex-gays” are increasingly portraying themselves as victims of the marriage equality movement and other forms of LGBTQ activism. “Heterosexual Awareness Month” (also July) has its own website and Facebook page, which has garnered over 2000 “likes.” HAM’s Facebook page even goes so far as to claim, “[Heterosexuals] are one of the only groups who no longer have a respected voice in this modern world.” This statement is in many ways quite similar with the arguments made by VoV, which believes that “ex-gays” are being silenced and targeted for discrimination.
The establishment of groups such as VoV suggests that the “ex-gay” movement is gaining a foothold among Christian Right groups that have previously expressed support for the movement, but have not been as aggressive about it. FRC’s more vocal support for “ex-gays” provides a new way for the movement to publicize how it is being “victimized.” This victimization strategy is the movement’s affirmation that it is not dying out in the wake of Exodus’ closure.