Thinking Straight – Robin Reardon

TS(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

This is like Erzen’s study of ex-gay ministries ‘Straight to Jesus’ in story form. Indeed, the very name of the institution described is the same. The ‘treatment’ is accurate – no pop music, no fashionable clothes, no internet access etc.

However, it is a bit ‘preachy’ and I doubt that a teenage boy could deconstruct bible texts in the way Taylor does.

Each chapter begins with a biblical text, used the way a self-affirming person would read it, not the way fundamentalists rip things out of context.

One Jewish girl insightfully remarks that fundamentalists project their wrathful god on to Judaism by claiming that the Old Testament God is more vengeful. Their understanding of the New Testament contains far more vengeance and not much, if any, love.

Indeed, one of the ‘counsellors’ talks of the behaviour necessary ‘to be worthy of God’s grace’. Grace, by definition, does not need to be earned.

One reviewer thought this was a Roman Catholic setup. True, Taylor uses the term ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph’ and, later, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God’ but the institution seems very protestant/fundamentalist in its use of Bible texts. Indeed, Charles says that Roman Catholics are heretics. Maybe the author doesn’t know about denominations.

It’s a cross between a gulag and a Trappist monastery, where they seek to break your will, where you can’t discern who is friend and who is foe, using solitary confinement and group spying. It gets a bit unrealistic towards the end when it becomes a sort of ‘Escape from Sobibor.’

There is a lot of suicide but that is regarded as a better option for someone that returning to homosexuality.

I had to look up ‘luau’. Apparently it’s ‘a traditional Hawaiian party or feast that is usually accompanied by entertainment.’

The verdict might be the words of Taylor, that ex-gay means, literally, no longer happy. (So don’t try to pray away the gay.)

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