Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera billed his three-day “Truth Academy”, that took place in a Chicago exurb last week, as “one of the most thorough pro-family, educational seminars on homosexuality ever held in the United States.” The event was heavily promoted for weeks on right wing websites, such as World Net Daily, which had an article headlined, “Exposed: Gay Brainwashing of America’s Youth.”
On the eve of his hate seminar, LaBarbera got a gift from God. Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8, which prohibited marriage equality in California, was unconstitutional. Surely, a spontaneous outpouring of rage against this so-called “gay activist judge” would swell the ranks of angry conservatives at the Truth Academy.
My organization, Truth Wins Out, sent a “spy” to document what we expected – based on the hype — to be a large event. The thrust of the conference was to teach an army of young culture warriors how to beat back the gay agenda. These students would then return home equipped to turn back the clock on gay rights in their communities.
What we found, however, was an event that looked more like a poorly attended condo board meeting than a youthful resurgence of the anti-gay movement. The crowd vacillated between 20-30 people, who were considerably older than the “students” the conference claimed it was trying to reach. I’m not sure how LaBarbera plans to win his culture war, when he can’t even fill one buffoon platoon.
A few years ago, I dubbed LaBarbera “Porno Pete” because of his bizarre fascination with naughty gay magazines and his penchant to go “undercover” at leather events and photograph naked men. It seems the sodomy obsessed LaBarbera’s strategy is for anti-gay activists to talk explicitly about gay sex and why it is an unbecoming, immoral “behavior” that undermines society.
“Since how we are born clearly does not justify all behaviors. For example, what if someone is born a gay basher? Instead of diverting our attention and focusing energy how homosexuals are made and born, wouldn’t it be more effective for us to instead concentrate on explaining why homosexual activity is wrong and explaining how homosexuals may be born is ultimately irrelevant?” LaBarbera asked during a panel discussion.
To bolster his argument, Porno Pete hosted a slew of professional gay bashers who would say just about anything to make LGBT people appear depraved. One Truth Academy lecturer was Greg Quinlan, the President of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX). This organization is particularly dangerous because it teams up with conservative legal organizations to threaten schools with lawsuits if they do not provide students with “ex-gay” propaganda.
“I was questioning the homosexual lifestyle. It looked like a dead end to me,” explained Quinlan. “It looked like something that was so ugly. Here we are, you go to the bar, you hook up, this back and forth stuff, it just seems so shallow. So lust filled, so immature. But I was there and too prideful to do anything about it. So I stayed there for a little while.”
Quinlan explained how he went from gay-to-straight, and found support from an Assemblies of God Church who accepted him because he allegedly was not effeminate.
“I wasn’t your flaming faggot, you know,” the effete Quinlan told the chuckling crowd. “I can say that because I’ve been there and done that. You know, the one’s whose wrists are so limp that when the wind blows they slap themselves in the face. I wasn’t one of them,”
In the same vein as Quinlan, convicted felon and co-founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), Arthur Abba Goldberg, offered a few stereotypes of his own.
“By the way, did you notice that a lot of gays who remain in the gay lifestyle also do a lot of body building,” said Goldberg. “They will be in the gym a lot trying to build up their pecs…Because they have these body image issues and don’t feel they are masculine enough.”
Of course, an anti-gay seminar would not be complete without the old canards tying LGBT people to communists and child molesters.
“It’s consensual (sex with minors) if you don’t believe in the age of consent, which they don’t,” said Accuracy in the Media’s Cliff Kincaid. “This is the mentality of the Marxists who are a significant component and work with elements of the gay rights movement.”
Even as these anti-gay activists were harkening back to smears of the past, key conservatives were stepping into the future. Decidedly non-Marxist, Ted Olson, was defending marriage equality on national TV and the gay conservative organization GOProud announced that commentator Ann Coulter would keynote the group’s annual event.
This broad societal shift towards acceptance is the hard truth that those at the “Truth Academy” aren’t willing to acknowledge and certainly don’t seem prepared to handle.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”