Ted Cox, a journalist and activist, described what he views as the absurdity of religious camps aimed at turning gay people straight to a full room at the Graduate School of Education yesterday.
In his capacity as an undercover journalist, Cox—a self-described former Mormon and a current atheist—attended three such camps to gain an inside look at the highly controversial organizations.
Cox said the organizers of these camps view homosexuality as a choice and something that one can give up. This view, Cox said, includes heavy overtones of sexism.
“We are going to make you a man. We are going to make you masculine,” he said the camp leaders told participants.
In one of the event’s lighter moments, Cox recreated a point at a camp when participants were told to sit together in one anothers’ laps in what Cox described as “the motorcycle position.”
As audience members demonstrated the position, the lights were dimmed, and participants sang along to music, Cox said that activities such as the motorcycle position are designed to allow gay men to feel male affection in a non-sexual setting, despite the seemingly homoerotic nature of the position.
In another light-hearted moment, Cox addressed the Bible’s portrayal of homosexuality by showing a slide show of Lego people to represent the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. He argued that the story was in fact intended to show the lower value of women rather than explicitly condemn homosexuality. According to Cox, while the Bible includes statements against homosexuality, Jesus never says anything in the Bible regarding homosexuality.
“I was so disturbed by what I saw. I was done. I got out. I stopped,” he said in reference to his feelings after attending his third camp.
Vincent Cervantes, an author who attended several camps in an attempt to change his orientation, shared his experiences after Cox’s presentation.
“I was so desperate to change, I agreed to go through a deliverance,” Cervantes said.
This “deliverance” took the form of four men standing around him and praying the “evil” out of him. At one point, Cervantes said he fell into convulsions on the floor while speaking Latin.
This experience, Cervantes said, made him realize that he could not change.
“They’re great for helping people come out,” Cox said of the camps. “People can say, ‘I did try to change but I was unable to.’”