HOMAGE president notes personal reasons for wanting to demonstrate against NARTH, claims therapists advocate lifetime of celibacy
The scheduled protest against the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality conference at the Marriott Dallas-Fort Worth Airport North Hotel on Oct. 27 at 11 a.m. has personal significance for Irby Foster.
Foster, president of HOMAGE at the University of Texas at Arlington, said he had a brief fling with ex-gay therapy in his earlier years.
“I actually went to one of those groups when I was younger,” Foster said. “They were trying to talk me out of being gay.
“What I found out was what they really wanted was for me to be celibate for the rest of my life. I don’t think that’s treatment, and I don’t think that’s a viable option. I wasn’t too pleased with what they were offering.”
Foster said he and about 10 other UTA students from his group plan to join the protest, and other schools’ HOMAGE chapters, which is a national group dedicated to diversity, may join it as well.
“We want to be a part of it,” Foster said. “We’re very concerned that people would think homosexuality is a treatable disease.”
The leaders of five local LGBT groups had already pledged their support to the protest, which is being organized by Truth Wins Out, a group dedicated to opposing ex-gay therapy. The protest will consist of a press conference followed by a demonstration.
Groups expected at the protest, in addition to HOMAGE, include Equality Texas, the Metropolitan Church of Greater Dallas, Valiente DFW, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and PFLAG Dallas. Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen and Dallas therapists Elaine Schoka Traylor and Randy Martin also are expected to participate.
The theme of the protest is “ex-gay therapy is scary” so some protesters are expected to show up in horror costumes. Besen has compared ex-gay therapy to a “horror.”
Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink and other LGBT groups leaders say the protest is urgent because for the first time in a decade the American Psychological Association is reviewing its procedures on working with clients who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. NARTH is attempting to influence the group to approve ex-gay therapy .
Fink said the goal is to help prevent NARTH from gaining a “foothold” in legitimizing their beliefs. She called ex-gay therapy “demeaning” to the gay people who receive it.
The APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disease in 1973.
Three therapists founded NARTH in 1992 to promote homosexuality as a mental disorder and to develop treatment for it.
The hotel is located at 8440 Freeport Parkway in Irving at I-635 and Royal Lane. It is not located on airport property. The protest will take place on the Royal Lane side of the hotel. Parking is not allowed at the hotel, but business parking lots that reportedly are not in use on Saturdays are across the street from the hotel. Protesters will gather on the sidewalk and grassy areas between the street and sidewalks. Coordinators are urging protesters to be civil and peaceful.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 26, 2007