Call for Papers: Soulforce Anti-Heterosexism Conference

Soulforce, the activist group that resists religion-based oppression of GLBT people through nonviolent protests and education, seeks workshop presentations for its anti-heterosexism conference this winter. The event will be held
in West Palm Beach, FL on Nov. 20-22 to coincide with the annual conference of “ex-gay therapy” organization NARTH. Co-hosting the event with Soulforce are the National Black Justice Coalition and the “ex-gay survivors” website Box Turtle Bulletin. From their press release:

Heterosexism is the presumption that everyone is heterosexual and that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable and superior to those of the same sex. Heterosexism has been encoded into nearly every major social, religious, cultural, and economic institution in our society and it leads directly to discrimination and the harmful efforts by some health care providers and religious groups to change or repress the sexual orientation of those under their care.

Anti-heterosexism involves recognizing and questioning the power and privileges society confers on heterosexual people because of their sexual orientation. It involves respecting and fostering the inclusivity and diversity of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities….

One of the most destructive forms of heterosexism is the practice of “ex-gay” ministries and “reparative” or “sexual orientation conversion” therapies. Based on the false presumption that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality, these treatments use scientifically unsound and outdated understandings of sexual and gender identity and offer false hope to vulnerable and distressed LGBT people, especially those from conservative religious backgrounds. The harm caused by such programs can be immense, with troubling ethical violations that may include breaches in patient/client confidentiality, and outcomes that increase the risk for depression, anxiety, and self- destructive behavior. Deeply rooted in heterosexist attitudes, they frequently teach that LGBT people are lonely and unhappy individuals who never achieve societal acceptance, satisfying interpersonal relationships, or a genuine faith experience.

Furthermore, ex-gays have become a central component in the strategy to deny LGBT people full civil equality. Paid spokespersons from ex-gay ministries speak in courtrooms, school board meetings, and directly to legislators in Congress. Their goal is to convince political leaders and the American public that LGBT people can change their sexual orientation or gender identities and therefore do not need equal rights or protections.

Proposals should be submitted by August 29. Consider making a donation to support this event. Soulforce, like many other nonprofits, has been hard-hit by the recession. Right-wing ministries and political action groups that spread ex-gay misinformation are better funded and have the power of the dominant culture behind them. Help turn the tide.