The [Not So] Subtle Discrimination of ACR-99
I recall the humiliation of walking into a women’s bathroom as all eyes turned to look at me in my butch attire. Would they ask me to leave? Those painful memories make me resonate with the demand for respect that the California Assembly is acknowledging in ACR-99, the state’s formal resolution condemning “conversion” therapy. In that season of my life the queer community was a place of refuge and family. But it was also a season of personal despair.
There is great need to care for men and women with the LGBT experience but certainly contention exists over what empowers them to thrive. California Assembly resolution ACR-99 is a perfect example of this. The resolution celebrates and highlights California’s LGBT people, but it also suggests there is only one right way to honor and protect them.
Years after coming out I began questioning my sexuality as a lesbian. Ultimately, that journey led me away from the community. Today I perceive my LGBT experience drastically different than I used to and I no longer identify as gay. Like me, many men and women with an LGBT experience find that the cultural messages and values of the Pride Movement conflict with their convictions.
ACR-99 leads Californians to believe LGBT is a unified people group with like-minded values and suggests that the LGBT experience is innate and unchanging. However, many of us experience what the American Psychological Association (APA) concedes: that sexuality can be fluid. As a result, we find this resolution painfully discriminates against our rights to understand and shape our own sexuality.
To our alarm, our choices to embrace biblically-based Christian values have made us targets of hate and bias by some within the very community to which many of us once felt we belonged. For us, walking out our faith with biblical conviction means life and hope. Our faith has given us freedom to live with clear consciences and in many cases, saved us from suicide.
We too would like to be acknowledged and affirmed. Based upon their own value for equality, LGBT Pride and its supporters should empower our choice to follow our convictions. Instead, activists attack our efforts to care for like-minded friends by promoting dangerous counseling restrictions and stifling our free speech. What many mislabel “conversion” therapy is usually no more than a talk-centered counseling approach that explores internal beliefs about sexuality with raw honesty. Yet, this simple practice, which would benefit most people, has been twisted to mythic proportions, causing licensed therapists and Christian counselors to turn away those seeking answers.
The CHANGED community offers encouragement and nurture to those who are unwilling to sacrifice their convictions despite the significant challenges that creates. We don’t exist to denigrate, demean or even change LGBT people. Our name is a reflection of our personal convictions.
At every opportunity we attempt to establish dialogue, and when accepted, to humbly keep paths open for all choices, not merely ours. We admire Assemblyman Evan Low’s willingness to seek common ground that we observed last year around AB2943. His intentionality gave us great hope that we can co-exist and honor one another. We have openly thanked him. Nevertheless, CHANGED was never invited to the table in any of the discussions regarding this resolution and we represent the most impacted by any ban on counseling because we are pursuing change and are being pursued by others seeking change.
We desire that a spirit of mutuality would continue to take root in the state of California and are asking that LGBT Pride’s push for equality and respect extend even to us at CHANGED and all oncegay people, so we can continue to freely and openly live out our personal faith and convictions.
Elizabeth Woning, with Ken Williams
Co-founders of CHANGED
Copyright © 2019 Kathryn Elizabeth Woning. All rights reserved.