In August, two key members of the “ex-gay” organization PFOX spoke at the “Truth Academy”. The conference was hosted by the paradoxically named Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, whose founder Peter LaBarbera’s website is listed as an official “hate site” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
At the Truth Academy, PFOX Board President Greg Quinlan raised eyebrows with an offensive speech explaining how he allegedly went from gay-to-straight, and found support from an Assemblies of God Church that accepted him because he supposedly was not effeminate.
“I wasn’t your flaming faggot, you know,” 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.”
At the same conference, Arthur Abba Goldberg, the convicted Wall Street thief who runs PFOX’s speaker’s bureau, demonstrated PFOX’s unscientific use of stereotypes.
“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 Abba 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.”
Clearly, Virginia-based PFOX is a dangerous organization that traffics in ugly slurs and crass stereotypes. The group has not one iota of science to back up its anti-gay rhetoric, so it turns to quacks for guidance, such as its former board President Richard Cohen.
Cohen runs the sham group, the International Healing Foundation which specializes in bizarre “ex-gay” therapies, such as a banging a pillow with a tennis racket, while yelling a parent’s name. In 2009, Cohen sent his protégé, Caleb Lee Brundidge (who claims to raise the dead), to Uganda. The result of his visit was the introduction of the deadly and draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Incidentally, Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association on March 23, 2002 for multiple ethics violations.
With no credibility, PFOX tries to legitimize its homophobia by slyly gaining endorsements from mainstream institutions – usually through chicanery, such as disguising what the organization truly stands for.
For example, earlier this year, PFOX pretended the District of Columbia government endorsed it, after its Executive Director Regina Griggs received a Certificate of Appreciation. Upon learning that PFOX had received the perfunctory piece of paper and plastered its website with it, the mayor’s office took back the “honor”.
“A staff level error was made when the request for the certificate in question was fulfilled. We apologize for the error as it runs contrary to the Mayor’s vision of a more open and inclusive city,” the mayor’s office wrote to PFOX.
The latest victim of PFOX’s hapless and pathetic quest for legitimacy is the World Bank, which foolishly approved this organization of reprobates as an official charity. They got the illustrious listing after a small number of anti-gay staff-members at the World Bank had recommended PFOX for this year’s Community Connections Campaign. World Bank matching funds were to be given to the chosen charities. Depending on the level of employee participation, the bank’s matching funds are either 50 percent or 100 percent of the employee donations.
My organization Truth Wins Out and Change.org launched an online petition to drop PFOX from the list of charities. Members of the World Bank staff also made a persuasive case against using taxpayer funds to assist PFOX. Funding this organization would make a mockery of the group’s commitment to diversity and undermine its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.
Armed with new information, The World Bank decided to take another look at PFOX and elected to change their guidelines. According to the new rules:
Bank-matching funds will be provided to those organizations that have, through prior participation, established a track record of support with staff. Organizations that have come on the list this year will not be offered matching funds in this year’s campaign, though the Bank will match any contribution that has been made to this latter group prior to today, November 15, 2010. We will review the new organizations after one year, to see if they have the staff and community support to warrant a match in the FY12 campaign.
The World Bank should have simply dumped PFOX from the campaign. Unfortunately, PFOX’s self-serving and underhanded quest to grandstand cost twenty-five respected organizations the opportunity to receive matching funds. But at least this interim measure keeps this hate group away from taxpayer funds.
PFOX can bank on the fact that the more people know about the bizarre therapy it endorses, the unprofessional counselors in which it associates, and the slimy way it distorts science and sniffs out publicity – the less support it will receive.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”