Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Open Letter to Dr. Reisman

Taken from the Heartstrong newsletter:
An Open Letter to Liberty University School of Law Visiting Professor Dr. Judith Reisman

Judith Reisman: ...the aim of homosexual males and now increasingly females is not to have sex with other old guys and get married but to obtain sex with as many boys as possible. That's the reality. I wish it weren't, but it is.

Reisman also recently claimed, "Just as AIDS is a natural outgrowth of amoral sexual education and media, so too is child sexual abuse. We are breeding a new human character and child sexual abuse is increasingly part of that character."

Following Dr. Reisman's false statements about gay men and lesbians, HeartStrong founder and executive director Marc Adams sent the following open letter to Dr. Reisman, the LU School of Law and several media outlets. This was done to remind Dr. Reisman of the potential effects such pronouncements can have on young men and women as well as reiterate HeartStrong's call to be a voice for students who are unable to speak for themselves.



Dear Dr. Reisman,

A few days ago I was sent a transcript of your appearance on Matt’s radio show as well as a link to an audio clip of the same show.

I was horrified to hear the things that you said about gay men and lesbians regarding pedophilia. As a former LU student and former fundamentalist Christian, I already understand the excuses that you have for believing such things.

Right about the age most kids are figuring out they are heterosexual via crushes on opposite gender friends at school, church and other social venues, I figured out I was homosexual. While I didn’t have a word for my feelings I certainly knew that I was feeling the opposite of some of my classmates in school.

When I was 14, I sat in a church service where the minister spoke about “homosexuals and faggots.” I had heard those words before but really didn’t understand what they meant. When he began describing two men holding hands in a picture in a national magazine, I immediately knew he was talking about the feelings I had for as far back as I could remember. He then went on to say that all homosexuals were child molesters and would get AIDS and die. This was 1982, long before scientific information was available about HIV transmission so naturally religious leaders and others chalked it up to a morality issue. But for that 14-year-old boy, sitting in that church, knowing I was a homosexual and believing a minister’s words that I would become a child molester, get AIDS and die, it was devastating.

Every night I would cry myself to sleep begging the God I chose to believe in to change me or take me. Every morning I would wake up disappointed that I would be one day closer to becoming a child molester, getting AIDS and dying.

The prediction of my future from the mouth of that minister continuously echoed in my ears. The prospect left me feeling lonely, depressed and desperate. I began thinking of ways that I could end my life with minimal physical pain. I was so concerned about disappointing the God I had been taught required my full heterosexuality that the only thing I could think of doing was ending my life. I decided that would be the best way to deter myself from continuing a life here on earth that I was told was destined for pedophilia, pederasty, painful illness and physical death.

Even though my fundamentalist parents deemed evangelicals like Jerry left-wing liberals, I would occasionally watch OTGH. On one show I heard him mention that God could change behavior from homosexual to heterosexual. Even though I had prayed for change as a young child, this was the first time I heard someone talk about my theory in public.

As I approached young adulthood, I was unsure when I would become the pedophile/pederast that I was promised I would become. I didn’t know if it would happen suddenly or gradually. The boys I had crushes on were my own age but that minister was very sure in his sermon that homosexuals were into having sex with children.

I rebelled against my parents and attended Liberty University as a way to find out more about how I could find this change in my life. I eventually found restorative therapy outside the school. (LU is NOT a trustworthy place if you are dealing with issues like this. I didn’t feel it was safe for me to get counseling on campus.) Over the years that I went through restorative therapy it was always difficult but I really believed I was doing the right thing. I felt that I only had two options for my life anyway; change my life or end my life. I just kept pushing to change my life.

At the beginning of my senior year I began questioning many things in my life (I know, not very politically correct thing to do at LU). I questioned mostly my racist and sexist fundamentalist Christian theology. It was clear to me very quickly that the adults in my life had taught me many things that simply weren’t true. I guess that is why fundamentalist and evangelicals are mostly against believers questioning and researching things.

In that questioning I realized that while I was feeling I had changed my behavior I had not changed how I felt on the inside. I only desired to be attracted to the opposite gender because people told me that was normal and right. My idolatry of acceptance was painfully obvious. I realized that my years of feeling broken, lonely and disconnected had nothing to do with my homosexuality but rather my believing adults like that minister whose words were obviously based on a religious belief rather than facts.

After escaping from LU, fundamentalist Christianity and the idolatry of acceptance I started meeting other people, mostly students from religious educational institutions who worshipped the idol of acceptance from their families, friends and religious beliefs. As someone who made it out of that burning building alive I decided that I had the strength to turn around and go back and rescue as many people as I could.

Since 1996, HeartStrong, the social justice nonprofit organization I founded has opened the door to truth and peace for many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students at religious educational institutions. Young men and women clinging to the edge of life after believing their lives were doomed by the words of religious school leadership and others.

My upbringing in fundamentalist Christianity, my attendance at religious schools for high school and college (at LU) authorized and empowered me to reach out and help students whose happiness and peace was stolen from them by religious school leadership and others.

The statements you made recently about AIDS, gay men and lesbians are no different from what I was taught decades ago. I have made sure that the many people who have heard me speak over the past 15 years were able to hear what you said so they know that things have not changed. The words you and others say, fuel HeartStrong to be louder and even more proactive in reaching students who suffer. Thank you for motivating us to work even harder.

I am curious when it is you think that I will become a pedophile/pederast. Since you share that belief with many others in my past I am very interested to find out when that will happen. Also, since you believe that AIDS is a punishment for immorality, can you tell me when I will become HIV+? You also stated that the media is responsible for AIDS. What media should I not listen to in order to avoid contracting HIV? You spoke with such authority and belief that surely you must have some idea when this will start for me.

Of course I am being facetious. Since your statements are false and based only on ridiculousness and your own fear of anything that doesn’t represent your version of heterosexuality, these things will never happen. You are old enough now to know that convictions based on religious belief don't make those beliefs valid or true.

I know you have extremely limited experience in this area and I know that no one has ever said this to you before, but words kill. Feeding lies like yours into the ears of young men and women who struggle to find light in the darkness you disperse, often find themselves wishing for a way out.

As a former LU student who sat in chapel services where similar lies were espoused I can say with certainty that what you say can cause someone to feel that suicide is the only way to freedom. The words you say can have a profoundly harmful effect of young men and women.

While I highly doubt that you will change your religious beliefs because I write you a letter, I wanted to make sure that someone communicated with you regarding the slanderous statement you made against gay men and lesbians and the harmful effects those words have on those young men and women who wake up every day disappointed that the God they cried out to the night before did not end their life for them.

I don’t know much about you or your life, but I hope that you don’t have children, grandchildren or great grandchildren. The opportunity for any family, religious or not, to have gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender members is the same as always. The words you have said could cause someone close to you to feel that the only way to live is to die. I might be wrong but I doubt you would want anyone you truly love to ever feel that way.


Marc Adams

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