Love Won Out Coverage

February 18th, 2009 by

The Charlotte Observer

The Observer reported on the upcoming Love Won Out event in Charlotte, comparing it with the upcoming pro-gay Leadership Conference in Tonya Jameson’s Battle for Gay Souls article, reprinted below :

Battle for Charlotte gay souls

This weekend two religious conferences offer different takes on homosexuality and faith.

One seeks to be a refuge for homosexuals struggling with their sexuality by turning them away from homosexuality. The other seeks help homosexuals find love and acceptance.

Two perspectives on a complex issue.

Love Won out, by Focus on the Family, is part of the ex-gay movement in which people abandon homosexuality. It’s Saturday at the Central Church of God.

For people who are dissatisfied with homosexuality the conference offers an alternative, said Melissa Fryrear, who used to be gay.

“It’s a message of hope and encouragement.”

Rev. Nancy Wilson disagrees. Wilson is part of the Leadership Conference that is Wednesday-Saturday at the Omni Hotel. A focus of the conference is to show that someone can be a GLBT person of faith and feel good about themselves, and improve the community at large through volunteerism.

“People ultimately are happy if they are true to themselves,” she said. “We pick up the people who are ex-gays. It’s bad psychology. It’s bad theology they’re teaching.

“What these people need is to find a sense of self-acceptance, to be able to live healthy and good lives as gay people.”

The issue of sexuality isn’t as simple as either side frames it. It’s not as simple as we in the media frame it either. It’s not us versus them. It’s an intensely personal issue that can rip apart lives and families. Or depending on the person it can also build stronger individuals, families and communities. I know people who fit in both categories as well as people who fit somewhere in between.

The conferences are here when homosexuality is back in the local headlines. On Saturday, Charlotte Presybterians voted to end the ban on gay clergy. Earlier this year, county commissioners voted to study providing domestic partnership benefits to county employees.

At least 250 faith leaders from GLBT friendly churches will participate in the annual Leadership Conference gathering, which begins Wednesday. Participants are typically church members and leaders from area Metropolitan Community Churches, the Fellowship, and Unity Fellowship churches. Sessions are designed to spiritually and emotionally bolster faith leaders who cater to the GLBT communities.

“It’s very challenging to be a leader in our community,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of needs, a lot of brokenness, a lot of challenges. There’s a lot of healing that’s needed. You have to have strong leadership for that to happen.”

The day the Leadership Conference ends on Saturday, is the same day that the Love Won Conference takes place at the Central Church of God on Sardis Road. This is the eleventh year of the conference. Charlotte also hosted the conference in 2002 at First Baptist.

Love Won Out caters to GLBT people who want to overcome their sexuality as well as to family members of GLBT people. About 1,000 people are expected. Workshops topics include examining homosexuality, GLBT clergy, pro-gay theology and gay marriage.

No matter which side you agree with, the conferences will give you insight and likely challenge your own perceptions about sexuality and about faith. Ultimately, I hope they help individuals struggling to find peace within themselves.

It was encouraging to see such an even-handed report. The only element of the story that gave me pause was her use of the word abandon in her comment “Love Won out, by Focus on the Family, is part of the ex-gay movement in which people abandon homosexuality.”  With the word usually used to refer to something that a person has left behind but shouldn’t have (as in, abandoning a child), I was concerned that the Observer was slipping in an implied moral judgment on the subject.  According to thefreedictionary.com, the relevant definitions for the word are:

1. To withdraw one’s support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble.
2. To give up by leaving or ceasing to operate or inhabit, especially as a result of danger or other impending threat: abandoned the ship.
3. To surrender one’s claim to, right to, or interest in; give up entirely. See Synonyms at relinquish.
4. To cease trying to continue; desist from: abandoned the search for the missing hiker.

WIth the primary definition corresponding to my understanding of the word’s most prevalent usage, I asked the reporter whether she was using the word in a way that was more defined by the first definition, or the third definition.  She responded by saying “No. 3 – to give it up.”  It’s encouraging to see the local media being even-handed in their reporting.

Truth WIns Out

With a decidedly different approach to reporting, Truth Wins Out, a pro-gay organization that describes itself with the catchline “Fighting Right Wing Lies and The ‘Ex-Gay’ Fraud”, reported on the Love Won Out event as well as other homosexuality-related events on their blog here.  Their original post is reprinted below:

North Carolina, National Groups to Protest ‘Ex-Gay’ Road Show

Exodus International and Focus on the Family take their exgay-for-pay road show, “Love Won Out,” to Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 21.

The event is timed not to help Carolina ex-gays or their families, but instead to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship

The Charlotte Rainbow Action Network plans a series of events Feb. 14-21 to raise public awareness about the ex-gay organizations’ ongoing acts to divide families and churches and to replace school science lessons with sectarian religious rhetoric. Truth Wins Out is among the invited participants.

According to Q-Notes:

In his presentation, “Pray Away the Gay,” Besen will discuss the myths and lies of “ex-gay” organizations like Exodus International. The event will be held at 7 p.m. at Charlotte’s Lesbian & Gay Community Center.

A press conference will follow the next day. Media has been invited to the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Charlotte where Besen will unveil a new Truth Wins Out/Lambda Legal booklet “Ex-Gay & the Law.” The new publication offers resources for those who might have been victimized by unscrupulous “ex-gay” ministries and therapies.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, the grassroots group’s efforts will culminate in a non-violent, silent protest of the Love Won Out conference. Members and supporters will be present outside Central Church of God on Sardis Road from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other invitees for the events countering Exodus and FOTF include Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign and Faith in America, and local and state groups such as One Voice Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte, Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice, UNCC Pride and EqualityNC.

The section concerning the reasons for Love Won Out’s schedule were of particular interest.  Our February 2nd article “Love Won Out” and “Truth Wins Out” in Charlotte dealt with the timing of the events, and so I left the following comment on the Truth Wins Out article:

Your article states:

“The event is timed not to help Carolina ex-gays or their families, but instead to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship.”

Incorrect! I’m affiliated with the ministry of Dr. Michael Brown, a speaker at the event, and this is what we published on February 2nd concerning the two events occurring on the same date:

“In addition, the Human Rights Campaign will be holding their annual Carolinas Gala, featuring North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan as their keynote speaker, on the same day as the Love Won Out Conference (though it should be noted that the conference was not scheduled in response to the Carolinas Gala, in fact, neither Dr. Brown nor the other leaders from Love Won Out were even aware of the fact that the two events were scheduled for the same day until a few months ago, well after it was scheduled).”

Please correct this in your article.

Marcus French
Editor: Voice of Revolution

While the author responded with hostility in our back and forth conversation (you can read it here), he did change the section I called into question.  The section that had previously read:

The event is timed not to help Carolina ex-gays or their families, but instead to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship.

Now reads:

The event’s timing was suspicious, as it coincided with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship.

The section, while still getting across the point that the timing was “suspicious” (which is a feeling TWO is clearly allowed to have, though their suspicion is unfounded), no longer states that Love Won Out is more interested in raining on HRC’s parade than “help[ing] Carolina ex-gays or their families.”  It’s encouraging that, if only in this small way, truth really did win out on the “Truth Wins Out” blog.

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