Opinion » Bill Cope

Rekers Wrecked

The right way to be gay


Here is what we know: George A. Rekers is 61 years old. He is a professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral science at the University of South Carolina. He is a Southern Baptist and has a theological degree to go with his Ph.D.

In 1972, when he would have been 24, Rekers developed a method of spotting what he called "gender disturbances" in children. Along with the arch-conservative James Dobson, he helped found the Family Research Council in 1983, and is considered within certain circles to be an expert on homosexual behavior. Until resigning this week, he was on the board of directors of the National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization that insists the use of something called "conversion therapy" can turn homosexuals away from homosexuality, especially if it begins at an early age. By his own admission, Professor Rekers has spent a great deal of time with children and adolescents who have exhibited "gender disturbances" in his efforts to demonstrate that budding gays can be turned to heterosexuality.

In 1989, Rekers co-authored a paper in which women working outside the home was called "bondage," that despite a few bruises and welts, Biblically prescribed spanking was not child abuse, and that morally, there could be only one definition of "family." In spite of the fact his teachings have met with objections from sources as diverse as the American Psychiatric Association, the Log Cabin Republicans and the ACLU, Rekers has been hired repeatedly to testify in legal cases as an authority on why homosexuals must be denied certain rights and privileges. A significant share of his income has come from fees charged to anti-gay adoption forces to show up in court on their behalf.

This month, a Miami newspaper photographed him returning from a 10-day trip to Europe in the company of a young man (age 20) he had hired off a website called rentboy.com. On that site, attractive men advertise themselves by posing with most of their clothes off. Some of them go so far as to show potential boy renters what their penises look like.

At first, Professor Rekers claimed he had rented "Lucien" (real name: Jo-Vanni Roman) to carry the luggage. Later, he added that he had spent much of their stay together in Italy filling the lad in on the glories of a life lived in the loving embrace of Jesus Christ—an embrace young Lucien could not possibly experience if he were to continue with his gay ways. Professor Rekers has spent decades warning people that homosexuality means an eternal separation from the Lord, so we must assume he explained to Lucien that he would not be going to Heaven if he didn't stop renting himself and his penis out over the Internet.

For his part, Lucien told reporters that he had given Rekers daily nude massages, and that judging from what he saw, he had no doubts Rekers is a homosexual.

Now, here is what we don't know: Might there be something about making a living as a Bible-spouting, right-wing, high-profile homophobe that encourages a certain variety of homosexual to take up that profession?

Or could holding the job of Bible-spouting, right-wing, high-profile homophobe somehow be compelling people already in that profession to turn gay?

And could either of those propositions suggest that the career choice of Bible-spouting, right-wing, high-profile homophobe is populated to some unknown degree by gays who refuse to admit their homosexuality even when they are caught red-handed? Could it even be that the entire field is so dominated by homosexuals, that it's hard to find a non-gay Bible-spouting, right-wing, high-profile homophobe in the ranks?

Certainly, many in the broader homophobe community will find it offensive that we are even asking these questions. But considering how many of their own number have been exposed as homosexuals, there is sufficient reason to examine the possibility that the Religious Right itself--what with all their Deuteronomy this and Leviticus that--is actually causing homosexuality among those paragons of self-righteousness who most fervently believe what they are preaching.

As we know, most gays honest enough to admit they are gay would insist that they were born homosexual, that they are as natural a part of God's Good Creation as flowers and florists. But what does Professor Rekers think, now that he's been caught in the biggest lie of his life? Or the Reverend Ted Haggard--the last associate of James Dobson to be exposed in the embrace of a male prostitute. When did it start with him?

Closer to home, Larry Craig? When and if the time ever comes that Larry turns to honesty, will he acknowledge that Nature made him what he is? Or might he credit all those years of being around--and taking an active part in--the jokes, the ridicule, the hatred, the recrimination, the legislation ... the damnation ... for flipping his gay switch to "on"?

Do we become that which we loath the most? Or do we loath the most what we've known about ourselves all along? And either way, how can any healthy mind spend a lifetime condemning itself? And ultimately, how many more children will be twisted by the likes of George A. Rekers before we can allow them to be what they are?

As the professor would agree, this particular "gender disturbance" may be a learning opportunity we can't afford to ignore.