Wayne R. Besen
Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Movement (2003)
Author: Wayne R. Besen
Genre: Nonfiction (Contemporary Issues/Politics and Government)
Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Movement is a piece of investigative journalism revealing the psychological damage done by so-called "ex-gay" groups such as Exodus International, Homosexuals Anonymous, and Love in Action. By interviewing members and ex-members of these organizations, and through personal accounts of his undercover visits to conferences and ex-gay ministries, Besen paints a disturbing image of the way reparative therapy never works, but only damages the people it is supposedly designed to help, and why non-members of the ex-gay community should care. Interspersed with candid descriptions of his own experiences undercover, Besen outlines in detail the history of the ex-gay movement, the history of the main personalities who run it, the flawed theoretical background behind it, and the political ramifications to the rest of America.
Geographical Setting: United States, some Britain
Time Period: Late 20th, early 21st century
Anything But Straight will appeal to readers who like investigative journalism, peppered with first-hand personal accounts. It will also appeal to readers who enjoy politically vindictive or activist writing, especially of the liberal persuasion. It may also appeal to readers who enjoy strong gay and lesbian themes, or the intersection of religion and modern social movements.
Read-alikes: Readers who enjoyed the first hand investigative techniques employed in Anything But Straight may also enjoy Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. Author Jessica Stern traveled the world to interview religious terrorists from Muslim, Christian, and Jewish backgrounds, and comes to the conclusion that religious terrorists share certain characteristics, regardless of their religion. Unlike other books on the topic of terrorism, Stern's work is pure investigation, with little rhetoric or diatribe. For readers who enjoy rousing political vindictiveness in their investigative journalism, you might try The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them, by Amy L. Goodman and David Goodman. Tackling a number of liberal issues, Goodman and Goodman expose how corruption is covered up by media conglomerates. Readers who enjoy the passionate and evangelical forward by Mel White may also enjoy Stranger at the Gate: How to be Gay and Christian in America. His memoir is a moving first hand account of the same Fundamentalist Christians Besen describes, from the point of view of a man who grew up in the Southern Baptist church, and was a ghost writer for Jerry Falwell for many years, before coming out as a Gay Christian. Readers interested in personal struggles with conservative Christianity may also enjoy The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd, the spiritual journey of a woman who left traditional Christianity and it's beliefs about femininity for the path of the "Sacred Feminine." Readers who enjoy the personal narratives, but also like Besen's activist spirit may also enjoy Families of Value: Personal Profiles of Pioneering Lesbian and Gay Parents by Robert A. Bernstein, which details the family life of both prominent and everyday members of the gay and lesbian community.
Red Flags: Contains Gay and Lesbian material. Discusses disturbing physical and psychological treatment of Gays and Lesbians. Critically evaluates Fundamentalist Christian groups.