Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Falwell's autobiographer

As soon as I heard that Jerry Falwell had died, I looked up his wiki entry to see if it had been updated... and of course it had been!! These people don't miss a beat, do they? Very sharp. Anyway, I picked up some interesting trivia there, something I didn't realize anyway.

Falwell's autobiography was ghostwritten by Mel White. Dr. White also ghostwrote books for Billy Graham and Pat Robertson. He is an evangelical clergyman who also happened to be gay, although he was closeted at the time. Although he was married, he began dating Gary Nixon in 1984 (his current life partner), and went through the gamut of snake oil offerings attempting to be "cured" of his homosexuality. From the wiki bio:
"He embarked on a long process of attempted "cures" for his homosexuality, including psychotherapy, prayer, Electroconvulsive therapy, and exorcism. None of these techniques changed his homosexuality, and after he attempted suicide, he and Lyla agreed to an amicable divorce."
It's heartbreaking that people are put through that kind of crap, isn't it? Mel survived that hideous journey with his sexuality intact, and (with Gary) went on to found the "Soulforce" organization. Here's their mission statement from that website:
"The purpose of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance."

Wherever you are on your journey of faith,
Whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity,
Whatever your religion, race, age, ability, color, or creed,
You are welcome to join us in learning, teaching, and applying
the 'soul force' principles of relentless nonviolent resistance
as taught by Gandhi and King
as we work together to stop spiritual violence
against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people
that flows out of the teachings and actions
of religious leaders and their communities of faith.
-The People of Soulforce

One of their projects is to help other unfortunate people who have had to endure the attempted "cures" that are imposed on people whose sexual orientation is thought to be everything from a disease to a demon possession... so even though Soulforce is a religious organization of sorts I have to admire what they are doing.

In 1997, the Rev. Dr. Mel White was awarded the ACLU's National Civil Liberties Award.

Falwell wiki
Mel White wiki
Soulforce website

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5 comments:

Peacechick Mary said...

I didn't know that! There is probably a lot about Falwell that we will never know and I hope we don't get any more information on that guy.

Mando Mama said...

Thanks for the story behind an unsung hero. The transformation this guy went through and how he put that into action is incredible.

I had forgotten some of the dumb stuff Falwell had rallied against. Like, teletubbies. Yeah, they're quite odd, but subversive? Give me strength.

Lynn said...

How difficult. Unfortunately those challenges are typical, as are the "cures" offered. Will we ever just live and let live?

LisaLesbian said...

Yeah, great post! I will tell all of my lesbian friends at the my blog page on LDate.com to have a
look at this. Thanks very much!

Pam said...

WOw. What a sad story. At least it seems to have turned out okay for him.

I had a gay student whose parents made him go through some kind of sexuality reassignment therapy. It didn't take, obviously. The young man just went through it to please them and the therapist told his mother that he was a lost cause and was going to hell. So his mom prays for him all of the time to try to keep him out of hell. His sister is a lesbian too. The parents are under the delusion that she just hasn't met the right man yet and try to set her up with men all the time.

What a better world it would be if we would all just accept people for who they are.