Mar 21

“Marlon Bundo”: Same-Sex Bunnies Vie with Pences

With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming children’s book explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different. Publisher blurb regarding Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

If you haven’t yet ordered your print copy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, you’ll have to wait perhaps a few weeks while it’s being reprinted—it’s already sold out! Since its publication date of March 18th! Not only that, it immediately hit number one on Amazon’s best seller list.

Sponsored by political comedian John Oliver, authored by a writer for his show, Jill Twiss (along with “Marlon Bundo”), and illustrated by EG Keller, this parody with a meaningful message “about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny” is a children’s book based on Vice President Pence’s real pet rabbit falling for Wesley, another male rabbit. And they want to get married.

There’s also an audiobook version with a stellar cast of readers: Jim Parsons,‎ Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jeff Garlin, Ellie Kemper,‎ John Lithgow,‎ Jack McBrayer,‎ and RuPaul. A stink bug (John Lithgow) opposes the rabbits tying the knot.

Check out either betterbundobook.com or focusonthefurmily.com (get the reference?) for details about purchasing. (Mike Pence is affiliated with conservative organization Focus on the Family.) All profits go to two different organizations that help LGBTQ folks, the Trevor Project and AIDS United.

The point, in case you haven’t yet heard, of the same-sex bunny book was to counter Pence’s views and actions against same-sex marriage and for conversion therapy by competing with the Pence family’s book, Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President. The latter, written by the Veep’s daughter Charlotte and illustrated by the Veep’s wife, came out a day later and hasn’t fared as well.

According to Wikipedia, the surprise release of John Oliver’s edition “sparked large numbers of reviews and comments on Amazon. While overwhelmingly positive, only a quarter were left by actual buyers of the book. A number of one star reviews with negative comments were left on the page of the Pences’ book by non-buyers, after which it was no longer possible to review the Pence book without purchasing it.”

Selected Amazon customer review excerpts of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo:

Yes, it took me less than five minutes to read it, and cost $12, but it is sweet, and silly, and has an AWESOME message, and the proceeds go to a great cause! Bunnies should marry whomever they want!

Jun 18

The Horrors of Reparative Therapy

I’ve heard that in the most recent season of TV’s American Horror StorySarah Paulson played a lesbian reporter who wound up being tortured by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), the unscrupulous manager of a mental institution. Among the crimes committed against Paulson’s character was reparative therapy using aversive techniques.

Unfortunately, in real life some who seek help for inner turmoil about their sexual orientation are subjected to this type of reparative, or conversion, therapy—a real horror show indeed. This remains an ongoing menace, despite the fact that most if not all reputable professional organizations in the field of mental health denounce it.

One of the long-time leaders in the “ex-gay” movement is the organization called Exodus International, led by its current president Alan Chambers. As Lisa Ling will report this coming Thursday on Our America with Lisa Ling (OWN), he now actually apologizes for his role in trying to convert gays and lesbians. Furthermore, he’ll be shown participating in a meeting in which he addresses a group of disgruntled survivors of such therapies.

More, from a Huffington Post article, about the survivors appearing on this show (“Special Report: God & Gays”):

Among them is Jerry, a former pastor who came out of the closet after a 26-year marriage; Sean, a Navy veteran who served three tours of combat before coming out in support of repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;’ and Christian, who Ling first met three years earlier when he was desperately trying to become straight.

With his wife Leslie at his side throughout, Chambers will face his critics and a pointed dialogue will emerge which brings the future of Exodus into question.

Apr 25

Adult Child of a Therapist: Father of (Gay) Richard Socarides “Cured” Gays

I don’t think my coming out to my dad was harder or easier than anyone else’s. I didn’t come out to the founder of conversion therapy. I came out to my father. Adult child of a therapist Richard Socarides, The New Yorker

Richard Socarides is an adult child of a therapist—he’s the son of Charles Socarides, the now deceased psychiatrist who famously advocated that homosexuality is a mental illness long after others concluded it isn’t.

One of the founders of conversion therapy, he laid claim to hundreds of successful “cures” via psychoanalysis. What was the so-called cause of homosexuality in these patients? An overbearing mother and an absent father.

Nathan Manske, the Director of I’m From Driftwood, a site where the LGBTQ community can read inspirational true tales, states, “While everyone’s coming out story is different, Richard Socarides’s might be one of the most unique.” It’s Manske who encouraged Socarides to reveal on video how he came out to his father:

Dr. Socarides died in 2005, never having backed down from conducting so-called reparative therapy. Below is an excerpt from an obituary written by his colleague Dr. Sander J. Breiner. This is available on the website of NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), an organization Socarides apparently co-founded in 1992.

As it became more and more difficult socially and professionally to explore homosexuality as an expression of unresolved conflicts, he stood even taller and more forthright in communicating his understanding. In the later years of his life when other psychoanalysts would reduce their activity, he increased his in this important therapeutic activity…

Thus, long past his son’s coming out and involvement in activism, including serving as advisor to President Bill Clinton on gay issues, Socarides had maintained his contrarian position.

Dec 13

Conversion Therapy Is Wrong: What Can Be Done

The following is not an isolated incident: A 17-year-old male in California finds himself some therapy to deal with being gay and is told he has a mental disorder. He’s then subjected to conversion therapy, a practice that is also known sometimes as reparative therapy and/or ex-gay therapy.

Five sessions later—sessions that involve disturbing things done in the name of therapy—he quits.

Now there’s a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on behalf of this ex-client and others like him. The SPLC website states: “People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation. The devastating consequences of conversion therapy are why the Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to ending this practice and defending the rights of individuals harmed by it.”

If you are an ex-gay survivor or know someone, you can go to the SPLC site and share your story confidentially. So far, SPLC’s in-depth investigation of this practice has found almost 70 therapists in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia who claim to offer reparative therapy.

Jun 11

A Therapist, Chana Wilson, Shares Her Story

When we think about people telling their stories, we don’t necessarily think of therapists being those people—isn’t it more about other people telling us theirs? But Chana Wilson is a therapist, and in her recent book called Riding Fury Home: A Memoir she has quite the story to share.

From the official book description:

In 1958, when Chana Wilson was seven, her mother held a rifle to her head and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed and she was taken away to a mental hospital. On her return, Chana became the caretaker of her heavily medicated, suicidal mother. It would be many years before she learned the secret of her mother’s anguish: her love affair with another married woman, and the psychiatric treatment aimed at curing her of her lesbianism.

Riding Fury Home spans forty years of the intense, complex relationship between Chana and her mother—the trauma of their early years together, the transformation and joy they found when they both came out in the 1970s, and the deep bond that grew between them…

The book’s website features some Q & A that includes the following quote from Wilson on the highly relevant issue of conversion therapy:

My mom’s story shows the anguish caused by psychiatric treatment that attempts to convert gay people into being straight. My mother became severely depressed by not being able to be her true self, to love another woman. My whole family suffered from her misery: Dad, Mom, and me. Sadly, some people today are still being subjected to therapy to try to change their sexual orientation.

Author Alison Bechdel, who’s also a lesbian and whose own recent book is also about her complex relationship with her mother: “Chana Wilson’s astonishing story is a hybrid of nightmare and fairy tale in which every child’s worst fears and fondest hopes about their mother come true.”

Other reviews:

Publishers Weekly: “From the horrors of her childhood in 1950s New Jersey to the liberating discovering of her sexual identity decades later, psychotherapist Wilson’s memoir is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting. Through sharing her personal tale of forgiveness and unconditional love, Wilson breaks the silence on the trauma of oppression and the ecstasy of self-acceptance.”

Dorothy Allison, author: “Chana Wilson has done a wonderful thing—putting on the page so much grief, fear, and stubborn awe-inspiring endurance…This is not heroes and villains, but a layered, intimate exchange in which it seems the child is never quite allowed to be a child—and yet still manages to hang onto a carefully constructed loving closeness.”

Curve Magazine: “This lovely memoir is a welcome resource for those with mental illness in their families, especially if they have to cope, as Wilson did, with caring for a difficult but much loved parent.”