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Sunday School: An Open Letter to Josh Weed

Dear Josh Weed:

I read your recent post about…well, I read your recent post, and have come to the conclusion that you’re kind of a douchebag.

Step into an analogy with me. All will become clear.

Let’s say that there’s an American-born dude who has felt all his life that he was French. He is not of French descent, nor of French colonial ethnicity. He does not speak French. Moreover, he refuses to learn French, or (heaven forfend) actually visit France. Yet he proudly identifies as French to all who will listen. Not only would such a person be incredibly tiresome, anyone who is actually French would be entirely justified in shunning or ridiculing him. Or, indeed, in considering him to be a douchebag.

I like to think that I don’t really give a fuck about ethnicity. I recognize that I have opportunities and privileges as an American that other people throughout the world don’t possess. And it’s no skin off my nose if someone from another nation decries my Americanness, or the Americanness of others, or rains down abuse on the American government. It doesn’t affect me. That’s what privilege means. But there are other parts of my identity that I don’t have the luxury of being so blase about.

I don’t begrudge you your same-sex attraction, Josh Weed, nor your lovely family. I’m not interested in policing how individuals self-identify, because that would make me a patriarchal tool and also an asshole. And unlike you rather uncharitably insinuated in your post, I don’t have any conceptual difficulty with a gay dude whose primary sex partner is a cisgender woman, either. But when you made that post with your professional credentials attached, your self-identification stopped being a personal matter, and started being a problem for everyone else.

Because when you say, “I’m gay,” you aren’t just announcing your attraction to other dudes. For better or for worse, you’re claiming solidarity with a community, and frankly? I don’t like you using my community to legitimize your life lived as a straight man. Tell me, what did it cost you to make that confession? Are you going to suffer any personal or social consequences for it? Do you have anything to fear, as a happily straight-married gay dude with three kids, who has a “robust” sex life with his wife, and who cleaves to a religion that says that the rest of us are all going to hell?

Somehow, I don’t think so. You’re no different from our hypothetical Francophile kook in a sea of American blandness, except you imagine you’re living some kind of “ideal.” You probably think you’re brave, but it doesn’t take courage to sublimate yourself to a religious dogma because you’ve been raised to be too afraid of the consequences of doing otherwise. Brandon at Towleroad said, “If he was an atheist or a Unitarian or a Buddhist who did that and wrote about it, he’d be proclaimed a bold sexual rebel”, but I don’t think that’s the case. Because if you were an atheist or a Unitarian or a Buddhist, you wouldn’t bother making grand announcements about it on the internet. You talk about how hard it is, making choices and trade-offs, but millions of people make those choices every day. The difference between them and you is that they don’t seem to expect a medal for it. Or their own solar system.

That’s why they’re regular human beings, and you’re a douchebag.

Warmest regards,
Rachel Clair

If you would like to submit a question to Sunday School, please use our contact form. We won’t publish your real name (unless you want us to), and creative pseudonyms get bonus points!

Featured image from Reuters, because I think it’s gauche to post pictures of people’s kids when you’re calling their parent a douchebag, the use of which term I will defend thusly: douchebags are noxious, unnecessary tools of the patriarchy that may cause yeast infections. Gender’s got nothing to do with it.

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QUICKIES 06/10/2012



Rachel is a queer lady from Texas who currently resides in southeastern Wisconsin. She studied history at Texas A&M University and has spent more time than she cares to admit arguing social justice with junior Republicans. She volunteers with Planned Parenthood and enjoys knitting, media criticism, and comic book slash fiction.


  1. June 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm —

    Are you as equally upset that I identify as gay although I’m asexual? If not, what is the difference?

    • June 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm —

      Because “asexual” and “homoromantic” aren’t opposites.

      • June 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm —

        Not only that, but you being asexual and gay does not have the same social implications as this person’s post does. Skim through the comments over there. (Religious) People are going to start thinking that this is something that all gay people should/can do. There are discussions there about how this will help defend “traditional” marriage. This guy’s post is detrimental to gay men specifically and queer people generally. He’s a hypocrite and a self-righteous ass.

    • June 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm —

      I think this is one where you need to read (or at least skim through – it gave me too bad a taste in my mouth to read it all) Weed’s post to understand where this one is coming from.

      The problem isn’t that he’s a gay man happily married to a woman, it’s what Will described – the fact that his post is presenting his situation as something that ALL gay people can and should do, and that not doing so is sinful. At least, that’s what I got out of it – please correct me if I’m wrong!

  2. June 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm —

    *Applause!!* Perfection, my friend.

  3. June 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm —

    Dude. I don’t think he’s using the gay community to legitimize living as a straight male.
    I think he’s a dude making different decisions than we might.
    The fact that his experience doesn’t make sense to us or makes us fear what other religious people will do with it doesn’t make him a douchebag.

    Maybe he should be more conscious of what this could mean for the gay community. But he does try (in his #8) and is very clear that no one should feel pressured to do anything they don’t feel is right for them.

    • June 11, 2012 at 12:08 am —

      That’s all well and good, except that it’s in direct opposition to what his church teaches and does. So it makes him a hypocrite to advocate that while he’s a member of an organization that seeks to oppress queer people.

      • June 11, 2012 at 11:03 am —

        He’s actually right in line with what the church teaches.

        • June 11, 2012 at 11:26 am —

          Hmm, let me clarify. The assertion: “But he does try (in his #8) and is very clear that no one should feel pressured to do anything they don’t feel is right for them.” is in direct opposition to what the Mormon church teaches. That’s what makes him a hypocrite.

  4. June 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm —

    wow, thank you for bringing our attention to this; it’s kind of ridiculous. so many problems, where to begin.

    first of all, his statement that his choice isn’t the only valid choice, that he sympathizes with gay people who choose all different routes, is more than a little at odds with his affiliation with a church that says everyone who makes a different choice is going to Hell.

    secondly, those “difficult decisions” gay people have to make? most of those are not inherent to homosexuality but are the direct result of public attitudes and public policy that come about due to *churches like his*. when his associate the lesbian therapist probably couldn’t see her daughter (and yes, that’s her *full and unqualified daughter*, thank you) because the LDS church just backed an anti-adoption rights bill, he’s got a lot of nerve to say anything about her family.

    thirdly, i did not find his wife’s statement encouraging. in fact, both his words (“who will i marry if not you?”, “am i worth it?”) and his actions (dating her best friend??) seemed downright manipulative. and that’s the side of the story she *wanted* to tell.

    fourthly, being a “traditionalist at heart” does not give you license to decide what forms of family are “ideal” and which are not.

    finally, i do not appreciate his insinuation that the only reason anyone would disagree with his stance was that they had been personally hurt by someone like him. what a tired form of dismissal.

    so yeah, overall, not impressed.

  5. June 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm —

    I don’t think that analogy is apt at all. It’s more like a guy who has French descent who identifies as French despite having no real cultural connection. Maybe that’s douchey, but he is, after all, French.

    Like Will, I’m apalled by the reactions where people uphold Weed as someone to emulate, but what is a person supposed to do when their story is politically inconvenient? Lie? Hide? Many of our stories have some politically inconvenient facts–stuff that on first glance gives our opponents ammunition. And no matter how much we explain it, we can’t entirely control bad reactions. (Also, bloggers have no idea when a post will go viral.)

    I think the real problem is that Josh Weed does not make a satisfactory effort to curb bad reactions. Well, he’s Mormon, believes in Mormon doctrine, and is talking to other Mormons about homosexuality. Yeah, there’s just no way. At best he can say something incrementally better than Mormonism, but profoundly inadequate by any reasonable standards.

    My favorite part is where he says SCIENCE! tells him he is having the very best sex.

    • June 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm —

      i think perhaps you’re taking too much for granted here. he didn’t have to make the life choices he did in the first place, he didn’t have to remain affiliated with the religious tradition he did, and finally, even if he felt the need to do those things, he didn’t have to go public about his story (there’s a difference between talking about your experience with a few friends and sharing it with all the internet). i have a bit of basic sympathy for him in that he obviously faced some difficulty being gay in the church he found himself in, but my sympathy stops when he publicly promotes views that can have disastrous effects on the lgbt community.

      • June 11, 2012 at 4:38 am —

        I’m not defending the guy’s life choices.

        • June 11, 2012 at 10:52 am —

          ok, but that *is* the reason he has a “politically inconvenient” narrative, isn’t it?

          • June 11, 2012 at 11:44 am

            It’s the guy’s life choices and his attempt to be a role model that make him indefensible. Not the mere fact that his narrative is inconvenient, even if the latter is a consequence of the former.

    • June 11, 2012 at 12:04 am —

      A person who has French ancestors but who has no cultural connection to France is not French. French *is* a cultural identity, not a biological identity. Just ask people in France how they feel about Quebec. =P

      I think the analogy fits fine. No analogy is perfect, but it gets her point across well, which is: Josh Weed is an ass. Also, it’s not just politically inconvenient. It can have real consequences for queer people’s lives, just as his church’s actions have. He is complicit in queer oppression by remaining a member of that organization, and proclaiming himself gay while living an otherwise perfect heterosexual Mormon (read anti-gay) life is offensive.

      Coincidentally, this is definitely very close to the scenario I was thinking about when I responded to Bip’s AI the other day.

      • June 11, 2012 at 5:18 am —

        I simply don’t agree that he is living a perfectly heterosexual life. He lives a homosexual’s life, by virtue of him being homosexual and it being his life. I don’t understand why it is even necessary to question the identity. Is it unimaginable that a gay man can be an ass, and complicit in queer oppression?

        I’d rather that we criticize him for the right reasons and in the right ways, because the wrong reasons and wrong ways are messy about who they target. I’m coming from the ace community where counter-orientation relationships are common, and identity policing is a big problem. Where specific internal feelings matter, not just who you happen to be in a relationship with. Where people are told to keep quiet, because aces are so obviously going to step sexual liberation backwards. Where people can be ignorant asses too, but you got to learn to pin them on the right things!

        I don’t even know what this says about bisexuals in male/female relationships. Does that mean they can’t show solidarity with the gay community either?

        • June 11, 2012 at 8:02 am —

          You just reminded me of one of the biggest problems I have with the Third Wave, namely: is every choice that a woman makes feminist, just because she is a woman making a choice?

          And it’s not his personal identification as gay that I have a problem with. It’s his posting about it from a place of authority as a therapist and holding it up as some kind of “ideal.”

          • June 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

            “Every choice a woman makes is feminist” is to “Every choice a gay man makes is pro-gay” as “Every choice a woman makes is a woman’s choice” is to “Every choice a gay man makes is a gay man’s choice”.

            Questioning the guy’s identity is a view I attribute to Will, not you Rachel.

          • June 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

            Ding ding ding. This, folks, is a winner.

            I don’t have to accept that this person lives a “homosexual life” (whatever that means) just because he claims to be attracted to men. It almost comes across as an appropriation of an identity on his part. If he is attracted to men, fine, who am I to say that is not true? I question his identity as “gay” (which is more than just attraction) because it all seems so fake and hypocritical. You don’t get a free pass for membership in an oppressed group when you are actively acting in ways that further the oppression of that group.

            This is not about bisexuals or asexuals. This is about a self-righteous man claiming to be gay while living the ideal straight Mormon life. I really wish people would stop trying to make this about bisexual/asexual people. If he had come out as bisexual, I would not have any problem with what he’s saying, but that’s not what happened.

            You want some specifics of how he’s a self-righteous hypocrite? Here, let’s see…

            I believe the doctrine of the Mormon Church is true. One of the key doctrines of the church is that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Another is that “children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” These are things I personally believe.

            But then he says:

            I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.

            BUZZZZ. These statements are contradictory.

            Here’s some self-righteous bullshit:

            Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love.

            Sex is not about intimacy or love for every person. For many people it’s a hedonistic pleasure exercise that has nothing to do with being in love. But, you know, this is a “lesson” that he has to teach us! This is patronizing, self-righteous, and it’s hypocritical because he’s sitting there blaring out all of these “truths” and telling people not to judge him but he makes no room for anyone else’s “truths.”

          • June 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

            And you know what? I am perfectly comfortable with questioning this guys’ identity. Identity is not just some personal individual thing. It consists of cultural and social traits, too. I don’t get to claim that I’m a transsexual black woman just because I feel like that deep down inside while continuing to live in every other way as a cis white man. Are you telling me that if I claimed that that you would not question that claim??

          • June 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

            In response to what Will said (“If he’d come out as bisexual, I wouldn’t have any problem with what he’s saying”) – as a bisexual, I would! I (and I’m pretty comfortable saying, probably ‘we’ as well) don’t want him, either, because his self-righteous attempts at communicating an example of the “virtuous” way to deal with a queer identity are detrimental to all of us.

            The whole article made me pretty nauseated.

          • June 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

            Sexual identities are about social and cultural traits. They are also about internal feelings. Words are polysemous.

            I totally agree that Josh Weed was being self-righteous and hypocritical. And he’s upholding himself as an authority and role model where he’s shouldn’t. This would be sufficient to condemn him, whether he were straight, gay, asexual, or bisexual.

            The fact that his identity only relates to internal feelings and not his lifestyle is not sufficient to condemn him. I bring up asexuals and bisexuals because they are examples of identities where sometimes they’re just about internal feelings, and yet are still incredibly important. I see you arguing that his internal feelings are not important. I get the impression that you refuse apply the same argument to asexuals and bisexuals simply because you consider yourself an ally, not because you have any real understanding.

          • June 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm

            Hi Miller,

            Sexual identities are about social and cultural traits. They are also about internal feelings. Words are polysemous.

            That was my point to you. I said: ” Identity is not just some personal individual thing. It consists of cultural and social traits, too.” I don’t know why you’re saying it back to me?

            I totally agree that Josh Weed was being self-righteous and hypocritical. And he’s upholding himself as an authority and role model where he’s shouldn’t. This would be sufficient to condemn him, whether he were straight, gay, asexual, or bisexual.

            We agree here. But sufficient does not mean we have to stop there. 😉

            The fact that his identity only relates to internal feelings and not his lifestyle is not sufficient to condemn him. I bring up asexuals and bisexuals because they are examples of identities where sometimes they’re just about internal feelings, and yet are still incredibly important. I see you arguing that his internal feelings are not important. I get the impression that you refuse apply the same argument to asexuals and bisexuals simply because you consider yourself an ally, not because you have any real understanding.

            So, you didn’t answer my question: “I don’t get to claim that I’m a transsexual black woman just because I feel like that deep down inside while continuing to live in every other way as a cis white man. Are you telling me that if I claimed that that you would not question that claim??”

            I have never said that his internal feelings are unimportant. I said that internal feelings are not the be-all-end-all of identity. I don’t at all agree that being bisexual or asexual is “sometimes just about internal feelings” anymore than being gay or lesbian is. Sure, that’s a really important aspect of it, but it’s not the only important aspect of it. There’s a disconnect between how this person feels and how they are expressing the already existing social identity they are claiming to be a part of.

            Is it your argument that it is never appropriate to question a person’s identity? Even when their behaviors are the exact opposite of the identity they are claiming? Do you think it is fair to other people with that identity? Does this mean he gets to use reclaimed gay slurs while living and promoting a heteronormative/heterosexist life? Where do you draw the line? And, again, are you saying you would not question me if I claimed to be a transsexual black woman?

          • June 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm


            Fair enough! =) The reason I said I wouldn’t have a problem with it is because it’s not necessarily out of the question for a bisexual man to live in a heteronormative relationship and have a “robust” sex life with a woman.

            I might be a little more ??? at the robust sex life part if he was claiming asexuality, though. But your point is well taken.

        • June 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm —

          This dude looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and then claims to be a goose, while engaging in behavior that disadvantages geese in favor of ducks. Geese are justified both in being pissed off that he’s calling himself one of us and in questioning his motives for doing so.

        • June 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm —

          i have to admit i winced when he made that point about living a homosexual life by virtue of his homosexual identification. because it immediately occurred to me how important it sometimes is, for instance, for a pre-medical-transition trans woman to feel able to describe her body as female, or vice versa for a trans man. i felt really uncomfortable that Weed was using the same line of reasoning. i’ve decided after some thought that the situations aren’t really parallel because there aren’t comparable social consequences to trans people renaming their bodies. but i sure as hell hope that no one becomes prone to dismiss cases like that because of cases like the Weed’s.

  6. June 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm —

    also, i love your definition/defense of “douchebag” 🙂

    • June 11, 2012 at 8:01 am —

      Me too. I’m so incensed by everything else that I’m just going to comment on that. It’s also great to apply to anything that oppresses women.

  7. June 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm —

    So… I couldn’t actually make it though Weed’s entire post. I honestly tried, but it was too nauseating and frankly LONG AS HELL. Seriously, how many ways can you re-phrase the same self-righteous bullshit?

    Anyways, I just thought I would mention two things.
    1) Your post was very well written Rachel!
    2) This article is the second result when you Google “Josh Weed”, right under the offending post itself. So, congrats! 🙂

  8. June 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm —

    Will, I know of no reasonable definition by which you could be black or transsexual, unless there’s something you’re not telling me about yourself. If you deeply felt that you were a woman, though, there is a reasonable definition by which you’re transgender, regardless of whether you pursue transition. Similarly, there is a reasonable definition by which a man who is attracted to men is gay.

    I don’t think questioning identities is wrong in all circumstances (I had even suggested several concrete situations in response to Bip’s AI). But I believe in questioning identities when they are inaccurate by reasonable definitions. Inaccuracy is a totally separate issue from whether a person’s politics are disagreeable. I would like to be able to call out gay leaders on homophobic statements without insinuating that they are not gay. I would like to be able to help people find the best identities for themselves without insinuating that they are traitors.

    Even when their behaviors are the exact opposite of the identity they are claiming? Do you think it is fair to other people with that identity? Does this mean he gets to use reclaimed gay slurs while living and promoting a heteronormative/heterosexist life?

    Gay people can engage in self-repressive behaviors and still be gay. They can be unfair to other gay people and still be gay. They can abuse reclaimed gay slurs and still be gay.

    I don’t at all agree that being bisexual or asexual is “sometimes just about internal feelings” anymore than being gay or lesbian is.

    With all due respect, you’re doing that thing where you tell me what you think my experience must be like. All that matters is that internal feelings are important enough to merit an identity.

    • June 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm —

      Clearly we have very different ideas of what constitutes “reasonable.”

      I do not think it is reasonable to claim that the social category of “gay” has no relevance to a person’s identity. Your assertion that the most important aspect of claiming a gay identity is attraction is just unacceptable to me.

      I do not conflate same-sex attraction with “gay.” Perhaps that’s also where we differ. People can have same-sex attraction or engage in same-sex behavior and not identify as “gay.” Similarly, you don’t get to claim membership in a social category (“gay”) if your actions are in direct intentional opposition to that category (heteronormative/heterosexist/homophobic).

      Ultimately, I guess I just completely disagree that Josh Weed is using a “reasonable definition” of “gay.”

      Gay people can engage in self-repressive behaviors and still be gay. They can be unfair to other gay people and still be gay. They can abuse reclaimed gay slurs and still be gay.

      I don’t disagree and I’m not really debating that. And I’m not saying that Josh Weed doesn’t believe he’s gay. I’m saying I don’t buy it. To me, he is attracted to men but does not come anywhere near fitting into the social category of “gay.” It’s my opinion and I own that. There is not some objectively correct answer here. It’s fine if we disagree, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.

      With all due respect, you’re doing that thing where you tell me what you think my experience must be like.

      Uh, I’m not telling you what your experiences are like. I’m telling you that you don’t speak on behalf of all LGBT people. Neither do I. But if you think the totality of an identity is internal feelings, then I think that’s a super-duper narrow definition of identity that I cannot agree with.

      All that matters is that internal feelings are important enough to merit an identity.

      And this is where we disagree. Identity cannot exist separate from social relations. Internal feelings are important for identity, but they are only one part of the processes that go into shaping an identity. I feel like you’re trying to ignore that “gay” is a label for a set of social relations in addition to internal feelings. You cannot separate those social relations out and say that a person who has only internal feelings is in the same social category.

      Finally, I wonder if you don’t feel that allowing anyone regardless of their situation to claim membership in an identity category doesn’t devalue that category? To have a man who actively works against my community claiming the same identity as me pisses me off and devalues my community. And this is coming from someone who is generally extremely open to and accepting of variation among people.

  9. June 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm —

    This argument is not very fun to me, so to prevent myself from commenting further I’m declaring this my last comment.

    • June 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm —

      Sorry you feel that way. I was genuinely enjoying the conversation. Being challenged to think through this is enlightening.

  10. June 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm —

    I like the way Diana Anderson puts it here:

    • June 15, 2012 at 12:37 am —

      Whew! Glad a straight person came along to let us homos know who we should allow in our community (apparently everyone). =P

      I am glad Josh Weed is happy. I don’t begrudge anyone that.

      I am not glad that the gay community is expected to accept him with open arms, and I resent the implication that *we* are the intolerant ones when we are resistant to a heteronormative/heterosexist person who is a member of a horrible religious organization that targets the queer community and who councils people with “unwanted same-sex attraction” for a living.

      • June 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm —

        If I had a quarter for every dude who has reacted to my criticism with a stern talking-to of the variety, “You just alienated an ally, missy!” I’d be able to do laundry for a year.

        The idea that they, not we, get to choose who our allies ought to be is just an assertion of privilege, nothing more.

    • June 15, 2012 at 10:13 am —

      Do you think that Christians are obligated to accept as a fellow Christian a person who professes a belief in Christ but has never read a bible, never gone to church, never received any sacraments, and would probably react with horror if you told them that they had to do those things in order to be a proper Christian?

      • June 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm —

        Or, how about a person who claims to be a Christian but goes to mosque, prays five times a day (and enjoys it!), and is a member of an anti-Christian organization?

  11. June 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm —

    Came across this today, and felt like I should share it here:

    A woman talks about how she was in a situation that was very similar to Weed’s. I think one thing we all sort of overlooked in all of these comments was how this might affect his wife and children in the future. This woman’s post is compelling and made me realize that I was not thinking about the personal implications for their family as much as I was thinking about the implications for the queer community.

    In short, I wonder how his wife can cope with being in a relationship where her husband is not at all attracted to her and knows nothing of how to sexually appreciate a woman’s body. I think Ashley’s post (the one I just linked) hits this point very well.

    • June 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm —

      I have a hard time feeling sorry for her, since she knew what she was signing up for her and is apparently pretty invested in defending her arrangement.

      • June 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm —

        Well, I think the post that I linked to explains that pretty well. There’s a certain level of delusion that has to be going on with Weed’s wife, and I am willing to bet that at some point it catches up and their marriage falls apart.

        Yeah, I am cynical about the stability and longevity of their marriage. =P

      • June 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm —

        I don’t think we can assume his wife is straight and therefore deserving of our sympathies for locking herself in the gilded cage of a celestial family.

        It could be that she saw this as an opportunity to live the straight life and get all the straight privileges (including, in the case of Mormonism, the ability to go to the best heaven; your husband needs to invite you!) without having to confront her own queer inclinations OR have enthusiastic sex with a dude. Win win!

  12. June 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm —

    Does it make any difference that some have claimed Josh Weed was probably an ex-gay reparative “therapist?”

  13. June 19, 2012 at 1:59 am —

    This is probably the first post here that I’m not very comfortable with, but I’m still not entirely sure why. I read -most- of Weed’s post, got stuck about 2/3rds of the way down, so maybe I’m missing all the good parts…?

    Weed’s “coming out” does make me uncomfortable, because I can definitely see him as the new poster boy for the ex-gay movement.

    But – and maybe this is because I haven’t thought through this very deeply – I get really nervous when people start to talk about what’s required to be a proper gay, because I’m gay and – other than same sex attraction – I couldn’t tell you what else “gay” means.

    When I was trying to figure out for myself what it meant to be gay, I borrowed a lot from history and from other cultures, taking “gay” to mean a WIDE range of activities, beliefs, etc, but many of the cultures that I look to as my “social ancestry” would look at MY lifestyle and think I was crazy. And if I were to share some of my kinks and most secret desires, I know that many people in my own culture and time would think that my desires don’t fall in line with a truly “gay” identity.

    For me, the fact that he is a man, attracted to men, who has chosen to live married to a woman, has kids, and has heterosexual sex which he enjoys…that is not problematic to me. At all. It’s not a life I would choose for myself, but I know some people who identify with the queer community but live lives that appear very heterosexual.

    I DO have a huge problem with his religious beliefs. I completely disagree with the idea that the only (or even most-) valued relationship is that between a man and woman. When I did sorta-kinda believe in God, the idea that some all-powerful being would play favourites with the people he himself created always seemed ridiculous to me, especially in the face of all that OTHER stuff where God’s supposed to love us all equally.

    But to me, that’s a completely different discussion than whether this guy is really gay. The subject matter is connected, but distinct.

    I guess where I’m uncomfortable with Queereka’s take (or at least Rachel’s and Will’s) is that the rejection of Weed’s self-proclaimed identity seems more motivated by a reaction to the political implications of his statements and not by the “truth” of them. I’m not convinced that he’s wrong to claim a gay identity.

    I think he’s wrong to make it seem like just anyone can or should try to live his life, that it’s as easy as choosing between a set of conflicting priorities (“Hmm, should I get laid the way I like it or should I spend eternity in God’s loving presence? That’s a tough one…..”). And because I’m NOT a theist, I find it impossible to sympathize with his pride and self-congratulatory attitude for believing a bunch of fairy tales so staunchly.

    I think there are vulnerable people who will listen to him and then suffer, maybe for their entire lives, for it, and probably bring down their families with them.

    But I can’t reject his right to claim to be gay if that is how he really feels. It sucks, but I can’t claim to be for diversity if I only accept things that are “diverse” in ways I can stomach.

    The problem isn’t with this guy claiming he’s gay, it’s with a culture of oppression that has perversely made this guy feel like the life he’s leading now is the best of all possible outcomes.

    • June 19, 2012 at 9:05 am —

      Marc, I know that these comments have meandered a bit, and I was honestly pretty mad when I wrote the post, but what I meant to be my essential point is this: Josh Weed, the private citizen, can identify as gay until the cows come home. Josh Weed, the priesthood-wielding Mormon and family therapist who apparently specializes in treating people with “unwanted same-sex attraction,” absolutely cannot expect the same degree of welcome.

      I agree that his narrative is politically inconvenient, but that is really, really not what I’m objecting to here.

      • June 19, 2012 at 10:22 am —

        Fair enough, I rambled too. I’ve slept on it, and re-read Weed’s whole thing. I can’t still pin down what’s wrong with it. His last section, especially, where he affirms:
        “You will never, ever give your gay loved one a better gift than to love and accept them for who they are, right now, no matter what, period.”

        Is the problem that he is expressing these beliefs on a (semi-)professional website? Is this a calculated Trojan Horse-type thing where he puts the nice “love thy neighbour” stuff upfront and then, once he gets the vulnerable folks into his practice he showers them with more efficient self-hating techniques? If that’s the case, then it’s wrong, for sure. But I can’t know that’s what he’s doing just from that post.

        If what he’s doing is genuine, if he’s being truthful in that post, and is not spreading the message that his lifestyle is attainable or anything -but- a “unicorn” life, and/or is preferable to other ways of exploring one’s identity….if that’s the case, then he’s just a person with an unusual lifestyle (that I could still call gay) who happens to be brainwashed by a dangerous and harmful religion. Who has possibly violated a professional ethics standard or something (I don’t know enough about the profession to comment).

        Really, I think his kind of life is a real one, and that he should be allowed to talk about it and share that experience with others.

        What I’d like to see is organized religions to stop being assholes to everybody that isn’t them, to stop spreading misinformation and lies about what is “natural” for humans and what is “best” for humans. My beef is with religions themselves, not with Weed.

        I’m not sure if I’m still missing the point, though. Have I been fooled?

        • July 20, 2012 at 3:01 am —

          Thanks, quietmarc, for basically typing out all the questions in my head whilst I was in the shower for me. I was dreading having to formulate it all in a coherent fashion that wouldn’t draw flames, because I really am curious about this.

          My initial reaction was “something does not feel right about that at all”, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he DOES say it’s not all to the good, but that was his decision nevertheless, and for hm, it is pretty alright overall. So the actual fact of his life, two consenting adults, blahblahblah, etc., it is really hard to come up with something legitimate to say against it. All I can say is that I CANNOT imagine even WANTING to do that. But then again, as a lifelong agnostic/borderline-atheist, I cannot even imagine what it is like to have a godlike-given truth to contend with. If he genuinely practices what he preaches in terms of non-judgment of others, i really can’t slam or even disagree with what he’s doing in his own life. I do however disagree with the fact that he says that being gay is lose-lose. I SO do not feel that way. The only thing I regret is how society treats us unruly, but I (luckily?) do not have a biological clock and have never and do not want children. So for me, there is no trade-off to be had.

          But then comes the question of global effect. I HATE above all that “they” (his readers) are praising that lack of backlash is a miracle, and that if people did speak out in criticism, why how little of them, but what could be expected. If everyone actually put into practice exactly what Weed says, I really don’t think the world would have a huge problem. I think a lot of the problem people are having with all this is 1) how other very intolerant and hateful people will take this and run with it to further their goal of converting EVERYONE, or 2) his public “coming out” so to speak, from his position of power/official-ness as a marriage counsellor.

          If we were to give him the benefit of the doubt though, and take all of what he wrote as genuine, and ignored for a minute what other people will do with his story, is it, on a theoretical/philosophical level deplorable what he has done?

          Every time I have a negative reaction to what he has said when I’m thinking about it, I try to turn it around immediately and think about it from the point of view that he REALLY believes this god business, so for him, that is probably not a truth he can just “choose”. And that to me is reminiscent of people expecting gays to “choose” their attraction. So I really am afraid of being a hypocrite by naysaying in reponse to Weed. Am I just doing what the religious right does by assuming a bunch of stuff about gays then judging/criticizing? Should we try to accept that people in the world are as different as all heck and that he is probably doing somewhat better in his life than people who live as proud members of the LGBT community but who have made terrible relationship choices (let’s be honest, not every gay relationship between gays is a fairy tale or even positive. We’re like straight people in that I have known loads of people in relationships that were just meh).

          Does it just bug us because WE would never want that for ourselves?? So many questions! What is going on! I want to be a more tolerant person towards religious people. That is my big challenge for this life I think.

          • July 20, 2012 at 3:03 am

            Argh “the only thing I regret is that society treats us *unfairly”. Stupid useless iPad.

  14. July 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm —

    I might be beating a dead horse here, but I just feel like putting in my two cents.

    First I want to say, Rachel, that from everything you’ve said, it looks to me like I feel pretty much the same way you do about it (I loved the “looks like a duck” comment), but it’s *very* hard to pin it down in words.

    I think it would be compromising essential principles to question his right to call himself gay, as a self label, or his coming out, as a matter of not wanting to hide any more. The problem I see is that he goes far beyond that, trying to use that label, and his coming out, as credentials to gain credibility with gay-affirming people. Their validity as credentials is what I see us questioning here, not his self-label.

    I see him doing two very different things at the same time, and what makes it so hard to process might be the way he has intertwined the two.

    1. He is coming out as a gay person. I think it would be compromising essential principles to cast the slightest doubt or aspersions on that. I think we need to applaud that, and rejoice over it, without interjecting any reservations at all about his identity. Anyone’s integrity in coming out as a gay person can be questioned, and I think we need to guard very carefully against that, not to exclude sympathetic questions about what a person means by that, or pointing out apparent contradictions in what he says and does.

    2. He is openly trying to use that label, and his coming out, as credentials to be accepted among gay-affirming people as one of them, which he clearly is not. Furthermore he is openly trying to use that privileged access to promote some purpose of his own, which to me is still far from clear and looks very suspicious and potentially harmful. In five weeks, and more than seven posts about his coming out and people’s reactions to it, he has yet to address fairly and squarely the concerns that have been raised repeatedly about cruelty and violence against gays, and about the harmful ways his story will be used. His only response to those issues has been to let his wife post a blatant and shameless flag-waving message stigmatizing all unfavorable reactions as un-American, and evidence of character defects.

    I feel like I still haven’t quite pinned it down, but the basic idea is that there are at least two different things going on here at the same time, and we need to embrace one of them while blowing the whistle on the other.

    • July 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm —

      I want to add that I see a potential in his story to help reduce prejudice against gays, and I’ve actually seen that happen more than once in the comments to his blog since he came out. That might actually be part of his purpose even if it is not his priority. That’s it. That’s another part of the puzzle for me. This story could do a lot to help reduce prejudice, cruelty and violence against gays, but I don’t see him using it that way, at least not as a priority.

    • July 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm —

      I’m still puzzling about what to do with Josh’s story. When I first saw it I loved it for its potential to help reduce prejudice against gays, and because it illustrates some ideas that I’ve seen sorely missing from Internet discussions about gay issues. I wanted to spread the story far and wide. Now I’m wondering if I want to tell anyone about it at all, because of its gay-unfriendly environment.

  15. July 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm —

    We might all agree that there’s something wrong with the picture we see in the Club Unicorn post, but I think we need to be very careful how we go about defusing this bomb, and not go recklessly clipping pulling wires.

    It seems to me that taking stabs at his gayness, or the healthfulness of their marriage, might be unfair, and blow up in our faces. Also I see a lot of good, and little harm, in most of what they say in that post.

    One place I see where some wires might need to be clipped is “But I want to point out that because I am gay, any lifestyle I choose is technically a ‘gay lifestyle.'” That’s an example of using his gayness as a credential. Even here we need to be careful, because he’s saying that in response to a question, and not necessarily in pursuit of an agenda.

    That’s as far as I’ve got in breaking this down. My recommendation for defusing this bomb would be to studiously avoid, or at least postpone, picking at the authenticity of the story itself, and at their motives and intentions, and zoom in on what they are actually doing with this story, regardless of what their motives and intentions might be. One example that I’ve already touched on is that one glaring feature of the comments is the popularity of ignoring, denying and whitewashing cruelty and violence against gays, and diverting attention from them; and ignoring the numerous fraudulent stories about gay men married to women, as possible reasons for unfavorable reactions to the story. Those concerns have been raised repeatedly in the comments, and the only response to them that I’ve seen has been to stigmatize them as un-American and evidence of character defects.

    • July 11, 2012 at 5:24 am —

      Don’t mind me. I’m just venting.

      Before I say any more, I want to put out my warning sign: I’m not trying to be anyone’s ally. I am trying to be gay friendly, but I’ve had feedback suggesting some major failures in that.

      I tried following my own advice about processing Josh Weed’s coming out, and it helped me a lot. I tried ignoring all my thoughts about his motives and intentions, looking at the system, trying to see what it’s actually doing. What I see it doing is promoting the idea that a marriage between a woman and a gay man can be as happy and healthy as any other kind of marriage can be.

      Fine. I agree with that, and I’d love to see it proclaimed far and wide.

      Another thing I see is that this idea is being promoted by a gay man who says he’s never been ashamed of being gay. There’s nothing in his story about homosexuality as a disease, disorder, or danger to society, nothing about trying to cure or change gays, nothing that says two women or two men who include sexual intimacy in their relationship are going to hell.

      Wonderful! Who could ask for anything more?

      Here’s the problem for me: When I first saw this, I imagined it was coming from a gay-friendly place (just like people imagine sometimes when they first see me), so I was all “Hey, let’s work together on helping to reduce cruelty and violence against gays, and counteract their effects.”

      Not getting any response to that, I looked more closely at the story and the way it’s being told. That’s when I noticed that the only response to vital concerns of gays has been to stigmatize the people who raised them.


      Going back to the question of the authenticity of his gayness, I can think of an example of how it might be authentic. Sometimes people start calling themselves gay based only on their experience of being aroused by people of the same sex instead of people of the other sex. Josh could have started out the same way. Even though he decided to deny those impulses and marry a woman, he never stopped calling himself gay.

      I’ll admit it doesn’t sound very plausible. He would be the only person I’ve ever heard of in that situation who kept calling himself gay. All the other ones I’ve known called themselves homosexuals, or didn’t label themselves at all. Still, it doesn’t seem impossible to me.

  16. September 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm —

    1. Your comment in your post, “and who cleaves to a religion that says that the rest of us are all going to hell?” is false.
    2. Did you read all of his blog post?
    3. Go to his blog and watch his videos if you want to know what kind of therapy he uses.
    4. He actually is really down to earth and a fun guy. I wish you could meet him. He is honest and real and telling the truth.
    5. He didn’t do this for a pat on the back and praise. He did it because he felt it was time to be true to himself fully and those around him. Also he is a counselor and does share his life experiences with his clients, one of them being gay. In order to prevent a uncontrolled coming out scenario they decided to announce it on their blog which already had about 450 followers and it exploded from there.
    6. I would encourage you to re-read his post and look into it farther, I think you will find it more difficult to be so mad about the situation.
    7. You should see our home video’s (I am his sister), those are proof enough that he is as gay as the day is long:D
    8. He is a good man, I hope you can see that someday.

  17. April 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm —

    […] Sunday School: An Open Letter to Josh Weed by Rachel Remember Josh Weed, the self-identified gay sex therapist in an apparently happy […]

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