The United States seems obsessed with cruising these days. Senator Larry Craig and Representative Bob Allen’s respective arrests this year have catapulted public sex into the public eye. What a perfect time, then, for Deseret News to feature Pride Counseling’s Healthy Self-Expressions program.
Sponsored in part by the Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Services, this five-week course educates men on the dangers and implications of cruising. As we’ve already seen, many cruisers identify as straight, yet continually find themselves drawn to anonymous homosexual encounters: a confusing internal conflict, to say the least. Pride Counseling’s Jerrie Buie explains:
There are so many layers to this issues. It really goes beyond a bunch of men looking for sex. People in this kind of culture really struggle with a sense of orientation.
Please tell us he’s making a bad pun…
While such counseling sounds good in theory – and also helps the men shed potential criminal charges – we can’t help but equate Buie’s program and controversial reparative therapy. Consider Buie’s proud proclamation:
We’ve been transitioning people out of this behavior. It is a permanent change in their behavior, and that’s the systematic win. Just because you have an attraction to men doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to those attractions. As a therapist I try to encourage people to be honest with themselves.
Buie further explains himself in this 2003 interview:
I try to put in perspective that, for whatever reason, homosexuality gets defined as purely a sexual thing. Socially, that’s where the emphasis is. What I try to do is, if you will, desexualize what it means to be gay. What I ask people . . . is ‘What are your values? What is your sense of who you are?'”
We’re a bit torn on this one, readers and would love to hear your thoughts. It’s worth noting, we think, that many of the program’s participants are Mormon.