on language

What Does ‘Post-Gay’ Mean, Anyhow?


The recovering homos at Alan Chambers’ ever-expanding Exodus International, particularly vice president and chief twink Randy Thomas (pictured), are moving away from that negative sounding ex-gay to the term post-gay, which to us sounds like the post-Will & Grace era. But what does it mean to the ex-gay movement?

The term “ex-gay” has been all but forgotten at Exodus’ blog, notes Ex-Gay Watch, and in its place is “post-gay.” The move is bound to generate all sorts of confusion — at least among those who even know there are ex-gays bandying about — given everyone else’s definition of the term “post-gay,” which has more to do with abandoning “being gay” as a singular lifestyle identifier. It’s about ideology, not sexuality.

But as ex-gay post-gay Peter Ould noted in 2007:

I think the main problem with ex-gay is that it is an ontological statement. It presents, intentionally or not, the one who calls himself as ex-gay as one who’s sexual orientation has changed from gay to straight. He/she is claiming to have gone from one state of being (gay) to another (straight). And while that is the case for many who are ex-gay, for others it isn’t so clear. For some their sexual desires move more towards those of the opposite sex but not to a point where they are exclusively heterosexual in their attractions. That then raises more questions of an ontological nature – are they really “bisexual” (though one wants to ask where the bisexual/heterosexual continuum switches – 95% hetero, 96%, 98.64738%?) and not gay? Are they therefore lying?

Which has Ex-Gay Watch‘s Emily Kesselman arguing:

“[P]ost-gay” was coined to refer to an ideology that sees each sexual orientation – homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and asexual – as being equally valid forms of human expression, and therefor not worth segregating with labels. But Randy [Thomas], Peter [Ould], and Exodus couple the term with an ideology in which same-sex attraction is inferior to opposite-sex attraction, falling short of their Christian Biblical ideal – and in doing so they obliterate that inherent equality.

Us? We’re going to stick to using “post-gay” as a term to describe how a show like Glee can be on the air: Obviously a blindingly gay show, but operating in a world where camp is a character, and not always the narrator.