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.

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  • Dick Mills

    I guess PFOX will need to change to PFOP?? PFrOP?? PFOPOG?? But, I still prefer the PFUX myself… They don’t stand FOR anything, they just want to FUX with us.

  • Randy Thomas

    There is a lot there that neither XGW or you have highlighted by Peter. He does a marvelous job of explaining post-gay from a Christian perspective.

    I did a workshop on it at the last Exodus conference but basically we don’t deny that “post-gay” is a secular term and describes a much larger cultural phenomenon. I always try to qualify that I am on a Christian post-gay journey. Our relational paradigm exists (and always has) outside of the alphabet soup of labels commonly attached to same sex attracted individuals who might identify with some aspect of gay culture.

    So, we aren’t trying to define it beyond what post-gay already includes. People who are Christian who are not defined by sexual orientation (regardless of whether that one aspect of their lives change or not) fit into the post-gay reality.

    We may come at it from a Christian perspective but we are just as “post-gay” as anyone who holds to an ideology not confined by the very limiting gay vs. straight paradigm.

    Post-modernism is a good example. We live in a post-modern world but what that actually means from person to person, community to community is very different except for the basis of living in a world that is no longer modernist. Post-gay is where Europe and America both are headed and it will mean very different things to the people in the culture except for the basis … we all are moving past a world limited by the gay/straight dichotomy.

    It’s my genuine hope this will generate more civil and honest dialog across the board.

    It might help to start things off by not calling me a twink ::: grin :::

  • dietrichfan

    I like the phrase ‘moving past a world limited by the gay/straight dichotomy’ but that dichotomy does still exist (though not in absolute terms) and will continue to exist for the next few, perhaps next 50 years, and may or may not be weakening. So I doubt if ‘post-gay’ can refer to anything real or tangible or meaningful in our culture. It may be a kind of utopia, and maybe it would be good, but it is not going to happen any time soon.

    I also do not believe we live in a ‘post-modern’ world. The term ‘post-modern’ was batted about a lot in the 1980s and 1990s – it strikes me as a very modern term. Just as ‘post-gay’ quite frankly strikes me as a term favored by people who do not like the reality, or the fact, of ‘gay.’ So I guess that means I am sceptical if not suspicious of the term ‘post-gay.’ It sounds like an agenda – though of course from another perspective it’s just a word, like ‘gay.’

  • Dan

    I mostly agree with dietrichfan, except i find post-gay an insult.

    It seems post-gay is used by people that can’t deny that they sleep with men but want to blend in with straight society.

    Instead of standing up for their rights to be themselves they are doing all they can to be accepted by self-rightous bigots.

    Seems that post-gay is like those celibacy clubs in America, lets deny sex is natural, lets pretend that it doesn’t happen, you can be flirty and provokative and do anything you like as long as you hold back just that little bit and deny like hell that you would even think about having sex.

    *I’m an australalian so i am only basing this on how its portreyed in the media as i don’t know the reality of the situation so my view is possibly a little scewed. All I know is that these clubs promote abstinance and an idea off no sex befor marriage and the statistics show it doesn’t work, hundreds of people get pregnant because they don’t know proper sex practices. It concerns me that post-gay might be the same thing, people can be camp and metrosexuals but we’ll still deny the bits that are “sinful”, and how many people have slipped and contracted serious STI’s because there is no education?

  • Cinci Chris

    Tomatoe, tamotoe. Just another coping mechanism of denial. How about instead of us adopting a fancy name change, Christianity changes a bit like it did to accommodate women’s rights and racial rights. I like that idea much better.

  • romeo

    That fellow’s obfuscation and benign self-righteousness aside, “Ex-gay” and “post-gay” are euphemisms for ANTI-GAY so far as Exodus is concerned. If it were not so, they would not be at the forefront for having our rights denied and repealed at every chance they get. Instead of being content to take that “journey” on his own, and minding his own business, he, and the rest of Exodus, want to force us all down that road along with them. Whatever solace and peace gay people find with each other, the essence of Exodus is the destruction of that in the name of Jesus. We have no greater enemy than these self-hating people because they represent what a large segment of the straight world would like to force us all to do. And Exodus certainly enables that whenever they can.

    That said, I can’t think of anything that would kill the hit count on a gay site faster than allowing it to become a sounding board for Exodus.

  • beets


  • me

    oh. it sounds like one of those fancy academic terms like postfeminism.

  • Dick Mills

    Postmortem, post apocalyptic, postpartum depression, post gay… all sound pretty negative (undesirable) to me.

  • merkin

    As I understand it, homosexuality is an illness or deviation that the sufferer must constantly fight, like alcoholism. Ask any alcoholic and they will tell you they will ALWAYS be an alcoholic, even if they never take another sip of beer. So, shouldnt these people be called gay?

    Also, I love the fact that Exodus’ Randy Thomas trolls Queerty. “I read it for the articles!”

  • jason

    I think we’ve lost the moral right to criticize Exodus International’s use of terms like ex-gay or post-gay. After all, it was we gays who re-defined words like gay in the first place. Face it, guys, we’re experts at doing this.

  • Eric

    Ex-gay, post-gay, whatever. They’re all really ante-gay: the period between being gay and being gay.

  • nikko

    RANDY THOMAS, spare me your verbal vomit of anti-gay christian nosense: you’re gay or bi. Jesus doesn’t change that. Civil dialogue? You’ve got to be kidding! It is christianity that demonized homosexuality to begin with and society has greatly suffered since to this day.
    And MERKIN, no homosexuality is not a n illness nor is it comparable to alcoholism. Why would you believe such offensive lie/ Do you go to Randy’s meeting?! Yuch.

  • terrwill

    “Post Gay” is what he refers to as the feeling after he was barebacked in some cruise area, where his kind go for their Gay sex because they can’t do it openly……………….

  • Emily K from XGW

    Thanks for quoting me here. Prof. Glen Reteif helped me understand the def. of “post-gay” greatly. Peterson Toscano has also written about the topic.

    And I couldn’t agree more with the “twink” classification. Randy has a severe case of “gay-face.” That boy will never ever pass for straight.

    People here might be resentful of gays who choose to go by ‘post-gay.’ (That’s their problem, not mine.) But the last thing we need is anti-gay forces like Exodus trying to usurp queer theory.

  • Emily K from XGW

    also, while I wouldn’t agree with No. 10 Merkin’s belief about homosexuality, he is technically correct that if ex-gays are going to equate homosexuality with something like alcoholism, they should go by just “gay” as alcoholics go by just “alcoholic.”

    and LOL @ his final sentence!!

  • galas

    well apparently you still cant have post gay face…so much for reinvention boys!

  • Mark from NM

    Amen Galas — this guy is so gay it’s hysterical!

  • Mark from NM

    @Randy, I wonder if that’s like str8 guys saying they get Playboy for the articles? Rich!

  • AxelDC

    Post gay is when you put your clothes back on, slink into your car, and sneak into your house and hope no one notices.

  • Matthew

    As an out bisexual person I have always had to choose my gay and straight friends(and lovers) wisely. Only in moments finding bisexual men in women in community until recently. I of course appreciate gay rights and worked in LGBT organization etc. But often found more acceptance in a liberal straight art world. There are a lot of gay bigots out there too. The Gay community has got to grow up in my opinion in regards to gay / straight dichotmy and not become sexual orientation policemen. I want the next pride parade to include a bunch of straight guys holding a sign that say “We are straight and we want Mansex… NOW!”

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