Pray the Gay Away With Help from Apple

As an iPad user, I’ve found it useful as this amazing and beautiful piece of tech appears to give you access to the legendary iTunes Store. They have ‘an app for everything’ it seems: from document taking to video-watching, from a working guitar to a usable DJ rig. And yes, they even have an app to get rid of your pesky homosexuality.

There has been a lot of attention concerning Exodus International’s app which can helpfully get rid of your homosexuality as if it was just a character flaw or flu. Exodus International, says its official app page on Apple website, is a ministry “committed to encouraging, educating and equipping the Body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth.”

An online petition started objecting to the continued sale of the app. A friend pointed this out to me, given my own views regarding LGBT rights. The App has been Rated 4+, which means it does not apparently contain any objectionable content. In reply to this, Truthwinsout (the authors of the petition), say: “No objectionable content? We beg to differ. Exodus’ message is hateful and bigoted.” (Original emphasis). The petition then goes on to explain correctly that Exodus’ method of ‘treatment’, reparative therapy, has no basis in science at all. It is:

rejected by every major professional medical organization including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association.

It is therefore fulfilling of the definition of “bad medicine”. Perhaps we can call this homopathy?

The petition claims that the app is adding to the fervour of homophobia, especially in the wake of recent youth suicides because of the youths’ sexual orientation. Says the petition:

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their family were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).

According to Apple’s own policy, “Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm’s way will be rejected.”

The most powerful point the petition raises is that:

Apple doesn’t allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it is giving the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a ‘sin that will make your heart sick’ and a ‘counterfeit.’ This is a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences.

Aside from Exodus’ unjustifiable assertions of faith, dogma and bigotry that views homosexuality as something to be “repaired” or done away, we can target Apple in their own policies. They have to explain why this App is different from trying to cure, say, blue-eyes, darker skin or Semitic blood.

However, we must keep in mind the overarching goal in targeting Exodus and Apple. If the goal is to bring criticism to Apple for double-standards, not being sensitive to recent targeting of youths which could add to the climate of seeing homosexuality as a disease, then good. Then it means there is nothing special about the App, as it could be something like a fundamentalist television-series or newspaper article. We should and probably would make noises about it in these places, too.


Colbert get is right. Far, far right.

However, if the goal is about removing the program because it is offensive, then that is not good enough. After all, there are Apps designed for gay men and women which Exodus will obviously think are disgusting, wrong and so on. They would be offended too but the Apps are available; it doesn’t mean we are forcing people to own these Apps either way. Thus there are plenty of Christian television shows which show everything from curing homosexuality to forcing children to learn the Bible. If you don’t want to be part of it, don’t turn on the channel and don’t buy the book and don’t download the Exodus App.

Secondly, those who want to buy such an App are probably not the type to be persuaded by arguments raised by Truthwinsout.

I think we can probably formulate ways already suggested that makes this App somewhat different from things like Christian talk-shows and books, because the App appears to violate Apple’s own policy, potentially adds to climates of intolerance which results in death and suffering, and is not being challenged by Apple unlike other things like racism and Anti-Semitism, with which it can be grouped. Yet, we must not lose ourselves too much in opposing this App. Let’s not rest it on things like “its bigoted” or “it’s disgusting” without qualifying what we mean and also being careful of being consistent that we keep up the effort of defending our gay brothers and sisters, just as we should for all other oppressed groups.

Remember, offense is a pendulum that swings both ways and that’s why it doesn’t make for a good argument. I do wonder though if the reason the App is targetted is good enough: since there might be plenty of things that fulfill the same calibre of properties to protest in defence of LGBT rights or any oppressed groups. Just because something like this App is in the public platform does not necessarily make it more dangerous or worth criticising than a sermon delivered by a powerful pastor to a flock of several (hundred?) thousand saying: men must be in charge of their households, that women are the property of their husbands, or that the Japanese deserved the natural disasters.

Is there more to be said? Certainly. But I think for parsimony’s sake, we might make noises where it is easier to add to a growing voice on a particular topic. We must just be aware of whether our goals are consistent and aren’t arbitrary: Why target an Apple App as opposed to the top-grossing, best-selling book in the world which says gays are worthy of death numerous times. We can safely say more people have read Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” – than have even heard of iTunes. That is all I mean by being aware. This does not mean we should not petition Apple but we must keep our goals in perspective, constantly.


4 thoughts on “Pray the Gay Away With Help from Apple

  1. Tauriq,

    Generally, sexual orientation is not susceptible to change through any kind of therapy. But there is one exception to the issue of changing homosexual behavior (not orientation) through therapy.

    It is not uncommon for victims of child sexual abuse to identify with their abuser. When the abuser is the opposite gender of the victim, the sexual preference of the victim, in adolescence and adulthood, may be take the form of ‘homosexual’ (same sex) behavior. This is a matter of identifying with the abuser, and then seeking the same gender that the abuser prefers.

    A girl who is abused by her father, may find herself seeking female sex partners because her father preferred female sex partners. So one might observe homosexual behavior in an abuse victim, or even bisexual behavior. This victim is very likely to stop ‘homosexual’ behavior when the appropriate insights are achieved in therapy.

    However, if the victim’s basic orientation is homosexual, then no amount of therapy will change that. It may be that ‘success’ cases in ending homosexual behavior through therapy are really successful treatment of identification with the opposite gender abuser. The issue is more complicated that most people can anticipate.

  2. A story (fiction) on that subject on the excellent ex-Chasid website – Plans of the Heart.

    Any empirical studies on that, though? If a naturally gay person is abused by an opposite-sex adult as a child, will he have inappropriately heterosexual behaviors later on? How can you tell the difference between true sexuality and abuse-onset sexuality?

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