Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

I read this bizarre story by Wayne Bessen at about an ex-gay camp where the guys participate in, among other things, blind-folded, naked hiking, beating a dead chicken while naked, and reaching out and grabbing your "brother's" dick. And yes, they use the word "brother". Sounds even wierder than the ex-gay, Brother Jeff story-line I wrote about a couple of years ago, starting in Troy 124 "Lay Your Hands On Me." And to think I was making it all up. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. And real Brother Jeffs and Brother Dicks are really, really scary!

Here's just a taste of the whole story:

The alternative publication, The Houston Press, uncovered a letter Michael Scinto wrote to the Madison County Texas sheriff's office, just prior to committing suicide allegedly as a result of the boot camp. The Scinto family has filed a lawsuit against The ManKind Project, while the deceased man's letter to the sheriff claims the New Warrior program practiced bizarre rituals that include:

Blindfolded walking tours in the nude

People blowing sage smoke in his face while 50 or so naked men danced around candles

Men sitting in a circle discussing their sexual histories while passing a wooden dildo called The Cock

Naked men beating cooked chickens with a hammer

In the Houston Press article, the wife of one of the men who attended discussed why her husband eventually rejected the group.

"So, everyone was sitting Indian-style in a big circle in the lodge when the man leading the group said, 'if you wish, you may reach over and grab your brother's dick. If your brother doesn't want your hand there, he can remove it.'”

Little Update:

Wayne Besen writes in that the New Warriors group is NOT ex-gay and does attempt or believe that one can change one's sexual orientation.

...New Warriors has a large gay following and many who attended consider it helpful to their coming out experience. I received more than 25 letters from gay men who said that the program helped them accept their sexual orientation.

“The program helped me become a better husband,” wrote another gay man from the Washington, DC area. “As I knocked down the walls, I became more comfortable with myself and able to give 100 percent to my partner. The program literally saved my relationship.”

So, is the ManKind Project’s New Warriors program gay affirming or does it cater to ex-gay fringe groups?

I posed this question in a conference call with the group’s Executive Director Carl Griesser. Well-known gay author Joe Kort - a vocal proponent of the organization – was also in on the conversation.

Griesser said he was troubled by the way ex-gay ministries had been promoting his group and that his organization did not support the ex-gay cause. He suggested they had misinterpreted what his group meant by instilling masculinity in men.

“There is a difference between masculinity and sexual orientation,” Griesser said on the call. He pointed out that almost every New Warriors training session has at least one openly gay or bisexual man.


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