Monday, June 18, 2007

Pride in Connecticut

I spent part of Saturday, a beautiful day here in Connecticut, at the local Pride celebration on the grounds of the local Episcopal Church. It was great to see the rainbow balloons stretched out at the end of the town green, and I smiled as I mingled, thinking about how far even my town has come on these issues. The celebration was low key, filled with families with children, local politicians and church leaders, teenagers to grandparents. I thought of Holly Near singing "We are straight and gay together..." and indeed we were.

I thanked the priests from the local church for sponsoring the event this year. (You could pick them out by their vestaments; I on the other hand was wearing a tunic, leggings, and flip flops on this hot summer day. I'm not sure people believed me when I introduced myself as Rev. Haffner!) As you know, the national Episcopal Church is struggling so with sexuality issues, and this church on the green was definitely taking a position bigger than our town.

How healing though to have church sponsorship for this event, when so many GLBT people still carry the wounds from their religious community. In fact, next week, Soulforce and Beyond Ex Gay are sponsoring the first "Ex Gay Survivor's Conference" in Irvine, California, for people who have undergone so called "reparative therapy" to become heterosexual, therapy that is often encouraged by religious leaders. I have had the privilege of hearing heart-wrenching stories of these experiences by people who have now fortunately found their way to religious homes that affirm their sexuality. If you go to the conference, we'd love to hear a report.

I couldn't wait until tomorrow's blog to share this. Abstinence only proponents once had T shirts that said "Pet your dog not your date." But they have come up with a new product. Here's a blurb from their latest newsletter: "There is nothing wrong with saving sex until marriage. In fact, there are millions of people worldwide who are making that commitment. Check out our No Trespassing Underwear and take your stand for abstinence; even if you are the only one that sees it." I'm not making this up. I'm not giving you the link, because I don't want some of the folks who oppose my positions but read me regularly to support this effort. You'll have to google it yourself.


Anonymous said...

I'm not giving you the link, because I don't want some of the folks who oppose my positions but read me regularly to support this effort. You'll have to google it yourself.
Reverend Debra, I'm sorry, but this really made me laugh. It reminds me of my Mom who hid my thesis on Rousseau's Social Contract because she didn't want my brother, who is an Atheist, to be further influenced by secularism. No matter that it was actually a critique of Rousseau's position about the state and nature of man. Even it hadn't been, the action was just plain silly.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the kind words about the Ex-Gay Survivors Conference. You probably have already noticed that two of the three of us behind the Beyond Ex-Gay web site are your neighbors here in Connecticut.

We're excited to be approaching the conference date. As mentioned on our home page, articles have been published in the last couple of days by the LA Times and Orange County Weekly... it feels good to be planning an event that goes beyond simple (though still essential) protest of the ex-gay movement to promote healing for the those who have been hurt by it.

Take care...

Jerry, Irvine, CA said...

Thanks so much for bringing the Ex-Gay Survivor's Conference to your Reader's Attention. I attended an Exodus International Conference for "Ex-Gays" 19 years ago in Los Angeles (June 30-July 4, 1988) as I was still struggling trying to reconcile my faith with my sexual orientation. It is Ironic that nearly 20 years later Exodus is having their conference in the town where I have lived for the last 18 years since I have recovered from the "ex-gay" movement. As Exodus descends on Irvine, CA for their conference of false hopes and misinformation, judgment, shame and guilt... The EX-GAY SURVIVOR'S CONFERENCE WILL BE just a mile away offering HOPE, TRUTH, PEACE, God's LOVE and Real Acceptance to all of God's children just as we are created.
The conference is not only for Ex-Gay Survivors, but for friends, family, spouses and other Allies as well as Clinicians who work tirelessly to repair the damage done by these misguided "reparative therapist" for those who do manage to survive without committing suicide.

The Conference is very inexpensive only $40 and registration is available online at either or ….Friday and Saturday night's entertainment is free and open to the public--but conference registration is recommended... Please go to the websites to check the schedule. There will be many great speakers, and entertainers, including Mel White and Jason & DeMarco.
Thanks again Debra for promoting this important, life-affirming and life-saving conference.
Love & Hugs,
Jerry Lail
Irvine, CA

Anonymous said...

You don't think abstinence is okay for those who want to practice it? You agree that it's a ridiculous thing to choose freely for oneself? Or you just think it's stupid to put a message about it on your own underwear? Is it stupid to put sexy, come-and-get-it messages on your underwear? Or is that okay because it might get someone hot and ready for sex and that's the goal here - recreational sex any time any where? I thought I read in your document something about sexual responsibility...isn't abstinence a part of "choice"? If you can't choose to be abstinent (and maybe have a little fun and humor with it), do you really have a "choice" about sex?

You think it's okay to market underwear and t-shirts that say crude things but messages that support those who choose abstinence are stupid and "shouldn't be supported"?

I think the underwear idea is stupid too but I don't think it's the dumbest or most offensive thing I've ever seen put out there to make money.

I agree with the commentator quoted in the Fox news article (I know, you wouldn't have read that either...):

"On the one hand, I think recognizing that our clothes tell stories about us and thinking intentionally about what stories we want to tell is wise and generally right on," said Winner, a 28-year-old evangelical Christian. "On the other hand, I think the relationship between advertising, consumerism and exploitative sexuality is insidious. I wonder if the WaitWear line cedes too much to a culture that wants to turn our very clothes and bodies into billboards and ads."

Winner also thinks we have to be more straightforward with kids about how hard it is to refrain from sex.

"I think we have to engage today's teens where they are and stop cloaking our chastity talk in euphemism. Teens today are edgy and cagey and are wise to spin," she said. "We have to be willing to speak honestly about the real challenges they may be facing in their attempts to live chastely."

Abstinence is not stupid. It may not be easy - and I sure wouldn't buy underwear with that - or any - message on it. But it's not stupid. In fact, it's good and right and healthy for a whole lot of folks.

Debra W. Haffner said...

Cassandra, I was being sardonic. And Pam (assuming you are the Pam who comments regularly) YOU know that I support teaching teens about abstinence. In fact, if people look at our Open Letter on Adolescent Sexuality, you will see that it is the position of the Religious Institute ( to support young people delaying sexually intercourse. I was pointing out the irony of underwear that says No Temptation and the follow up line "even if no one else sees it". Surely, both of you would agree that by the point of reading someone's underwear, teenagers are unlikely to be doing much abstaining. The subpoint is that slogans aren't going to help -- as I have written here, and in all three of my books for parents, education from schools, faith based communities, and parents will. And Pam, I am pretty sure you've read me saying all that before.


Anonymous said...

HI, Rev. Haffner - I am THAT Pam and I do know that you usually do support teaching abstinence to young teens. And I agree with you that it's too late if someone can read your underwear.

Just checking. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Rev. Debra, I didn't read it as sardonic. It's hard to pick up on subtleties in writing sometimes, plus, there's an assumption that I know your style, which I don't fully know. Also, it really did remind me of something my Mom would do.

I probably wouldn't by the underwear as it's not my thing, but for some people, it may be a good reminder of their values and goals just as someone might wear a crucifix or those rubber, colored support bracelets.

In terms of corniness, I can't be any worse than some of the condom super-hero cartoons that Planned Parenthood puts out.