Columnist, author, editor, and activist Dan Savage addressed a sold-out crowd last night at Lincoln Hall in Chicago while he promoted his new book, American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. And with the news earlier in the week that Exodus International, the oldest and most famous ex-gay ministry in the world, was shutting down due to “changing attitudes on homosexuality,” he was, of course, asked to weigh in.
“[Exodus] is responsible for hundreds of suicides—they have literally pushed people to suicide—and now they are just going to say, ‘Oh, we’re sorry’ and swish their skirts and we’re all supposed to just pretend that there isn’t blood on their hands and blood on their skirts,” Savage said. “I’m not impressed. We’re supposed to accept their apology even as they still say, as [president of Exodus International] Alan Chambers said, that he still opposes same-sex marriage for theological reasons and he still believes in what the Bible has to say about being gay.”
For the past 37 years, Exodus International has been on an aggressive anti-gay mission. The organization used Biblical doctrine—along with fear tactics and reparative therapy—in an attempt to convert people from practicing homosexuality. While Chambers recently said in an interview with the New York Times that there is no “cure” for homosexuality, some view the dismantling of Exodus as just an attempt to re-brand themselves and try something out a different anti-gay narrative.
“The conference is over and Exodus is disbanded and they’re forming a new organization, which is probably just going to be God Hates Fags with hugs now, which is their new shtick,” Savage said. “They're just re-packing their hate with smiley faces and hugs to continue to market it. Hugs are good, but someone can stab you in the back more effectively in a hug.”