'Ex-Gay' Chef Makes D.C. Lobbying Trip

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He said he would also encourage gay students to speak to him, either in a public forum or on a personal basis, if they find his message offensive. But he said he feels negative sentiments about his lifestyle are discriminatory, as well.

“It’s a two-way street,” he said. “One way to overcome that is to meet and discuss and develop a relationship.”

He said he has friends and co-workers who are gay and that he serves as the union representative for the evening shift workers at Annenberg.

“They are fully aware of my background and what I do, and yet they’ve still elected me to represent them,” Houston said.

Since The Crimson’s profile and resulting University investigation—which he said made him “infamous around the country”—he has been contacted by the Associated Press and received the invitation to take part in the PFOX lobbying trip.

Houston, who will teach English in the Ukraine this summer, emphasized that he still has his job and doesn’t feel victimized, but said he will use his story as a way to get attention for the movement.

“I don’t see myself as a victim at Harvard, but I’m going to play that game for the political benefit,” he said. “Other ex-gays are facing discrimination and don’t have a hand to play with.”

The PFOX trip to Washington D.C. came two months after Republican National Committee Chair Marc Racicot came under fire from conservative members of his party for speaking at the March board meeting of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a gay rights advocacy group.

The Washington Times reported last Thursday that the far-right leaders feared Racicot might hurt President Bush’s chances for re-election in 2004.

Houston said gay rights advocacy groups like the HRC objected to the possibility that Racicot might meet with members of the “ex-gay” movement, as well.

Racicot did not return a call last Friday for comment.

Although members of PFOX were not granted an appointment with Racicot, Houston said the number of aides who did want to meet with them doubled after the publicity.

“It worked to our advantage to have this big uproar going on,” he said.

—J. Hale Russell contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Jessica R. Rubin-Wills can be reached at rubinwil@fas.harvard.edu.