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Homosexuals Urged to Find 'Natural' Identity

* Event at Law School turns into a shouting match

By Ariel R. Frank, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Addressing a full courtroom at the Law School on Friday, a panel including two self-described "former homosexuals" urged gays and lesbians to devote themselves to Jesus, "reject homosexual desires and embrace their natural heterosexual identity."

The event, part of the third annual National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, was sponsored by the Law School's Society for Law, Life and Religion.

Most of the audience members opposed the panelists and many wore pink-triangle buttons and rainbow stickers in support of National Coming Out Day, which was also fell on Friday.

Afterwards, about 150 people sat on the grass and crowded beside Jarvis Field for an open-microphone discussion held by Lambda, the Law School's gay and lesbian students' association.

The atmosphere at both events was initially cordial, but evolved into a noisy debate, with participants shouting at one another and chortling.

Panelists said they want America to reclaim the "traditional morals and values" espoused in the Bible.

"Harvard has simply crossed the line in its embrace of the dangerous homosexual agenda," said Brian J. Burt, a third-year law student and president of the Society for Law, Life and Religion. "Growth need not come at the expense of Harvard's Christian heritage."

One of the panelists Michael Johnston, said he contracted HIV during the 11 years he said he "was involved in the homosexual subculture."

"It is a lie that homosexuals can't change," said Johnston, who is now married and chairs the national event. He said he renounced his homosexuality in 1988 when he realized that his "relationship with Christ was more important than anything in the world." Members of the audience snickered when Robert H. Knight, director of cultural studies for the Family Research Council, said he once had a friend who was alcoholic and "also dabbling in homosexuality."

"You know deep down in your hearts it's not natural, it's not moral," he said, adding that he has acquaintances who "still are gay" and that he worries about their souls.

The panel also included Tom and Ann Taylor, the parents of a gay son who said they blame themselves for his homosexuality but have learned to accept him in spite of it.

"It shattered my identity as a perfect father," Taylor said. His wife added, "All of my hopes for [my son] faded."

Audience members laughed loudly when Jane Boyer, a self-described former lesbian, called homosexuality "a symptom of deep emotional wounding as a child" and said that gays and lesbians "desire the arms of the daddy."

"Some might say that I am repressing my feelings," said Boyer, a former board member of Exodus International, a coalition of former homosexuals. "If that's the case then I recommend it, because my life is better now than it ever has been," she said.

After the panel discussion, 16 audience members, who all said they were former gays, stood up and said they would be participating in a conference of 220 self-described former homosexuals in Groton, Mass., on Friday night.

The 16 people belonged to Transformation Christian Ministries, a Washington, D.C., congregation. They attended the open-microphone discussion holding signs that said "Being Gay Was a Drag" and "Jesus Died for the Sin of Homosexuality."

Members of Lambda and the undergraduate Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Supporters' Alliance (BGLTSA) spoke at the session.

"Shame on you for making us feel this way," one of them shouted into the microphone. "We won't ever go back into the closet!"

Andre K. Sulmers '98-'99, co-chair of BGLTSA, asked the ex-gays what benefit they received from renouncing their homosexuality.

"Now you can write on your resume: I'm Joe Normal?" he quipped

"It shattered my identity as a perfect father," Taylor said. His wife added, "All of my hopes for [my son] faded."

Audience members laughed loudly when Jane Boyer, a self-described former lesbian, called homosexuality "a symptom of deep emotional wounding as a child" and said that gays and lesbians "desire the arms of the daddy."

"Some might say that I am repressing my feelings," said Boyer, a former board member of Exodus International, a coalition of former homosexuals. "If that's the case then I recommend it, because my life is better now than it ever has been," she said.

After the panel discussion, 16 audience members, who all said they were former gays, stood up and said they would be participating in a conference of 220 self-described former homosexuals in Groton, Mass., on Friday night.

The 16 people belonged to Transformation Christian Ministries, a Washington, D.C., congregation. They attended the open-microphone discussion holding signs that said "Being Gay Was a Drag" and "Jesus Died for the Sin of Homosexuality."

Members of Lambda and the undergraduate Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Supporters' Alliance (BGLTSA) spoke at the session.

"Shame on you for making us feel this way," one of them shouted into the microphone. "We won't ever go back into the closet!"

Andre K. Sulmers '98-'99, co-chair of BGLTSA, asked the ex-gays what benefit they received from renouncing their homosexuality.

"Now you can write on your resume: I'm Joe Normal?" he quipped

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