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The tragic tale of Michael Glatze

IN 2016 American Christian rock star musician Trey Pearson, told the world he was gay. Fundamentalists were horrified that the married-with-kids musician, who made his name with the rock band Everyday Sunday, had not only come out, but had said hurtful things about evangelicals.

In a June, 2017, interview with Billboard, he said: “Religion can be this beautiful thing that feeds the poor, cares about the marginalised and stands up to injustice and is a powerful force of love, and it can also be a toxic thing that destroys lives. And unfortunately it’s been too much of that. In the LGBTQ community it’s taken too many lives, destroyed lives and ruined families.”

A few months before, writing for the extreme right-wing Life Site News, Doug Mainwaring said: “When Christian rock star Trey Pearson announced he was coming out of the closet and separating from his wife and their two children after seven and a half years of marriage, he said that his wife had been his ‘biggest supporter’ and that ‘she just hugged me and cried and said how proud of me she was.’

“If this account is exactly true, it is troubling. Think about the degree of social decay required – especially within Christianity – for a Christian wife to be so conditioned by popular culture that she immediately congratulates her husband for abandoning her and their children, rather than reaching out for help to preserve their marriage and family. A man who walks away from a marriage because of same-sex attraction is no different from a man who abdicates his role as husband and father for sex with other women. We shouldn’t view Trey Pearson’s actions as heroically true-to-self, but as simply selfish.”

Mainwaring, for the record, is gay.

But what happens if a man or woman in a loving same-sex relationship suddenly discovers Jesus, abandons his or her partner and takes the “ex-gay” route? Well, that of course would be a source of enormous delight to hypocritical godbotherers like Mainwaring.

Take the sad saga of Michael Glatze, subject of a 2015 bio pic called I Am Michael. When it was released Joseph Farrah of World Net Daily was beside himself with glee. In a February 2017 article he wrote: “There’s an astonishing movie out there right now called I Am Michael, based on the true story of Michael Glatze, once a ‘gay rights’ activist who finds God and renounces homosexuality, gets married – to a woman, no less – and becomes a Christian pastor.”

A decade before, in July 2007, Glatze penned an article for what I call World NUT Daily entitled “How a ‘gay rights’ leader became straight”. In it he said: “Homosexuality took almost 16 years of my life and compromised them with one lie or another, perpetuated through national media targeted at children. In European countries, homosexuality is considered so normal that grade-school children are being provided ‘gay’ children’s books as required reading in public schools.

“Poland, a country all-too familiar with the destruction of its people by outside influences, is bravely attempting to stop the European Union from indoctrinating its children with homosexual propaganda. In response, the European Union has called the prime minister of Poland ‘repulsive’.

“I was repulsive for quite some time; I am still dealing with all of my guilt.

“As a leader in the ‘gay rights’ movement, I was given the opportunity to address the public many times. If I could take back some of the things I said, I would. Now I know that homosexuality is lust and pornography wrapped into one. I’ll never let anybody try to convince me otherwise, no matter how slick their tongues or how sad their story. I have seen it. I know the truth.”

Peter (“Barbie”) LaBerbera, of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, claimed in a 2013 article that he was a “friend” of Glatze, and posted a message from Glatze, which reads in part: “Dear friends and prayer warriors: I am so grateful for all the prayers that have gone up to God for myself, and for Rebekah, as we have been so blessed to have gotten married in the past month. It has certainly been a journey! Going from being involved in the gay community, to traveling through various spiritual searches, to finding myself (personally) in many tumultuous situations, to meeting the woman that God provided for me, to being able to have a healthy relationship, to building relationships with parents and friends, and to finally have our families and friends converge in a beautiful wedding . . . all has been a difficult, powerful, and awesome journey!”

The delight expressed by Farah and lunatics like him was short-lived, for Glatze’s venture into the world of “straight” was soon exposed as a sham, and WND has since removed the Glatze piece, but you can read a cached version here.

In February 2014, Glatze wrote a letter of apology to the LGBT community via the Truth Wins Out website:

“I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to you for wisdom and compassion. My interest is not to sit here and lecture you – God knows you’ve heard enough of that. My interest is to ask that you exercise wisdom and compassion with respect to my life and I promise to do the same with you all. I want to say, here and now, that evangelical Christianity here in America (especially) is failing to reach souls with the love of Jesus Christ. There is far too much commercialism, fear, hatred, and dogmatism . . . AND, I HAVE BEEN PART OF THAT TOO MUCH! And, for that, I apologise.

“I want to say that I am sorry for the way that Jesus has been represented through some of my actions in recent years, as ‘a hateful bigot who hates gays.’ That is not the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“On my own personal journey, I have found that there are many approaches to Christianity. If you are a Christian, I would ask that you would commit to praying that I would find the true Christ amidst the many denominational approaches to Christianity.

“And, at the same time, I would ask that you grant me the kind of grace that He offered this world. I do not have all the answers. But, I am – earnestly – seeking the truth. I want to thank you for your forgiveness and I want to say that I am personally sorry for the pain that any of my words, or actions, may have caused any of you.

“Thank you, and God bless you.”

In real life, according to Jerry Reiter, writing for the Skipping to the Piccolo blog, the man the movie is based on said he is not ex-gay nor an evangelical pastor. He legally changed his last name and moved back to San Francisco, the gay capital, where he used to publish sexy pre-twink teen magazines.

“Glatze (played by James Franco) has rejected evangelicalism as fiercely as he once rejected his LGBTQ identity. On his recently defunct blog Glatze hid his identity from his audience by changing his last name to Elliott before he published harsh condemnations of evangelicals as ‘heretics’ and mocked what he calls ‘the evangelical gospel’.

“But the former twink-turned-pastor is not ready to publicly come out either as an ex-evangelical or as queer. He avoids labels, though he said he is comfortable being called bisexual. So far he remains in his (childless) marriage since the camera-friendly wedding in 2013. It’s hard to tell if the picturesque wedding helped sell Hollywood on making his movie, starring Franco and directed by Justin Kelly . . . Michael does not wish to talk about his sexuality. Gay men who wed women rarely do. Though few go so far as to legally change their name. But Michael (Glatze) Elliott, has never been one to follow the usual path. He became a born-again Christian in 2003, then a Buddhist a few years later, left the Buddhists, went back to the Buddhists, became a Mormon, then an evangelical, and now looking into possibly joining the Catholic church . . . Time will tell.

“As the New York Times review of I Am Michael said, ‘Michael’s repetitive spiritual flailings quickly become tiresome. His wishy-washy soul-searching isn’t nearly compelling enough for us to care whose bed – or church – he winds up in’

“And I agree,” wrote Reiter. “He is not ready to deal directly with his issues, but this article is not about one man. It is about the message that the movie is sending out.

“While the movie is actually multi-dimensional, conservative audiences are literally buying the narrative of a gay activist becoming a heterosexual. The main point of this article is that the ‘gay turned straight message’ is not true.

“Every medical association has explained for years that sexual orientation is not a choice. And starting in 2011 many leaders of ex-gay ministries around the world admitted no Christian changed orientation to heterosexual. Ex-gays who stayed in heterosexual marriages happily were bisexual all along, but the divorce rates for so-called mixed-orientation marriages are so bad that it is a terrible idea to advise a straight person to wed a gay one. See the Straight Spouse Network to understand the damage that happens to the person often ignored in the debate: the straight spouse.”

Reiter then posed this question: “So, why did Franco make a movie promoting an ex-gay’s story? The 2011 article ‘My Ex-Gay Friend’ from the New York Times Magazine about Michael was so compelling a twist on a gay theme they thought they had a living example of a gay who chose to leave homosexuality behind. Franco is not fully aware of the harm done by ex-gay claims.

“I think by the time Franco and director Kelly realized that Michael is not what he claims in more ways than one, they were ‘in too deep’ (pun intended) and so they tried to find the heroic in their hero. But, as the New York Times review concluded, ‘Michael comes across as a thoroughly unlikable hypocrite, spouting hateful religious rhetoric one minute and ogling young men the next.’”

There is no doubt that Glatze did the LGBT community an immense amount of harm by joining forces with some of the most hateful evangelicals in America, and this is confirmed by “ex-gay” American preacher James Hartline who is quoted on a Religious Forums thread as saying: “In the short time that Glatze has been a self-declared ex-gay Christian he has short-circuited paying the dues that any reputable Christian pastor or evangelist has had to pay, to sacrifice and to suffer, to earn the right to be a God-ordained minister.

“This is in large part due to the corrupt and media-money-hungry pro-family ministries that are constantly in search of a token ex-gay personality that they can use, abuse and wave vindictively at the equally corrupt and media-money-hungry radicalized gay political machine that drives the core engine of America’s cultural homosexual movement.

“Without even considering his lack of dedication to Jesus Christ or the fact that he had zero examples of sacrificing his life for Christianity, the pro-family hucksters baptized Mr. Glatze as their latest professional ex-gay token. It is one more reason why I, as a former homosexual who has been faithfully and very publicly serving Christ inside of one of the largest homosexual communities in the United States for 20 years, cannot be involved in most of the so-called professional pro-family organizational groups. They reek with corruption, superficiality, insincerity, greed and hypocrisy. Which explains why they all so easily made so many backroom deals with demonic Donald Trump.”

He also harmed his former lover of almost ten years, Halifax filmmaker Benjie Nycum. But Nycum bears Glatze no animosity. It is clear from a Vice interview in June 2017 that he believes his Glatze had suffered a catastrophic breakdown.

Nycum recently met up with Glatze to make a documentary called Michael Lost and Found. He said: “I really wanted people to understand there’s nuance, that Michael is a complex person, that potentially he felt remorse for what happened, which is what you saw play out in Michael Lost and Found.

“I hoped he might have been able to describe his experience as an episode that had symptoms much like a person with mental illness. I’m not a doctor, so I had to ask my question carefully. I asked, ‘Do you think you were exhibiting symptoms of someone suffering from mental illness?’ and of course he said, ‘Yes, but it was more than that.’  I wanted that to be part of a story. Not just this inner search for belonging in the world, that had to do with the Bible, because frankly I feel those are just props in the story.

“He said that his gay relationships had made him sick and would make him go to hell, those kinds of things. In I Am Michael he makes those statements. As he explained in Michael Lost and Found, in a way it gave him a sense of purpose, which can be a very important thing for someone on a downward spiral. Unfortunately it was on a very negative platform.”

Back now to Mainwaring. “His story”, according to The Slowly Boiled Frog, “is that he knew he was gay since age eight. Nevertheless, he married a woman. They adopted children and a few years later divorced. After ten or fifteen years they got back together again as a (possibly platonic) couple.

“That would be relegated to whatever floats your boat were it not for the fact that Mainwaring actively opposed marriage equality. He testified before state legislatures, wrote articles, appeared at marriage marches and participated in public forums. Mainwaring did it all. He presumed to make a decision for all other gay men. Now he is back with a new polemic titled It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages. By that he means opposite sex marriages.

“What Mainwaring is now unable, or unwilling, to appreciate is that marriage equality coupled with societal acceptance reduces the number of sham marriages that gay men enter into. Mainwaring doesn’t realize that he is obsessing over the product of discrimination. He presumes to extend that discrimination and disapproval as a means of validation. At the end of the day, this is all pretext for resubmitting objections to marriage equality for religious purposes by a shameless gay man.”

Pink Triangle Trust supports right of ex-Muslims to march in London Pride

GEORGE BROADHEAD, Secretary of the UK LGBT charity the Pink Triangle Trust – publisher of The Pink Humanist – describes as ‘baseless nonsense’ an accusation that Islamophobia was generated by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, who participated in London Pride in July 2017

LONDON Pride this year gave members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain a marvellous opportunity to raise their profile, and to condemn hardline Islamism for impeding human rights, and LGBT rights in particular. However, within hours of the march, pressure was put on the organisers of Pride to ban CEMB members from taking part in future parades. Most of that pressure came from the East London Mosque.

The organisers then promised to consider banning the group, a move that infuriated the PTT’s George Broadhead who said in a statement that “this decision is appalling. The accusation from the East London Mosque that the CEMB was inciting hatred against Muslims at this year’s London Pride event is baseless nonsense.

“East London Mosque seems to have made a brazen attempt to deflect criticism of its bad record on LGBT rights.

“It has a history of inviting ultra homophobic speakers to its meetings. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has revealed that he has asked the mosque to meet LGBT Muslims 11 times since 2015 – and all his invitations had been rejected.  Pride in London seems to be ignoring the widespread Islamic hostility to LGBT+ relationships and rights, notably the barbaric treatment of LGBT+ people in Islamic theocracies like Saudi Arabia in which Sharia Law dictates that they are publicly beheaded, stoned or flogged.

“The Islamic penalty for apostasy (abandoning the religion) is death, and this of course applies to members of the CEMB, and a recent survey has indicated that more than half of British Muslims (52 percent) think homosexuality should be illegal and nearly half (47 percent) think it is inappropriate for gay people to teach in schools.

“The PTT maintains that the CEMB has every right to draw attention to hostility from Islam and urges Pride in London organisers not to place religion beyond criticism. This would be a highly regressive step and contrary to its presumed aim to counter homophobia from any source.”

Mohammed Shafiq

Later, in August, Mohammed Shafiq, Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, described the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain as a “rampant Islamophobic organisation” that has made its mission “to demonise Islam and the religious beliefs of Muslims.”

According to this report, in a televised debate on Russia Today, Shafiq commented on the presence of CEMB members at the London Pride rally on July 8 who carried signs bearing slogans like “We’re here. We’re kaffir. Get used to it”, “Celebrating apostasy” and “Make LGBT rights universal”.

They also displayed a list of Muslim states that punish homosexuality with the death penalty – including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan.

Shafiq added: “Let’s just say, is there a council of ex-Christians? Is there a Council of ex-Jews? A Council of ex-Hindus? A Council of ex-Sikhs?”

As a matter of fact, Mr Shafiq, there are organisations for people other than Muslims who have ditched religion. ExChristian.Net is one. Then there’s Recovering From Religion, and The New Humanist’s Apostasy Project which features accounts of people of all faiths who now consider themselves non-believers. The Clergy Project has a pretty extensive list of organisations for apostates.

Shafiq said he was puzzled that people who opted to cut ties with Islam continued to meddle is Muslim affairs.

“Let’s accept that they’ve got a right to leave Islam – then why are they constantly obsessed about Islam? They need to get a life. Move on. Enjoy their life and their ‘new freedom’ as they tell us,” said Shafiq.

The CEMB participation in Pride  was met with outrage from devout worshippers and British Muslim organisations – the East London Mosque in particular – but the group rejected criticism of their actions, saying: “We don’t need your permission to march for LGBT rights or the rights of apostates.”

Despite being met with heavy criticism, the group’s spokesman Jimmy Bangash confirmed that members of the Council of ex-Muslims would continue to loudly protest the persecution of minorities within Islam and any other faith groups.

He added: “If religion is legislating against people, like gays, we will challenge that. And we will challenge that boldly. We will challenge that in meaningful ways, holding signs that provoke thought.”

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell backed Mr Bangash’s sentiments, arguing that the group’s participation in the LGBT protest was justified.

“Hatred against people is always wrong, whether they’d be Muslim or anyone else. But criticising bigoted intolerant ideas is entirely right and proper.”

Tatchell said the group was merely “targeting Islamist homophobia, [not] Muslim people or even Islam, in general.”

He added: “The Council of ex-Muslims has never criticised or condemned Muslim people. It has only condemned and criticised Islamist extremists, who advocate hatred and violence against LGBT people.”

Shafiq’s questions and comments were batted down by Bangash, who describes himself as “a British Pakistani, who grew up as a gay individual in a Muslim family.”

He added: “Asking us to leave the religion and then be silent about our kin across the world, who are being victimised by the Muslim states, is an absurd request.”

According to him, the group has no intentions of spreading Islamophobia in the British society:

“This is my community. I have no interest in galvanising hate against Muslims because I’ll be subjected to that same hate.”

The CEMB’s Maryam Namazie explained in an op-ed for the Freethinker that “the very reason CEMB was at Pride was to combat hate and to highlight the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men (14 if we include Daesh-held territories). We included placards on the East London mosque to bring attention to the fact that there are mosques here in Britain that promote the death penalty for homosexuality and apostasy.

“As ex-Muslims, we are at risk from hate preachers that speak at some mosques and universities; our  gay members are at an increased risk.

“The East London Mosque has a long history of hosting hate preachers who incite against blasphemers, apostates and homosexuals so we felt naming and shaming them was very apt.

“In our experience, whenever incitement to hate and violence has been exposed, it is explained away as mere ‘theology’. We beg to differ.”

She alleged that the mosque “is part and parcel of the Islamist movement. The East London Mosque (and its affiliate, the London Muslim Centre) share the ideology of the Jamaat-e-Islami – the Salafis of South Asia so their promotion of an Islamist worldview that imposes the death penalty for homosexuality, apostasy and blasphemy is business as usual.

“Self-appointed ‘Muslim leaders’ say our placards were ‘Islamophobic’.  But in our point of view, Islam, like all religions, is homophobic. Why is it not possible to say this without accusations of Islamophobia?”


Victor Pemberton, 85, dies after a short illness

VICTOR Pemberton, a gay humanist and writer whose scriptwriting work included BBC radio plays, and television scripts for the BBC and ITV – including Doctor Who, The Slide and The Adventures of Black Beauty – died in Spain on August 13 this year aged 85.

Victor, who had settled in Spain a few years back with his lifelong partner, David Spenser, came to public attention last year when he announced he planning to undertake a solo drive from the Costa Blanca to the Arctic to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity for injured ex-service personnel.

The Pink Humanist carried a feature article about his planned trip in summer 2016, edition.

On his return from the Artic, Victor’s achievement was celebrated with a huge street party. He was soon to become one of Benidorm’s best known characters, filled with joie de vivre and frequently partying into the early hours of the morning.

He was enjoying a night out in Benidorm’s Old Town when he collapsed and was taken to hospital. He died a few days later in his sleep.

Top award for Leo Igwe

NIGERIAN human rights campaigner Leo Igwe has received the 2017 Distinguished Services to Humanism Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). He received the award in August from IHEU President Andrew Copson at IHEU’s 2017 General Assembly in London.

In this piece published by Modern Ghana, Igwe wrote:

“I dedicate this award to all humanists at risk around the globe. I feel humbled by this honour, although I must acknowledge that if one goes through the list of past recipients, it is obvious that the contributions that I have made to international humanism and to organised humanism are quite small.

“How would anyone compare my contributions to those of the likes of American philosopher Corliss Lamont, Indian Humanists Indumati Parikh and Abe Solomon, British Humanists David Pollock, Robbi Robson and my friend Josh Kutchinsky and past IHEU presidents Roy Brown and Sonja Eggerickx?

“There is no doubt that I have eventually found myself in the midst of humanist giants, and that is humbling.

“I must state that this award was not actually meant for me. This award rather speaks to the vision that has been there since the founding of IHEU. This is the vision that drove British Humanist Harold Blackham and other humanist delegates from across the world to start the IHEU in Amsterdam in 1952.

“It was the same reason that led me to start the Nigerian Humanist Movement in 1996. I was not born a humanist. In fact, I trained to become a priest, not a humanist leader.”

Leo made contact with IHEU in the 1990s and attended the World Humanist Congress in Mumbai in 1999, where, for the first time he addressed an IHEU event. He joined the IHEU Growth and Development Committee and later served as one of the representatives in Africa and at the African Commission on Human and People Rights and used the position to raise humanist issues for the first time with state parties in the region.

He pointed out that IHEU and its member organisations have helped establish and support secular schools in Uganda:

“Because humanists understand clearly that without secular education, a secular society cannot stand; without secular education, humanism-as-it-should-be cannot stand.

“In recent years we have witnessed other changes within the IHEU. These developments give me hope for the future. For instance, we now have IHEU Board representatives from Asia and Africa. That gives me hope. Since 2012,

IHEU has been publishing The Freedom of Thought Report that documents the discrimination and persecution against non-religious people in countries around the world including my own country, Nigeria.

“That gives many humanists across world hope. In fact, the latest IHEU campaign to support humanists at risk was a masterstroke and again that gives me hope.

“So keep moving in the direction of humanism as it should be, IHEU! And be assured of my continued support and contribution to your work and programs for the rest of my active years.”

In 2009 Leo and his Humanist colleagues were given the Rainbow Humanist Award by Nordic Rainbow Humanists for their risky public support of LGBT rights in Nigeria.

The award was made to the Nigerians “for their courageous defence of LGBT rights and dignity in the face of ferocious attacks from homophobic Nigerian politicians, parliamentarians and religious leaders calling for the imprisonment of those having homo-sexual relations and those who dare to support such relations, and for reminding fellow countrymen and women in Nigeria of the need to safeguard the spirit of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the need for reason, common sense, thoughtfulness, knowledge, love, tolerance, solidarity and empathy, instead of hate and homophobia.”

Said Nordic Rainbow Humanists secretary Bill Schiller: “We are very proud to salute African humanists for speaking out so forcefully on behalf of LGBT rights, which have long been supported by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.”

The award was announced at a ceremony at Stockholm’s LGBT centre and bookshop, Hallongrottan, by Carl Johan Kleberg, former chairman of the Swedish Humanist Association.. A year after, the Nordic Rainbow Humanists award went to Secretary General George Thindwa and his colleagues of the Association for Secular Humanism of Malawi (ASH). “This has been made for their courageous public stand for LGBT identity and rights in this African nation, taking great risks of retaliation from homophobic politicians, religious leaders, and a hostile mass media,” said Bill Schiller in Stockholm.

He added: “This is the second time our annual award has gone to Africa and we were very pleased to have this recommendation from an earlier winner and staunch supporter of LGBT rights, Leo Igwe of the Nigerian Humanist Movement.

“The Malawi Humanists are being honoured for defending LGBT rights in a continent where tolerance towards the LGBT communities is a rare exception and where even former African freedom fighters and anti-colonialist leaders, now in power, openly call for the imprisonment and punishment of LGBT people,” said Schiller.

Earlier winners of the Nordic Rainbow Humanists award include George Broadhead, now secretary of the UK’s LGBT charity the Pink Triangle Trust, veteran Norwegian lesbian activist Kim Friele, Carl-Johan Kleberg, former chairman of the Swedish Humanists,, veteran Dutch gay activist Rob Tielman, former President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and Remyus Cernea and colleagues of the Romanian Humanist Association.

Bob Scott of the Humanist Society Scotland pictured in Malawi with George Thindwa

In a message to George Thindwa, George Broadhead, said: “Warm congratulations to Malawian Humanists on winning the 2010 Nordic Rainbow Humanist Award. If the situation for LGBT people is anything like as dire as that in Uganda, you richly deserve this for so courageously taking up the cudgels on their behalf. “You also deserve great praise for your staunch opposition to the persecution of people in Malawi accused of witchcraft. As a gay Humanist who won this same award in 2002, I salute you.”

In 2015, Dr Bob Scott, a longstanding member of the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS), visited Malawi, where he met George Thindwa and other members of ASH. On his return, Scott reported at the 2015 HSS Annual Conference that Thindwa “gave a stunning presentation” of ASH’s efforts to combat witchcraft-based violence.

“ASH has made remarkable progress in promoting human rights in the country. It has single-handedly managed to release from prison over 250 individuals, who were being illegally detained on trumped-up charges. Despite that success in the courts, combating witchcraft-based violence remains a vitally important activity for ASH. Belief in witchery is widespread and much work is yet to be done.”