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Sport: The Gay Antidote?

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Waymon Hudson's column, "Karate Kick the Sissy Out of Your Son: Gay Panic as Advertising," rightly excoriates a Key Biscayne karate "academy" for urging parents to sign their sons up in order to ensure that they will not become gay.

In the kind of "academy" I inhabit, the hucksters make the same pitch. Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley put himself in the news recently by claiming that Judge Walker should have removed himself from deciding the challenge to constitutionality of Proposition 8 because the judge was "openly gay." What few know is that Bradley's key ally in the campaign to prevent homosexuality claims that sport is the gay antidote.

Bradley co-edited Same Sex Attraction: A Parent's Guide with Fr. John F. Harvey, the director of Courage, a Catholic homosexual-recovery agency (as described by their publisher). Bradley and Fr. Harvey want to help parents prevent their children from engaging in gay sex and, wherever possible, turn them into heterosexuals. Bradley and Harvey also select articles for their guide from the leading Catholic therapists who advertise that no one need be gay. They can, through therapy, make you straight. The common theme is that gays are insufficiently manly. This is supposedly evidenced by their lack of athletic interest and skills. Their athletic deficiencies result from being alienated from their fathers and made effeminate by their overbearing mothers, which impairs their ability to bond with heterosexual boys on the playing fields. It follows that sport is the path to converting gays to manly men. (Does the opposite work for lesbians? Should you take a hacksaw to their aluminum softball bats to save them from eternal damnation?)

It turns out to be difficult for these gay straighteners to use sport to create manly men. "Courage" runs four-day sport camps for gays (lesbians are not permitted to attend; $335 for early bird registration). They promise that the camp will be a "life changing experience." The camp needs to get the guys away from their effeminate backgrounds. It advises them: "You can leave your bed linens, and for that matter, security blankets and apron-strings behind." Sport is the path to salvation:

For many men with SSA [Same Sex Attraction], childhood memories of competitive sports can be sparse or worse, filled with shame and trauma. It's what's called "the sports wound."

We offer a safe and supportive environment for men to learn the rules, gain the skills and compete with their teammates in softball, flag football, volleyball and basketball.("The sports wound": Do Catholic gays have stigmata? Seriously, this is supposed to be a scientific term?) "Courage" fears, however, that three full days of sports isn't really a "life changing experience." They are worried that the camp will become a sex camp. The rooms and the showers are all singles. Campers must pledge in writing that they will remain "chaste" during and after the camp, encourage other campers to remain chaste, and "practice modesty in my attire, speech and action." (Spandex is the devil's fiber -- and fabric blends violate Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11). There's no karate or real football (too much bodily contact). Indeed, the camp offers mostly faux-manly sports like flag football and softball. Campers are forbidden to bring cleats. The sports are an excuse for a nightly "PAR-TAY":

Join Us Have some fun! Every evening we have our fellowship (aka PAR-TAY!).The 2010 Courage sports camp flyer from which I've been quoting is the newly improved variant. In prior years, the camp issued this invitation:

Saturday night after the Sports Camp championship... join us, as we celebrate with cigars and cognac.Yes, Courage's model of manly men was a London club for 80-year-old aristocrats bemoaning the loss of the empire. (The camp now bans alcohol lest things get out of control.) The folks writing the new flyer try their best to appear hip by offering manly cliches, but they can't pull it off:

Help us spread the word by requesting flyers or mimeograph this flyer for each member of your local Courage chapter."Mimeograph?" The last time I saw a working mimeograph was decades ago. The testimonials they chose from former campers also seem like a parody of the manly-man stereotype the camp seeks to instill. (The punctuation and spelling is as shown in the flyer.)

Greetings my brothers! SCE 2006 has given me the courage to leave the plateau on which I've been for some time and press on to higher ground. Thank you all for accepting me as a MAN DOING MANLY THINGS! Your new friend, -J

Yo- The Sports Camp East 2006 was nothing short of amazing, incredible, powerful and anointed!!!! Did I use enough adjectives, bro!!!?? I would not hesitate for a moment in recommending it.

The training and coaching was great, the fellowship sweet. The worship was anointed, especially Sunday morning's service. The men sang accapella in Latin, the holiness, reverence, and humility moved me to tears.... thought I was going to lose it there for a minute!!! Your bro, -R

Dear C-MAC, I just wanted to drop you a note and say "Thank You" for this weekend. Although I am 43 years old, I believe that this was the most fun I have ever had in my life. And meeting all of the guys from Courage was a great blessing. Luckily my final connection was dark and almost empty, since I sat in the back and wept for almost the entire hour. Sincerely in Christ -D

If Courage wants its sports camp to create stereotypical manly men, it must first hire Tom Hanks and have him teach the campers the fundamental rule: "There's no crying in baseball!"

Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0.