This is a tale of two parties. One personified the best of times, and one... well, one was a disaster without historic precedent. No, it was not the French Revolution; it was the big "Ex-Gay Lobby Day," which was being held 3,000 miles away from the other big event of the week, my son Jason's "I Am 11" birthday party. The organizers of the "Ex-Gay Lobby Day" had promised that their event would be attended by "thousands." We were shooting for no more than 20 at the bounce-house party venue with whom we contracted. End the end, the "ex-gay" event pulled in about 10 people, and ours a whopping 30.
How is it that we were so successful in triple-lapping them? One of our family practices after throwing a party is to sit down and debrief. (I guess I get that from my years in the corporate world.) We figure out what went wrong, what went right, what we want to do again, and what we definitely do not want to repeat. After the poor ex-gays were mind-numbingly humiliated beyond all possible belief in a very public epic fail, my sons and I decided to sit down and write them a letter with some helpful suggestions.
I need to emphasize that this exercise was in no way an excuse to gloat. (OK, well, for me it might have been a little bit about that.) My sons earnestly tried to come up with ways to help this pathetically abandoned group of strangers. Here is our family note of condolence and helpful hints.
Dear Ex-Gay Pride Month event organizers,
We are sorry you had a bad time the other day. We cannot really imagine how embarrassing that was. We invited 50 people to our party on Sunday, and if only 10 of them had shown up, we would have been a little sad. But if we had invited thousands and only 10 had shown up, we would have been really, really sad. We don't like it when people are sad [Dad edit: even if their motives were basically horrible].
We don't want to pretend we know better, but here are ideas we used that are made our party great, and we thought you might like to use them next time [Dad edit: but please don't feel that there needs to be a next time].
1. Have it in a fun place. We had ours in a place with a bunch of bounce houses. You had yours on the steps of a courthouse. Umm, yuck. Ours was fun. Yours was to complain about other people having their civil rights reinforced. Fun vs. complaining. Fun wins.
2. Advertise your event in an exciting way. We did "Jason Turns 11. Come Celebrate!" That sounds happy and implies that everyone will get cake. We saw your invitation. It essentially says, "Come complain about how other people might be happy living their lives [Dad edit: while we suppressed all our own natural instincts and are living with a sense of damaged self-sacrifice]." Not even a taste of cake.
3. We are awesome, and nice, and honest. Our friends really like us, and when we throw a party, they want to show up. No offense, but you are kind of mean and basically come off as crybabies. You are not ranking very high on the awesome meter. People don't want to show up for that.
4. Don't be boring. You are trying to copy Pride. Pride is a celebration to keep LGBT families' spirits high. It does not celebrate that people are LGBT; it celebrates that they don't have to apologize for it. Pride has color, music, joy, and passion. Your event looked like our faces when presented with a bowl full of Brussels sprouts. Who the heck wants to show up for that?
5. And last but definitely not least, invite real people. Of the 50 people we invited, all of them are real, actual people. [Dad edit: OK, one is marginal.] Of 10,000 civil-rights-deprived, ex-gay, closeted people, not one of them is real. None. Zilch. Zero. [Dad edit: Ironically, that is the same number of intact gay couples raising children who were interviewed in the dishonest Regnerus study.] Even if you allow for the possibility that some of your target list are people whose orientations are suppressed or, in your words, "changed," they are not discriminated against for their newly embraced "heterosexuality." They are not under threat of losing employment, housing, or financial support. [Dad edit: When a man says, "Hey, everyone, I am marrying a woman!" no one has ever replied, "Hey, you're fired! You are supposed to be gay!"] They can freely marry of their own [Dad edit: misguided] choosing. [Dad edit: Let's face it: Most public "ex-gays" claim simply to have "slipped up" with real gay people. In the age of Twitter and the Internet, being in public carries the likelihood that they will be recognized and exposed by forbidden sex partners.]
Anyway, we are sorry that you were disappointed that your event went so badly. [Dad edit: Not really.] We have an idea: Why don't you gather up the 10 people who did show up and fly them out to California to join us at our next bounce-house party? They will all have fun, and they will like you more. You can see what a real LGBT family is and how much we love one another. You can see that our having rights won't be anything bad for you. You will also see that all we really have to fear is homophobia, and that if homophobia did not exist, everyone would be just fine. And people might even come to your parties.
Jason and Jesse Watson (and Dad)