It’s all over the news: “He put himself through school. He had a successful 8-year career in the Air Force. After the service, he landed a high profile position with an American finance company in India. But in 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life. A co-worker found him hanging from the fan of his apartment in New Delhi. His family has struggled for years to understand what happened.” –Scott Bornstein
WOW slow down, read the article and get back to me because I need a minute to gather my thoughts. What just happened? First off they’re saying that Dr. Rekers’ aversion therapy (although now proven to harm more then help) is quoted a success in a number of sources world wide, that through his quest to cure little effeminate boys he himself had male escorts, and to top it off although the information isn’t up front he was discovered to be a religious man (Science and religion? That’s some soap box!). I’m going to ask it, how did we let him and his hurt get so far? It’s the overarching question but it’s the least of the issues that jumps out at me as I read more of the article:
“‘It left Kirk just totally stricken with the belief that he was broken, that he was different from everybody else,’ she recalled. ‘He even ate his lunch in the boy’s bathroom for three years of his high school career, if you want to call it that.'” –Scott Bronstein
What we are looking at are the devastating pieces of an assumed “right” identity and a misuse of authority to bend that identity back to where it “should” be. This insistence on altering what doesn’t require change continues to happen in our daily world; in schools where the word “gay” is banned, in churches where the word “homosexual” is as condemning as the act itself, and even in the common phrases we’ve come to adapt into our vernacular, ie: “that’s so gay…” From these varying perspectives whatever is queer is already assumed to be a degree of evil. So I ask this question: If the natural YOU is condemned from the start, how do you escape yourself?
To be truthful all of these scenarios where queer equals taboo sound a lot like Ex Gay Ministries, where an alternate understanding of identity is assumed and insisted upon. But at least in Ex Gay Ministries there is a forseen goal. Yes it’s an unattainable goal, but it is blatant and perceived to be achievable. Much like Dr. Rekers’ therapy Ex Gay Ministries require youth and young adults to detach themselves from their sexual desires in order to attain a higher religious calling. Usually that calling is to remain celibate for the rest of their lives, which is not a cure at all (ahem, “aversion therapy”). In schools, governmental laws, and so on there just seems to be a lot of ambiguous reasoning as to why queer equal rights is still on the agenda. We don’t understand the silence, but it still hurts as much as words do.
All the pain and suffering caused by Dr. Rekers and his therapy represents a difficult stage in each queer young adult’s life that the Kit might help prevent. Kirk had grown to be such an amazing man. In the end success didn’t matter because he had lost something so dear to himself; his identity. If you’ve been to church then you know the quote, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world yet lose their soul?” What we are arguing today is what made Kirk finally crumble. The article assumes that it was his boyhood foundation that was set with cracks too faulty to support a grown man. In essence, the stripping of his sexual identity at such a young age left him to be a ticking time bomb, even after he had achieved a worldly definition of success.
This brokenness is exactly the thing we want to avoid. By affirming both the sexual and spiritual identities in youth we have the ability to permanently fix what our society is silently set on destroying. We the Team of Your ID Kit believe that brokenness can be avoided. Just as we support young adults in their sexual identities through Health classes and Religion courses, we should be affirming queer and questioning youth while they struggle through the awkwardness of growing into their new adult bodies. No one should believe that they are just out of reach of God’s loving embrace. By teaching young adults that they are normal and that there are resources for them to learn about their identities during puberty we could help them skip the hard work (and often fatal work) of experiencing another coming out “puberty” at 25, 35, and in some cases 55. What we are saying is that what happened Kirk doesn’t have to happen to your child, your brothers child, the teens at your church, and so on. We can save lives, but it all starts with giving them the tools they need to set a firm foundation of their own.