Anti-Gay Blogger Opens Up On Radio
The blogger behind the relentlessly anti-gay site Americans for Truth About Homosexuality opened up to the press recently in a revealing interview.
Pete LaBarbera has been denigrated as "Porno Pete" in the GLBT press, and his site's name has been taken as a prime example of false advertising. In a July 28 interview with the nation's youngest syndicated radio host, David Pakman, on Midweek Politics Radio, LaBarbera--the former leader of a conservative Illinois group and the organizer of an upcoming "Truth Academy" designed as a "pro-family" forum to counter the gay "agenda"--made a number of claims, including that the "pro-family" side in the debate are "censored," that ex-gays really are people who once were gay and now are heterosexual, and that he doesn't--or rather, make that does--spend a fair amount of time attending and photographing gay events, such as gatherings of leather fetishists.
"We're a single-issue organization that's on the other side of the debate over homosexuality in the culture," LaBarbera told Pakman at the start of the interview. "The other side is the massive gay rights movement," LaBarbera added, with a chuckle, "which most Americans are probably vastly exposed to." LaBarbera went on to describe his blog as "pro-family," although he described Americans for Truth as being in opposition to marriage equality for gay and lesbian families.
"What is the 'truth about homosexuality' that people just don't seem to know?" Pakman asked LaBarbera.
"We would claim that homosexuality is about behavior," LaBarbera responded, "that it's not an inborn identity." LaBarbera asserted that homosexuality is a "lifestyle" that can be "left behind," and estimated that he'd met "probably fifty former homosexuals, people who once considered themselves gay who have since left the lifestyle. So it's about changeable behavior which we believe is immoral."
Asked by Pakman how a gay person might become straight, LaBarbera said, "I don't think there's... one way in [to homosexuality], I don't think there's one way out." LaBarbera went on to say, "It's interesting that the gay activist movement is sort of trying to shut down the idea of therapy to get out." LaBarbera noted that he knew "committed Christians who have left homosexuality on the basis of their religious beliefs."
LaBarbera went on to talk about his blog's boycott of McDonald's over a TV commercial that is not even airing in the United States. The ad, which is shown in France and which has become an international cause celebre among both gay and anti-gay groups, features a gay teen, and invites viewers to "come as you are." LaBarbera called the TV spot "an affirmative ad about homosexuality... in other words, 'Being gay as a teenage boy, having a romantic relationship with another boy, is a good thing, and we're going to encourage it at McDonald's.' And we believe that's a bad message for young people." LaBarbera went on to add, "Our position is that homosexual behavior is aberrant behavior." LaBarbera added that homosexuality was "controversial" in America, prompting Pakman to query, "Is it?"
Pakman went on to ask LaBarbera, "Is it more controversial to be gay and under 18 than gay and over 18?"
"Well, I can see we're probably on opposite sides of this issue, David," LaBarbera said--at which point both of them had a laugh--"but what I can tell you is, many people simply do not like the idea of affirming homosexuality, as, especially, some sort of rigid, inborn characteristic--who you are--to young people. And in fact, what's happening in a lot of schools is, schools will get pro-gay affirmation, but they'll never hear the other side of the issue."
"I didn't know there was another side," quipped Pakman.
"I thought I just gave you one," rejoined LaBarbera.
"Let me ask you this," Pakman said. "How old, in your experience, are people usually when they decide to 'start being gay?' "
"I don't have the answer of how old they are," LaBarbera said. "What I can tell you is there are surveys which show that the age when people are coming out as... openly homosexual has gone down significantly. I think the average age now is somewhere in the young teens or younger, perhaps.... I think part of the reason the reason this is happening is because there is this ubiquitous propaganda more on one side of the issue than on the other."
"I'll tell you, Pete, you couldn't be more wrong," rejoined Pakman, who advanced the theory that younger kids come out now because they feel safer in doing so.
"But I hope," answered LaBarbera, "that those kids would also learn that just as there are people who are proudly gay, there are also people who are proudly out of that lifestyle. The problem is that a lot of the institutions have sort of bought your propaganda, and are only teaching one side."
"It seems, Peter, like your organization is considered so crazy that even the 'anti-gay movement' sometimes thinks you're too extreme," Pakman observed, going on to cite how Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was "shut out" last fall by anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage prior to voters in Maine approving a measure to repeal a law in that state extending marriage equality to gay and lesbian families.
"Two things on that, David," LaBarbera shot back. "One is, your producer should have told me how strongly your pro-gay views were. But that aside, listen, we're in a debate here [in America], and I think it's interesting how the people who are doing the censoring in this debate are not the pro-family side, it's the pro-gay side." LaBarbera then asserted that the "pro-gay side" was "desperate" to keep "ex-gays" from appearing on national programs to tell their side of the story. "And my question is, what are you afraid of?"
"I'll be honest," Pakman interjected at that point, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Pakman asked LaBarbera whether he went "undercover" to "gay sex clubs," to which LaBarbera responded, "We do find it interesting, and actually quite a news story, that in places like San Francisco you have these outdoor extravaganzas on the street, in which men basically walk around totally naked."
Americans for Truth covers the annual Folsom Street Fair, an event to which participants pay a fee to gain entry and which is popular with both straights and gays. LaBarbera's blog--as well as other anti-gay sites--generally uses the event as an occasion to attack liberal California politicians, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose district includes the city of San Francisco.
Continued LaBarbera, "And unfortunately, the liberal media--of which you may or may not be a part, David--"
"We absolutely are a part, I'll tell you," interjected Pakman.
"--generally find that ho hum. Even here in Chicago, they have gay pride parades in which there has been actually sex acts that have been committed." Added LaBarbera, "Are gays the only ones who get, like, sort of the special right to go prancing around naked in the streets, or is that something that's open to all Americans?"
Pakman agreed with LaBarbera that whatever a person's sexual orientation, public nudity was not acceptable where law prohibits it. "We can agree on that," LaBarbera responded, joking that, "If I were to go nude, that could genuinely be called a hate crime!"