By Lavender July 16, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized


Lavender Magazine received more letters than anytime previously in our 15-year-history regarding the cover features in our June 18 issue by John Townsend entitled “Antigay Lutheran Pastor Protests Too Much” and “Courage, AKA Faith in Action: An Inside Look at Catholic Gay Chastity Group.” The following is a fair and representative sampling reflecting varied opinions.

Townsend Responds to Critics

Lavender Magazine received a copy of the following letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Two recent Star Tribune articles—“Cries of ‘hypocrite’ for pastor, report,” by Jeff Strickler, June 24, and “Respect the range of sexual support,” by Jenell Williams Paris, June 25—have distorted my infiltration of a local Catholic gay chastity group by reacting to only one of my two actual cover articles in Lavender Magazine, June 18. The writers read the piece on my observations of Lutheran Pastor Tom Brock in that group in my article “Antigay Lutheran Pastor Protests Too Much,” but did not address the other article, “Courage, AKA Faith in Action: An Inside Look at Catholic Gay Chastity Group,” that is on the very next page labeled as “Cover Feature,” and online directly below the cover image.

That article is filled with other observations, including a stunningly cruel comment by Father Jim Livingston, who runs Faith in Action, and inducts members through his chaplain’s office at North Memorial Hospital. What racial minority would ever sanction what I observed and heard in that group if the same was said about them?

That article also fingers two priests and a woman director for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Strickler’s cherry-picking of one article over the other has meant Lavender’s total Courage coverage has been distorted all the way up to Elizabeth Jensen’s New York Times online piece, as well as a rabid written attack on my integrity by an angry pack of pastors. Strickler and Paris never contacted me for a comment before submitting their articles. I did, however, contact Livingston and Brock for mine.

Get this straight: Homosexuality and lesbianism are not addictions, nor are they illnesses. Faith In Action participants are required to refer to their same-sex attraction as a “disorder.” They are made to believe that unrepentant homosexual activity damns them to an eternity of hellfire and damnation. The 1973 declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness is fully rejected. Strickler mistakenly describes the group as a “therapy group.” In the weeks I was there, I encountered no therapist.

Faith in Action, whose Catholic sponsors are tax-exempt, harbored Brock for some time, in full knowledge of his demagogic video series, and the two decades he spewed his homophobic and sexist vitriol on KKMS AM, which had been defiantly rebroadcasting his antigay remarks right up to almost two weeks after my articles hit.

Brock’s bully pulpit has assaulted gays and lesbians and heterosexual reproductive rights advocates for years. For some time, I had been fielding tips about psychological abuse in the St. Charles Borromeo group, including a participant who said he felt tempted to commit suicide. One victim took his complaint to various local media, and was summarily rejected each time. So, for me, it was clear that becoming an embedded whistleblower was the only option left. That way, I could more accurately verify the truth than to write about it from the outside. To my mind, quite reasonable suspicion of real danger trumped confidentiality.

Brock’s antigay KKMS exhortations have wailed on for years, so I was puzzled in Strickler’s piece where University of Minnesota Silha Professor of Ethics and Law Jane Kirtley tried to discredit my methods, seemingly oblivious to the serial, long-term breach of media ethics in her own metro area—that being KKMS. Kirtley never contacted me, either.

As for hand-wringing by Michael R. Triplett, overseer of the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association, of which I am not a member, clearly, his careerist club members have ignored this situation—be a journalist first, a gay second.

In “Respect the Range of Sexual Support,” evangelical Messiah College Professor Jenell Williams Paris speculates that Brock “may have actually been practicing for the search of self-mastery he preached” in the Courage sessions I attended right alongside him. But I think not. As my Courage article relates, this group actually inculcates—hence, reinforces—a sexual fixation on male beauty with outright stated political positions against gay activism and gay-based spiritual endeavors. Paris peddles with chilling nonchalance so-called “reparative therapies” (again, Courage is not a therapy group). Paris’s crude analogy of Brock as a cat that stinks boorishly trivializes how he, a man in society, has systematically perpetrated his hysterics for years.

Recently, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has reported, American evangelicals, some of them so called “ex-gays,” paved the way for a Ugandan law to make homosexuality punishable by death. Recently, the Texas GOP platform has called for recriminalization of sodomy laws and making gay marriage a felony.

As for those who would use my articles as a pretext to slam investigative reporting, I suggest Amy Goodman’s recent John Pilger interview on that subject.

Recall Thomas Jefferson: “The only security at all is a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”

John Townsend
Double Standard

Lavender deserves praise for its cover story outing the Reverend Tom Brock, the self-hating preacher-broadcaster who worked tirelessly to demonize his fellow gay men, and to keep gay kids locked in a closet of shame that frequently leads to suicide. The criticism the magazine has received from some journalists, including several in the GLBT community, is a good example of the double standard gays and lesbians face in our battle for equality.

Jean Kirtley, a media ethicist at the University of Minnesota, and Michael Triplett, a board member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, said the story wasn’t important enough for reporter John Townsend to attend Brock’s “support group,” and then break the rules of confidentiality essential to its therapeutic mission. In their minds, Brock is simply a political opponent of the gay community, and the belief of some right-wing Christians that homosexuality is a treatable illness is a valid viewpoint worthy of serious public discourse. This argument shows, once again, the double standard that applies to gay Americans—and only gay Americans—as we challenge the hate and ignorance that torments gay kids, and maintains our status as second-class citizens.

Imagine if Brock were a light-skinned African-American who claimed to be white, and preached to a large radio audience that people of color were the children of Satan, and should not be allowed to breed with the Godly white race. Imagine if he secretly had Jewish parents, but made You Tube videos seen by thousands demanding that Jews convert to Christianity, or be denied full citizenship.

Would outing this man for his racial and religious self-hatred and hypocrisy be considered important enough to warrant an undercover investigation? Would anyone claim a “support group” he attended, complete with tips for avoiding loud Jews, and keeping one’s skin creamy white, is a legitimate form of therapy worthy of full confidentiality for all participants, even a prominent public figure leading the fight against racial and religious equality?

Please explain to me how Brock’s preaching about gays and lesbians and his “support group” are any different? If you think gay men and women deserve less dignity and respect than Jews and African-Americans, then your criticism of Lavender makes sense. Otherwise, it’s unjustified hogwash.

Ken Darling

Courage Is Not 12-Step Program

I just wanted you to know how absolutely proud I am of your article in which you outed Reverend Brock. I fully support Lavender, and will walk side by side with the entire staff. Anyone who disagrees is certainly free to express that disagreement, but I will continue to argue on what I know to be true, and that is, Courage/Faith in Action (FIA) is not a 12-Step program. Brock was outed and should have been for spewing his hatred, and others like him need to be on notice that we, as a community, will not sit on the sidelines, and allow them to continue their hate. “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” I believe that certainly applies here. Keep up the good work, Lavender!

Stephen Grisham

Brock Behaved as Hypocrite

Matthew 21:12 tells us the story of Jesus turning over the tables of vendors, and throwing the moneylenders out of the temple. Even as a young child, when I heard that story for the first time, I understood the Jesus was angry because of the misuse of God’s house, and the hypocrisy that the behavior of the vendors and moneylenders displayed.

The Reverend Tom Brock has misused God’s house, and has behaved as a hypocrite. Brock has consistently used his position…his pulpit…his power and influence to denigrate and demonize the gay community. He has encouraged discrimination and the denial of human rights to individuals who are GLBT. And after all this, he actively engages in the very behavior he demonizes.

To those who are disappointed by the Lavender Magazine reporting on Reverend Brock, I would pose the following question: How would you feel about a member of the Minnesota Senate, in a leadership position, who votes consistently against reproductive rights for women, who delivers hostile messages on the Senate floor against reproductive rights, who campaigns on a strong platform of prolife, but who secretly operates a clinic that provides legal abortions. Should this person be held accountable?

Reverend Brock’s very behavior invited this investigation. His hypocrisy deserves to be noted—and exposed. Interestingly, the article in Lavender Magazine does not blatantly identify Reverend Brock as a gay. The article presents evidence, observations, and quotes that allow the reader to draw their own logical conclusions.

As a self respecting gay man, I applaud Lavender Magazine, its editor and staff, for holding Reverend Brock accountable, and exposing his hypocrisy.

Kudos for a job well done.

David Hancox

Fight Fire with Fire

Yes, it is unethical to out a person in a 12-Step program. But since when is homosexuality an addiction? I am thrilled you outed this hypocritical monster. I’m sick of our side always being the pushovers, the good guys, the apologists, the ones who do what Jesus tells us to do and turn the other cheek—constantly. Fight fire with fire, I say. Out him, and let him suffer the wrath. Keep up the good investigating, and keep outing these jerks until they are all exposed to the light of the sun.

Andrew J. Terranova

Courage Is Shame Group

This supposed 12-Step program was nothing more than another “pray-the-gay-away,” self-denial, shame therapy group, this time sponsored by the Catholic Church, and if that doesn’t turn your stomach, I can’t imagine what would. Oh, maybe a Baptist-supported group. This is not sacred, and has absolutely nothing in common with true self-help programs, but I’m sure some would like to instill fear that it will prevent untold thousands from getting help now. Bull. Most people will forget about this sordid pastor and the controversy in a week.

Outing antigay hypocrites like Brock will always have its detractors. Well, they need to get over it. If this man were a proselytizing anti-Semite, but secretly a Jew himself, how many defenders would he have then? Somehow, man-on-man sex is considered so private and personal that we should never, ever discuss the possibilities that men like Brock would actually do it. If it were he and another woman, it would be fair play to talk about it ad nauseam. It’s always open season for titillating discussion of someone’s straight sex peccadilloes. Just look at all the gossip rags at the grocery store checkouts.

Brock, through his own antigay preaching, has done irrefutable harm to many GLBT persons struggling with their own identity and coming out. The reporter’s ethics are not at all what I question here, but the good pastor’s principles. What the reporter, John Townsend, did was legal, ethical, and a great service to our community, and in my mind, indirectly an eye-opener to those individuals who are being fooled by the Catholic program, Courage, into believing that they can suppress their true being.

Thank you, Lavender Magazine, John Townsend, and Stephen Rocheford. And thank you to others like Michelangelo Signorile and Mike Rogers for exposing self-loathing, antigay politicians and ministers.

David Naugle

Brock Profited from Greed for Notoriety

Thank you, John Townsend and the editorial decision-makers at Lavender, for exposing Pastor Brock’s double-dipping, and his self-hating hypocrisy. The recent outing of Brock, with information taken at a “recovering homosexual” meeting, serves the gay movement well. Brock was profiting by attacking gays and lesbians. It advanced him in his career, and possibly damaged countless gays trying to reconcile with their churches. The ignorant and hateful message this pastor preached was repeated worldwide. I believe Brock’s greed for notoriety and his career in the media light are the exceptional criteria for a legitimate outing by your magazine.

Keep up the good work, Lavender. I look forward to future activist-journalism. You have served notice: “We’re not going to take it anymore.”

Dean Amundson

God Will Get You, Townsend

To the author of this article, John Townsend:

God created you into existence. God is the reason why you’re here. He wants you to know Him. He wants you to be his child, to live for Him, and to bring him Glory. He wants you to follow his Word, the Bible.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. He did it so the wrath of God would not be poured out on you when you die. Jesus lives! He rose again, and has victory over death. He is your Redeemer. It’s your choice: to follow Jesus, and be saved (the narrow gate); or go your own way, live for yourself, and be destroyed (the broad gate). Most people will not be saved. I didn’t make up the rules. God did. He deserves to. He is the reason why we’re here!

Pastor Tom Brock, I believe, is saved. He does not fear you. He fears God. What personal struggles he is faced with is not anyone’s business. That’s between him and God. I support Pastor Tom. He is a Bible-believing Christian, and one of my personal heroes. He vocalizes the Bible, so your argument is not with Pastor Tom Brock, it’s with God’s word.

Matthew Crews

Wish Pastor Brock God’s Blessing

Open Letter to Lavender Magazine:

For many years we have been saddened and frustrated by the public comments of Lutheran Pastor Tom Brock regarding his stridently negative opinions regarding GLBT people. His comments have been based on his interpretation of certain verses in the Bible, and his belief that the church must not allow gay and lesbian persons to be ordained pastors. Brock’s public condemnation has been hurtful to many.

Nevertheless, we are also frustrated that Lavender Magazine has released an article, “Antigay Lutheran Pastor Protests Too Much,” by John Townsend, in which he outs Pastor Brock. The magazine sent Townsend, undercover, to a confidential meeting of Courage, a Roman Catholic organization, an apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church, ministering to those with same-sex attractions and their loved ones. Courage meetings are understood to be confidential meetings.

We believe that outing someone in this manner is unethical and abhorrent. We certainly believe that GLBT persons will be spiritually and physically healthier if they can come out of the closet.

What is especially unethical on the part of Lavender Magazine was to “out” Pastor Brock, based on having someone attend a confidential meeting under false pretenses, a meeting where participants would expect to be safe in discussing their lives.

We call on Lavender Magazine and John Townsend to issue an apology for their journalistically unethical action, so that GLBT persons can feel safe in working through their personal lives in a way which is best for themselves, their families, and friends.

We wish Pastor Brock God’s blessing, as he works through this difficult time in his life. We hope that he will come to a more welcoming, Gospel-based understanding of God’s love for himself and for all GLBT people.

Note: In several of the following signatories, ELCA is an acronym for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Rev. Anita C. Hill, Co-Pastor, St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, ELCA, St. Paul

The Rev. Keith Olstad, Co-Pastor, St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church

The Rev. Paul A. Tidemann, Member, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, ELCA, St. Paul

The Rev. Jeff Sartain,
Pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis

The Rev. Erik Strand, Pastor, Edina Community Lutheran Church, ELCA, Edina

The Rev. Pam Fickenscher, Pastor, Edina Community
Lutheran Church, Edina

The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Member, Lyndale United Church of Christ, Minneapolis

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans
Concerned/North America

The Rev. Elizabeth
Macaulay, Richfield United Methodist Church, Minneapolis

The Rev. Dr. Anita L.
Bradshaw, Member, Mayflower United Church of Christ,

The Rev. Doug Donley, University Baptist Church,

The Rev. Steven L.
Robertson, Hospice Chaplain, Member, St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, ELCA

The Rev. Dr. Jenny Mason, Member, Grace University
Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

The Rev. Lowell Erdhal, Bishop Emeritus, St. Paul Area Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Jayne Thompson, Lutheran Campus Ministry, St. Cloud

Art Stoberl, Dignity
[Catholic Group], Twin Cities

The Rev. Laurie A. Eaton,
Pastor, Our Saviour’s
Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

The Rev. Jay Carlson, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church,

The Rev. Melissa Pohlman, Pastor, Christ English
Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

The Rev. Drew Flathman, Pastor, Lake Nokomis
Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

William Randall Beard, Co-Chair, Wingspan Ministry of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, ELCA

The Rev. James Erlandson, Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, St. Paul

Nothing Ethical About Courage

I just read the story in The New York Times concerning your article about the antigay pastor and “Courage.” I just want to say: “Hooray For You!” and keep up the good work.

There is absolutely nothing ethical about the work of groups such as “Courage.” These groups continue and abet the vilification of the GLBT community by continuing to spread their false messages that homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or a disease that needs to be “cured.”

It seems to me that your publication is the exact opposite of unethical. After all, isn’t it unethical of other publications and journalists to ignore the antics of these people and the groups they support? Especially since they don’t often hesitate to reprint the garbage these groups and self-hating homophobes spew, without doing any investigating of the people spewing.

Thank you for speaking out for all of us.

Craig Novak

Brock Is Dangerous

In my opinion, a person in power—be it political or religious—relinquishes their right to personal privacy. A person who has influence over others via their public agenda should be expected to live up to that in their private life as well. This man has been living hypocrisy in its truest form, and he’s been guiding others to live a hateful life along with him.

People should not hold outing this man against the journalist. I think it was something that had to be done. Especially people who pervert religious love into hate, and everything that is a weakness for him he equates as demonic. This man needs help, in a psychological way. There’s just so much hate there.

This reporter just did the most humanitarian thing possible in outing this man. I believe he’s dangerous, and should not be in a position of influence.

Beth Lamping

Comedian Offers Brock Limerick

A Lutheran pastor named Brock,

Preached hatred and lies to his flock.

But now, he’s left pouting

Because of his outing;

Apparently, Brock likes the c–k.

Drew Jansen

Joe McCarthy Would Have Loved Lavender

I am deeply disappointed in this article…way over the line ethically. I am an Episcopal priest, have an out-of-the-closet partnered son, worked in church communications for over 20 years, with doctoral work in journalism, so I’m pretty comfortable in my comments that this was way out of line on a whole lot of levels.

People wrestle with all sorts of things in therapies…and if thoughts alone are your criteria, then we are into an ethical ballgame that no one can win in. As a priest-psychoanalyst friend of mine said years ago: “If murderous thoughts were actionable, the streets would be littered with corpses. It’s why we distinguish between impulses, thoughts, and actions.”

For you guys to decide that Catholic therapy doesn’t count, because you disagree with its premise, is so presumptuous as to be ludicrous. It’s the church’s “seal of the confessional” from which virtually all over “professional confidentiality” laws have in fact evolved from. Back off.

Journalistically, this is a throwback to the worst of Hearst “yellow journalism.” Folks of all sorts of ideological positions have tried over the years to claim that their position’s truth trumps all others…and so, if they violate someone else’s rights…well, what the heck, “our cause is the only thing to measure by.” Senator Joe McCarthy would’ve loved you guys on this.

Bottom line: Get some perspective. Hypocrisy is a much overrated vice, but you guys are doing a nice job of it with this piece yourselves.

Leonard Freeman

12-Step Process Needs Anonymity

I believe that John Townsend and Lavender Magazine owe an immediate and sincere apology to Reverend Brock. There is no amount of vitriol that Brock spreads, even over radio airwaves, that warrants the type of unethical journalistic practice engaged in by the reporter and sanctioned by this publication. To go “undercover” and attend a 12-Step meeting usually only open to those struggling with that particular addiction, and then to break the confidentiality and anonymity of that group and one of its members, is not only unacceptable, it is dangerous for all people who attend such groups in hopes of building recovery.

Does opening this door mean it is now justifiable for someone from any publication or media outlet to do the same in any 12-Step group? Does this mean that anyone can report on attendance and the content of discussions by any so-called public figure in any 12-Step meeting? And who determines who is a public figure or what content might be newsworthy?

I can imagine the kind of chilling effect such action will have on open and honest discussion, disclosure which is at the core of recovery from addiction and compulsive behaviors. With this kind of permission to violate the tenets of anonymity, and justify “spying” on groups and their members, how can someone trust in the 12-Step process?

The fact that the LGBTQ population suffers from substance abuse, addictions, and mental health problems at a higher level than the general population means that tools for recovery are vital to our health and well-being. I am dismayed that a publication that ostensibly serves the LGBTQ market can be so blind to the potential consequences of its journalistic practices.

Lavender Magazine has opened a door that it should quickly slam shut by admitting that it was in error, and apologizing to Reverend Brock for its methods. Hopefully, this can contain the damage by preventing more unethical behavior on the part of other journalists in search of a story.

Kate Lehmann

Gay and Disability Discrimination Are Akin

I am a disability advocate, and founder of Diabetics/Disabled Anonymous, an organization that seeks to protect the disabled, seniors and low-income persons from discrimination and violation of their rights. I have known John Townsend for about 20 years, and have always respected him, his thinking, and his work as a journalist and artist.

The recent articles by Townsend in Lavender exposing allegedly 12-Step-type healing environments for homosexuals immediately made me recollect, and relate Townsend’s work to the recent series of programs done by Rachael Maddow of MSNBC a few months ago. In these programs, she exposed similar behaviors and creed on a national level regarding alleged gay healing groups and literature as the foundation for agitation in Uganda to make homosexuality a capital offense there. The massive efforts worked in Uganda, and the law has been changed there to make homosexuality punishable by death. I did not take notes on her programs, so do not have all the names, places, facts, and figures. However, I am sure Maddow would be happy to offer this to anyone who wants more facts and figures. Her analysis essentially, from what I could glean, was that these American gay healing groups had a sinister undercurrent and agenda that had nothing to do with healing gays, only with eliminating their civil and legal rights.

If, hypothetically, a disability organization were putting a public face forward that they were promoting rights and healing for the disabled, but in reality were covertly inciting undermining such rights, and even enabling laws criminalizing and abusing disabled persons, wouldn’t that be grounds for all types of undercover investigation, inclusive but not limited to journalistic investigation? I think it would, and confidentiality would not be a shield to enable what is essentially a hate crime, I believe, from going undetected, and known for its true substance.

While the disabled community and other similar minorities are not the gay community per se, the perennial hatred, discrimination, and attempts to create new legal systems that allow the worst in human nature are virtually identical, and come from the same place in the human heart—or perhaps heartlessness is a better choice of words.

This is never harmless, and never a one-of-a-kind thing. There is a relentless escalation in such conduct that unfortunately is intrinsic to the prejudice itself, and even with safeguards in place, this type of prejudice reemerges all too readily.

Reverend MaryJane Duchene

Survived Harmful Ex-Gay Experience

I recently read an article that discussed the ethics behind the reporting on this article.

As a survivor of Christian-based, ex-gay deprogramming over a period of about 12 years, I would like to speak up, and tell you that I don’t find any part of the reporting or the tactic unethical at all.

I don’t use the term “survivor” lightly, either. Going back into the closet walls enclosed by self-loathing, disdain for one’s true self was harmful and destructive, and sent me into a spiral of deep depression that nearly caused my death.

Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and groups like them are based on sound principles rooted in widely accepted psychology…and endorsed by most (if not all) psychology professionals as being helpful to the recovering addict.

In contrast, the “ex-gay” movement is eschewed by most members of the mental health/helping professionals as being harmful to the participants. Ex-gay programs are rooted in condemnation and guilt, and promote a very unhealthy detachment from one’s self that can lead to any number of bona fide psychological disorders (note: homosexuality is not a bona fide psychological disorder).

It is up to us to expose fraudulent, and downright nefarious ex-gay organizations and “ministries” (and frankly, all of Christianity) for the sham that they are. What your reporter did was a public service, and I laud him for having had the courage to do so.

Roland? St. George

Courage Is Sham 12-Step Group

There is no such thing as a “12-Step program to cure one’s homosexuality.” No scientific group of professionals would sanction such a thing. To even label a group as such is an insult. God, if you believe in him/her, made us either gay, straight, bi, or transgender. It is natural. It is akin to creating a 12-Step program for those left-handed.

So, to all of you who are crying foul because the author broke the confidentiality of a 12-Step program: Get real. This so-called 12-Step program is a sham. It is bogus. It is designed to create and maintain self-hatred. It is sanctioned by no one except homophobic faiths.

Brent Odden

Needed To Silence Brock

Well done! My heart goes out for Brock, who is clearly afflicted by mental and spiritual illness. But for the damage he afflicts on others, this is a needed step to silence, or at least curb, Brock’s voice. I hope and pray that Brock take this as a moment to move closer to Christ in coming to terms with how God made him. I hope this will assist nonheterosexuals in healing and empowerment.

God bless you, John Townsend! Keep up the great work!

Ryan D. Birkman

Brock Loves the Limelight

Having known Tom Brock since 1982, this doesn’t surprise me. I applaud your article. Those who attend confidential support groups should be aware of their words and actions when they are outside the group, as well as in. If Tom Brock hadn’t spewed outrageous and deadly remarks at every opportunity, he wouldn’t have had anyone expose his homophobic self-hatred in the media. What’s really pathetic is that Tom is undoubtedly relishing all the press he’s getting. While he loves the limelight, it doesn’t suit his complexion.

Lyn Carlson

Ends Do Not Justify Means

I find Brock’s hypocrisy and lack of compassion to be in excusable. However, I am deeply disturbed by John Townsend’s breach of commonly accepted journalistic ethics to get this story. Attending a gathering at which participants are granted, by the very ground rules of the meeting, confidentiality; not identifying himself as a reporter; and then disclosing what was said by Brock in a published story is irresponsible. Lavender Magazine is equally culpable for publishing this story that contains ill-gotten gains. I am not categorically against “outing,” but in this case, the ends do not justify the means.

Christopher Bargeron

No Reason To Be Proud

I think it is reprehensible what you did here. I don’t care how you characterize the group, I have to believe there was an expectancy of confidentiality. You have no reason to be proud of yourself or what you have done.

Mary Hassler

Brock Violates Eighth Step

Brock declared war on gays! Are we supposed to let him annihilate us, because he hides behind religion?

This is a sham of a 12-Step program. Those programs are designed to deal with addictions and illnesses. Being gay is neither.

Eighth step:? “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.”

Brock is not only violating that step, he is actively harming gay people’s right to love, safety, nondiscrimination, and the pursuit of happiness. He wants gays’ authentic-integral-self destroyed, and replaced with a self-loathing false-self. Misery indeed loves company.

It is the responsibility of every healthy gay person to out self-loathing homosexuals who are campaigning and influencing others against their very lives.

Lavender did Tom Brock a favor. He can now take pause, and do an honest inventory of his life.

“To thine own self be true.”

Paul Anthony

War for Gay Rights

Gay people who are in a position of authority, yet demean gays, should be outed by any means possible. This is a war for gay rights.

Robert H. Miller

“Queen” Gets Taste of Power

It’s the same old story. Some “queen” gets a taste of power, and wants to run everyone’s life!

Chet Lindsay

Saloon Bans Lavender
Subsequent to publication of the June 18 Lavender with the cover feature on Reverend Tom Brock, when a Lavender distribution person attempted to deliver the magazine to the Saloon bar in Minneapolis, a management person told him that if he left copies, they would be thrown out.

Letters are subject to editing for grammar, punctuation, space, and libel. They should be no more than 300 words. Letters must include name, address, and phone number. Unsigned letters will not be published. Priority will be given to letters that refer to material previously published in Lavender Magazine. Submit letters to Lavender Magazine, Letters to the Editor, 3715 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407; or e-mail [email protected]

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9 Responses to Letters

  1. Jonathan Lund says:

    I apologize in advance if I stray off-topic but it’s clearly related to this article. My line of health care work brings me into contact with another group of people under similar miserable, homophobic living conditions: addicts who are sent to Minnesota Teen Challenge, run by the same group that Sarah Palin is associated with (Assemblies of God). These people are very emotional and stage this born-again bull (speaking in tongues, rolling around on the floor) and if you’re gay, God help you. They treat you the same way those Catholic boarding schools used to treat Native American children by shame, abuse and threats. The ‘counselors’ at Teen Challenge (no clue why it’s called that when 50-year-olds are in the program) aren’t credentialed, nor do they have any college education or even a high school diploma. The only requirements are completing the program, and being a religious nut (many ‘counselors’ aren’t even 19 yet). They use threats and intimidation by placing gay and lesbian clients in humiliating situations followed by ‘if you don’t participate in our program, remember the court order: 180 days at Teen Challenge or jail. Your pick’. Its not uncommon for the females, who are the most in danger, to be sexually abused there with the ‘tell anyone and I’ll make sure you go to jail for 5 years). This is the Duluth program (the most difficult because it primarily deals with meth).

    We now have a weekly parade of MN Teen Challenge clients who are threatening to hang themselves, jump off the pier in Canal Park into Lake Superior, or take a bunch of sleeping pills and drown themselves in a bathtub. Every gay client I see who says this…I believe them and after some online searches I now see a class action lawsuit over this very issue.

    This is a result of Bush’s faith in action crap. These people are pure evil and use your gayness or female sexuality as some sort of punching bag.

  2. Donny Elmstad says:

    I can’t believe Lavender wouldn’t print the word “cock!”

  3. Anon says:

    Look. I’m gay, and was raised in the very homophobic environment that you get to spy into. And I know you think you did good here, but I know Tom Brock, and I know his flock, and you did nothing good for their views of the GLBT community. And what’s the point if not to change THEIR minds? I’m the one that has to muck through, repairing the damage you did to their views of the gay community, and try and get them back on the slow, careful path to finally being tolerant. They feel like you HARMED them, by violently exposing their lives to the world, in a way that had nothing to do with homosexuality at all. But you happen to be gay, and the issue happened to be homosexuality, so now they hate gay people even worse than they already did. And I have to put up with it. I have to hide who I am even more from my family, because of what you did.

    And all you’re really doing is preaching to a choir, not anybody who would openly disagree with you. At least that appears to be the only people you listen to. That and people who are clearly douchebags. You have no idea the pain you have caused to do this thing. The kind of judgment that goes on in that environment. You just don’t know enough about this culture to interact ethically with it. And you’re certainly not going to shape it into anything more ethical or functional, the way you go about things.

    It’s easy to stand on your out pedestal and out somebody else “for their own good”. Sure, I think his views are stupid and bigoted too, I’ve sat in his church and thought his views were stupid and bigoted, but that would never give me just cause to out a person without his or her permission.

    Be the better person, please. That will actually mean something to Christians, who really believe in turn the other cheek, when they’re not getting bogged down in spouted douchebaggery.

  4. A. Nonny Mouse says:

    What “fair and balanced” sampling? There were more letters praising Lavender’s unethical reporting than there were criticizing it.

  5. Jeff Winter says:

    I am no longer buying Lavender after the shameful and irresponsible article Mr.e wrote about Tom Brock. His deceitfulness makes me want to puke. People like Mr. Townsend are a blight to the gay community and the world of journalism. He will try to rationalize his actions. Others will try and tell him he was right in what he did. Mr. Townsend was dead wrong. He will reap what he sews. Someday he will receive much negative heaped on him for his hurtful actions. Only repentance will suffice. I wonder if this person knows what it means to repent?

  6. Gays,Lesbians who cares: The Issue is the Unethical Reporting by “crashing” the Religion_Church_ at a Private Meeting:

    MN has a Lesbian US Marshall Sharon Lubinski(sp) We have Lesbian Judges on the Bench specifically Chair of the State Committment Panel ie: Joanne Smith
    The Public’s Right to Know has never been Published
    Private Groups v. Public Elected Officials
    Works both Ways http://www.angelfire.com/mn3/andersonadvocates/panelorder.html

    The Public is better Served by Disclosure

  7. What a huge black mark that’s now been put upon so many “open and affirming” churches in the Twin Cities area. I’m appalled that so many pastors are criticizing Townsend and Lavender. Even moreso, how organized they seem to be together in issuing the same statement.

    Maybe Jesus and his followers should have issued an apology to Pilate for being so overt in marching into the city of Jerusalem uninvited and in such a way as to disturb the king.

    I wonder if all of these churches would issue the same response…

  8. R Anonymous says:

    I am still waiting for the public apology regarding the ethics used to create this article. From my happenings with Lavender Magazine I have learned that they care more about bringing in a dollar than they do for the community itself. I look forward to the day that Lavender sinks.

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