Gay Writer Profiles ’Ex-Gay’ Friend Michael Glatze

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 20, 2011

Writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis met an old friend and colleague to look back on old times and discuss how the old friend had changed. He wrote a profile of that old friend for the New York Times, reported SF Weekly in a June 17 article.

Denizet-Lewis' old friend had changed quite a lot, really, since the days when they both worked at XY Magazine, a publication -- the first of its kind -- geared for GLBT youth. Denizet-Lewis was meeting with Michael Glatze, once a leading light among GLTB youth and now an "ex-gay" who insists that God doesn't make people who are gay. Rather, Glatze told Denizet-Lewis, God makes people heterosexual, and then they somehow lose their way.

In Glatze's own case, Denizet-Lewis wrote in the New York Times, Glatze attributed his homosexuality -- or what he used to think of as his homosexuality -- to a lack of masculine identity, for which he laid the blame on his late father.

Indeed, those who question Glatze's "conversion" from gay to straight might also see Glatze's father as a key figure in the story of how a driven, ambitious young gay man, determined to make the world a better place for sexual minorities, one day sat before his computer at Young Gay Americatext, a publication for gay youth that he had started with his then-boyfriend, and declared his heterosexuality in terms that are familiar from the anti-gay religious right:

"I am straight," Glatze typed. "Homosexuality = Death. I choose Life."

The previous year, Glatze had feared that heart palpitations he was suffering might be a sign that he, like his father before him, was destined to die of a congenital heart problem. It was after medical tests showed that he did not the same heart defect, the New York Times article recollected, that Glatze began to praise right-wing personalities such as Ann Coulter.

"He was initially drawn to a liberal interpretation of the Bible and argued against a fundamentalist approach to Christianity," wrote Denizet-Lewis, but that, as it turned out, was just a way station on Glatze's road to purported heterosexuality.

Eventually, Glatze "left" homosexuality -- and the two men with whom he was in a relationship, longtime boyfriend Ben and a third member of their household with whom they had been involved for several years.

After that, Denizet-Lewis wrote, Glatze had two relationships with women, though Glatze would not disclose the extent to which those attachments were sexual or romantic, telling the writer only that he had been "like an excited teenager" and that the relationships had not been "godly."

Denizet-Lewis' article covered the territory that stories about "ex-gays" must, almost by necessity, address: Whether Glatze had perhaps never been gay to begin with, or whether he simply has quashed his same-sex feelings to a point where they are almost never part of his conscious experience. Denizet-Lewis asked Glatze whether he had secretly been miserable during the time he identified as gay.

"Well, you can't see how dark it is in a cave when you're in it," Glatze responded. "But, no, at the time I didn't consider myself unhappy."

Glatze told the writer that he no longer experienced same-sex attraction, and said that when he used to have recurrences of same-sex attraction, he would "sit with" the feeling, much as one might do in meditation, in order to "unpack" it and, in so doing, defuse it.

The former leading light of the equality movement also told the writer not to invest himself emotionally in same-sex relationships.

"God loves you more than any dude will ever love you," the gay rights icon-turned-bible school student told the writer. "Don't put your faith in some man, some flesh. That's what we do when we're stuck in the gay identity, when we're stuck in that cave.

"We go from guy to guy, looking for someone to love us and make us feel O.K., but God is so much better than all the other masters out there," Glatze added, though he did not outline why heterosexual relationships -- also fleshly -- were any more desirable.

Denizet-Lewis did not arrive at any conclusions regarding Glatze's true sexuality, other than to refer to him as a "puzzle." But while he did not outright deny Glatze's current status as an "ex-gay," the writer did speak from his own truth as a gay man who could simply stop being gay, as Glatze seemingly claims to have done.

"Though I don't doubt that sexual attraction can evolve, I was skeptical of Michael's claim of heterosexuality," he wrote, "and I rejected his argument that 'homosexuality prevents us from finding our true self within.' "

The article also reported on Glatze's self-proclaimed truths.

"I don't see people as gay anymore," Glatze told the writer. "God creates us heterosexual. We may get other ideas in our head about what we are, and I certainly did, but that doesn't mean they're the truth."

Glatze has stated and re-stated similar opinions in his writings for anti-gay religious website WorldNetDaily, which has been all too happy to hold Glatze up as an example of the things that the anti-gay faithful insist about homosexuality: That it is not an inborn characteristic; that gay people can choose to change into heterosexuals; that acceding to demands from the GLBT community grant gays and their families equal status before the law would constitute a legitimization of "immorality."

"When I was faced with the prospect of either being a 'man' or being 'me' -- who I saw as 'better than that' and 'not someone who would do such awful things as men do' -- I chose 'me," Glatze wrote in a July 10, 2007, WND article. "Then, because 'me' was not 'a man,' 'me' became gay.

"I'm not saying this is how homosexuality develops for everybody," Glatze continued. "It's just my story."

But a story that seems consistent, logical, and even obvious to a person living it can seem inexplicable to others. To make sense of Glatze's story, Denizet-Lewis contacted Ben, who read some of Glatze's old poetry aloud to the writer -- verse that despaired of "people scrambling for a home amidst the labels," the article said.

"It all sounded very much like the Michael I knew at XY, a young man who was fascinated by queer theory," Denizet-Lewis wrote, "and who dreamed of a world without labels like 'straight' and 'gay,' which he deemed restrictive and designed to 'segment and persecute,' as he argued in a 1998 issue of XY."

Denizet-Lewis went on to speculate that "Michael's new philosophy might, in a strange way, be a logical extension of what he believed back then -- that "gay" is a limiting category and that sexual identities can change."

Ben agreed with him on this, Denizet-Lewis wrote.

"A radical queer activist and a fundamentalist Christian aren't always as different as they might seem," Ben told the writer, "adding," Denizet-Lewis reported, "that they're ideologues who can railroad over nuance and claim a monopoly on the truth."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.