This paper will analyze “queer” confessional practices in the Ex-gay Movement using a governmental perspective. The Ex-gay Movement is a loosely organized phenomenon that mixes ancient spiritual practices rooted in confession, prayer, and Bible study with modern psychological techniques rooted in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. It claims to “heal” homosexuality. Although the movement accepts a queer definition of sexual fluidity, it still encourages LGBTQ people to turn towards the “truth” and change their sexual and religious orientations so as to live good “straight” Christian lives. For ex-gays living within a religiously ordained heteronormative context, the fluidity of sexuality is not a spectrum that opens up new possibilities—it is a situation that must be struggled against and corrected through religious and psychological work. The primary technique through which the self-deprecating “queerness” of this movement will be critiqued in this paper is the ancient practice of confession. This requires an examination of correspondences between aspects of this movement and aspects of the historical research of Michel Foucault, whose research into both modern and ancient forms of governmentality provides the basis for this paper’s theoretical approach.
|Keywords:||Ex-gay Movement, Confession, Foucault, Governmentality, Truth, Queer Theory, Christianity, Homosexuality, Identity Politics|
PhD Student/Teaching Assistant, Joint Program in Communication and Culture, York and Ryerson Universities, Toronto, Ontario, Canada