Get off the cross, Peter!
It took some time, but our friend Peter LaBarbera has answered back to the charges that his group, Americans for Truth (AFT), had joined the American Family Assocation (AFA) in selling a fradulent video tape, "It's Not Gay."
For those who aren't aware, the video features an HIV positive man, Michael Johnston, who made claims that he was no longer gay. In 2003, after the making of the tape, it was discovered that Johnston was having unprotected gay sex.
This means that Johnston's claims were wrong. Since his discovery, Johnston fled the public eye, retreating to a ministry where he hoped to receive "help."
However, AFA is still selling copies of "It's Not Gay." Also, one can get to the AFA page selling the tape from a link on the AFT site. Neither site acknowledges Johnston's fall, even though both groups were aware of it at the time. Johnston, in fact, is on the cover of the "It's Not Gay" tape.
Gay activist Wayne Besen and others (little ole me included) have been making a stink about this. Wayne even filed a complaint with the state of Illinois, accusing AFT and AFA of selling a fradulent tape.
As to be expected, Peter's letter is a whiny, shrill claim that the "Gay Mafia" is trying to silence his positive message of "freedom from homosexuality."
In other words, Peter is trying to change the subject of the argument. For claritys' sake, I will try to simplify Peter's claims.
Besides his claims of martyrdom, LaBarbera says his group merely linked the tape on the AFA webpage to its webpage. He said Americans for Truth is not getting any money from the sale of the video. He also said:
American Family Association stopped selling “It’s Not Gay” in 2003, when Mike Johnston’s scandal was revealed, but began reselling it when they were convinced after meeting with Mike about the genuineness of his restoration through Pure Life Ministries (I spoke with two top AFA officials yesterday on this point)
First of all, it does not matter whether or not AFT gets any money from the sale of "It's Not Gay." By having a link for that video on its webpage, the organization is complicit with any sale of the video. After all, someone could get on the AFT site, see the video, click the link and purchase it from the AFA site.
Sounds like a sale to me.
And most importantly, Johnston is in the tape making claims that were not true. We know that Johnston claimed to be free from homosexuality. And we know that while he was making those claims, he was engaging in unprotected gay sex. All of that has been documented.
But how do we know if he has, as LaBarbera says, "repented?"
You see, that's the problem: Johnston has no credibility. No matter how many times he claims to have repented and no matter how many times he claims to be free from being gay, his past escapades make him unreliable. His hotel exploits are now the albatross around his neck.
And this also diminishes the credibility of AFA and AFT.
The selling of "It's Not Gay" was wrong. At the very least, it is highly unethical. AFA and AFT had a responsibility to inform any potential buyer of the tape about Johnston's fall. But they didn't. Claiming that it is okay to sell the tape because he "repented" just doesn't cut it.
Nor does it take away the fact that these two groups, by selling the tape as it was, pretended like nothing had happened. Something did happen. While claiming that he was not gay, Johnston was having gay sex and potentially sharing his HIV positive status to other men.
Peter's letter omitted any mention of those men. I guess to him, they don't matter.
But rest assured, Peter. I don't wish to shut down your voice or that of your organization. In fact, I encourage you to be even more generous with your opinions and claims.
After all, every time you open your mouth, you give away more of your ignorance.