Starred Review. This is ethnography at its best: an outsider's careful, respectful translation of a subculture that is often poorly understood and easily dismissed in academic and political discourse. In this case, the subculture is religious conservatives who believe that homosexuality is a choice to be overcome. Erzen, an assistant professor of comparative studies at Ohio State University, spent a year of intensive dissertation fieldwork in 2000 with a residential program in the ex-gay movement called New Hope. The ministry caters to men, usually from conservative Christian backgrounds, who struggle with a deeply felt contradiction between their sexual desires and their religious convictions. Erzen argues that most analysis of the ex-gay movement has failed to grasp the powerful role of religion, and how many homosexuals yearn to reconcile sexuality and faith. Her study puts complex human faces on this small piece of the ex-gay movement while at the same time providing a well-researched backdrop for where the ministry fits into ongoing debates. She has terrific chapters on the history of the ex-gay movement, the nature/nurture debate around homosexuality and the discourse of addiction that undergirds much of the ex-gay movement. Her book is likely to become a staple for college courses on political discourse, religion and sexuality. (June)
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University of California Press
May 27, 2006
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