Unsurprisingly too, a large number those comments were of the nature of anti-gay remarks (expletives, actually). Implicit behind some of those remarks was the assumption that the children’s book was published by some homosexual man in the hope of “softening” up targets — prepubescent boys.
See? This is what gay men get up to, the comments sort-of said. What more proof does one need of the danger of “gayism”?
It takes barely one minute and a few taps on a computer keyboard to discover that the truth behind that single image is the complete opposite, though the sad thing is that 99% of those so quick to comment on Facebook never bothered to search.
The illustration in question came from a book — indeed, a children’s book — titled Alfie’s Home, published in 1993 by Richard A Cohen and Elizabeth Sherman. In the book, the narrator is the boy himself, probably so that young readers can better identify with the story.
Here are some other pages from the book. By the end of it, it should be as clear as day what message the authors were trying to spread.
Everybody thinks we’re really happy, but I am not.
My dad is always working and when he’s at home, he screams a lot. That really hurts me.
Mom cries sometimes because she doesn’t know what to do. Then she holds me, telling me about her unhappiness and problems. It makes me feel very uncomfortable and strange.
I really wish my dad would spend time with me instead of screaming and yelling.
Uncle Pete comes over sometimes. He lives with us every now and then. He is really kind to me –holding me, listening to me, and making me feel loved.
One night, when he was holding me, he started touching my private parts. Over time, he taught me to touch and play with his. It felt very strange, scary and a little good too. He told me it was OK, that this means he really loves me. This went on for several months. He told me, “This is our special secret.”
Mom and Dad would fight. I thought they didn’t love me. Maybe they fought because of me?
When I became a teenager, I started feeling really different from the other guys. Some of them called me names like “Sissy,” “Faggot,” “Queer,” “Homo.” I didn’t know what they meant.
After awhile [sic], I went to a counselor for help and advice. I told him my story and that I thought I was gay.
He said I wasn’t gay. I just missed my Dad’s love and was taught wrong things by my uncle.
He said it was very bad what my uncle did to me. He should never have touched my private parts, or have me play with his. The counselor said it wasn’t my fault, that my uncle took advantage of my need for Dad’s love.
He explained that because I didn’t experience affection with my father, that now I was looking for closeness with other boys, to fill the need for my Dad’s love.
I felt so relieved. He said he would talk to my parents and help them understand. He said he would also contact Uncle Pete and made sure he got help.
The counselor explained to my Mom and Dad about my struggle and need for Dad’s love. He told them of my confusion about being gay. He told Dad that I needed his TIME, TOUCH and TALK.
Mom and Dad went to a counselor who helped them love each other more. They even stopped fighting. . . well, at least most of the time!
My counselor and I met with Uncle Pete. I told him how much he hurt me. He cried and asked me to forgive him.
That helped me a lot.
Now, I realize that I’m not gay.
Spending time with my Dad really healed my heart. All I needed was his time, touch and talk.
Finally, I am happy at home.
* * * * *
The whole premise of the story should now be crystal clear, and quite different from the initial impression. It is a piece of propaganda — not by a pro-gay lobby, but from anti-gay fanatics, aiming to plant the idea that gay men are predators, and boys turn homosexual because their fathers were absent from their lives. This theory of absent father and too-close mother as a “cause” of homosexuality has long been shown to be bunkum. A century of research has found nothing to support such nonsense. Take a simple straw poll: Lots of straight men report growing up with distant fathers. Lots of gay men report growing up in close-knit and attentive families.
However, according to Wikipedia, it is a theory that author Richard Cohen has hawked for years. He is notorious for promoting his “conversion” therapies in which he claims he can turn gay people straight. Such false therapies have been condemned by psychology professionals.
Nonetheless, Alfie’s Home is a seductive story. Lots of gay teenagers are unhappy — not because they are gay, but because they are socially ostracised. But unless they think through it, they seldom make the distinction. All they know is that they are unhappy, and when a simplistic story like Cohen’s comes along, “explaining” their unhappiness, they seize on it. Few take the trouble to see that many families have parents fighting, or a father who is stressed out work-wise and thus seldom at home. This may not be healthy, but it is so common that it is almost normal. To try to use this situation as a starting explanation for homosexuality in sons is laughable.
It is also seductive to any other reader desperately trying to deny homosexuality. The message is: If your boy thinks he is gay, he is actually “confused”, and a simple visit to a therapist will fix it.
The “hero” of the story, coming to “save” the boy and the family was the counselor. Guess what? In 2002, Richard Cohen, the author, “was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association, after it accused him of six violations of its ethics code, which bars members from actions which ‘seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients, those that exploit the trust and dependency of clients, and for soliciting testimonials or promoting products in a deceptive manner’ ” — according to Wikipedia.
What do you think “seeking to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients” means?
One more thing: The scene in which the boys’ peers call him names is disturbing because, absent a clear stand against it, the book effectively endorses name-calling.
* * * * *
This kind of book is hate speech.
Imagine an analogy. If we went around suggesting that
- Muslims are predators, e.g. out to recruit young boys to be terrorists the same way as Uncle Pete is depicted as taking advantage of Alfie,
- that there is an irreconciliable opposition between being Muslim and having happy, healthy families,
- and that if anyone were “confused”, a visit to the counselor (or some other non-Muslim religious leader) would do the trick
would be outrageous.
If it is wrong to make such slanderous claims about Islam and Muslims, it is wrong to make such claims about gay people.
* * * * *
Fortunately, other things circulate on Facebook as well. This one for instance: