Exercising control in life is a daunting task and uncertainty of the future manages to frighten us in one way or another regardless of trial-and-error attempts to keep the unpredictable at bay. The 2018 Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California’s history, burned over 150,000 acres of land resulting in $16 billion in damages and over 80 civilian fatalities with three still remained missing. By providing the example of civilian displacement in Butte County which reached an estimated evacuation of 52,000 people, the impact of this natural disaster illustrates the devastation that follows losing one’s sense of place. On any scale, the circumstance in itself challenges the integrity of our strength and stability of our value system. What happens when widespread tragedy or adverse circumstance relocates you? How can you possibly understand someone’s lived experience of negative environmental change? Published by Time Magazine on April 1, 2015, an article written by their contributing writer Maggie Jones covered the story of a man who was confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at his apartment in Vancouver, Washington. Adam Crasper fell victim to a forest fire all his own when he received news that his adoptive parents failed to file citizenship papers for him upon his initial arrival, compromising his livelihood. This particular case became an ordeal for over a dozen other South Korean adoptees. For one man, extradition led Phillip Clay to the taking of his own life. Having been forcibly separated from his wife and children in the United States, Crasper is now held in abeyance; existing as a complete stranger in South Korea. In the face of modeling the genetics of South Korean citizens on all sides of him, an explicit language barrier, new social identities and a cultural gulf suspend Adam Crasper in a contested place. The fundamental purpose of this chapter is to examine the understanding and meaning of losing a sense place and how that negatively affected Adam Crasper following his deportation from the United States.
Adoption Before and After 2001
Born Shin Seong-hyeok in 1976, Adam Crasper was three years old at the time of his adoption and was raised in Michigan, USA. In January of 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement opened deportation proceedings on Crasper, detained him in February of 2016 and his deportation to South Korea took place the following November at age 41. The declination of citizenship to Adam Crasper was principally due to an absence of responsibility. At the point of his adoption, take for instance a timeframe for international adoptions within the margins of the 70s and 80s, he was granted permanent resident status upon his arrival in the United States. This period was also widely known as the adoption boom, achieving upwards of 20,000 South Korean adoptees alone. With this in mind, Hayeon Kim, a 2018 graduate of Wolfson College with an academic background in Asian American studies and American studies, wrote a dissertation on the case of Adam Crasper, clarifying that:
It was the responsibility of his adoptive parents to apply for his naturalization and pay the necessary application fees to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service). Due to the neglect of his adoptive parents, who chose not to apply for his citizenship and periodically withheld his adoption records, Adam was left without citizenship and thus vulnerable to deportation laws. (Kim, Hayeon)
Verifying that his first set of adoptive parents forsook him certainly resonated with the people who followed Crasper’s story. Evidently, this was the course of events that sparked Kim’s interest. As consequence of situations such as his, restoring procedural safeguards ensured for future foreign-born parents to not be separated from their children.
On its effective date, February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act set up by congress took action which meant that all children (140,000) who fell under a list of requirements set by the government, automatically became U.S. citizens, but those who were older than 18 years of age were excluded from acquiring American citizenship. According to the Adoptee Rights Campaign otherwise known as the ARC, this move denied between 25,000 and 49,000 adult adoptees. “The majority live as permanent residents, a nebulous status within American immigration law that can be rescinded if an individual commits a crime that falls within a broad range of nonviolent ‘aggravated felonies,’ including burglary and selling drugs” (Medina, Daniel A.). The number of people living in the United States with this predicament is staggering, although it’s no excuse- the least of it appears convincing of deterring people from any form of wrongdoing or illegal acts. The brutality of being transplanted into a country that you’re only bound by because of your birth, is inhumane, but the disposition of Adam Crasper suggests that the motive behind his arrest had some value.
To Adam Crasper’s dismay, the adoption agency whom his first set of adopted parents worked with, Seoul-based Holt Children’s Services, neglected to follow up with them on finalizing his naturalization or to ensure that he was being taken care of. Unfortunately, he faced reoccurring abuse from not only the original couple that had adopted him but also the second. This chain of mistreatment and abandonment led to Crasper’s homelessness and eventual criminal convictions. Needless to say, his past doesn’t come to the aid of his situation.
Digging Up Criminal Records
Contributing factors led to the deportation of Adam Crasper and the late Phillip Clay. On the subject of responsibility, opening the floor for debating the ethics of these measures matters. This concept in particular persuades the public of empathy rather than indifference. The act of removing a human-being with a fully developed sense of place and identity from the landscape of that they associate with is nothing but a mistake. Removing a newborn or child inept of comprehension from one place to another does not bear the same implications; both experiences are radically divergent. On the other hand, being held personally culpable for more than one offense raises an eyebrow. Would comparing a jail or prison sentence in the United States to deportation qualify as a substantial argument? Is deportation an appropriate solution for certain misconduct?
In the likeness of Crasper, Clay met with the other side of the law more than once. Deportation became more likely without either one of them taking time to recognize their vulnerability. Jason Nark wrote about Clay’s death for the Donaldson Adoption Institute, citing the reactions of his passing from the Adoptee Rights Campaign, otherwise known as the ARC. In truth, “an estimated 30,000 adoptees lack citizenship because of the disconnected processes” (Nark, Jason), but acknowledgement of mental illness throughout his adulthood and repeated run-ins with the law as a notorious bicycle thief deteriorated his chances.
“According to U.S. immigration law, Adam was deported for his convicted offenses, which included burglary when he returned to the Crapser’s home as a homeless teen in search of his own belongings. Adam’s attempt to renew his Green Card triggered a background check for these convictions” (Kim, Hayeon). He is currently one of five adoptees that have been deported from the United States that the Seoul government have now confirmed are residing in South Korea. The narratives from other adoptees who had been sent back to countries other than South Korea beg for luminosity over the widespread incompetence and mismanagement of adoption agencies at both the federal and state level. Equally important, they also accentuate a lack of interagency communication between the U.S. State Department and the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS). “In all the cases reviewed by The Intercept, adoptees were unaware that they were not U.S. citizens until well after 18 years of age — the legal cut off point for adoptive parents to naturalize their children. A staggering number were denied citizenship due to their adoptive parents failing to file just one document — a certificate of citizenship known as the N-600 form — before they became legal adults” (Medina, Daniel A.). There’s no question that the truth of the matter is unpleasant. Crasper’s second pair of adopted parents Thomas and Dolly Crasper were also abusive and in an interview, Crasper reported that they had sometimes slam their own children’s heads into walls and even burn their skin with heated objects. In 1991, the Crapsers were arrested on charges of child abuse, rape and sexual abuse. As a result, Adam spiraled but later opened a barber shop and an upholstery business. By the time he had turned his life around, the received a knock at the door. He held himself responsible for his own actions but was deportation truly the right punishment?
Understanding Our Identity By Place
What does it mean to remove a child from his or her birth culture or recognize the displacement of an individual in the early stages of youth? I originally developed an interest in this case study because of my own adoption story. Coming to terms with the knowledge that you may have carried out not only an entirely different life, but identity, requires time. Jokes coated with a dark flavor bounce off of my tongue naturally- take for instance, one of my first drives into Yellowstone National Park. For example: riding in the passenger seat of my car with my caucasian father, completely intrigued by the number of asian tourists piling into buses left and right, or binge watching content from a channel known as Asian Boss on YouTube in order to learn about Chinese and South Korean beauty standards. Together, these experiences highlight my unfamiliarity with people that only look like me. I have been raised to make meaning and develop my identity by virtue of the cultural values, including but limited to, those in my family, religion, socio-economic status and geographical location.
According to research done by Mark Montgomery and Irene Powell, children raised in countries with a greater ranking economy are more likely to receive a quality education than those who do not. Moreover, by examining mortality figures of children under the age of 5 in Ethiopia and Guatemala, it was found that adoptions to the United States prevented an upwards of 600 deaths in children between 2005 and 2011. Monique of Green Acorns contributed to a child’s sense of place in her article about developing a sense of place. To illustrate, she gives prominence to quote by Anita Rui Olds:
“The motivation to interact with the environment exists in all children as an intrinsic property of life, but the quality of the interactions is dependent upon the possibilities for engagement that the environment provides.” (Anita Rui Olds, 1979)
Russian parliament voted to ban adoptions to the United States in 2012 in response to the case of 2-year-old Dima Yakovlev who died in a hot car due to his adopted father’s neglect in 2008. Despite this unfortunate event, statistics covering 60,000 adoptees from Russia to the United States found that only 19 died from abuse or neglect in the last two decades in comparison to Russia’s child abuse rate being 25 times higher. The quality of life for an adoptee in the United States becomes appreciably greater, permitting Anita Rui Old’s quote from 1979 to resonate with the statistical truth; a child’s likelihood for experiencing a better quality of interactions with their environment increases outside of Russia.
In Tim Cresswell’s Place: A Short Introduction, Cresswell addresses how we decide whether or not a geographical place would be a ‘nice place to live’ through geographer Karen Till’s paper. “She argues that the place is created through the invention of traditions to ‘validate the establishment of a residential community by providing a sense of historical continuity and stability’.” (Till 1993, 710). In order to promote the idea that place can be rooted in history by the materials used in order to develop it, Till showcased how city planners used this method by means of giving that place, (Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County) a sense of place. Vancouver, WA has a very rich blend of beauty and history, with artist sprawled throughout the city. Aside from the obvious between Vancouver, WA and Seoul, South Korea which would be the English vs. Korean language barrier, the asian ethnicity in Vancouver only makes up 5% of the population. In South Korea, the population is over 99% (homogenous) in South Korean ethnic background. With an overwhelming difference in culture, Crasper’s sense of place is lost. Choosing to live in Vancouver, WA with his wife and children was a choice made due to a conscious acceptance of the decision made about the town before it was invented. It was a ‘good place to live’ considering his residency there; time allowed his identity to be further produced in the streets he walked and understood.
Cresswell also looks into the difference between the Northern and Southern parts of the United States and questions how many regions can be identified in New England alone. The characteristics that define a geographical location encourage how we form an identity with place. Vancouver, WA gives a resident of that community a very specific apprehension of movement and human interaction; all that differ from the language and histories in Seoul. Professing our love for the American landscape has been celebrated in the United States because of the diversity in physicality seen from east to west. The American patriotic song written by Katherine E. Bates in 1895 even includes, “O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain!America! America! God shed His grace on thee.” The importance we place on geographical locations provides evidence for place-based identities.
The contrast between Vancouver and Seoul is not only the vegetation and the distance of the area to the equator, but the upset of the senses to the air quality, time difference from where his family lives, the mannerisms and the gestures of people and architecture. South Korean culture is heavily influenced by Confucian philosophy and there you’ll find evidence of filial piety. Conformity is praised in South Korea, mostly because the diversity in the United States is so far removed from that of South Korea. Difference has the ability to equate to bad and Adam Crasper appears to play the part of the show but misses every line.
How Negative is Negative?
The deportation put an almost intolerable strain on Adam Crasper’s marriage and mental health. Not only was he now living thousands of miles away but it was absolutely impossible to be actively involved in the raising of his own children. His psychiatrist hasn’t been able to speak enough English to where his loneliness has decreased nor the rehabilitation of his sense of place. Knowing that he has eight years to go from 2019 in order to be eligible to return to the U.S., the fact only multiplies the intense anxiety and depression.
In January of 2019 it was announced that Adam Crasper decided to seek out justice for himself by suing the South Korean government and Holt Children’s Services for negligence regarding how he and thousands of other South Korean adoptees were sent out of the country without accounting for future citizenship. Furthermore, he has also been battling the misconception that he was in the United States illegally.
Losing a sense of place has the power to break somebody down when their identity is thrown into the dark. Adam Crasper has no emotional attachment to South Korea. The businesses he built from scratch were properly cared for and placed with determination. His shape of place was set in Vancouver, WA, a place where he was about to conduct his own life and the lives of each family member. Without any memories of Seoul, at any basic level, it’s obvious as to why this story was told. Crasper met face to face with reprehensible treatment because he has not been able to fit into the identities of South Korean people. Like the Camp Fire in Butte County, it will take a while for him to be able to return where he belonged. When he eventually goes back, he will go with the understanding of how much he has lost. It will take time.
On pg. 151, “Finding a place of one’s own may be less about developing a sense of place and more about human competition and ownership.” I challenged my point of view when it came to discerning what makes a place authentically natural or wild. In the city, we navigate the city while looking down at our phones. For a place where people are so closely combined, the likeness for someone to lend a helpful hand decreases. It has me think about the bystander effect. The more people who witness something along the lines of a robbery or heart attack, the less likely someone will help immediately. More often- the simple gesture of someone holding a door I’ve found is quite rare. We’re all looking out for only ourselves. The city makes you selfish. Ironically, in a smaller town setting, I’ve come to realize that people are more likely to raise someone else up and invest their time into someone else’s. I would have assumed it to be authentically natural to be more helpful in a city that online, claims to be “so progressive” because unless an event like the annual gay pride parade for example were to happen, we’re all about keeping things to ourselves. I remember being in a dining room with friends and all of our phones were dead but we needed to know how to get to a theater nearby. I suggested we ask a couple a table away from us and my friends at the time, in all seriousness, attacked me for even suggesting it. I haven’t spoken to them since. But that mindset was in play all of the time. Going outside to catch the train, we joked, was going “into nature” (how absurd). For a city goer, yes, in a city park there can be the possibility to have a profound experience. The connection I had to nature was wildly different than my connection it in Bozeman. Finding a place of my own, in order to have that profound experience was moving to Montana. In a large city, you’re given the same chance to feel alone (although in a different way) but in doing so you compare your individuality to others; it’s more culturally diverse than Bozeman and mindsets go all over the spectrum. Finding a place of my own, I discovered, was in a remote wilderness place. Instead of a city setting, it gave me the chance to analyze myself and figure out who I am as a person without the comparisons to others around me. I own my identity here- my identity was fully formed in Montana but without my experience in nature of a city setting, I don’t think it could have come to this kind of fruition. In a way, I do think that I’ve constructed a sense of place in nature by “avoiding crowds” and “being alone” because I prefer that and never feel any form of emptiness. My definition of “being alone” is done purposefully here. In the city, you leave the house with that feeling of being alone whether you want it or not. Contrary to belief, purposefully “being alone” isn’t all damaging and can be quite rewarding. Taking the time to decide how you’ll execute that task is up to you. I can recreate the feeling of being alone and have it impact me in a positive way rather than in a negative way. I do like how the reading implies how leaving the crowds to find nature doesn’t mean nature doesn’t exist where they came from. The nature of the city, I’ve found, just isn’t the one I prefer.
Deborah L. Williams and Elizabeth A. Brandt study the nature of place in chapter 3, elucidating on how place meanings and attachments are constructed through the competing interpretations of people interacting within those places. Homogeneously in chapter 14, Rick Carpenter investigates place-identity; questioning the extent of a place in terms of physical space. Both chapters rely on studying the interactions and discourse between people and the environment, touching specifically on how people gather an awareness of where they are with the consideration of narrative and social histories.
For the townsfolk in opposition of the proposed biomass electric generating plant in Valdosta, Georgia, concerns surrounding the theoretical location of the plant exhibited an appreciation for and consciousness of place. In a surprisingly touching rant given by a local resident on June 18, not only were geographical concerns raised but also communal. “The geographic rhetoric of the opponents’ discourse was characterized by a greater sensitivity to the embodied spatiality of the lived environment- the historical experiences, cultural backgrounds, and social positions of those who inhabit, embody, and, indeed, construct particular locations.” (205) For one person, the plant would be situated in simply, “an ideal location” but for a longtime resident, a recognizable and memorable landmark deserving of conservation. In chapter 3, the community of Superior encounters the same question of residents’ attachment to place and meanings in terms of a proposed new copper mine. The proponents in this scenario were those whose livelihoods had previously been threatened during the 1995 Magma Mine closure; mining was the initial draw to Superior. With the development of a new mine, it would be “seen as potentially saving kin, place, and community.” (43). For these people in particular, the construction of a mine would restore the place in which they had originally identified. Those not in favor of the new copper mine- people who moved into town long after 1995- would see it as a disruption to the physical and cultural landscape. With the immigration of new people following the Magma Mine closure, brought new attitudes that overlook cultural ties. Together, both chapters work to allege that places are also narratives, taking into account the historical social positions of citizens and continual production of space.
When the biomass electric generating plant was proposed, those who dwelled in Valdosta, Georgia recognized the power of the dominant discourse. This interaction distinguished the importance of peoples’ ties to place even more and how somebody experiences their residence, which ultimately maintains a particular identity. Valdosta identifies by the production of various experiences an individual has had there and the installment of a biomass plant would interrupt that sense of place and change the narrative. The narrative in the case of Superior would change drastically for newcomers but return to its original glory for natives.
Carpenter makes an indispensable claim when declaring that the rejection of the conventional view of spaces/places as fixed, empty backgrounds is crucial- that places and spaces should be seen as “dynamic scenes of action both constituted by and constitutive of the social.” (207) Moreover, the concept of having a relationship with place automatically assumes that narrative plays a role- even histories. A story simply wouldn’t exist without a history because histories inhabit landscapes. When the reframing for the mine in Superior was underway, cultural and historical ties to mining were rhetorically displayed. Those who originally dwelled in Superior provided the existing emotional character of the town, linking mining (source of identity) to their sense of place.
It’s an interesting contrast to examine in which the proponents of Superior were the original locals and the proponents of Valdosta were never integrated into the community whatsoever. Instead, the opponents of the proposal in Valdosta were residents and the opponents in Superior were those who came into the space later on. As the audience, we are given the opportunity to witness how both sides experience place; watching how a group of people make decisions for their environment based on their lived-experience and awareness of place there. Both chapters assist the audience in understanding how to determine the response from citizens in both Superior and Valdosta concerning major changes and developments in their local environment.
Goggin, Peter N. Environmental Rhetoric and Ecologies of Place. Routledge, 2013.
I am gay. I am also Christian. I was raised in a Christian household with missionary parents who traveled the world, carrying me with them every step of the way. My father, a pastor, always allowed me to embark on my own conquests and gave me the freedom to discover who I was without any constraints. Many parents governed their children in the church that I was raised, causing them to rebel following their high school graduation and never allowing God into their hearts again. When I approached the real world, I observed new points of view and came across many people similar to me. I asked questions and gathered information to take home on the weekends. New York City wasn’t a strange place to be considering I was practically raised going to Broadway shows after school and most everybody I knew was either an actor or a model. I was given the benefit of knowing two completely different lives and very rarely, would I find a hybrid of both.
It was an oddity to talk about doing photoshoots in Los Angeles with my church group, as it was odd for me to talk about my church group during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week where most everybody behind the scenes is gay. I started doing fashion photography when my mom passed away from brain cancer when I was 15, so I was given everything but robbed of one of the most important people in my life. I had to find a way out of my head and art was the direction I took. Always artistically inclined, I was involved with extremely powerful people who governed social media and that was an entirely new perspective on ownership and power. I didn’t want anything to do with that, as I wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with people who told me that I was the embodiment of the cardinal sin; homosexuality.
Everyone possesses a different default setting and depending on where their faith is rooted, an automatically negative response consumes their eyes. They are unable to cope with the fact that I identify as two ‘different’ things. As if to say that I am an example of the greatest taboo. To be fair, those confrontations are gladly unusual. I instead, come across people who are understanding and willing to listen before they pass a judgement. In fact, the acceptance of Christians to the LGBTQ community is greater than I think society pretends it to be. When I discovered the reality of gay conversion therapy, my heart stopped wandering and re-evaluated what it desired. I began doing research on what conversion absolutists believe and walked away completely astonished.
Gay conversion therapy was actually a thing and people my age at Parsons New School of Design told provided me with grim details of the war between their faith vs. their sexuality; two things that exclusively, never showed a genuine difference to me. In the beginning of the fall of 2018 I made the decision to move forward with bridging the gap between LGBTQ and Christian people because I realized that I was one of the only people gay men and women would allow me try and evangelize to. I understood both parties. I was a hybrid with a lot to say and a didn’t want to be silenced by ignorance.
Andy Hintzpeter, of Bozeman, Montana also sees the world through my eyes and when we spoke over the phone we were able to compare “notes” on our lives. When he returned to the states after attending university in Europe, Hintzpeter decided to participate in reparative therapy. “When I came back to Bozeman, I returned to my childhood church where it was always taught that homosexuality was an evil sin. I decided I needed to do what I could to be normal and heal myself of this evil. I was still deeply closeted, though, so I ordered a bunch of materials from Exodus International and other ex-gay ministries. I emailed with a guy in Texas who pointed me towards a woman who ran a live-in reparative therapy program in Billings. I met with her monthly for about 6 months. She would drive to Bozeman or I would go to Billings, and we would meet for a coffee or a meal. I don’t remember what the mission statement was, but I think it was something along the lines of ‘transforming your life through faith in Christ’s receptive power?” I think it was very similar to what the Exodus Global Alliance still promotes on their website.” Wide-eyed and almost speechless, I took in his words and tried to comprehend what he had gone through. This man, whom I’ve looked up to since we met, carried himself in such a graceful manner that I never would have expected him to have disliked his identity at any point in time. “Before starting to work through all the materials and readings, I felt pretty hopeless and guilty. I used to think about suicide in those days. When I started working through the workbooks and reading all the books and meeting with the counselor, I was excited! I wanted to be the young Christian man my family believed me to be, and I really thought the program was going to heal me and take all my same-sex attractions away. As I got further into it and more time went by, I had to be honest that it wasn’t really changing me, and that hopelessness and guilt returned. It was probably worse than before, actually. After several more years, I finally came out to my family and friends, and I stopped going to church, but there was a lot of damage to me, and I don’t think I’ve truly worked through it all. I still have to stop myself from letting my thoughts go down the road that I’m an evil, guilty person.”
“What kind of people go to conversion therapy? Why did you allow yourself to go through something such as that?” I asked. In response, he said, “Because I was looking for answers and that’s the answer the church gave me. Gay people want affirmation from their friends and family and for many, doing this will make those people in their lives happy. In their minds, that will make everything better but it just doesn’t. Conversion therapy preys on vulnerable men and women who were never given the OK from someone who was gay and Christian. It’s very hard to find because so many of us continue to hide.”
It is true that conversion therapy can go as far as the performance of an exorcism on somebody or even electric shock therapy… but he seemed to have lucked out with an environment less physically harsh. Even still, he is a survivor and I applaud him for his bravery in coming out about what occurred. It’s in our nature to conform and be seen in a good light. When it comes to the latest styles and trends, is it the most trendy in the Christian community to be straight? Is gay conversion therapy the new black? Unless gay conversion therapy is taken off the world’s map entirely, I do believe gay men and women who truly believe that it is their only way into the arms of God will attend these meetings and therapies. The truth of the matter is; God accepts and loves everybody he created and our personal relationship with Jesus should determine where he wants us to be in our lives. The judgements passed by other people should never affect our desire for him but unfortunately, there are Christians who insist that gay conversion therapy is a form of love and not hate.
Reparative therapist Joseph Nicolosi was an absolute danger to society and now the therapists who carry his practice following his passing are the most dangerous. Nicolosi offered psychological services to men and women who's same-sex attraction didn’t ‘define them’. In other words, his main goal was and still is, is to help reduce a man or woman’s same-sex attraction in order to explore their heterosexual potential. Obviously opposed to the homosexual ‘lifestyle’ as its put, “His profession was fast abandoning the classic understanding of sexuality as being rooted in design and purpose-- i.e., ‘normality is that which functions in accordance with its design,’ -- but he refused to be carried along with the tide. Although quite a few colleagues professed agreement with him in private, only a very few were willing to say so publicly” (Nicolosi, Joseph). Most of the testimonials on Nicolosi’s website involve cases of men and women with an unwanted sexual attraction to the same sex. Why do these want to neglect this part of themselves in the first place? If it’s something they need help changing, then it is clearly not a choice. Just because somebody received an award, as Joseph Nicolosi had be awarded quite a few, doesn’t mean that his work was beneficial.
For those who are interested in discovering more about the negative effects of reparative therapy/sexual orientation change efforts, “Boy Erased” will be in theaters soon starring Nicole Kidman and Troye Sivan. CNN also published the discovery that “Today, an estimated 57,000 people between the ages of 13 and 17 will get some form of "conversion therapy" from religious or spiritual advisers before they turn 18, according to the UCLA Law think tank Williams Institute, and 20,000 more will get treatment from a licensed therapist. Activists are pushing for legislation to stop such practices in a number of states. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia, as well as dozens of cities nationwide, now bar licensed mental health professionals from conducting therapy that attempts to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity” (Christiensen, Jen). These numbers are staggering, disappointing and difficult for me and other gay christians to comprehend.
With the intent to bridge the gap between Christians and the LGBTQ community, raising awareness on the negative effects of gay conversion therapy is where we need to begin because it is not only ineffective but harmful to the recipients of it. In attempt to become a heterosexual, those who invested time in conversion therapy revealed seven common psychosocial issues. Individuals who longed for a sense of acceptance and reconciliation with family turned to conversion therapy in desperation. The American Association of Pediatrics stated that gay and lesbian people “suffer from the homophobia and transphobia in conversion therapy. This marginalized negativity affects health, mental health, and educational experiences. Other negative impacts of conversion therapy include depression, thoughts and attempts of suicide, substance abuse, social anxiety, altered body image, and other mental health issues” (Side by Side).
Participants of conversion therapy on examination cannot be physically changed when it comes to sexual orientation, putting into consideration the longing for “same-sex masturbation fantasy, same-sex erotic thoughts longing for same-sex emotional intimacy, explicit same-sex behavior leading to orgasm, etc.” (Johnson, Jenkins, 2006). Success appears to be verifiable upon the circumstance that one remains abstinent or intentionally rejects their homosexual desires by suppressing them. Victims of conversion attempts have undergone treatment, left with the failure of having their sexual orientation changed according to empirical studies. “Throughout their therapy, these individuals were consistently told that they were sinful, sick, and weak. Their continual struggles with same-sex feelings were ascribed to a lack of effort, inherent depravity, or demonic possession. Unfortunately, the greatest fears of these vulnerable people were reinforced by those who were supposed to be” (Johnston, Jenkins 2006). These studies help allow people to develop an understanding of the brutal impact of ex-gay treatment and how permanent change was non-existent along with the observation of no lasting change in anyone that endured one of these programs.
“Home.” Joseph Nicolosi - Reparative Therapy™, www.josephnicolosi.com/.
Christensen, Jen. “'Conversion Therapy' Hits the Big Screen While Laws Play out in States.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Sept. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/08/27/health/conversion-therapy-explainer/index.html.
Understanding the Dangers of Conversion Therapy: Three Reasons to Say NO . Side by Side,
1484929559850/Understanding the Dangers of Conversion Therapy.pdf.
Johnston, Lon B., and David Jenkins. “Lesbians and Gay Men Embrace Their Sexual Orientation
After Conversion Therapy and Ex-Gay Ministries.” Social Work in Mental Health, vol. 4, no. 3,
2006, pp. 61–82., doi:10.1300/j200v04n03_04.
An artist without charcoal
Won’t invent on a page
As a writer lacking narrative
Can’t interrupt this blank space
A tool breaks the surface
Impairs the farmhand’s pasture
A writer leaves the 99
In order to prosper
Find hunger for history
Their person, their mystery
Offspring to youngsters
To grandfather, hereditary
The sun off the earth
The substrate to enzyme
Intimacy meets end-times
Lace lingerie spread out on the floor
A honeymoon night
The climax, the high-water
Consider yourself a writer
A desire, a yearning
To six feet below meat
A compelling survival tale
A sexual love letter
Love, horror, romance
It’s the writer’s endeavor
I want to know what moves you
What incentivizes you
How many lies does it take to know you
I want to throw you into a frenzy
A natural reaction to sodomy
I’ll be your stone table
So when you’re unstable, you can break me
I’m trying to pull myself together
Because it’s stupid that only your love
Is what makes me feel better
I’m something to be jettisoned, no longer birds of a feather
And trouble has a way of finding you
So if I touch your fingers with my lips
Would that be a reminder- of what she does for you
I collected the pieces, over miles of surface area
Removed from my heart, when you caused wartime hysteria
Burr under your saddle
Animal in the sack
She can see that I’ve traced the freckles on your back
Off to the races
A failure, a lesson
You’ll find she’s not me, that she’s no Andalusian
I can’t practice my self control
So banish your own heaven
Banish your angel
Put on your Stetson and waste time at the bars
Fair enough to say the bridge has fallen into the water
My thunderous heart is no longer
Like the ‘nobody else’ who can take you under
It is very easy to discern that Heathcliff is a misanthropist with a God complex that thrives without empathy. The overall development of his character makes the impression that he his veiled in darkness and only seeks to destroy. I love his point of view because it’s violent, daring and twisted; excellent for a deep analysis. This got me thinking about his outlook on faith, considering his burning desire for power and complete control over others. At the very depth of his soul, lies an ounce of peace that can only be fed and nourished by the thought of Catherine. On page 333, Nelly confronts Heathcliff and offers the most notable advice which is how I came to approaching this project. She says, “You are aware, Mr. Heathcliff, that from the time you were thirteen years old, you have lived a selfish, unchristian life; and probably hardly had a Bible in your hands, during all that period. You must have forgotten the contents of the book, and you may not have space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to send for some one- some minister of any denomination, it does not matter which, to explain it, and show you how very far you have erred from its precepts, and how unfit you will be for its heaven, unless a change takes place before you die?” Heathcliff can only respond with ignorance, implying that he has already found his own version of heaven which cannot be rivaled by any other. His negligence of a God higher than him, one that can save his soul- in his mind, is nothing in comparison to Catherine. Catherine defects the way his heart of stone operates and in terms of fitting into his evil nature. This evil nature was challenged in Chapter 9 when Hindley tossed baby Hareton off the top of a stairwell, causing Heathcliff’s human instinct to override his malicious character.
I directed a short film that I was inspired to do after watching an episode of American Horror Story’s season three, Coven. This episode was based on witches who were competing to become the next supreme of their coven and for one of the tests each witch had to complete, involved sending their souls to hell and returning. Ryan Murphy’s interpretation of hell was significantly different from the biblical perspective but offered a terrifying approach. The depiction of hell was each character’s worst life experience set on repeat for eternity. This kind of agony, I figured, would be the quintessential punishment for Heathcliff to receive bearing in mind the endless cycle of torment he placed on others. Heathcliff’s resentment of the world was founded on Hindley’s torment of him and the fact Heathcliff caught baby Hareton despite this; I decided would make his personal hell even worse. It’s a cycle of him acting out of human instinct, realizing he has an ounce of humanity and then pursuing his evil nature.
The video begins with audio extracted from Lana Del Rey’s song “Gods and Monsters”. The lyrics being “In the land of Gods and Monsters, I was an angel” and I edited the ending “I was an angel” so that it would repeat itself (to highlight the endless cycle of hell for Heathcliff). The repetition of this one line also clarifies Heathcliff’s idea of Catherine. The ‘land of Gods and Monsters’ in this context refers to Wuthering Heights and the person singing I chose to be Catherine. On page 81 in Volume 1, Chapter IX, Catherine makes a declaration of her feelings, “Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy…It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am.” Heathcliff storms out of the room once he hears that it would only degrade Catherine to marry him and I believe this to not only contribute to the song lyrics I have chosen but to his personal hell. She was his angel; the ghost haunting him forever. The song lyric I chose for the end of this video includes the words, “God’s dead, I said ‘baby that’s alright with me. No one’s gonna take my soul away. Fuck ya, give it to me, this is heaven, what I truly want… it’s innocence lost’. For these lyrics to act as a play on Heathcliff’s God complex, Catherine is stating that she is okay with Heathcliff being dead and through this notion his personal heaven is destroyed. It’s a damning lyric to sing because of the content the video includes. The only part of this lyric that I believe to be Heathcliff ‘speaking’ would be “No one’s gonna take my soul away” because he assumes that what’s his is his. He has already determined the outcome of his death in his mind. Following that, the lyric saying “Fuck yeah, give it to me, this is heaven, what I truly want” carries so much desire because this is not at all what Heathcliff’s heaven becomes. To make the matter darker, since this is Catherine singing these lyrics, her heaven is revealed to him; that her eternity without Heathcliff is the heaven she wants. Furthermore, if you put it into the perspective of Heathcliff, who we see is burning within the literal fires of hell, it’s completely contradictory to be using the phrase “this is heaven”. Following that, “It’s innocence lost” acts as Heathcliff turning against the world, having been raised an orphan. It’s the idea that he could have had that “Cinderella ending” but never did because of how he used his free will.
Following the intro which shows images of Heathcliff’s face, the audience is shown the image of a baby being held over the edge of a stairwell. The echoed sound of a baby crying is placed over each scene, paired with dark music to enhance the atmosphere and tone. The baby is tossed in the air and spirals out of control toward Heathcliff’s reaching arms. Once he catches baby Hareton, Heathcliff realizes that the nature of who he is was forcibly changed due to human instinct and that his humanity took over. Because of this, Heathcliff drops baby Hareton and his personal hell begins. The baby falls from the stairwell again and Heathcliff catches the baby, only to drop it from his arms once again. Audio from the actual American Horror Story score for Season Three: Coven is placed over the first time Heathcliff catches the baby because I wanted the audience (if they recognize it) to connect this short film to the show as a point of reference. The video zooms in on Heathcliff’s face when he realizes that he’s in hell instead of heaven and he screams while staring directly into the baby’s eyes. Numerous visuals of the baby falling continuously into his arms appear and the music grows darker and more intense. Heathcliff’s will does not change and he continues to catch and drop the baby on a loop. The screams of agony appear overtop of all of this and suddenly stops when Heathcliff appears to be holding Catherine. She speaks to him, saying “I relinquish your labor of agony”. On page 290, Heathcliff describes digging up Catherine’s grave and says “A sudden sense of relief flowed, from my heart, through every limb. I relinquished my labour of agony, and turned consoled at once, unspeakably consoled. Her presence was with me; it reminded while I re-filled the grave, and led me home.” For Catherine to speak directly to Heathcliff in hell, stating that her living presence will keep him from an agonizing eternity, is extremely powerful but then suddenly contradicting. It solidifies the way Heathcliff felt when he dug her up but does nothing to heal his agony. Once she says this to him, her body turns into a skeleton and Heathcliff realizes that his labor of agony will continue and that he will never feel her touch ever again. I truly felt the need to make his hell as excruciatingly painful as possible and have everything that he believed and strived for, to be put to death. His spiritual death would eliminate the one ounce of hope in his soul and do so, on repeat, forever and ever.
I think that everyone who encounters Wuthering Heights will question where Heathcliff’s soul will go or be damned to. On page 335 following Heathcliff’s death, Joseph makes a statement concerning Heathcliff’s whereabouts, “‘Th’ divil’s harried off his soul,’ he cried, ‘and he muh he his carcass intuh t’ bargin, for ow’t Aw care! Ech! what a wicked un he looks grinning at death!’ and the old sinner grinned in mockery.” This confirmed my own idea of where he would go. Once the scene of Heathcliff holding Catherine’s skeleton fades to black, Lana Del Rey’s song comes back to end the film. To make it even more powerful, I overlaid the fires of hell (in color) on Heathcliff’s screaming and took out the sound. The removal of his screams shows how Heathcliff’s voice means nothing and how he’s become even more worthless… not only to the world but to Catherine. I chose to do the majority of this film in black and white because of how black and white affects the way something is perceived. To see something in black and white, means to see it for what is is. There are no hidden meanings; this is what Heathcliff has become and his soul’s only purpose is to suffer. The addition of color with the fire emphasizes the reality of his unending pain and suffering.
The utilization of video for this project was an easy choice for me because I am a fashion photographer professionally and I feel like it helps me articulate what I analyze way better than to describe my thoughts on paper. Heathcliff’s spiritual death is such an important aspect because we question his soul. We question the reasons behind his desires and the consequences that will come with them.
Crossing paths with rhetoric is bound to happen if you’re an english writing major. Talking about rhetoric is inevitable, frustrating and sometimes outrageously annoying. There is no set definition when it comes to rhetoric but I look at it as a broader term for persuasion and the investigation of human interaction. I preferred Kimberly Hoover’s take on rhetoric as being “signal intelligence”, as I heavily consider the aspect of human interaction when thinking about rhetorical situations. The web of rhetorical principals can certainly overwhelm somebody at first glance but it all comes down to motive. What is somebody trying to do to someone else or something, in order for it do to what they initially intended? How will this interaction unfold? I like where Downs states that ‘rhetoric is always motivated’ because it’s absolutely true. As a writer, I always read over what I create, not only for grammatical error, but for substance. Is what I am writing going to affect the way somebody thinks or how they view something? Am I interrogating them into conforming to what I believe to be true? Is the story I am fabricating going to impact me negatively as a person even if I am writing from a fictional angle? What is the readers purpose for reading the words that I put down?
I’m sure that we wish this upon ourselves even more when it comes to social media. People are voicing millions upon millions of opinions each minute, voicing their own expertise on a certain issue. How is their rhetoric going to change the world? Moreover, do they know that a rhetorical interaction is taking place? In recent years we have learned as a nation that the words we put out into the internet have the power to completely alter the way people view us. Sometimes our words may not be as convincing as we first thought. Then come the readers and the commenters and those who reply to comments. Here, you find an entire rhetorical ecology. Imagine somebody who takes the time to make a comment in response to somebody else’s written work and it’s in conflict with the author’s message. Next, imagine their response being praised by hundreds of people either agreeing with the negative review or disagreeing which would mean they agree with the message of the original written work. Countless rhetors come into play. The meaning of the entire original piece will transform as comments come in by the masses. On Facebook, we now have the option to declare an emotion based on the comment’s content. If the comment were racist for instance, many would likely use an angry face emoticon to float over the comment for others to either agree or disagree with their emotional reaction to the post. Depending on the number of angry face emoticons vs. perhaps, a sad face emoticon will allow an anonymous reader to assume what the greater majority’s opinion on that comment is. These symbol systems are utilized as a replacement for words more often than not. Even the heart-eyed emoticon has a cat with heart eyes variant. Rhetorical ecologies are fluid, they continue to move.
I enjoy thinking about how rhetoric moves people and how it can do so without us even knowing it. It’s taken me quite a long time to understand and I am still learning but using this blog reminded me of what we’re doing as rhetors in the modern, online world. It’s our intent to create a place for ourselves to share our opinions and receive feedback. We want our readers to know how we feel just as much as our readers want us to know how they feel as well.
Is technology truly changing our minds for the better? Pause.
We have ourselves, something called ‘the new literacies’. We can now communicate in completely new and different modes (video, photography). It used to be unbelievably expensive to take a picture, let alone send it around globally. Nowadays, we know that it’s trivially easy. What happens when people begin to experiment with these modes? As a photographer, I think about photo manipulation. Stalin used this actually, to ‘delete’ his enemies. Stalin knew he was able to do this, assuming that people didn’t know about this trick. It’s interesting to think about because everybody (even children) know what photoshop is or an off-brand like the iPhone application FaceTune. This new literacy has began to emerge, changing the way we understand the world and ourselves. I like to think about the idea of predicability- I base everything that I find online off of what I have seen in pop culture. I think that photo manipulation has provided dangers too; it changes the way that we will perceive ourselves and ultimately lower our self-esteem if we grow so used to an image of ourselves that isn’t actually us. This book takes a look at what it means for an individual to express their thoughts with other people, solve those problems and to think and talk with global audiences. Social media seems to be the combination of physical appearance/attractiveness and conversation. We have always been social thinkers, which isn’t new, but the ways in which we are able to communicate is. So what is trans-active memory? We toss questions back and fourth between each other. We are collectively smarter when we are around other people and by this, we stitch together all of the things we know together with the ideas of other people (through Google, for instance). So thinking about all of these points, is technology good for us? Is it making us smarter? Well there’s public thinking- the first thing that comes to mind is fan fiction. We had the iconic Twilight series written by Stephanie Meyers and a few years following the film release, Fifty Shades of Grey, fan fiction, was written by E.L. James.
They go into the idea that the internet is turning the internet into a giant echo chamber. What’s the difference between the offline and online world? There is a tendency in both areas for us to be with like-minded people. The research he found that the worse that internet is… is that it doesn’t expand as much as what you would get in real life. Moreover, an untruth can become a fact if enough like-minded people agree in online life. This is mob-like behavior. Public thinking- you find yourself on Facebook and Twitter. The conversation online makes you smarter when it happens amongst a smaller group of people, not hundreds or thousands. A smaller cluster who are able to talk and argue in a more civil way is most effective.
In a digital environment, acquiring an overflow of information is easy, but obtaining knowledge is another thing. Hayles discusses how hyperreading has become a necessity- how it disables the audience from being able to participate in close reading. With the availability of search engines like Google, getting straight to the point isn’t a daunting task. Some people don’t mind long sections of writing while some do; time seems to be of the essence although reading should be something we give ourselves the extra time we have to do. When I read, I enjoy a thick story because of its content. General takeaways and main points for discussion aren’t as important than quotes that may strike a particular chord with me- that last with me. Those takeaways are more important when it comes to reading something for a class; I sometimes hold down the command button and the letter ‘F’ at the same time in order to search for a key term within the text. This allows me to find definitions and examples for what I’m looking for. The action that is taking place for happens in the digital realm- an example of myself being less tolerant of long readings. I love romantic novels, I know, what a surprise there, and I fall for some strong dialogue. The conversations between people wake me up and makes it interesting. Factual/scholarly information takes me into the world of close reading. When writing is extremely dense, I’ll become the superhero of highlighting sentence after sentence after sentence. Web reading definitely rewires the brain because it trains us to know what to look for. I love the quote from the bottom of page 67 where Hayles states, “hyperlinks tend to degrade comprehension rather than enhance it.”
At the same time, articles on the web (blogs especially) are interactive. We are able to read the reactions of people in the comment section, we can see for ourselves whether or not the information was received well. Like how some of us may read movie reviews by Rotten Tomatoes before buying a movie ticket- we can completely throw out a piece of writing based on the impression its already had for others. Because of how the internet has trained our brains to search for information, I think we work more lucratively as a whole. When it comes to literature I think about the author behind the text and whether or not they wrote it to make money or if it were actually something they were passionate about. I think about double meaning to the story published in front of me and how other people felt about it; each line I read and I react to it, I picture somebody else’s reaction if they even had one at all. It’s even noted on pg. 70 how the participants who searched the internet for an hour each day for five days revealed a measurable difference in their brain scans. There is such a complexity to a hyperreading experience. Deep reading who?
Wow! Is Google making us stupid? I can’t say I’ve ever been fully engrossed by an online text. If I were, it ended up being a very concise or heavily shortened version of the actual thing.
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