Stokes, Mason. “Saving Julian”, Wilde City Press, 2014.
The “Ex-Gay” Ministry— A Comic Look
By now we have learned that “ex-gay” ministries are dishonest, disreputable and money-grabbing organizations that really do nothing yet somehow they have managed to sit on their laurels for work they have not done. In fact, just last night I watched a movie that had been sent to me to review, “Stained Glass Rainbows” in which the majority of the speakers are “ex-gay” and “ex-lesbians”. Now that we know that this kind of therapy is bogus, why would anyone want a gay person to review his or her work?
“Saving Julian”, on the other hand, is a comic novel with dark humor about Paul Drucker, a 58-year-old psychology professor and part-time preacher (WTF!!!). He authored the very popular “Saving Our Boys from the Gay Menace” and this has caused him to be very much in demand on the lecture circuit in which he gladly shares the heterosexual bible with the masses. He tells his audiences that “there’s no such thing as a gay man. There are only men with unmet ‘homoemotional’ love needs. And this can be fixed.” Aha—we have heard this story before many times. We can be cured of homosexual impulse and lead “normal Lives” but we know the truth and it is only a matter of time before Drucker ends up in the bed of a gay male, something he claims to despise and that will send him straight to hell.
Drucker is caught with Julian, a 21-year-old “escort” he found online and he knows his world is about to fall apart just as one-day Cher’s face may fall. Have you noticed that men lead ex-gay ministries are vocally anti-gay? Lately we have seen that those who are so loud are men who are hiding from who they really are. We need only remember Larry Craig, that Ted Haggard guy and McGreevy guy who after living a lie came out and became a friend and supporter of our community. How quickly we have forgotten how he alienated us until then. “Saving Julian” is a look at the men who think that love can be cured yet are themselves hypocrites and liars and practice cruelty in the name of God.
Paul Drucker’s story, like Paul Drucker himself, is irreverent. It is about manipulation, lies, deceit, hypocrisy and cruelty. It explores the world of the ex-gay (a phrase that should be deleted from usage). This is not a condescending look but rather an honest and humorous look at those who believe we can be cured of loving each other.
Just by the nature of its subject, this easily could have been a book that lost its way and instead of being one-sided, it is both sensitive and totally compassionate. Author Mason Stokes looks at both sides of “ex-gay” ministries and as it explores it explains. The characters are also well drawn, believable and they engage the reader. They have to face what they believe and this is done by answering questions that go right to the heart of the issue where they are forced to confront their own beliefs.
Do not be mislead; just because this is a comic novel does not mean we can laugh it away—there is a very strong message here and I love that the book is both entertaining and educational. We enter a world of hustlers and homophobes and we meet some truly disgusting characters. Disgusting, villainous or what have you, the characters are human as well and being human they suffer from or make peace with their own perspectives. There are also those who are perfectly at home with who they are.
While we indeed laugh at ex-gay ministries in real life, we do not often get a novel that allows us to do so and for that we must praise Mason Stokes. His prose is wonderful as are his descriptions but it is his plot that makes this such a good read.