The schedule for the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference is now up! I am so excited about so many of the activities, especially the film forum (where we will have a very special announcement to make).
Steve Boese, our web master, has been working very hard to keep the conference page updated with the latest news and links to media and blogs.
He just posted a the response Christine Bakke and I have to an erroneous Focus on the Family Citizenlink article about the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference. Focus wrote:
Exodus Conference Offers Hope to Hundreds
The 32nd annual Exodus International conference is underway in Irvine, Calif., and God is at work.
“We’ve already seen an amazing turnout, amazing response, amazing speakers,” said Randy Thomas, executive vice president of Exodus. “The Lord has really done a great work so far in the conference.”
The meeting, which began Tuesday and wraps up Sunday, has drawn close to 1,000 people — and no protesters so far. Across town, a counter-conference drew about 100 people. Thomas and Exodus President Alan Chambers are working to set up talks with the other conference leaders.
“We are always in ongoing communication with people who disagree with us, people with similar testimonies,” Thomas said. “We definitely will be in communication with them.”
Exodus leaders will recognize the obvious error in the article: Early registration for the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference does not begin until Friday evening, and regular registration will be Saturday morning. No one knows yet what the attendance figures will be.
We must admit our frustration on reading this account of the two conferences.
In framing the BeyondExGay.com community web site, and planning the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, we have been clear: We will speak plainly and directly about our ex-gay experiences. From the beginning, we have recognized that even though our ex-gay experiences caused us more harm than good, that was not the intent of ex-gay leaders. We have invited Exodus leaders to hear our stories in private, while publicizing the invitation to give all Exodus leaders an opportunity to respond.
We understand that interactions between formerly ex-gay people and the leaders of the ministries they attended have often been contentious, or political, or angry, or simply nonexistent. As a result, we have carefully considered each step leading up to and since inviting ex-gay leaders to hear our stories.
The survivor conference has been co-located with the Exodus conference to facilitate dialogue. It is intentionally distinct from the Exodus in a number of ways; however, it has not been staged as a political or competitive protest.
Our purpose is to serve the needs of former ex-gays, their families, friends, and supporters. The experiences of former ex-gays and their allies have often been mischaracterized and their needs misunderstood. Identifying those needs and moving forward together as a community will happen on its own terms, not as a reaction to or a protest of Exodus.
In response to our attempts to be transparent about our plans and intent, we have been mischaracterized as a protest movement, as seeking to steal hope from ex-gays, and now had our attendance quantified more than a day prior to the conference opening.
We look forward to sitting down with a small handful of Exodus leaders to share a meal and tell our stories Friday evening.
We look forward to hearing a specific affirmative response to our invitation for dialogue with senior Exodus leaders.
We continue to challenge ourselves to move carefully, respond humbly, and not bear false witness as we interact with Exodus.
We look forward to a similar effort in response from Focus on the Family and Exodus International.
Christine Bakke and Peterson Toscano
Ex-gay survivors and co-founders of www.BeyondExGay.com