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Archive for the ‘ex-gay survivor’ Category

According to the Love in Action Website the Memphis-based ex-gay group no longer operates it residential program:

Love In Action’s Residential program has been suspended indefinitely. Simply put, there is a significant need to bring all of LIA under one location for it to be more cost effective. We continue to counsel and grow through our 4-Day Intensives, Hourly Counseling, Conferences, Support Groups, and Church Assistance Program.

I am thrilled that the sun has finally set on this part of the program–one that housed and harassed many of us these past 30 years. While they will continue to offer some limited services, it appears that they have begun to dismantle operations.

What better way to celebrate than you see the new documentary by LIA protester and filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox. This is What Love in Action Looks Like chronicles what happened when a 16 year old boy was forced to attend Love in Action and how his friends responded and ultimately help shut down the youth program back in 2007. Or pop in your DVD of Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway Housse, now a HISTORICAL satire of the Love in Action program. =D

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What’s worse than crabs in your crotch? Demon possession in your pubic area. This week Zack and I go where few gay male podcasters have gone before. (You will have to listen to the podcast for it to all make sense. Let’s just say, this is the scene they left out of The Vagina Monologues.)

Okay now the proper show notes:

She graced the pages of Glamour magazine. She stunned the nation on Good Morning America. She helped launch a movement (Beyond Ex-Gay) and NOW she is our guest on Queer and Queerer! Zack and I welcome Christine Bakke to the program. Christine is an artist, an activist, and an outspoken ex-gay survivor. As a lesbian who once tried to suppress and change her orientation, she now speaks out passionately about the dangers of treatments that try to “de-gay” you. She joins us to talk about the Prop 8 ruling, its implications for the Ex-Gay Survivor movement, exorcism, demon nests, and activist art!

Remember, send us your questions for episode 20! You can ask us ANYTHING.

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode:

// Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» Read the Prop 8 decision findings of fact in detail.

» The Slate Political Gabfest discusses the Prop 8 ruling.

» Meet Ryan Kendall, Ex-Gay Survivor and Prop 8 witness

» Details magazine looks at gay exorcism

» The APA’s Report on Reparative Therapy

» Be careful not to fall out of your RV!

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Exodus International, the ex-gay umbrella organization which is fast fading from any sort of prominence, has often proclaimed the bold and yet obscure mantra, “Change is Possible!” To the many of us who suffered under the weight of homophobia & the pressure from family, friends & society who valued heterosexals over others they treated as sub-classes of human, we wrongly assumed “change” meant transformation from gay to straight. Once on the inside, program leaders informed us that such a change was not actually possible. They have since come out in public with similar statements. We now understand that such a change is not neccesary or healthy to pursue.

The journeys many of us have travelled in churches and with our faith & sexuality took unexpected twists & turns. I look back at that 19 year old I once was in NYC engaged in saving the world beginning with myself, and I recognize myriad changes (extreme thinning of my hair being one of the many physical changes.) My faith, my worldview, my understanding of my sexuality have drastically altered, yet I still see shades of the same person, who in many ways carries the similar values, insecurities & hopes.

Which brings me to some questions for you!

-In looking back on your own odyssey, in what ways have you changed? How have you remained the same?

-If you could send a message back in time to your younger self, what would you say? What advice, insight or encouragement might you share?

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There has been lots of ex-gay related news the past few weeks.

  • A wave of news stories both in the US and UK gay and mainstream news centered around Bryce Faulkner.  It’s been well over a week since anything has been published about this story.  We all hope Bryce is well wherever he may be right now.
  • We have also heard stories of gay exorcisms in the US and in England.
  • The APA released their findings after spending two years looking at gay reparative therapy and concluded that it does not work and should not be attempted because it can likely cause harm.
  • And last week, amidst reports of financial difficulties, Focus on the Family announced they will no longer host Love Won Out, a conference that targets parents of queer and questioning youth and ministers who work with youth, and has handed it over to Exodus to run instead.

Phew! That’s a lot of news to digest. As an ex-gay survivor, I have been especially interested in the many ex-gay survivors, particularly folks in their 20’s, who have been telling their stories on-line and in the media.

In an article for Edge, Great Lakes Regional Editor Joseph Erbentraut interviewed ex-gay survivors Jacob Wilson (age 23, Iowa), Vincent Cervantes (age 22, California),  and Daniel Gonzales (age 29, Colorado).

Gonzales ultimately abandoned the teachings as he independently realized that his homosexuality was “neither something that needed to or could be changed.” He, as well as Cervantes and Wilson, now participate in a group called Beyond Ex-Gay, a network of ex-gay survivors who share their testimonials with hopes it will dissuade others from seeking harmful therapy.

“These programs are everywhere and so few people know they exist,” Wilson said.” For us to come together and be one voice saying that these ex-gay programs do more harm that good, telling people that you’re OK being gay and OK the way you are, I believe saves lives.”

Read the whole article here. Vince Cervantes has also announced that he will appear on the Tyra Banks Show in a program that will look at ex-gay treatment and particularly the awful world of gay exorcisms.

Some of you may remember the name of another ex-gay survivor, James Stabile, who dramatically got caught up into the ex-gay world with a fanfare of Christian media grandstanding his “conversion.”  Stabile eventually sorted himself out and shared his story of how he fell prey to anti-gay religious teachings. Now at peace with his gay orientation and his faith, he recently announced that he has started Love Actually,  a local support group in Dallas, TX for others who have been through ex-gay ministries and treatment.

“I thought, there has to be a place you can go if you have been in straight camp,” he says. “Somewhere you can be brought back into who you are and feel loved.”

It was an experience he really needed because, although Stabile identifies as gay, he says he felt like he didn’t quite fit in with the community after his experiences in reparative therapy, and after announcing he was straight on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club.”

“I didn’t feel like I fit in the gay community, but I was not straight,” he said.
He says he found an online home at  BeyondExGay.com, where he first started to realize he was not alone, that there are many others like him who’ve been through the same process and “came out gay all over.”

“Love Actually is a place people can come to and know they are not alone, they are loved and loved by God,” Stabile says.

Read the whole article over at Dallas Voice.

Christine Bakke and I founded Beyond Ex-Gay in April 2007.  In addition to adding over 100 pages of content to the site we have  helped to organize gatherings for ex-gay survivors in Irvine, CA, Nashville, TN, Denver, CO, Memphis, TN and Barcelona, Catalonia. We are connecting with hundreds of ex-gay survivors in North America, Europe and beyond. Some of these feel it is important to publicly share their stories to serve as a witness of what they encountered and as a warning to others who are considering gay reparative therapy or ex-gay ministry for themselves or a loved one.  In so doing they are helping to reshape public discourse about these treatments and ministries.

If you have not done so yet, check out this Brian Murphy’s film about the first Ex-Gay Survivor conference which was sponsored by Beyond Ex-Gay and Soulforce:

The role of the Internet has helped tremendously in connecting ex-gay survivors with each other an in organizing our events and actions. I recently wrote in article for the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide about the power of the web in regards to former consumers of ex-gay treatments and therapies (See ‘Ex-gay’ survivors go on-line.) In addition to our website, Beyond Ex-Gay has a Facebook group with over 400 members in it, most of whom are ex-gay survivors. Over 500 people have contacted us directly through our website, some still in ex-gay programs looking for answers and honest information.

Over the past six months Christine has made a special focus to create the Beyond Ex-Gay Community, an on-line social networking site specifically for survivors to connect with each other about their ex-gay experiences and their recovery from them. No doubt you will hear more about this effort over the next few months.

The next ex-gay survivor gathering will be November 20, 2009 in West Palm Beach, FL. Beyond Ex-Gay will organize the gathering as a pre-conference event leading up to the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, an event sponsored by Soul Force, The National Black Justice Coalition, Truth Wins Out, Box Turtle Bulletin and Equality Florida. This same weekend NARTH, an organization that claims that something is wrong with LGBT people and that they must be fixed through therapy, will hold their annual conference also in West Palm Springs. Last year several of us ex-gay survivors along with allies gathered in front of the NARTH conference held in Denver, CO as public witnesses to the potential harm that comes from gay reparative therapy.

I am especially pleased with the Anti-Heterosexism theme that Soulforce and the rest of the organizers have chosen for the pro-LGBTQ conference. In the discussions about gay reparative therapy so much of the focus gets stuck on religion. We have some who seem to think that the conflict facing a person of faith who is also attracted to the same gender is primarily and exclusively a religious conflict.   They maintain a stunning oversight of the vast heterosexist infrastructure that exists in practically every level of society–religious as well as secular exerting daily pressure on LGBT people to straighten up and be gender normative.

The belief that fuels much of the desire to go straight is that heterosexuals are more valuable than gays or lesbians or bisexuals. Heterosexuality is still presented as the idealized norm through virtually every institution, film, pop song, government policy and print or TV ads. In its simplest terms the message pumped out day after day is that Straight is Great! and anything else is “less than,” suspect, evil. No sexual orientation is superior to another. Being honest about who you are and your orientation and gender identity is great and worthy of support. It is also worthy of representation in the media, religious institutions, and public policy.

It is thrilling to see all of this organizing and speaking out by ex-gay survivors and allies. The power of personal testimony brings healing and it brings change. At one time when someone mentioned ex-gay therapy, the average person would say, “Oh, that’s crazy; it’ll never work. How silly.” More and more people have begun to realize that not only does ex-gay therapy not work, it is completely unnecessary and most likely is dangerous to pursue. Dozens of ex-gay survivors have told their stories on-line through videos, news stories and more. I have a feeling many more will step up to share their stories–why they went ex-gay/what the ex-gay world looked like for them/what good, if any, they encountered/ and what costs (emotional, spiritual, financial, etc) they incurred.

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With all the Twitter updates I’ve done recently, it’s hard to imagine writing more than one pithy sentence, but here goes.

I arrived in Allentown, PA yesterday after a lovely evening at a Lutheran church in Bridgeport, CT. In Allentown I am hosted by the Rainbow Players of the local MCC. Dean Hiatt, the key organizer, and I have known each other for over 25 years after we first met at LIFE ministries, an ex-gay program in NYC.

During the car ride, Dean and I compared notes about the many ex-gays we knew from that time. Oh what a bitter harvest of pain and misery! Divorce, AIDS, death, alcoholism, substance abuse, along with the loss of jobs, child custody, ministry opportunities and faith. In pursuing a ‘cure’ most instead found a curse on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

The reality is that the vast majority of people who attempt to change their orientation are unsuccessful. In fact most ex-gay leaders today say that an actual change from gay to straight is unrealistic. What they have not yet acknowledged are the dreadful consequences that most often come from pursuing such a change. Broken homes, broken lives, broken dreams.

I am so glad that Dean has been able to reclaim his life, but still the pain and the effects of living in delusion will likely be experienced by him and his former wife for the rest of their lives. For him the toll was great and nearly cost him his life. Others, who were initially inspired by his ex-gay life and his heterosexual marriage have also harvested bitter fruit through their own failed marriages and desperate struggles.

Those who claim they care about pastoral care and the welfare of people need to consider the potential dangers in advocating an ex-gay course.

There is a better way.

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It’s been on the blogs all weekend, and now the Associated Press also reports that Sarah Palin, the Republican vice president nominee, attends a church that promotes ex-gay ministries, namely Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out day-long conference that tries to convince parents and pastors that God can “transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality.” What they don’t mention is the kind of transformation that will take place.

Those of us who are former consumers of Focus on the Family/Exodus/NARTH ex-gay theories and practices can attest to the transformations that we experienced as a result of our time in ex-gay programs. The vast majority of people who attempted to sublimate their sexuality did not find a cure, instead we experienced a curse that affected us psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, developmentally, physically and relationally. In the article Ex-Gay Harm Let Me Count the Ways I highlight some of these and also offer testimony of those who have experienced these things.

Sadly many of the ex-gay theories and treatments also negatively affected our relationships with our parents. I don’t doubt that many parents and even pastors go to a Love Won Out event looking for answers as they fear for the welfare of the young people under their care. These adults still live with misconceptions of what it means to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Instead of getting honest answers though, the speakers at Love Won Out dish out more misinformation. You can hear a first-hand account of what happens at Love Won Out from Jim Burroway who sat through the conference and thoughtfully shares his experience. In the article, Can My Gay Child Change? I raise some of the questions and fears that parents may have as I outline the negative effects that often occur when forcing a child to attend an ex-gay program.

In February ex-gay survivors, those of us who endured these theories and treatments and have worked past the damage to reclaim our lives, traveled to Memphis and stood outside of Love Won Out as a witness to the potential harm that can come from these misguided teachings. We even gave Focus on the Family staff member Melissa Fryrear framed collages of our experiences so that she could hear the other side of the story and consider the majority of people who end up on the other side of they happy clappy ex-gay experience they project on the big screens at Love Won Out.

Perhaps Sarah Palin is woefully ignorant of the potential damage that comes from ex-gay theories and treatments. Maybe it is just because of partisan politics that she comes out against LGBT rights (no matter how the McCain spin wagon tries to paint her as sympathetic), but people are more important than politics. Religious leaders need to reject the propaganda of James Dobson and instead provide intelligent and informed pastoral care. In regards to ex-gay theories and treatments, we see a growing body of evidence that they cause much more harm than good. For those people who clamor for national security, consider the security and welfare of the LGBT youth of this country and oppose ex-gay theories and treatment.

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Homeward Bound

Today I leave Seattle and spend a long day traveling home to Hartford. Because of Gustav, the conference I had hoped to attend in New Orleans got canceled. 😦 The upside is I now get 10 uninterrupted days at home. This has not happened since March.

I cannot begin to write about how special I found the Gender Odyssey Conference.

Gender Odyssey is an international conference focused on the thoughtful exploration of gender. We strive to create an empowering environment where people of all genders can share their experiences and learn from the experiences of others.

Through dialogue, peer-led presentations, and sharing skills and expertise, we work to create broader and evolving language, social support, and life pathways that support all gender identities. By doing so, we hope to strengthen ourselves and develop communities that celebrate all expressions of gender at any age.

I met so many amazing trans men, heard many of their stories, and participated in excellently facilitated workshops. You know when you step into a place that at first seemed foreign with new people and new constructs but suddenly you find yourself in the midst of community? That’s what it has been like.

Last night I had a long and fruitful discussion with Ron, an ex-gay survivor, about the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement and our next steps. He attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference we held last year in Irvine, CA and has felt a desire to get more involved with the movement. Now that the summer has ended, I feel able to begin to prepare for our upcoming ex-gay survivor events in Nashville and Denver later this year.

Anthony Venn Brown, an Australian ex-gay survivor, also attended the conference last year. He recently posted a blog entry that consists of a series of questions for ex-gay leaders to consider. You can check them out at his blog: 20 Questions for Ex-Gay Leaders.

I leave the Pacific North West excited that I will return soon. In October I will go to Vancouver, BC and then in November return to Seattle to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance. I’m still hoping to get back to Portland soon to visit Doug and Bruce and the guys at Anawim.

Now that summer is basically over, how is everyone doing?
Okay, I must get ready to board my plane…

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