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Archive for the ‘lesbian’ Category

Over at Facebook I have many different types of friends (like 2200 friends) and of course they have friends who represent many perspectives. Today on a friend’s wall posting about wearing purple in support of LGBT youth two straight folks raised objectives revealing that they felt “bullied” into showing support of gay kids. In frustration one of them said, “We need to have a Heterosexual Pride Parade.” The other agreedMr. & Mrs. Salt & Pepper.

Now I know a lot of straight people. Some of my best friends are heterosexual. In fact, I come from a distinctly heterosexual family that I love. I know that some straight folks feel put upon by all of the recent news about gay. lesbian and transgender suicides and bullying. “Why do we have to hear about THEM all the time?” Hmmmm. Welcome to my world where I constantly have to go out of my way to hear about anything other than straight lives.

Lately I have been thinking of the subtle powerful force of heterosexism, like high blood pressure, I consider it the “silent killer” insistent and constant in its messaging that heterosexuality is NORMAL, the idealized norm, what everyone is expected to be, an identity that is celebrated, rewarded and represented to the exclusion of all others.

Like a low-grade fever or undetected high blood pressure, non-straight, non-gender normative people live with a steady barrage of pro-heterosexual messages mixed in with anti-LGBT messages. Even in US states where they offer “gay marriage” everyone knows it is not the same as a straight marriage because of the federal protections granted to heterosexual couples and denied to all others. But beyond the legal protections or lack of protections in the household, on the job and elsewhere, we get a deluge of pro-straight messages in pop songs, commercials, movies, religious ceremonies, proms–shoot even salt and pepper shakers! I know that there is a growing movement to include LGBT lives and voices in the media and on the agenda of the board of education, but it’s spotty at best and is often drowned out by the heterosexism that exists in almost every encounter silly and sublime.

Here’s an example of straight pride & privilege.

Marueen says, “My husband Bill & I got together w/ our two daughters & their husbands to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and Cindy & Todd’s first baby. At church the pastor said a blessing over the family & we recommitted our vows.”

And everyone says, “Oh, that is so nice.” And it is and there are gifts and cards and photos and public sharing on Facebook and beyond revealing pride and affirmation and celebration of Bill & Maureen’s successful heterosexuality.

Of course most don’t think of Maureen & Bill expressing “Heterosexual Pride.”

It’s just “normal.”

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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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I warn you that none of this may make sense. (But I do have a butt/bum joke embedded in my little sermon below)

I’ve been reading the words of Jesus a lot lately (at least those recorded in five different Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Thomas) in the shocking and lovely book Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures. My reading mixed with conversations with folks in Malta on Guernsey and England has gotten me to think in a new direction (well new for me).

For weeks I have reflected and spoke about the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. (Auntie Doris heard this one over and over and over again) Here is one version of the story in Mark 8:1-10 (form Good as New version.)

It was during this visit abroad that Jesus again found himself with a large crowd of hungry people. Jesus called his friends together and said, “I’m concerned about all these people who’ve been with me for three days and haven’t eaten. If I send them away hungry some may collapse before they get home, because they’ve come a long way.” The friends asked, “How can we get enough bread to feed everyone, out here in the country?”

Jesus asked how many loaves there were and they told him “Seven.” Jesus told the crowd to sit down and took the seven loaves. He said “thank you” to God, broke the loaves and gave them to his friends to pass among the crowds. They also had a few small fish. Jesus thanked God for these and handed them on to be passed around. The crowd has as much to eat as they wanted and seven baskets of leftovers were collected. About four thousand people were fed before being sent home.

It’s a well-worn story that many people know. I have always seen it as one of those, “Jesus pulls a rabbit out of a hat” kind of tricks/miracles. Cool! Jesus can make bread miraculously appear! Now that can come in handy.

But I see another more challenging way that I can look at this story.

The disciples and the crowd are out in the countryside for three days. This is before the days of Subway Sandwich shops and Red Lobster restaurants or well-catered retreats. This is a people used to carrying food around when they travel. Jesus rightly discerns that some folks don’t have any food left and will need nourishment to get home. Wow, how thoughtful, how sweet, how unbelievably practical. I love this Jesus.

So he turns to his team, “What you got?” I love how even in the English you can hear the sarcasm and exasperation in the disciples’ response. But Jesus had a plan, a radical one that did not require any magic tricks, one that I believe serves as an even more impressive miracle.

Jesus sat everyone down. Then taking the scant offerings the disciples rustled up, he begins to serve the people. Now I don’t for a minute believe the disciples gave up all they had to Jesus. If they were like most of us, they probably squirreled away a secret stash for themselves for later in the day. In fact, in the John 6 version of the same or similar story, the disciples offer nothing of their own but instead take five loaves and two fish from a little boy (giving an entirely different meaning to “out of the mouth of babes.”)

Jesus provocatively begins to distribute the little he has to give. I imagine Jesus doing this very slowly, dramatically, taking his time with it. The disciples see the basket rapidly emptying. They dig into their hoards and pass some more food forward. The news spreads quickly and quietly through the crowd, first to those closest to the disciples then radiating out. A supply line forms as each one who has food passes it along through many hands to the disciples then to Jesus and then back to the people.

In the end EVERYONE eats, including those who had no longer had food as well as those who carried more than enough. The crowd had such vast resources of food among them that stacks of leftovers remain.

A “magic trick” Jesus is cool and convenient to have on hand. One that calls on me to contribute from my own stockpile so that another’s needs can be met, challenges me and the society in which I live.

One of the classic clobber texts that has been used to silence and shut out gays, lesbians and bisexuals from the church has been 1 Corthinians 6:9,10. (I imagine some use it to keep out transgender folks too).

Many scholars dispute the accuracy of using the word “homosexual” in the text. Other renderings include effeminate and soft (as in living a life of luxury and ease). I am sure you can find much about this dispute on-line. What I do find noteworthy about the list of those who will not “inherit the Kingdom of God” is that it includes people partaking in everyday activities that I rarely hear mentioned from the pulpits in North America.

Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others.

Many have used I Corinthians 6:9,10 to stake claims on who can and cannot go to Heaven. Ah, but does this passage actually speak about our eternal reward in some galaxy far far way? The writer of Romans, in a long discussion about the discomfort among some believers with the culinary choices and practices of others, defines the Kingdom of God this way,

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…

Looking at the current credit crisis, I think many will agree that much of the trouble we get ourselves into in regards to debt has to do with living beyond our means–greed. Of course there are other reasons for getting in arrears, (tee hee) but if I am honest, I have to admit that buying those shoes on sale at Macy only felt like an emergency at the time.

Here is the formula that I see. When I am greedy, this can lead to stinginess and to debt. I then experience a lack of peace, joy and righteousness in my life. Makes sense. I mean instead of peace, I worry about how I will pay the bills. I feel depressed over the situation. I may also find myself tempted to be less than virtuous when someone at the checkout counter makes a mistake in my favor. (I may even ascribe the mistake to God’s justifying that it’s God’s way of looking out for me. The Lord is my accomplice; I shall not want!).

For years I thought God was mostly concerned with my sexuality. I spent nearly two decades and tons of time, prayer and money obsessing over the bits between my legs and what I should and should not do with them. Reading the words of Jesus, checking out how he operated, I begin to see that I lived distracted from reality.

I leave you with a video posted on my friend Mario’s blog. Wow, seems Disney and Barrack Obama, encourage us to consider the “least of these…”

God Help the Outcasts

hat tip to Mario at Gay, Christian & Campaigning

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Christine and I get lots of messages every week through Beyond Ex-Gay. Most come from people looking for answers or to connect or to share their stories. Some want to thank one of the many people who have shared their stories through narratives or art work.

Last week we received a message for ex-gay survivor Darlene Bogle. Many have written in before to express gratitude to Darlene for both stepping up to tell her story and for also coming forward to issue a public apology for her previous role as an Exodus ex-gay leader, one who firmly promoted and provided ex-gay ministry before she found a better way.

This message we received and came from another former Exodus leader, Anthony Falzarano, who still promotes an ex-gay agenda. His message shocked us so much we wondered if we should even share it with Darlene. But she is a strong and thoughtful woman, and from getting to know her this past year we felt she would like to see it, so we forwarded the message. Darlene decided she wanted to respond to Falzarano’s words publicly through Christine’s blog.

Below is Anthony Falzarano’s e-mail in full.

Darlene, I’m glad I ran across your blog. I still miss you. I am sorry to hear that your lover died of breast-cancer. Darlene is God sending you a message? Please consider coming back to Exodus. You are loved and missed. Why would God call you back to lesbianism, give you a lover and then take her away. I’m sorry that you are going through this. My heart is breaking right now but I believe that you belong to the Lord and “He chastizes the one’s that he loves”. I believe He is calling you back. If you want to talk I am here to listen. Please call me at [removed] if you want to talk. May God Bless You, Anthony Falzarano

I don’t know how she did it, but Darlene spent the time in prayer and thought to put together a response that rings with the clarity and wholeness that I have consistently experienced from her.

I was appalled when I read his words, which on the surface seem so compassionate. It was such a strong reminder of why I left Exodus and could never consider going back under their “umbrella of faith.” How arrogant of Anthony to send such a condemning statement as to ask if God was sending me a message! God sends me messages all the time to remind me of His love and acceptance of me as a lesbian daughter! He has brought a wonderful Christian woman into my life immediately after losing Des. We walk together in faith and love and serve those in our community as a blessed lesbian couple.

To say I am loved and missed (but not accepted) sounds great until he adds the judgmental statement that suggests that Des got breast cancer and was taken away as some sort of punishment for our lesbianism!

To then offer a listening ear if I want to talk? That is the major malfunction of Exodus leaders…How can they listen when their mind is made up?

Darlene then raises important questions about Exodus and the type of “ministry” they offer to people who they say they love.

Anthony believes God is calling me back? To what? The judgmental teachings of Exodus that say you have to change your orientation to be acceptable to God. Long ago I committed myself to acknowledge God in all my ways and allow Him to direct my path. How can I go where God isn’t? To then offer a listening ear if I want to talk? That is the major malfunction of Exodus leaders…How can they listen when their mind is made up?

She concludes by sharing some of why she chose to go public with Falzarano’s message and her response.

I would be happy to have Anthony’s email be revealed for what it is, and my response published for the world to read. Anthony and Exodus have had over 15 years to tell me of their loving acceptance, and have not done so. I will not be responding to Anthony directly, but thanks for sending it on to me.

You can read Darlene’s complete message in Christine’s blog entry Twisted Love.

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This Thursday, in a conference call open to the public, Darlene Bogle and Christine Bakke will share their experiences as lesbians in the Ex-Gay Movement.

For a while I have been considering how the Ex-Gay Movement is an anti-fem movement. Most of the participants in it are male with curriculum and treatment plans geared towards “male issues.” Many of the men involved have felt the need to “change” after years of taunting for being sissies. They learned both on the playground and from the pulpit that the world does not value feminized men.

The cornerstone teaching of nearly every ex-gay program takes a swipe at women while also reinforcing the belief that women must be subservient to men. What makes a boy gay? According to most of these ex-gay providers and proponents gay boys are a bi-product of an “overbearing mother.” This false teaching infers that once a woman usurps a man’s authority and no longer remains submissive, this transgressive act alters the natural order of the world thus misshaping a child. Ugh! Crap with a capital C.

Many ex-gay survivors have come forward and several sites offer thoughtful analysis of the ex-gay world, but we have heard precious little from the women who once partook of ex-gay treatment and have since come to accept their lesbian or bisexual side. Darlene Bogle and Christine Bakke are two women who have gone public with their stories. Last summer Darlene offered a public apology for her previous role as an Exodus ex-gay leader. Christine, the co-founder of Beyond Ex-Gay, has shared her ex-gay story through the Internet, in print and on TV.

You can listen live and partake in a conversation with Darlene & Christine this Thursday:

Many people have either heard of ex-gay therapy in passing or on a brochure laying around their church. Many haven’t heard of it at all. Others have actually experienced it, some even leaving their school, family and workplace to become engrossed in its promises through residential programs spending thousands of dollars.

The cost is not only in money, but also in tears, intimacy challenges, loss of sense of self and even the relationship they once held dear with God. As we mention in our movie, “get to God” is a key factor for people to not only stay connected to the Divine, but also to themselves. Ex-gay therapy is one of the leading ways people get in the way of this connection, trying to fix something that isn’t broke, attempted healing of someone who isn’t sick.

You’re invited to hear the very personal testimonies of two remarkable ex-gay survivors, Darlene Bogle and Christine Bakke. You owe it to yourself to learn from people who have “been there, done that.” Join us on Thursday night.

*********************
Thursday, August 7th, 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern
1. Dial-In Conference Number 1-218-486-1300
2. Access Code: 807282
******************************
You’re invited to participate by asking your own questions.
Email us your question in advance:
info@godandgaysthemovie.com
and during the call, use yahoo! IM:
godandgaysthemovie@yahoo.com

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Thanks to the expert driving skill of Auntie Doris I arrived safely at Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. Fortunately (or not) I have wi-fi in my dorm room on campus here at the University of Kent so I can blog some.

On the way to Canterbury we listened to LBC Radio (a talk radio station for the greater London area) and the show hosted Jeni Barnett. She offer topic after topic in a frenetic random order, but the one issue that caught my ear had to do with English people trying to change their accents to sound more like the Queen. She asked for callers who had also tried to change their accents.

I turned to Auntie, “Should I?” and with little more than a nod from her, I called. (Joe Gee, that fabulous podcaster, will be simultaneously proud of me and appalled by me). I explained that in the US I get much better customer service when I speak with a posh British accent. This accent is a perceived by many in the US to carry class and sophistication (and it may possibly be a bow to our former colonial masters :-p ). In fact, when I was quite young, I tried to emulate some of the British accents from films in order to alter what I considered my “gay accent.” I thought I might get people off the gay scent.

I then talked about the Ex-Gay Movement and how much of it has to do with gender including getting one’s voice to adhere to gender norms. Some ex-gay leaders taught me that proper men speak with a downward inflection and use less words than women. They also instructed me to drop to my lower register when I spoke. I wrapped up the brief radio segment by letting Jeni know that I was off to Lambeth (pointing towards Canterbury as I spoke on the phone in the car) to do a talk/performance/cabaret act about my time as an ex-gay and the process to integrate my sexuality and spirituality.

Joe Gee will no doubt call me a media whore. I often remind him that I am simply a press magnet. Auntie Doris wants to have a goal that every time I travel with her by car in England, I need to find a reason to call into one of these programs.

After this encounter with Jeni, Auntie and I arrived at Lambeth. I had been invited by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM). Richard Kirker of LGCM met me, sorted out my room at Darwin Hall and then pointed me towards the exhibitors hall.

Auntie Doris and I walked into the hall then froze with our mouths wide open. No, it was not a display of fine dark chocolates from around the world. What greeted us proved to be much richer and appealing. The most gorgeous, colorful, artful robes and stoles captured our attention. They hung draped on racks and hangers calling to us to wrap ourselves up in ecclesiastical prêt-à-porter. As a Quaker, I suddenly felt envy for these Anglicans and their brilliant plumage. As a gay man with a penchant for auspicious and flamboyant clothing, I felt right at home.

We walked around the stalls, and just like Auntie Doris’ uncle (an Anglican vicar) told us, several exhibitors expressed a strong pro-LGBT message. In fact, I counted at least four stalls set up with colorful posters and lots of literature all about the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Zacchaeus Fellowship, a Canadian Anglican ex-gay type group, had a small stall set up with some literature, but they had no staff present when we passed by. They provided booklets with stories of four ex-gays and a hand-out with suggested books and links for “those struggling with homosexuality.” These included books by Andrew Comiskey, Joe Dallas, Leanne Payne, Mario Bergner and Joseph Nicolosi (A Parent’s Guide to Presenting Homosexuality). In their list of “Websites of Interest” they mention several groups including PFOX and NARTH, and Ex0dus Global Alliance. At the bottom of their list of resources they provide this disclaimer:

Please note: The above information is provided as a courtesy. The reader must determine the suitability of the contents found under these links for his or her purposes, interests and beliefs.

Speaking with two women at the Integrity/Changing Attitude stall we agreed that ex-gay promoters and providers would also offer warnings similar to those found on cigarette boxes here in the UK.

WARNING: Immersion in ex-gay theories and practices may harm you and those around you.

In offering ex-gay treatment (in whatever form they suggest) as an option, I do not often hear the fact that most people come to the conclusion that they do not need alter their orientation or submerge it or cut it out of themselves. In fact, in trying to do so many of us have actually experienced harm. Sure a handful of people say that such a change is possible and that they are happy no longer identifying as gay or lesbian, but from my experience of 25 years in and around around the ex-gay world, these folks represent a tiny majority of the many people who attempted it before them.

The good news is that I heard mostly positive messages today about LGBT people, especially in with the screening of a new film, Voice of Witness: Africa. Filmmakers Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod traveled from the US to Africa to film LGBT people in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. They state:

It is an awesome responsibility, for just by talking to us these folks are risking more than any of us privileged people can begin to understand.

Among those we talked to is
* a transgendered [F to M] Nigerian
* a partnered lesbian activist in Uganda
* a transgendered [M to F] Ugandan
* one of a pair of gay 20-something twins in Kenya
* a gay Ugandan farmer whose dream is to own two acres of land to grow his sugarcane
* gay partners in Kenya who dream of having their union blessed
* a gay Nigerian who was beaten badly simply for being gay

I felt especially moved by the stories of the trans people in this 20 minute film. Apparently traans people face even more risks and dangers than lesbian, gay and bisexual people. All the stories moved me especially when they spoke of their faith. Then seeing the retired Ugandan bishop, Christopher Ssenyonjo, speak passionately about LGBT issues and even starting a Bible study for gay men floored me.

Afterwards I got to meet many LGBT and affirming people in the Anglican/Episcopal Church including:

At dinner I ran into William Crawley, who I first met in Belfast in May. He will do his BBC Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence from Lambeth this week. Do check it out. (No Joe Gee, I will not be on it).

I also got to meet Christina Rees, chair of Women and the Church (WATCH) I’ll put a link but their site was down tonight. We had a great chat about gender and sexism in the Church and about how so much of the gay issue comes down to gender and an anti-fem attitude. (which goes back to the point above about how I changed my voice to sound more “masculine” as part of my de-gayification process). After Christina mentioned to me that about 70% of the Anglican Church attenders/members are women, I suggested she change her organization’s name to Women and Their Church.

So I guess this is the part of the blog entry when I share my first impressions and my current feelings. I feel happy to be here, honored in many ways. It also feels less of a big deal than I had imagined. I mean reading the press reports for the past few months, seeing the photos and such, I came with this big notion of LAMBETH. Having arrived, now I see people. Sure some dress in exquisite tailored frocks, but under their finery, I see people. People can connect. They can listen to each other. They can affect each other emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. The concept of LAMBETH intimated me. But people? I like people.

(Wed and Thur at 8:00 PM I will present here at Lambeth–The 70% Show, a talk/performance/whatever about my own spiritual journey as a Christian who happens to be gay and my nearly 20 years as an ex-gay. For more info see: LGCM site)

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This is the June of the gay and lesbian marriages. So many of my friends and acquaintances got married in the past week. Most went to California to take part of the new marriage equality that now exists there (perhaps for a limited time only, but we shall see). I have seen so many beautiful photos of men with men and women with women dressed up and married.

Last week when I was in Memphis, my friend (& Friend) and fellow blogger Joe Moderate married his partner in a lovely Quaker ceremony. Pomoprophet, who I met last year during the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA attended and provides a first hand account.

Quakers do their wedding ceremonies much different than most of us are used to. Yet most of us really liked it! Quakers have no pastor and no one lead the service. We all sat in this simple white room, sitting in a big circle with the grooms near the middle. We started off with all of us introducing ourselves and sharing our relation to the grooms. This really set the tone for the entire wedding. I’ve been a groomsmen in 6 different weddings and attended numerous more and most of the time people only talk to the couple people there that they know. This whole wedding was about us, as a community, supporting the grooms on that day and into the future.

Next came about 15mins of silence (one of the major tenants of the quaker faith). Then the two grooms stood up and exchanged their vows. Each looked deeply into the others eyes. It was wonderful. They exchanged rings and kissed and sat back down. More silence followed until one of the quaker leaders started the group sharing time. What followed was amazing. I don’t know how long it was. Maybe an hour. But most of the 100+ people in the room shared a story of one of the grooms or shared from Scripture or shared a blessing or words of encouragement. Joe’s husband’s family was in attendance and it was wonderful to hear them share of their support for their son. There were a few tears throughout the sharing but mostly smiles. I could tell that what was shared meant deeply to both Joe and his husband. And maybe thats why so many of us felt like it was an amazing wedding. I have seen beautiful ceremonies before, but it is always a pastor talking while the rest of us sit and watch. It’s meaningful to the bride and groom, sure… but this was meaningful to ALL of us in attendence. And how much more for the ones getting married getting to hear from their friends who are going to be there for them long after the ceremony ends!

The ceremony finished with shaking hands (another quaker thing) and all of us signing the marriage certificate. Illinois doesn’t have domestic partnerships so it was just a religious one. We then all headed over to the reception for an amazing dinner and a fun night.

Gosh, all this wedding talk is getting me tender. I hate that! 🙂

Pomoprophet goes on to write about his own personal feelings about gay attractions in light of years of ex-gay theories and treatment in his life,

On a personal note I admit that part of me is still uncomfortable with being gay. And with all the gayness I was surrounded by. I mean I spent almost 7 years in exgay ministries trying to change and thinking how horrible homosexuality is. That’s alot of residue to deal with. And i’m not just going to change over night. I wish I was alot more comfortable. I wish I was more secure in my relationship with Jesus over this stuff. So I haven’t arrived yet. I’m still a mess. And i’ve got to work on the negative feelings I still hold towards homosexuality. But what I saw in that wedding was beautiful. And I hope that it becomes alot more common place in the future and more people get to see how wonderful love can be.

I just spoke with someone the other day on the phone about this very thing. All those years of hearing a negative message literally shapes our brains and our thought processes. It is not a matter of simply “coming out” but of remapping our brains, displacing misinformation with reality and truth. It is a messy process and one that can take a long time. I know I spent the last 10 years detoxing. One powerful way of doing that is to see and hear new things that was once taboo for us.

Over at Beyond Ex-Gay we are planning on two upcoming gatherings (Nashville Oct 22-25 & Denver Nov 7-9 with a possible gathering in NYC Oct 17,18). For some of us getting together with others who have had similar experiences can help us gain some clarity about our pasts, what we attempted to do, why and the damage that came from it. We can also talk about ways to recover. At a recent gathering in Memphis this past February, a group of Ex-Gay Survivors and some therapists developed a list of some things we have found helpful in our recovery process. Check it out here.

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