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Posts Tagged ‘Christine Bakke’

Some of you may have heard through Facebook or on the blogs about Bryce Faulkner, a college-aged man from Arkansas who many believe has been coerced to attend an ex-gay program. As far as we know, Bryce is not a minor, but is a college-age young adult.

According to Waymon Hudson over at the Bilerico Project,

The request to join a new group came through my Facebook page. The group was called “Friends of Bryce“, which could have been anything, but had a note attached that said “Please Help.”

Bryce 1.jpgWhen I clicked over to the group, an all too familiar tale unfolded. Bryce Faulkner, a young gay man from Arkansas, had gone missing after his parents had discovered he was gay. They had gotten into their college-aged son’s email account and discovered messages between Bryce and his boyfriend.

The parents then gave Bryce an ultimatum- enter an extensive and severe “therapy” program or lose all their support for college and living expenses. For a young man from a conservative small town whose entire life, including his job, was tied to his parents, who had nowhere to go and no one to turn to, there really was no choice.

Bryce was sent to 14 week long conversion therapy camp and has not been heard from again.

Lots of people have commented on the blog entry and there is even a letter writing campaign to Bryce’s parents encouraged by at least one web site. Christine Bakke, who co-founded/co-lead Beyond Ex-Gay with me, encouraged me to share some thoughts from a recent conversation she and I had. I did so in the forms of a comment (a very long comment) that I thought I would repost as a blog entry.

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Waymon, thank you for blogging about Bryce and for facilitating this discussion. Christine Bakke and I had a long talk recently about the various types of ex-gay survivors.

The vast majority of people who go to these programs do so as adults who willingly seek to “de-gay” themselves for all sorts of reasons. (Check out this article at Beyond Ex-Gay where I list the many things that compelled me to go ex-gay– and here is the video with the similar info- )

Some teenagers, minors, have been forced against their will to see “therapists,” ministers, counselors and even attend Christian ex-gay camps. Although the Love in Action (LIA) Refuge for minors program closed back in spring 2007, there are other Christian boot camps around the US that offer “help” for all sorts of issues–drugs, alcohol, etc and sadly the parents of  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens send their childrent to these camps to get straightened out.

College-age young adults like Bryce can get coerced by parents who threaten to withhold financial support should the child come out and not pursue an ex-gay path.

Of the well over 1,000 ex-gay survivors I have met in North America, Europe and the UK, this last category of college-aged folks coerced to attend often come out of the programs the least harmed. Since they are not fully invested in the process, and they are a little older than a younger teen, they typically have the inner resources necessary to get through the programming and still maintain their sense of self. They also often bring a healthy skepticism that creates problems for the folks running these programs.

Most likely Bryce is at the Love in Action Source program in Memphis, TN. It is close to where he is from, is a residential program, and would have started a new three month cycle sometime in June about the time Bryce went missing.

The good news is that programs like LIA are wildly ineffective. The vast majority of people who complete the program typically come out of the closet. I have seen that among the college-age folks like Bryce, these not only come out but become serious queer activists as a result of their negative experiences.

No doubt these programs do cause harm and most people who have been exposed to the dodgy methods and theories need help in recovering. Living without the parental support can cause huge distress. Christine and I have met many of these ex-gay survivors who have been able to move beyond these negative experiences to live open and healthy lives.

We may not be able to do much to help Bryce at this moment. If he is at LIA, he has no Internet access, phone, etc. He is in lock-down, so likely is unaware of this conversation, but he will emerge, and I imagine when he feels it is safe to do so, he will contact his friends.

My mom before she died in 2006 asked me to do her a favor. She never forced me to attend LIA, but at first she thought it wasn’t such a bad idea. She couldn’t imagine anyone being happy and gay after all the grief she saw gay people go through in her neighborhood growing up in Manhattan.

My mom asked me to be gentle with parents when they don’t yet get it. Usually they are not motivated by hate or intolerance but by fear and ignorance. Most parents simply want the best for their children and believe that by sending their child to such a program will help. My mom, once she discovered how awful the treatment was and how depressed it made me, understood that I would be best helped by being affirmed for who I was and accepted fully regardless of my sexuality. For her like many parents it was a process, (just like for many of us it has been a process to feel at peace and secure in our own sexuality).

I share this because I imagine folks are very angry with Bryce’s parents. There is even contact info on at least one site with an encouragement to communicate with his parents directly. In reaching out to his parents, if you feel so led to do, please try not to make negative judgments towards them. Assume they love their child and want him to live a happy life. Tell them your story, your own journey. Help them to see that their worse fears will not come true if they affirm their gay son. In fact, quite the opposite.

Check out this great interview with Jacob Wilson who went to LIA in 2005 at age 19. He gives an eye-witness account of what happened to him, how the brainwashing affected him and how he ultimately broke free from it. He now works as an activist in Iowa.

–peterson
www.beyondexgay.com

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Gay & Lesbian ReviewThe current issue of the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, an LGBT journal that comes out Of Harvard University and which provides “a forum for enlightened discussion of issues and ideas of importance to lesbians and gay men” has in it an article I wrote about the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement and the role of the Internet.

OVER THE PAST EIGHT YEARS, new voices have entered the public discourse over anti-gay ideologies. One of the loudest and most hostile toward us is the “ex-gay” movement, which attempts to de-homosexualize homosexuals under the pretext of saving souls in the name of Jesus. On the Internet and in the press, we are increasingly hearing the stories of ex-gay survivors, people who attempted and failed to alter their sexual orientation through programs such as Exodus. Although these survivors have been around pretty much from the moment the faith-based movement launched itself in the early 1970’s, it is through the Internet that these former consumers of ex-gay theories and treatments have been able to connect with each other and speak out. In so doing, they have rerouted the media and refocused the ex-gay debate.

I go onto mention Mike Airhart, Wayne Besen, Daniel Gonzales, Steve Schalchlin, Christine Bakke, Morgan Jon Fox and more as I outline some of the history of ex-gay survivors and the role of the Internet from social networking to organizing of protests and beyond. You can read the whole article here.

The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide is well worth getting. Although I hope they they expand to be far more inclusive of transgender and bisexuals. I’m sure they have included pieces about the trans and bi experience, but from their mission statement they seemed focused on the G and L part of the community. By looking at transgender and bisexual issues and concerns, non-trans gays and lesbians will gain valuable insights into their own experiences and the cycles of oppression that too often emergee among oppressed people.

Check out some of the on-line articles here. You can subscribe here.

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Since first meeting her in spring of 2005, I have been impressed with the earnestness, intelligence, wit and thoughtfulness of Christine Bakke. For a time in her life she sincerely sought an ex-gay path in hopes of leaving the lesbian part of herself behind or at least to submerged that part through various religious-based ex-gay therapies. When she realized that such a route was not possible or healthy, she began the arduous work of reevaluating her life, deconstructing her beliefs, and educating herself about the Bible, sexuality and healthy living.

In responding to a book review Christine’s mother, Jeanette, posted on the PFOX ex-gay/anti-gay web-site, Christine reveals again the depth of compassion and wholeness that has been a hallmark of her own self-reflection and the public and private sharing she has done regarding her ex-gay experiences. Her blog entry is entitled Dreams of a Daughter.

Speaking out of a liberated mind, Christine writes:

I’ve come into my own after much struggle and I reject the notion that I am lost or broken or need to be restored. There is something really disturbing about this idea that I am fundamentally flawed and need salvation in order to be a “good girl” in this world. I already am good, whole, and the only thing I’ve ever needed restored to me was my sanity after the years in the ex-gay movement.

In responding to Jeanette’s words as quoted in a Glamour magazine article about Christine’s story as an ex-gay survivor, Christine writes about the  dreams she has carried for her family and how tragically the dreams we we hold out for ourselves and for our loved ones can get deferred.

Children have dreams for their parents, too. You don’t lay in your parent’s arms and think that you’ll have to defend yourself from them thinking you are lost and damned eternally. You don’t cuddle up and think that one day you’ll find out that they believe that who you are is synonymous with being a rapist. I certainly didn’t have those dreams for my parents. What I did dream instead was that I might be able to express my concerns and be heard. I dreamed that I would be always cherished and deemed worthy of their love and respect, no matter my beliefs. I dreamed that I would be supported in living a life that was truly authentic and truly mine, without the haunting thoughts about what a disappointment I am to them. Those dreams have had to die.

On their website, PFOX leaders state,

Each year thousands of men, women and teens with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality. However, there are those who refuse to respect that decision. Consequently, formerly gay persons are reviled simply because they dare to exist! Without PFOX, ex-gays would have no voice in a hostile environment.

I cannot speak for the entire LGBT community, and although I feel it’s my responsibility to raise questions about it, I completely respect the decision of someone to pursue an ex-gay path. I can truly say that “some of my friends are ex-gay.” That said, I do believe people should have informed consent, something that I did not have when I began my own 17 year odyssey attempting to rid myself of all things gay.

In large part due to the influence of Christine Bakke in our early conversations about our ex-gay experiences, over at Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg) we have always included the following statement on our home page.

We believe that ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good. Certain people who currently identify as ex-gay say they are content as such. We don’t seek to invalidate their experience. For us such a lifestyle was not possible or healthy.

To the dismay of some and the surprise of others, at bXg we do not bash the ex-gay movement and especially ex-gays, the people struggling with their sexuality and with what they may feel are forces insisting they have to be a certain way. Through our site we simply choose to tell our stories and how the pursuit to eradicate the “queer” sides of us damaged us and our loved ones, including our parents.

I have often thought that PFOX, the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, should really be called The Disgruntled Parents of Unrepentant Gay and Lesbians. That may be harsh and not true of some of the parents genuinely looking for answers in light of much misinformation that they learned about gays and lesbians. Growing up in New York City in the 30’s and 40’s my parents only witnessed negative portrayals of gays and lesbians and worse yet horrendous treatment of anyone not straight and gender normative. Without the belief that one can be homosexual and still be whole, healthy and holy, some parents may think the best course would be for their child to change. Who wants to see their child suffer?

Yet without adequate education and information, parents can pressure their children into making choices that actually causes suffering to the child, the parents and the relationship with each other that they value so much.

Over at Beyond Ex-Gay we have two articles especially for parents.

In the battle over LGBT rights and the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church and in ministry, often the casualties are the families, particularly when some family members act as if being gay or lesbian is the most important issue, the deal breaker. Sadly some desire to give their children a blessing but instead hand them a curse. My hope is that parents with questions will consider Christine’s words before they make demands that may very well lead to the breakdown of the family. There is a better way.

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Owl Resting in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Owl Resting in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

After over three weeks, mostly at home in Hartford, I head out on Thursday to begin my winter/spring tour which semi-officially ends on June 8 with a few days here and there at home in between.

Yesterday at Quaker Meeting one of the Friends marveled at how I travel so much (about 70% of the time) and yet seem to stay connected and grounded. (Of course he doesn’t see me when I feel particularly disconnected and uprooted.) Over the last two years I have been able to develop strong support systems both in Hartford and throughout North America and Europe (and now South Africa).

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

In doing activism (campaigning, ministry, whatever word one wants to use) I have found it essential to be in community, especially because I most often travel alone and do one-person shows. In addition to my local support committee, attending Quaker meeting for worship in places where I visit, and finding and maintaining micro-communities in various parts of the world (England, Northern Sweden, Portland, OR, Vancouver, BC, Tennessee, Central PA and more), I have found great value in social networking through blogging, YouTube, podcasting (Hey Joe G. I’m waiting for an update!), Facebook (thank you Auntie Doris for getting me Facebooked), GCN, Twitter, Skype and instant messaging.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Christine Bakke just attended the Creating Change Conference and went through the leadership development track of workshops where she learned a ton about what it takes to care for oneself while doing the work one does.

This winter/spring tour I will focus primarily on presenting Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, a play that looks at the stories and lives of gender-variant Bible characters. In many ways the performance is a mediation on body image and how so often the bodies we live in do not adequately reflect the reality we experience on the inside (the complexity of gender, how old or young we feel, etc).

Peterson & Table Mt. in Cape Town

Peterson & Table Mt. in Cape Town

As a non-trans gay man, I have felt drawn to these transgender Bible stories because in looking at them I see a mirror to the diversity of gender in our own modern world and the conflicts and triumphs that exist when one chooses authenticity.

The tour will take me to all sorts of places including Central Pennsylvania, Portland, OR (where I will be for my 44th birthday later this month!), Seattle and Spokane, WA, Chapel Hill, NC, Houston, TX, England (and quite possibly Germany and Sweden) and more. Not all the details are up on the schedule yet, so keep an eye out if I come to a venue near you.

Rare Fern Trees in Kirstenbosch Garden

Rare Fern Trees in Kirstenbosch Garden

Since launching Beyond Ex-Gay with Christine in April 2007 retiring Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House last year, I have moved beyond simply addressing ex-gay issues. Since so many people do it in so many effective ways today, I feel confident that I can place my focus elsewhere. In regards to the Ex-Gay Movement I see my primary role as a support for Ex-Gay Survivors. Much of my activities take place in communicating with survivors through e-mail, on the phone and in person, and in telling parts of my own story to assist in broadening the conversation about why people would choose to “de-gay” themselves, the processes involved and particularly the harm that can come of it.

Grandmother & Child in Kirstenbosch Garden

Grandmother & Child in Kirstenbosch Garden

Knowing that during the Creating Change Conference Christine Bakke and
Daniel Gonzales led a super successful workshop about the Ex-Gay Movement and Survivors, I feel thrilled and comforted. So many ex-gay survivors have stepped up over the past year and a half to tell their stories in many public ways.

In the Greenhouse

In the Greenhouse

I want to give a special thanks to you for the e-mails, comments, Facebook wall scrawls, etc that you send my way with words of encouragement, advice, comfort and even smart ass remarks. It’s great to do the work that I do in community. I could not do it alone.

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With their current episode Ties that Bind the award winning US public TV program In the Life focuses on issues of faith and sexuality and in particular the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement including footage from the 2007 Ex-Gay Survivor conference and the historic apology from former Exodus leaders.

In the segment they accurately and powerfully connect the religious-based oppression of gays and lesbians with the political movement to deny LGBT people equal rights.

Believing that homosexuals have no place in the Christian Church, ex-gay ministries like EXODUS International promise gay and lesbian people struggling to live within the margins of religious fundamentalism “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.”  In its lead-story, “In God We Trusted,” this episode of IN THE LIFE examines evangelical ex-gay ministries that have been established around the country to “re-program” LGBT people into heterosexuals — often with tragic consequences endured by its members: guilt, desperation, even suicide.

The segment features Christne Bakke, Wayne Besen, Mel White, Darlene Bogle, Vincent Cervantes, Daniel Gonzales, Michael Bussee and me. You can view it for yourself on-line.

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This weekend we had our Ex-Gay Exposé in Denver, CO in response to the NARTH Conference. NARTH is an organization that reinforces the ideas that it is wrong to be gay and that therapies exist that can fix LGBT people. (How can you fix something that’s not broken???)

Daniel Gonzales took a bunch of photos of our protest outside of the hotel where NARTH met. I was shocked with how many folks came out in support of ex-gay survivors, some driving over an hour to arrive at 8:45 in the morning.

The best part of the weekend for me was the Ex-Gay Survivor Gathering we held at the Friends Meeting House. We got so much good work done exploring the harm we had experienced because of the de-gaying process and the many ways we have found to recover.

In addition, we called a summit of LGBT-affirming therapists to consult with us about treatment plans and modalities that could be effective in helping ex-gay survivors to recover from the anti-gay teatments we endured in a world that insisted we go to war against ourselves in order to be acceptable.

We wound up the weekend with the queer-positive Bible play, Transfigurations, which uncovers trans and gender variant characters from the scriptures.

You must see the video of Dr. Glenda Russell at our press conference. What a clear and powerful statement against reparative therapy and promotion of LGBT-affirming therapies. You can also read Christine’s statement here. She talks about how NARTH and Focus on the Family works hand-in-hand to undermine the health of LGBT youth.

Jacob Wilson at protest, Nov 8, 2008

Jacob Wilson at protest, Nov 8, 2008

Protesting Outside of NARTH Nov 8, 2008

Protesting Outside of NARTH Nov 8, 2008

Nov 8, 2008 Protest Outside NARTH

Nov 8, 2008 Protest Outside NARTH

Jacob Wilson, ex-gay survivor outside NARTH Conference

Jacob Wilson, ex-gay survivor outside NARTH Conference

Nov 8, 2008 outside NARTH Conference

Nov 8, 2008 outside NARTH Conference

Ron outside of NARTH

Ron outside of NARTH

63Oh, and Daniel saw this candy bar in Walgreens and had to take a photo of it!

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Yesterday we began the Ex-gay Exposé in Denver where a group of local folks and some of us out of towners are publically standing up against the false and misleading messages from NARTH, an ex-gay conversion organization holding their annual conference in this city. We held a press conference yesterday and here is some video.

I write this from my phone as we ready for our morning demonstration outside the hotel where NARTH has convened. Ironically the same hotel also hosts a Clown Conference this weekend. You can find our weekend details at Beyond Ex-Gay’s Denver Event Page

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Daniel Gonzales, blogger and ex-gay survivor and so much more, took part in weekend events in Colorado Springs to counter the misinformation spread by Focus on the Family and their Love Won Out Conference. KOAA Television did a piece about the conference and the protest. They quote Daniel,

A number of ex-gay survivors, as they call themselves, held their own conference at Colorado College today in reaction to the Love Won Out Conference. It had a panel discussion with several people who have gone through this type of therapy and ultimately were unsuccessful at changing their sexuality.  Through their experiences, the process of repressing homosexuality is unhealthy and causes distress.

“Do they realistically expect that we should live the rest of our lives without ever experiencing a meaningful romantic relationship,” said Gonzales. “What do you do when ex-gay therapy doesn’t work?”

After their conference, Gonzales and number of others stood at the bottom of Focus on the Family’s driveway holding signs with their message. They hoped those leaving the Love Won Out conference would see their side.

Daniel and Christine Bakke also sat for an interview that aired on KGNU a Boulder, CO independent radio station. You can listen to their interview here.

If you have not done so yet, consider contributing to defeat Prop 8 in California and Prop 102 in Arizona. Sadly Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, has gone back on his word and is speaking out politically actively opposing marriage in California. Dave Rattigan over at Ex-Gay Watch has a well-written blog post up about it.

In the Ex-Gay Movement

In the Ex-Gay Movement

Some months ago a new film premiered, Chasing the Devil in the Ex-Gay Movement, filmed by husband and wife team, Bill Hussung and Mishara Canino. The film has appeared at several film festivals, and it is now available for purchase here.

I have not seen the film yet, but I want to because my dad gets interviewed in it and speaks out as a father who was dragged through the ex-gay program Love in Action with their Family and Friends Weekend.

Here’s the trailer for the film:

Several of us will head to Colorado to join up with Christine, Daniel and other concerned local LGBT folks and allies for Ex-Gay Exposé:Exploring Practices and Harm in Reparative Therapy Nov 7-9, 2008.

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I spent a VERY full day in Nashville–so many interesting and stimulating conversations with folks from the Our Family Matters Conference as well as with my good friend Scott who lives near by and Cary from Belfast, who is in the States for a few months. I got to spend LOADS of wonderful time with Christine Bakke and even took an diversion with her to the Opryland Hotel.

The conference has been well organized and well publicized with news stories on two local TV stations, in the local NPR radio broadcast and in the gay press. The organizers have brought together an impressive group of speakers and performers with several lesbian presenters. I find this especially refreshing as I want to hear more about the experience of lesbians at these kind of events. Sadly the trans presence so far has been non-existent. Trans issues came up on Wednesday night during the film series, but it seems clear that this is a new topic for even the folks who spoke about it. Funny how some LGB folks who have experienced confusion and rejection from the straight church struggle to understand and fully include transgender folks.

A major topic of this conference revolves around the experience of Christians who also happen to be lesbian, bisexual or gay. Of course this issue affects many people in and out of the church both LGB and straight, but I find I grow weary of the theme. For me my faith and my Christian identity informs most things I do and how I do them. I am a Christ-centered Quaker. To deny the Christian part of me would be to live with a lack of integrity, but I think the topic wearies me because my faith and sexuality and personality have become more and more integrated in me through the past few years. I need less and less words to describe my faith as I live it.

I also grow weary of what feels to me tired cultural representations of the Christian faith. As someone who experienced both heaven and hell in a variety of Christian churches (Roman Catholic to Fundamentalist to Evangelical to Charismatic to Pentecostal Holiness to Anglican) I find that I feel ‘triggered’ by certain songs, rituals, architecture and even clerical syntax.

An element of a service I attend can transport me to another church in another time of my life. Even with some pleasant memories associated with these liturgical sense memories, I find mostly negative, tragic and tortured images, remembrances and emotions. Perhaps it is a form of religious PTSD–Church inspired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When I sit in the silence and stillness of Quaker meeting for worship, it reminds me of no other religious experience I previously encountered. It brings up no regrets, no images of people who once were dear to me and who are now strangers. I can experience the divine without dismal echoes from my past distracting me from listening to God and others.

For some folks who have experienced abuse at the hands of church leaders or the negative effects of sitting under a load of oppressive teachings designed to shut off critical thinking and creative expression, I believe choosing to no longer attend religious services designed like their previously abusive ones represents a healthy outcome. Even if the theology of a new place of worship is more progressive and affirming, the same cultural presentation of the service (same musical styles, liturgy, architecture, language, etc) can prove counter-productive for many people.

I know that some people long for worship like they used to know it. Perhaps they have mostly fond memories of their times in these churches, or they have been able to reclaim their religious culture expression into a new positive setting. For my part, I cannot sit in a service, no matter how affirming, if it sounds and acts and looks too much like the church cultures I that kept me in a Biblically Induced Coma. No matter what good I received from them, over time, they sucked the life out of me.

I marvel that seemingly progressive “gay churches” fall back to the same old methods and music and styles of religious culture. I wonder sometimes we mistake nostalgia for a moving of the Spirit. We need new wine in new wine skins.

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After a bizarre night of dreams about being back in the Love in Action ex-gay boot camp and then about being gay in a Christian school and terrorized for it, I woke up early to avoid a hate crime in my sleep. Last night at the Our Family Matters Conference in Nashville, I got to hear lots of stories of how some family  and clergy members rejected their loved one because  that one was gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. I heard other stories too from LGBT people and their loved ones–stories of learning, of acceptance, of deepening love and relationship based on honesty and openess.

This weekend at their hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, Focus on the Family will celebrate 10 years of misinforming parents and pastors about LGBT people. Christine Bakke, co-founder of  Beyond Ex-Gay and a Colorado resident cannot be there because she is here in Nashville (lucky for me!), but Dan Gonzales contributor to Box Turtle Bulletin and a Denver resident, will be on-hand to stand as a public witness to the harm that can come from reparative therapy and ex-gay ministries.

Today Electa Draper of the Denver Post published an article about Love Won Out’s weekend event with a focus on the potential harm that comes from trying to change or suppress one’s sexuality. In the article they quote Melissa Fryrear of Love Won Out,

“This is a struggle that can be overcome. A number of us have overcome,” said Melissa Fryrear, a self-identified ex-gay and director of Focus’ Gender Issues Department.

“God can radically change your life, whatever the issue is,” said Fryrear, 42. “We’re ministering to Christian families. They are devastated when a loved one is living homosexually. They can’t condone what falls outside biblical truth.”

Living homosexually? Yeah, I don’t have a clue of what she is talking about. What I do know is that this “ministry”{ to Christian family members deepens the devastation they may be feeling. Parents walk away from a Love Won Out event with the false information that their son or daughter most likely had been sexually abused and that the parents are somehow to blame for raising a homosexual. (See Jim Burroway’s series of articles and videos about the Love Won Out he attended in 2007.)

The article goes on to denounce the teachings of Focus on the Family and the treatments they advocate, a message that at its core says there is something wrong with people who happen to be gay or lesbian (and I imagine they lump bisexuals and trans folks in there too but like much of the LG community, with Focus the B&T are silent.) The article refers to the following research.

University of Minnesota researchers recently published a study in the Journal of Homosexuality showing that among homosexual men, the best predictor of poor mental and sexual health, including depression, drug use and sexually transmitted diseases, is a negative attitude toward homosexuality, not being a homosexual.

The articles goes onto quote Christine about her ex-gay experience and the bitter harvest it bore.

Christine Bakke, a 37-year-old Denver artist, moved to Colorado 10 years ago for the state’s ex-gay programs and spent more than four years in two of them. She also underwent psychological counseling.

“I threw my whole heart and soul and life into changing,” she said. “There was a period of time when I actually believed I was changing. Then there would be reminders — oh, no, still gay.”

The whole time she suppressed her sexuality, her creativity disappeared.

She gave up transforming herself into a heterosexual, she said, after observing many gay people leading happy, healthy, vibrant lives.

“I still had to deal with a lot of feelings of shame, brokenness and failure that I had internalized from the ex-gay programs,” Bakke said.

The ex-gay movement simply gives folks the weapons we needed to go to war against ourselves. From the playground to the pulpit bullies drummed into us that there is something wrong with people who did not conform to norms they prescribed, that we needed to change something about ourselves, that we are NOT welcome as we are.

Some people choose to live “outside of Biblical truth” by slavishly adhering to the anti-gay bias already in the world never acknowledging that this bias is not spiritually based in fact is counter-spiritual, counter-Christian. I can hear the same anti-gay core message at a drunken straight womanizing frat party on a Saturday night as I hear proclaimed as Bible truth at a supposed spirit-filled place of worship on a Sunday morning (or a Love Won Out event this Saturday in Colorado Springs.)

People hold up the Bible as a shield to support their personal confusion, discomfort and abhorrence of people who do not happen to be straight or gender normative. After 10 years of pushing their toxic teaching on parents and pastors, Focus on the Family needs to take account into the harms that many of us have experienced because of our time in the ex-gay movement and in churches that love us “just as we are” with a giant exception attached. This is a matter of pastoral care. This is a matter about strengthening families instead of tearing them apart because of Dr. James Dobson’s morbid obsession and constant attacks on people who are lesbian and gay.

While some confused and frightened parents head off  to a Love Won Out misinformation conference in Colorado Springs (sadly with teens in tow), I am glad that in Nashville this weekend many will attend the Our Family Matters Conference which will sanely and honestly talk about the sorts of gifts LGBT bring to the church, the family and the world.

You can read the Denver Post article here.

(The author does misquote me: “Because of one of these conferences, my mother died feeling she had failed me.” In the context of the interview I was speaking of the Love in Action Family and Friends Weekend not Love Won Out even though the messages communicated were similar.)

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Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family focuses a lot on the gays (I sometimes think they should rename their organization Focus on the Faggot. I’m just saying.) Next week they will present their roving conference Love Won Out on their home turf. They have been traveling the country for several years trying to convince parents and pastors that not only is it wrong to be gay or lesbian (or anything but heterosexual and gender normative) but one can experience some sort of ‘change’ in orientation. They have softened their language over the years, but from recent eyewitness accounts, their out of focus message continues to misinform people looking for real answers.

In February a group of us from Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg) traveled to Memphis and partnered with local groups there to organize a public response to the Love Won Out that pulled into town. As survivors of ex-gay treatments, we know its important to let people know the other side of the story. What happens to the majority of people who consume ex-gay theories and practices? In our experiences these ‘therapies’ do more harm than good.

Christine Bakke, co-founder of bXg, and Daniel Gonzales, blogger with Box Turtle Bulletin, both live in Colorado and recently sat down for an interview about their ex-gay experiences and the Love Won Out message. Rev. Nori Ross, a pastor with the MCC in Colorado Springs, CO for 12 years also weighs in during this interview which will air soon on KGNU.

You can have a listen here.

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