Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Gonzales’

Sometimes it’s a good thing to be a failure, particularly when one tries to destroy their personality and sexuality (or assist others in destroying theirs.)  The vast majority of people who have attempted to “de-gay” themselves through reparative therapy, straight camps and ex-gay ministries ultimately come out gay. Sadly many of these come out psychologically disheveled and need therapy to recover from the therapy. With stories flying around about George Rekers, a strong proponent of treatments to “cure gays” and legal actions to deny LGBT people rights (all the while using some of his anti-gay earnings to fund European vacations with a gay rent boy while asserting “I am NOT gay!) I thought it might be useful to hear from some folks who took part in some of these failed treatments.

Dr. Jallen Rix is an ex-gay survivor. He has already told his story through his widely read sex column and in the feature length documentary film Fish Can’t Fly. He now has a new book, Ex-Gay No Way! Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse.

Jallen Rix, as a young Southern Baptist, joined an ex-gay ministry when he discovered his same-sex attractions. Although the ministry did not make him heterosexual, it did manage to destroy any sense of stability and self-esteem.
Ex-Gay No Way is Dr. Rix’s journey through the ex-gay world and what he did in the aftermath to reintegrate positive sexuality with healthy spirituality. Further, he demonstrates that the tactics used in these oppressive environments are many of the same damaging schemes used everywhere in power-abusive religious organizations today.

Jallen along with singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge will appear on LA Talk Radio today May 14, 2010 from 6-8 PM PST. Check out the Tony Sweet program and learn more. Also check out this video of Jallen talking about his book.

Unlike ex-gay leaders like George Reker’s and others caught out there failing to live a life that they demanded of others, Micheal Bussee, one of the original founders of Exodus International, left the anti-gay ministry and chose to come out with his ministry partner (and then life partner Gary Cooper.) You may remember that Michael was one of three former Exodus officials who issued a public apology in 2007. This apology can serve as a model for people like John Smid, the former director of Love in Action, who has struggled to come up with a clear statement that reveals why he is apologizing and the steps he is taking to undo the damage.

In Michael’s personal apology he issued the same day as the group apology, he talks about the early work of offering “alternatives” to gays, and how it did not work, and more importantly it caused great harm.

I need to say that some had a positive, life-changing experience attending our Bible studies and support groups.  They experienced God’s love and the welcoming fellowship of others who knew the struggle.  There were some real “changes”—but not one of the hundreds of people we counseled became straight.

Instead, many of our clients began to fall apart – sinking deeper into patterns of guilt, anxiety and self-loathing.  Why weren’t they “changing”?  The answers from church leaders made the pain even worse:  “You might not be a real Christian.”  “You don’t have enough faith.”  “You aren’t praying and reading the Bible enough.” “Maybe you have a demon.”  The message always seemed to be:  “You’re not enough.  You’re not trying hard enough.  You don’t have enough faith.”

Some simply dropped out and were never heard from again.  I think they were the lucky ones.  Others became very self-destructive. One young man got drunk and deliberately drove his car into a tree.  Another (a fellow leader of the ex-gay movement) told me that he had left EXODUS and was now going to straight bars – looking for someone to beat him up.  He said the beatings made him feel less guilty – atoning for his sin.  One of my most dedicated clients, Mark, took a razor blade to his genitals, slashed himself repeatedly, and then poured drain-cleaner on the wounds—because after months of celibacy he had a “fall.”

In the midst of all of this, my own faith in the EXODUS movement was crumbling.  No one was really becoming “ex-gay.”  Who were we fooling?  As one current EXODUS leader admitted, we were just “Christians with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies.”  By calling ourselves “ex-gay” we were lying to ourselves and to others.  We were hurting people.

Over at the blog Box Turtle Bulletin, ex-gay survivor (in a very sexy This American Life voice) Daniel Gonzales has begun to post a series of short videos where Michael talks about his role in Exodus, his regrets and the terrible things that happened in a ministry that set out to help the struggling homosexual.

In this video Michael talks about the the inherent harm that comes from ex-gay treatment and comments on John Smid’s “apology.” Bussee makes it clear that:

It’s the message that’s destructive, it’s the overall message.

As that message sinks in to your sense of self that you’re damaged, you’re broken, you’re in need of repair… that’s the damage.

There are people that don’t become aware of that damage until years later.

(Transcript here)

In this video Michael talks about what happens after people LEAVE ex-gay treatment and reveals how they never offered any kind of after-care or even checked in to see how people where doing. (Read full transcript here.)

And in this video Michael Bussee, who has known LOTS of ex-gays in his life reveals that NO ONE including the leaders actually changed in spite of what they publicly said. We Were All Still Struggling Silently As We Promised Change (Transcript here)

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Later this month Beyond Ex-Gay, the organization I co-founded with Christine Bakke will take part in a the Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Pal Beach, FL. Along with Soulforce, Box Turtle Bulletin, Truth Wins Out, The National Black Justice Coalition and Equality Florida, we will explore the role of heterosexism in society and in particular as a force that compels individuals to “de-gay” themselves through ex-gay ministries and reparative therapy. (Nov 20-22). On Friday the 20th Beyond Ex-Gay will host a day-long Ex-Gay Survivor gathering for survivors and allies.

People will come together from North America, Europe and Australia to meet for a series of workshops and events led by an array of skilled and informed leaders in the work of equality and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues. My friend Angel and Marc from Barcelona will be there after the successful conference we held in Catalonia in May of 2008. They have an exciting announcement to make about the work that has gone on since that historic gathering.

As people finalize their travel plans and work on the finishing touches to their presentations, I head off to the Pacific North West then to Boston. I will not be at the Anti-Heterosexism Conference. I fully support the gathering and the role that Beyond Ex-Gay has in it. I will not attend because in my own work and recovery from ex-gay treatment, I have moved beyond to the place where other concerns and passions fill my life.

Back in 2008 I retired my play, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House because after five years of presenting it, I felt the play held me back in my artistic and personal growth. To tell the same story night after night caused me to relive those events over and over. I felt a drain. I put the play on DVD and focused on my newer performances, including Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, a play that explores the stories and lives of transgender and gender-variant Bible characters. How refreshing it felt to tell a different story, a new story!

In the past year my work with the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement has included working directly with survivors who contact us through the Beyond Ex-Gay website as well as meeting people on the road as I travel with my performances and a lively lecture I conduct about the Ex-Gay Movement, Gender and Orientation. At various conferences and universities I have presented this talk to help educate people about the ex-gay experience, the many reasons why someone may chose to “de-gay” themselves and how these reasons are directly connected to issues of power and privilege around gender, class, and race.

My role has also shifted to more of a consultant to other activists who have organized actions in the North America as well as in the UK and Eastern Europe. In dealing with the press I have sought to broaden the types of stories that the media covers regarding the Ex-Gay Movement (including the way it affects women–lesbians, wives and mothers.) I have also connected reporters with ex-gay survivors who had not yet publicly shared their experiences.

When I was invited to take part in the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, I experienced a mixture of feelings–enthusiastic along with a flat sort of feeling that I could not immediately identify. In sitting with the feeling during Quaker worship (we sit in silence for up to an hour giving me loads of time to sift through emotions and decisions) I recognized that my passion had moved towards the lives, needs and rights of transgender and gender queer individuals. I also learned that during the same weekend when ex-gay survivors were going to gather in Florida,  a group of transgender, bisexual, queer folks were going to meet for the Transcending Boundaries Conference in Massachusetts.  I knew that although many of my friends planned to attend the event West Palm Beach, dear friends who I see too rarely, I understood that “my leading” as we say in Quaker circles was to attend Transcending Boundaries.

As soon as I made that decision, I understood that by not attending the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, I opened space for other leaders and potential leaders in the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement to step forward and fill the many spots that I have inhabited during previous gatherings. Christine Bakke has been a brilliant speaker and organizer, so I knew she would do a wonderful job at heading up the ex-gay survivor gathering. With Christine,  Dr. Jallen Rix, an ex-gay survivor with a new book coming out in March, will help facilitate the many activities that we have planned for the event. Daniel Gonzales will be on hand to share some of his experience and expertise.  Jacob Wilson will also be there to help with the press conference and other aspects of the gathering. Author and ex-gay survivor Anthony Venn-Brown will come from Australia along with former ex-gay leader Darlene Bogle from California. A new leader from Toronto will attend  as will a scholar from Virgina who has done extensive research into the ex-gay and ex-gay survivor movements. In other words, the gathering is in good hands.

So I head off to Vancouver today where I will be with youth this weekend from the United Church of Canada. (and I get to celebrate my friend Doris’ 40th birthday!) On November 18 I will take part in the Transgender Day of Remembrance in Seattle, then I head to Portland, OR to perform Transfigurations on November 19 at a United Methodist Church pastored by David Weeklely, who recently publicly announced that he is transgender. I also get to enjoy a long car ride with David and his lovely partner Deborah. The evening of the 19th I take the red-eye flight to Boston in order to get to the East Coast in time for Transcending Boundaries.

Click here to read more about my leading to work on transgender issues and concerns.

Click here to read more about what happens in Quaker meetings.

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So many people who hear me talk about the Ex-Gay Movement and my many varied failed attempts to “de-gay” myself think I am making this stuff up–total fiction. Add to it the Evangelical world view,  some evil spirits, generational curses and football clinics–well it sounds downright nutty.

Daniel Gonzales writing for Box Turtle Bulletin, spent time trying to de-gay himself with the assistance of a “therapist” from the sinister sounding organization NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of  Homosexuality). Recently he has been looking into the parallels between ex-gay treatment like one gets at NARTH and elsewhere with the practices of another infamous organization–the Church of Scientology.

He’s included delicious diagrams and videos. Read Part I and Part II of a Clear Comparison: Scientology and Ex-Gay Programs.

BXG_EGE_Rally5NARTH will have their annual conference this year in Southern Florida, and like last year when NARTH met in Denver, Beyond Ex-Gay will be there to counter the misinformation and false promises. Beyond Ex-Gay will facilitate a day-long Ex-Gay Survivor gathering for survivors and allies. It is the kick-off for an event organized by a coalition of social justice groups. As NARTH meets to share their views about just how awful the gays are and their various dodgy methods to bring about change the Anti-Heterosexism Conference will take place down the road in West Palm Beach, FL Nov 20-23.

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Beyond Ex-Gay along with Soulforce, The National Black Justice Coalition, Truth Wins Out, Equality Florida and Box Turtle Bulletin announce that pre-registration for the Anti-Heterosexism Conference (Nov 20-22 in West Palm Springs, FL) is now open!

Wow, that is a mouthful. In addition to the main conference, there will be a pre-conference Ex-Gay Survivor event hosted by Beyond Ex-Gay. Ex-Gay Survivors and allies are welcome to take part in a day of programming designed to better understand ex-gay experiences including the potential damages of gay reparative therapy and strategies for recovery. It will also give ex-gay survivors a chance to connect with each other, share their stories and decide how they can get involved in countering the ex-gay myths in thoughtful and honest ways.

I imagine that someone scanning this blog post or the conference website may get the impression,

“Gee this is all so negative–anti this, ex-gay that, and damage too! Lighten up people!”

The first time I heard the phrase “anti-racist” I was taken aback. I served on the board of True Colors, a Connecticut-based non-profit that advocates and provides services for LGBTIQ youth. The organization worked with many young people of color near cities where institutionalized racism daily undermined the health, well-being and futures of people of color. The organization stated that it was not enough to say that they were inclusive. Racism ran so deep in the very fabric of society, we need to become Anti-racist and maintain that position. It continues to hold a strong anti-racist stance which influences its policies, practices and programming.


According to the Conference Page:

Heterosexism is the presumption that others are heterosexual and that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable and superior to those of the same sex. Heterosexism has been encoded into nearly every major social, religious, cultural, and economic institution in our society and it leads directly to discrimination and the harmful efforts by some health care providers and religious groups to change or repress the sexual orientation of those under their care.
Anti-heterosexism involves recognizing and questioning the power and privileges society confers on heterosexual people because of their sexual orientation. It involves respecting and fostering the inclusivity and diversity of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Take a listen to ex-gay survivor Daniel Gonzales (w/his fetching new look. Daniel, I like the chin beard 🙂 ) as he talks about his own experience and the role of heterosexism in pursuing “change” from being gay.

Daniel mentions NARTH and Joseph Nicolosi in his video. NARTH will also hold a conference in the same city the same weekend as the Anti-Heterosexism Conference. No it is not coincidence. The connection between heterosexism and reparative therapy is firm and deeply rooted. It’s not just about faith. It not even just about gay sex. It is about what is considered “valuable” and “normal” and the lengths people will go to adhere to societal demands about orientation and gender presentation.

Jeff Lutes of Soulforce posted an essay today called Let’s All Be “Anti” So No One Else Ever Has To Be “Ex”. Jeff writes,

I believe “change”, “repair”, and “conversion” are indeed possible. Millions of people have changed their minds and now believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens deserve full equality under the law. A growing number of churches have repaired their previously broken theology and now welcome and affirm everyone in their congregations. Slowly, the religious denominations that create and enforce church doctrine are undergoing a conversion in their understanding of LGBTQ people (let’s hope the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America undergoes such a conversion this week).

But the only way things change is if you and I are willing to be “anti” so that no one ever again has to be “ex.” Focusing on the work of anti-heterosexism (undoing the notion that straightness is superior and preferable) undermines the toxic belief system that encourages so many to waste thousands of dollars and precious years trying to become “ex-gay” in therapies and programs that end up doing more harm than good.

This is going to be an excellent conference that I believe will bring the discussion about gay reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry to a deeper place–one that cuts through the muck of religious rhetoric and bogus science that is too often used to prop up ex-gay practices. We have seen a lot of aggression over the past 20 years by those who promote and provide ex-gay theories and treatments. We need to press in with an assertive stance. Being “anti” is a positive expression of our commitment to create a world that is safe for LGBTQ people without the fear of someone forcing them into therapy or insisting that they must change to belong.

Check out the Anti-Heterosexism Conference page or the Facebook Event page. Let’s build on the momentum and the surge of informed opposition to treatments and theories designed to fix transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay people. Let’s come together to support each other in our recovery and to make the public aware of the stories of ex-gay survivors.

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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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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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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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