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Posts Tagged ‘exodus’

So much is happening in ex-gay world I thought I would update folks with some links and excerpts.

Maria M offers an insightful post about bisexuality and the ex-gay industry. For my part I have seen the erasure of bisexual identities by both the Ex-Gay Movement and in the larger LGBTQ “community.” Along with gender policing so prevalent in both worlds, bi people’s experiences are invalidated, ignored and denied by both ex-gay leaders and by many lesbians and gays. Maria M raises the critical question, How would paying attention to bisexuals change the face of the “ex-gay” industry? She writes:

A question I’ve heard asked time and time again is: how do bisexuals figure into this whole “ex-gay” business? You almost never hear about bisexuality in regard to the “conversion” process. It’s all about being gay and going to straight. The“ex-gay” industry mostly acts like bisexuality doesn’t even exist (unfortunately not too different from the rest of society), and mostly talks about “gays and lesbians”. Every once in a while when bisexuality is brought up, it’s often used by both sides to bolster their arguments of “gay people can change” vs. “they can’t change”. I’ve also seen bisexuality mentioned one time when someone was writing about how they thought that some of the “success stories” presented by “ex-gay” organizations were actually bisexuals who just were not acting on their same-sex attractions. I had hoped this would be elaborated on, but that turned out to be the only thing mentioned about bisexuals.

Poz magazine Sept 2010

In its September issue Poz Magazine has included a detailed article, Thou Shalt Fear AIDS, which explores the role the Ex-Gay Movement has had in using of HIV/AIDS epidemic to further its cause with disastrous results.

It’s ironic then, that the ex-gay movement puts everyone—regardless of sexual orientation—at a higher risk of HIV. On the surface, the movement teaches that homosexuality is a choice. But it really pathologizes gay people as threatening the family structure, harboring mental illness, spreading disease and molesting children. And it actively promotes discriminatory laws.

Society responds by denying gay people their civil rights (if it’s a choice, you don’t deserve protections or equality), and by ensuring that schools and federal programs don’t “promote” homosexuality—or basic information about sexual health, including HIV.

All of which fuel the epidemic. It places the LGBT community—and those in ex-gay treatment—in physical and psychological danger.

Trenton Straube interviewed Ex-Gay Survivor, Daniel Gonzales and me for the piece. The article also includes great quotes by Wayne Besen and a historical overview referencing Zach Stark, the 16-year old forced into the Love in Action Refuge program in 2005 and the recent anti-gay legislation in Uganda that was inspired by US promoters of ex-gay treatment. (Over at Box Turtle Bulletin you can see video of some Ugandans’ response to the proposed legislation. )

There’s been lots of buzz about two well-known crusaders who recently publicly announced they are gay. The first is David Yost who played the Blue Power Ranger. Advocate magazine announced that it will publish a long interview with Yost in which he discusses the homophobia he experienced on set and how he ultimately left his career to pursue therapy to straighten himself out. No surprise, that ended badly.

“There were times when I would call prayer hotlines like Joyce Meyers prayer hotline or Pat Robinson’s 700 Club prayer hotline and instead was condemned over the phone.”

Instead of helping, all the prayer ultimately led to a mental breakdown and a five week stay in the hospital — and because his parents didn’t know he was gay at this point, they assumed it was the pressure of having not worked in a while.

Blue Ranger comes out

Yost states that part of his reason for coming out because “he’s tired of hearing stories about teenagers still taking their lives and committing suicide because of who they are and not understanding that there are resources for them to get help.” (see video with Yost telling his story here)

How refreshing to see an Ex-Gay Survivor take responsibility to turn the ugly machine around. I understand why some people disappear to sort themselves out, but it is essential that some ex-gay survivors come forward to tell their stories. This is especially true for those who served as leaders and promoters of this movement that has attempted to eradicate gays, a movement Dr. Christine Robinson reasons is a form of genocide.

Which brings us to the other “crusader” to come out this week, Ken Mehlman, the former GOP/George W. Bush operative who worked tirelessly for the Republicans which employed a staunchly anti-gay strategy in the 2004 and 2006 elections. According to an article in the Atlantic Monthly:

He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans.”
Mehlman is aware that his attempts to justify his past silence will not be adequate for many people. He and his friends say that he is aware that he will no longer control the story about his identity — which will simultaneously expose old wounds, invite Schadenfruede, and legitimize anger among gay rights activists in both parties who did not hide their sexual orientations.
At Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen offers an analysis of the Atlantic article and raises the question about redemption, particularly for those who have stood in the way of LGBTQ equality and liberation. He also outlines what a path to redemption might look like for Mehlman if he hopes to become a friend and advocate of the LGBTQ he is responsible for harming.

To sumarize, Mehlman has three steps to take before he is warmly welcomed:

1) Repent for past sins
2) Be honest with the LGBT community
3) Work tirelessly to undo the damage and propel the LGBT towards equality

I have seen some former ex-gay leaders walk through these steps and make proper amends. I admire people like Jeremy Marks, Darlene Bogle, Anthony Venn-Brown who have worked for years to undo the damage they caused as Ex-Gay leaders. Others like Michael Bussee have also begun to speak out about the harm of ex-gay treatment.

Warren Throckmorton, who had at one time promoted the idea of change therapy through a video he produced, has begun to be critical of some of the more extreme forms of reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry. As far as I know Dr. Throckmorton still advocates for his own kinder, gentler version of change therapy, albeit one that makes minor attempts to address the reasons people may have conflict with their own sexuality and faith as well as the potential harm of pursuing therapy to alter one’s sexuality to fit into an anti-gay religious context. I have found in the past that Dr. Throckmorton can be defensive about his work and reasonable questions that some of us have raised. As a former oppressor, he needs to understand the suspicions that some of us still feel towards him. His motives and goals are not clear, and while he has been quick to criticize his fellow Evangelicals, he has not provided much critique of his own past efforts. In other words, there is room for redemption.

John Smid & Peterson Toscano LIA graduation March 1998

Perhaps not on the same level as the completely unrepentant ex-gay leaders like Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas, who continue to misinform parents and the public about sexual orientation, bisexuality, transgender issues, “success rates” of change therapies and the potential harm of ex-gay treatments, one oppressor still has a lot of redemption work ahead of him. John Smid, former director of the Love in Action program, recently offered an apology of sorts. Some may see his words as light years from where he was back in 2005 when he justified holding Zach Stark and other teens against their will, but in light of the thorough apologies by his peers followed up by real action, Smid’s words remain hollow and pointless.

The more these ministers of the Gospel realize that the “Ex-Gay Movement” is really an anti-gay movement designed to annihilate anything that does not conform to heterosexuality and gender normative identity and presentation, the quicker they can clear their brains out from all of the smoke and mirrors that keep them oppressed and as oppressors. Heterosexuality and gender normative behavior have their privileges, and these ex-gay leaders have cashed in on these for years through both their salaries and the warm welcome they get from fellow Evangelicals.

Many of us have expended so much energy in denying reality for ourselves and others. Besides a colossal waste of time, these attempts to suppress, contain and alter one’s sexuality almost always prove destructive to oneself and family. I have heard from current ex-gay leaders who feel miserable because they cannot live up to the standards they preach. I know of at least one whotook  his life because he could not conform his sexuality to his chosen religion. I know some stay in limbo because they fear the loss of family, friends, careers. Instead of coming clean, they continue to soldier on, sometimes living a double life or else they end it all tragically. What a world of woe with so many victims.

How grateful to see people like Daniel Gonzales and so many other ex-gay survivors reclaim their lives, challenge their former ways of thinking and find peace and joy in authenticity.

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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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Sara, a Facebook friend, suggested I watch the latest episode of the TV program House (Season 6, ep 19 The Choice available in the US at Hulu. It was written by David Hoselton and directed by Juan J. Campanella)

If you have never seen the program, Dr. House and his staff routinely uncover the causes and cures for impossibly sick people with the most obscure ailments. In this episode, the patient, Ted, fell sick on his wedding day at the altar. As the story unfolds we discover that Ted “used to be gay” but changed through treatment prior to meeting his bride.

Throughout the episode Ted experienced a dazzling array of symptoms (loss of voice, fainting, heart attack, stroke like symptoms, severe headaches and even a spell of lactating!) As the medical team put Ted through a series of tests including EKGs, MRIs, HIV test, spinal taps, and a bunch of other things I couldn’t keep track of, Ted’s story unraveled and his fiancee discovered his secrets. Ted had a boyfriend for three years (Cotter), but decided to leave off being gay, so he went to a straight camp. As House called it, Dr. Liberace’s He-man Quackery Camp.  There he received all sorts of treatments including getting pumped up with hormones and Electro-convulsive therapy. House: To zap the fabulous out of him! Run an EKG to see if they straightened him or just scrambled him. Ted felt he was cured although he suffered erectile dysfunction when intimate with Nickie, his bride-to-be. In response Dr. House ordered yet another test, this time to check the vascular flow to the penis. I wonder what the medical bill is for these patients after Dr. House gets done with them.

In the end Ted’s physical symptoms had nothing to do with the ex-gay experiences. Or I don’t think they did. It got complicated. They used the ex-gay story line to share a message about the healthiness of just being yourself and the pain that comes to so many (in this case Ted, Nickie and Cotter). One of the female doctor raised excellent questions about consent, and how unfair it was to Nickie, that she was going to marry a gay man without knowing all the facts. House ultimately pronounced to Ted, “Some things you are born with.” In the end Nickie left Ted as he shouted, “I want to marry you. I need to marry you!”

Surprisingly the episode did not mention religion at all, a conscious choice by the writers I am sure. If they did any research into the ex-gay world, they would have come across a lot of religious materials. They must have decided to go for a secular route and leave God out of it.

When Ted cried out to Nickie, “I need to marry you!” it shot right through me and nearly caused me to cry. Ugh, how many memories that scene brought back for me. For so many years I felt so desperate to be a husband to a woman, to be seen as normal in the world. Like the Ted character I despised the idea of being gay. In my case I wrapped it all up in Jesus and turned my journey to de-gay myself into a noble religious pilgrimage. Sure my faith motivated me, but so many other factors weighed on me, pressured and coerced me. And how much easier my life seemed as a “straight person.” Not that it was any easier internally, but outwardly the world treated me more kindly and with greater respect. I received all sorts of rewards and privileges once I was perceived as straight.

Sadly the straight experiment failed miserably for me hurting lots of people including my wife at the time. It caused me damage–psychological, emotional and spiritual damage. My failed attempts to straighten myself out also caused physical symptoms in the form extreme lower back problems ultimately resulted in a herniated disc. I started ex-gay treatment at age 17. It was about that time that I first started having back problems that lasted until my early 30s. After I accepted the reality that I was gay and began to get therapy to undo the damage of years of conversion therapy, my back problems went away. It’s been over 10 years since my back has gone out.

This episode of House had very little to do with medicine, like most episodes, but more about human lives and relationships. It spoke to the secrets we keep and the hopes we harbor, sometimes irrationally in the face of reason. It portrayed Ted as a tortured soul running from reality. I would not be surprised if we were to see the next few scenes that Ted would still insist that he did not want to be gay and then look for another cure. Hopefully someone like Ted finally comes to his or her senses and realizes that so often it is the anti-gay society that is sick that needs to be fixed and from that well-spring of rejection comes so much pain and confusion. That pain and confusion can be overcome. It doesn’t take a medical breakthrough, rather hard work, a healthy support system and often professional help to undo the damage done through conversion therapy and ex-gay ministry.

If you want to find out about real life ex-gay survivors, check out the Beyond Ex-Gay website where you will find lots of narratives, artwork and articles. Also, take a lot at ex-gay survivor Dr. Jallen Rix’ new book Ex-Gay No Way — Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse. See Jallen’s video here.

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The Homo No Mo Halfway House DVD

One of the most exciting features I see among many ex-gay survivors is the many ways we seek to process our experiences through art, be it theater, film, visual art, writing, music, etc. Through the act of writing and then performing my one-man play Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement, (now available only on DVD) I grew to understand my story better as both connected with others about their own and communicated to the broader world about the potential dangers of ex-gay therapy (as well as the inherent humor in some ex-gay programs.)

Last June I began a memoir–new genre and in some ways a new story, as I will not only share my time at the Love in Action ex-gay program, but also write much about my failed marriage and the myriad reasons I went ex-gay. I have about 100 pages complete and will work on it throughout the summer. Last week I also began a stint as co-host of a NEW podcast with blogger Zack Ford. It’s called Queer and Queerer, and no doubt I will talk about my sordid ex-gay past along with other LGBTQ issues, religion and higher education.

In 2007 and 2008 Beyond Ex-Gay focused on regional, national and international events. Once we got the movement going with the voices of ex-gay survivors in the media and on-line, we turned our attention toward community and the important question, how can we best support ex-gay survivors as they process their own past experiences and embrace their new lives. In 2009 we created the Beyond Ex-Gay Community site, an on-line social networking site ONLY for ex-gay survivors. Membership has steadily grown, but more importantly ex-gay survivors are sharing their experiences in a venue with other folks who understand the complexity of the ex-gay world, the lure it once held for us, the damage it caused many of us, and the creative and at times challenging ways we have discovered to overcome that trauma while holding onto any good we may have gotten from our time in the ex-gay world. Art has been an important means of recovery for some of us. Christine Bakke and others have done lots of visual art about ex-gay experiences and poets like Scott Tucker have posted their poetry over at the bXg site.

Daniel Gonzales, an ex-gay survivor who has attended most of the Beyond Ex-Gay events in the past three years and whose YouTube video in which he shares his story has had over 130,000 hits, recently sat down with former founder of Exodus International and now ex-gay survivor, Michael Bussee and here shares the first of many to be released videos interviews.

I know of two new works by ex-gay survivors.

NEW BOOK! by Dr. Jallen Rix

Jallen Rix, Ph.D, an active member of Beyond Ex-Gay, who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA, the Ex-Gay Exposé in Denver and the recent Anti-Heterosexism Conference in Miami, has published a book called 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.

Check out more at his site and order your copy HERE or at Amazon.

Jason T Ingram, who attended and displayed art at the 2008 Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth events in Memphis, has created a new one-person, multimedia performance art piece called Identity Thieves which will premiere on April 25th in Seattle, WA. Over at his site Jason has lots of info about the piece including some video.

NEW PERFORMANCE ART by Jason T. Ingram

About three years in the making, Identity Thieves is a multi-media performance piece written and performed by Jason T. Ingram about his five-year journey through the “ex-gay” movement and how he survived. Jason integrates his singing and instrumental live music with background accompaniments and visual projections of stills and film clips. Jason’s goal is to raise awareness about these issues as well as to help others heal from religious abuse and to show that creative expression can be a powerful outlet for growth and recovery. The complete piece without intermission should be just over an hour and may be done with a brief discussion following. Jason’s style is artistic, edgy and uplifting. Some of his music sounds aggressive as well as gentle and most of his works do not resemble church culture, but tries to stay cutting edge

If you are in the Seattle area, check it out.

Living Water Fellowship – 7204 NE 175 ST, Kenmore, WA 98028 – 206-963-0807

What other projects are out there by ex-gay survivors. Please feel free to share your projects with the bXg community, and congratulations to Jallen and Jason!

If you are an ex-gay survivor (someone who attended ex-gay treatment and/or tried on your own to suppress or change your orientation and/or gender differences only to discover that such a change was not necessary, possible or healthy, consider becoming a part of the Beyond Ex-Gay Community.

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If you speak Spanish, check out the Don Francisco Presenta program on Univision tonight (10pm ET/9PM CT) for a discussion about gay repartive therapy that includes a number of guests including me 🙂

Yesterday on Facebook and my Twitter feed I asked the following question:

Have you ever tried to de-gay yourself or suppress your gender differences? Why did you do it? What were the consequences?

Some Twitter answers I received were:

firefaunx @p2son yes. I had trouble w/ both of those. ended up w/ too much drinking, too much weed, too many bad choices. WAY better now.

verycarla @p2son Suppressing my gender differences lead to a lifetime of misery and self-hatred. Hard to unlearn that behaviour now.

kitty_burger @p2son I did because I was scared. I felt like I’d be rejected if I showed people my real face. And it turned me into a mean, lying weasel.

xiomberg @p2son Yes suppressed my gender in middle school lead to deepening clinical depression 2 much drinking & self destructive habits

xiomberg @p2son Years of therapy and nearly killing my marriage to get back to a semblance of health

Without revealing their identities, some of my Facebook friends wrote:

  • i tried to hide the fact that i am ftm for well over a year and i also ended up trying to commit suiside i finaly had to come out and be myself to save my life and coming out did save my life
  • Caleb, same here. Yes. Cause i loved my straight partner. made me suicidal. <_<
  • Oh, yeah… Tomboys not allowed in Catholic school… and I also got shit in my family, even though my then-mom was supposedly a feminist. Ugh.  Also, even to this day, more femme-y women are looked down on in lesbian/queer circles; more butch-ish women are more honored. This makes me sad. :(Apparently I was closeted to myself about my gender identity for quite a while. I’ve been really dealing with issues over the past year, but it’s intensified over the past 4 – 6 months. It was the reason my girlfriend at the time broke up with me, or at least one of the reasons.
  • But right now I’m having a very hard time because when you try to lock that stuff up, pretend like it doesn’t exist, or de-gay or de-trans yourself, it’s only gonna come bursting out all the more loudly when you can’t keep the charade up anymore. It’s just not worth it. Not for the sake of anyone. Sometimes it ultimately comes down to what’s right for YOU and building a support system out of it of people who are willing to accept this newfound real you….
  • I did the opposite- sometime way back when I came to the realisation that I fit into people’s ideas of what a straight man was much more than their idea of what a gay man was. I wasn’t going to change who I am and be nelly when I’m not, or try to supress any masculinity, so I decided to make a conscious effort to never suppress any of my more feminine/”gay” attributes if I had any. this leads to where I am now- people from work/etc that haven’t known me for long are surprised to hear I’m gay while people who are closer and have known me for longer find it hard to believe that anyone could think I’m NOT gay.

I also got an e-mail from a self-identified “Mexican friend” who shared at length some of his journey. He is still in the midst of the coming out process, so he wrote, you can share it but just do not put my name yet-or make a fake one, like Juan, or Pedro, or Chihuahua dog =) Gracias hermano por tu mensaje.

To answer your question about why do people choose ex-gay therapy & what are the consequences? I will say it is one of the most complicated answers I will ever give and one that I am still trying to answer myself.

When you have been raised with the no idea of homosexuality (because it is a taboo) you grew up with the idea of there is something wrong with me but may be will pass and one day I wont ever remembered, or at least nobody talks about it and you will discover this journey by your own means (I am talking knowing I was different while living in Mexico).

The other and most dangerous of any, is when your homosexuality is seen as SIN, or as an ADICTION, or an ILLNESS most of time these definitions of homosexuality are coming from the church of the self-righteousness Christians. Then not only you know you are different, but also you are wrong, you are dirty and YOU DO have a problem.You can not be part of this body of believers until you give up this ugly part of yourself to Christ. There is no way to ever pronounce the word “ACCEPTANCE”, because the moment you do, you will deny the all powerful quality of God.

So in a way you are convinced that your wrongness is part of the devil’s work to destroy the greatest plan God has for your life.So in order to help you overcome this addiction, illness and sin, you go to a cleansing house. A place where you are told that in one moment of your life(may be due to a trauma, or lack of relationship with dad etc) we made the decision to be–judged, criticized, seen as a second class people, some will be killed, laugh about them, tease about them, condemn them, live a life of animosity, a double life full if depression, that is our fault for hurting, our parents, our siblings, our spouses-(who would ever in their right mind decide to live like this)-and a place where we needed to overcome it and become the men and women God always intended for us to be. What I do not understand is if God give us free will, why the word acceptance is never in the vocabulary of the Church of the self-righteousness Christians?

My own consequences of going to an ex-gay ministry was to fell into a cycle of self- destruction, depression, not acceptance, guiltiness, and emotional instability. so my question will be? Is this cycle of emotions, destructions, depression and non-acceptance better than to be homosexual? Is it better to deny who you are and live a pretended life just for the sake of sanity, wholeness and “holiness”?(holiness is not what you do or do not do, but who you are) is it not wholeness the acceptance of who you are in God’s eyes and live like that?

Because for me coming out saved my life, and took me out from this so unhealthy cycle into a search of my true self. I know that finally I am who I am as person, and as a child of God.

Ironically all my family who once considered this a taboo has given me the full support, understanding and love, but I also know that staying in this spiritual journey I will have to face many of the questions, wonders, doubts, and judgments of the members of the self-righteousness Christian Church; but this time I will have my family and friends with me.

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My friend Tania in the UK posted a link on my Facebook page about PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, and their insistence that ex-gay materials should be placed in public libraries.

According to the local NBC affiliate,

A Chicago-based group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays is urging libraries to carry literature about reformed homosexuals.

The national non-profit organization is arguing that the alleged successes of their “gay reversal” movement are not being heard because libraries refuse to carry their books, such as You Don’t Have to Be Gay and A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.

One has to wonder just what genre those books would fall under, exactly.

I am sure folks can think of a bunch of snarky responses. Acutally It doesn’t fit under any genre and the answer to the “debate” is a no-brainer. These books do not belong in public libraries. We are not talking about a political issue, although PFOX my be politically motivated in part. The ex-gay movement in the form of Exodus and groups like PFOX has inserted itself into various political causes including opposing employment non-discrimination measures in the US and UK as well has fighting against hate crime legislation that would include protections of individuals based on orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Such protections actually would benefit ex-gays who are gender non-conforming or who get harassed for being something other than purely heterosexual.

No, this is not about politics. It is about public health and safety. Those of us who consumed these books for years and bought into the ex-gay theories have suffered much harm. Our families have suffered harm. The damaging results include psychological, emotional and spiritual harm. We have suffered in our personal development, relationships and even in our career paths as we have diverted our lives to please family and friends who love us unconditionally, well except for one condition–we can’t be queer. For many of us we needed years to recover from the “cure.” No child or adult need to be exposed to these dodgy and dangerous teachings.

The APA just issued a LONG report about reparative therapy stating that it doesn’t work and most likely causes harm.

You can read more about the harm of ex-gay theories and treatments and read first-hand accounts of ex-gay survivors over at Beyond Ex-Gay. PFOX, which has very few actual ex-gay gays in its organization, should really rename itself Disgruntled Parents of Happy, Well-Adjusted Gays & Lesbians.

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When someone attempts to “de-gay” themselves, they can try all sorts of methods. Since it is an unregulated business, most ex-gay programs use a variety of techniques in hopes of straitening out homosexuals. Some of these “treatments” have to do with sex, but typically they touch on other issues as program leaders attempt to sort out clients’ gender and relationships with their parents and in some cases they even try to cast out gay demons.

Megan Stewart
recently commented about gender and in particular masculinity in response to my blog post A Dungeon of Biblical Proportions or an Ex-Gay Program?

In recent years, I’ve noticed an almost worshipful attitude toward masculinity in the church, that marginalizes women in some of the same ways as gay men. Who would believe that in a first world nation a woman of Sarah Palin’s stature would have witches cast out of her by her minister?

But nobody’s questioned whether making an idol out of masculine heterosexuality might be problematic, because most of the people behind the pulpit are straight men, or want people to think they are.

Steven Fales, a fellow performance artist, and I appeared on the Trya Banks Show to share some of our experiences in the Ex-Gay Movement. I remember how horrified I felt when we were on stage with Tyra and they rolled the clip they created based on interviews they conducted the day before. Seeing the crazy things we did to try to become straight hit me hard (as you might notice when they first pan the camera on me and Steven right after they show the clip.) As Steven says, this is crazy making stuff.

I truly believed I would be more valuable to God and the world if I were not gay. The crazy part is that there was always another minister, counselor, therapist, deliverance team more than willing to work their magic on me. Bottom line: Gay Reparative Therapy does not work–no one actually changes from gay to straight. They only change how they identify themselves and they behave (no longer having gay sex and some attempting heterosexual sex and coupling with varying degrees of success and failure). Gay Reparative Therapy is unnecessary and in most cases causes actual harm. Check out Beyond Ex-Gay to read narratives and articles about the harm.

And check out Tyra in action as she dabbles in the ex-gay waters.

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