Posts Tagged ‘focus on the family’

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.


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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Wayne Besen over at Truth Wins Out has a new video up about how the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (aka NARTH) misused and distorted research by Dr. Lisa Diamond.

“Dr. Nicolosi, you know exactly what you are doing,” said Diamond in the video, addressing NARTH’s co-founder Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.”This is a willful misuse and distortion of my research. Not an academic disagreement. Not a slight shading of the truth. It’s willful distortion. And, it’s illegitimate and it’s irresponsible and you know that. And you should stop.”

Dr. Diamond goes on to criticize and warn against reparative (ex-gay) therapy pointing out the distinction between adjusting behavior as opposed to experiencing genuine change. You can check out the video below.

Wayne has previously done a tremendous job in exposing James Dobson’s misuse of researchers’ work by James Dobson. This head of Focus on the Family regularly uses his radio broadcasts to spread misinformation about people who are lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual.

Currently Wayne and lots of concerned citizens in the Chicago area and around the country are speaking out about James Dobson’s induction into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame slated for November 8, 2008. Wayne will be on hand to protest the ceremony should the organizers refuse to listen to the many people concerned over Dobson’s messages against LGBT people. They already organized a press conference and have put together full page ads highlighting their concerns.

Dobson reaches millions of people speaking as an expert on child rearing. He mixes in homespun wisdom and scripture with gross distortions of the truth and outright lies about LGBT people and women. People in Europe often ask me why the Religious Right has such a hold on the minds of so many Americans who seem stuck when thinking about issues of sexuality and gender. I believe in large part this is because of the unfettered access Dobson has to citiznes via radio whereby he pumps falsehoods into the unquestioning minds of people paralyzed by his fear-filled message.

Yes, I totally believe in the freedom of speech. Similarly I believe that people should be held accountable for their words. If someone speaks out in falsehood, this one should not be rewarded for that behavior. I mean if you have a child who misbehaves and lies, shouldn’t the parent correct that child not throw a party and give out awards? What would Doctor Dobson Do?

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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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A group of LGBT-affirming groups, ministers and others stood up to  the confusion and misinformation dished out by Focus on the Family at their Love Won Out conference in Colorado Springs. The local Gazette published a good story about it,

The battle of beliefs over the idea that gays can become heterosexual will play out today at two events in Colorado Springs.

In the north part of town, Focus on the Family will hold its “Love Won Out” program, which the ministry created in 1998 to help gays overcome same-sex attraction. Focus has since held 52 of the seminars in the U.S. Its most recent, in Anchorage, garnered national media attention because Sarah Palin’s church, Wasilla Bible, advertised it.

The other event, called “Love Came Out,” is being sponsored by a coalition of local gay leaders who want to warn people of the dangers of trying to change one’s sexual orientation. The free program takes place at Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus, and features gay speakers who participated in so-called reparative programs and now question such faith-based attempts to change one’s sexual orientation.

They also quote blogger and ex-gay survivor Daniel Gonzales,

Though many scientific studies suggest that people are born with their sexual orientation, Focus research analyst Jeff Johnston said he believes it has more to do with how they are raised – in other words, nurture, not nature.

“Pro-homosexual advocates and their allies aren’t dealing with all the evidence in their insistence that people are ‘born gay’ and cannot change,” Johnston said in a statement.

But Daniel Gonzales has a different view. The 28-year-old Denver resident will be one of four panelists at the “Love Came Out” event, where he’ll talk about embracing his sexual orientation after years of trying to change it while attending faith-based reparative programs.

“It all boiled down to trying to make up excuses for what was causing my attractions and convincing myself that my attractions had some other meaning and ultimately could be ignored or pushed aside,” Gonzales said.

“If that sounds like a fancy way of saying ‘repression,'” he said, “that would be exactly right.”

Wow, Repressive Therapy, yeah, that sounds a lot like my own experience.

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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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