What: The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference: Undoing the Damage, Affirming our Lives Together
When: June 29-July 1, 2007
Where: University of California at Irvine (Orange County nearly Los Angeles)
Many LGBT people have had ex-gay experiences. We don’t always talk about them, but for a time they shaped a large part of lives and even today may affect the ways we see ourselves and the world around us. Ex-gay experiences come in many forms from dressing and acting in more gender normative ways to actually attending ex-gay programs or receiving therapy.
The reasons we pursued these experiences are myriad and often stem from the heterosexism we faced since early childhood. Also, some of us suffered from unresolved abuse, sexual addiction, low self-esteem or dysfunctional relationships and sought help in all the wrong places only compounding our problems.
As people who now embrace our sexual orientation and identity, we have not always had the opportunity to unpack that time in our lives when we tried to change who we were. Why did we do it? Why did some of us seek out help from “professionals” and why did some of us go it alone? What harm did it caused? What good, if any, came of it? How does it affect us today?How does this ex-gay past effect our current relationships with others and ourselves?
The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference will give us a chance to explore these issues, to meet with other survivors, to process our stories through art and talk and interactive workshops. For many it will give us a chance to find closure to a time in our life that we often keep shut up in the closet we once inhabited. It will also be a chance to share with fellow survivors the many ways we have moved beyond our ex-gay experiences to develop into the healthy people we have become and are becoming.
Focus on the Family rolls into your community with their anti-gay Love Won Out conference which promotes ex-gay reparative therapy and “change” programs. Or through one of your friends you just find out that an ex-gay program has been operating in your community for years and you had no idea.
As a concerned citizen you wish to respond, but how?
Sometimes when attempting to stand up for decency and social justice, well-meaning allies to the LGBT community and to ex-gay survivors have unwittingly created further trauma to ex-gay survivors as well as complications in the delicate work of on-going activism. While many ex-gay survivors have appreciated the activist efforts and the outcry of allies opposed to the Ex-Gay Movement, some of the people most effected by harmful ex-gay experiences see that allies can play an even more powerful role.
Becoming an effective ally requires passion, commitment and a willingness to explore an array of issues as we dialogue with the people we seek to support. The Ex-Gay Survivor conference will bring together both ex-gay survivors and the people who care about them in order to look closely at the Ex-Gay Movement and the many ways we can respond to the harm caused by ex-gay experiences.
A special allies’ tract of lively interactive workshops will look at the history and ideology of the Ex-Gay Movement as well as specific strategies that allies can take to do something about the incursion of the anti-gay movement into LGBT communities and the homes of LGBT youth. Allies will also get to share the knowledge and techniques they have gained through their own efforts on-line, in the media, in religious settings and in the community.
You see the harm that ex-gay experiences have caused and you have a heart to do something about it. The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference is for you.