Last night waiting at the elevator here in the hotel a woman ,also waiting, looked at me. I looked at her. We recognized each other although we had never met. But we somehow knew we were in Irvine for the same thing. She ran over to me, hugged me and told me her story.
She was looking for something on Google a week ago and found bXg and the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference. She said to herself, “I need to be there”. And here she is all the way from Texas. She told a tale of parents and siblings who constantly tortured her because she is lesbian and that she can’t stand suppressing her sexuality any longer. She has cried everyday since Mother’s Day and she says she is ready for healing.
Although the conference doesn’t officially kick off until tonight, people are arriving. I met Anthony Venn Brown from Australia. Jeremy Marks is here from England. Folks from Colorado and Florida and New York. Although the fortune telling arm of Focus on the Family yesterday prophesied, “a counter-conference drew about 100 people,” we are only just beginning to draw and will continue to draw all weekend long.
Early this evening Christine and I and two other survivors will meet for a private dinner with a handful of leaders from Exodus member ministries. No senior member of the Exodus International staff or board has arranged meetings with any of the conference organizers. At this point no national Exodus staff member will come to the dinner citing that they are not free to do so. As we stated in the past, the dinner is a private affair without reporters. We will not announce the names of those from Exodus who attended or the details that we discussed.
In the lobby of the hotel some people who knew of each other for years met in person for the first time. People who attended ex-gay ministries together years ago connected for the first time in decades and caught up on the years since that time when they tried to change and suppress their sexuality.
People are arriving and the joy and the hope they exude centers me from all of the details swirling in my mind. After a week of press appearances and witnessing the dishonesty and outright slander from some Christian leaders, these folks arriving at the conference remind me once again that this is not about politics or protest; it is about people. We are about pastoral care, not propaganda.
What will we be doing? Check out the conference schedule!