Category: australia

Speaking Out!

Today I have witnessed and heard of extraordinary examples of people speaking out a message of sanity and hope.

1. Anthony Venn-Brown in Australia alerted me to a group of Christian ministers calling themselves 100Revs. They have decided to speak out during the sometimes raucous Mardi Gras festivities in their country, not to denounce the LGBT community like so many have done in the past, but rather to issue a public apology for the awful ways the Church has treated to LGBT people. In their official statement they say,

As ministers of various churches and denominations we recognise that the churches we belong to, and the church in general, have not been places of welcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. Indeed the church has often been profoundly unloving toward the GLBT community. For these things we apologise, whatever the distinctive of our Christian position on human sexuality – to which we remain committed. We are deeply sorry and ask for the forgiveness of the GLBT community. We long that the church would be a place of welcome for all people and commit ourselves to pursuing this goal.

They do not make a position statement about the Bible and romantic and sexual relationships between people of the same sex, rather they stick to admitting a lack of hospitality and love toward LGBT individuals. It’s a good start.

In August of 2007 three lesbians Christians, who were former ex-gay leaders in Australia, issued their own apologies for promoting and providing ex-gay ministry. It makes me wonder if their example inspired the straight ministers to issue this most recent apology.

2. And speaking of ex-gay ministries, I traveled to nearby Storrs, CT today to the sprawling UCONN campus to hear long time ex-gay critic Wayne Besen give a talk about the ex-gay movement. Since he felt the flu coming on, he brought me forward to share some of my experiences as a former ex-gay and now as an ex-gay survivor. I also spoke about Beyond Ex-Gay and the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement.

When I was first coming to grips with my ex-gay past, Wayne’s book helped me so much to get perspective on what I allowed others to put me through and the real damage I suffered from attempting to suppress and change my sexual orientation and gender differences.

In his talk today Wayne reminded me of two powerful tools the anti-gay church and the ex-gay promoters use to lure people like me. For years I fell for the fear and smear tactics. They warned me of the perils of being gay. The loneliness, the life threatening illnesses followed by an eternity in hell. They also smeared LGBT people with countless testimonies depicting a life of drugs, out of control behaviors, toxic relationship and even violence. Perhaps I’ll write more about this in a later post because these tactics really held sway over me for decades.

Wayne showed some video, including the very powerful story of a woman who initially wanted her gay son to go straight. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do. I think every parent considering going to Love Won Out needs to see it.

3. Last but by no means least, my Swedish buddies Alex and Noa Resare have been downright Swedish media whores first appearing in regional magazines and newspapers, then in Sweden’s most read daily national newspaper, and then today on national television. Their story is very moving and powerful. Not only are they gay, but Alex is a transgender man who transitioned from female to male. I am still waiting for some links from Alex so I can properly blog about this (hint hint). Alex shares some of his story at bXg. You can read a little about Alex’s busy week here, but he needs to give out more for his many fans.

UPDATE: here is a link to the TV program. Alex and Noa are about 4 minutes in. Hey Alex, you’re wearing the exact same shirt I wore on the Trya Banks show. It looks better on you. 🙂

I have to dash as I’m getting ready for a show in Providence tomorrow night and then two shows in Philadelphia this weekend.

ANOTHER UPDATE: speaking of speaking out, Dave Rattigan over at Ex-Gay Watch reports that the Anglican bishop of Liverpool has experienced a change of heart and a change of mind regarding his former less than friendly stance towards the gays.

The Bishop of Liverpool has apologized for his part in opposing the proposed appointment of openly gay cleric Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. The Right Reverend James Jones – perhaps the Church of England’s most prominent evangelical bishop – has also drawn attention to God-sanctioned same-sex relationships in the Bible, describing the story of David and Jonathan as a “witness to love between two people of the same gender,” and signalling an openness to more dialogue on the subject.

Australian Radio Warns of Ex-Gay Imports

This story appeared on Australian’s ABC radio program The World Today. Like most mainstream news they have some of the details wrong. The ex-gay movement is not just about trying to turn people straight. It is about reinforcing an anti-gay message that we find in the church and in much of society. In a large part it teaches that only the heterosexuals can be holy since, as they announce over and over again the very opposite of homosexuality is holiness.

Those of us who have been in it know well enough how the message works. According to the report, ex-gay ministries may be coming into Australia like a foreign invasive species.

The United States’ controversial “ex-gay” movement has its eye on Australia.

Ex-gays are homosexuals who say they’ve been “cured” or turned straight. They’ve been in conversion courses across the United States which work to reorient sexuality, mostly from a Christian perspective.

The ex-gays now want to get their message into schools and into other countries,
as North America Correspondent, Mark Simkin reports from Memphis, Tennessee.

The reporter, Mark Simikin, goes on to interview Brandon Tidwell, an ex-gay survivor who recently shared his story in front of Love in Action.

Brandon Tidwell spent three months and $10,000 at Love In Action, trying to get straightened out. It didn’t work.

BRANDON TIDWELL: I didn’t get to talk to my parents or my family members for six weeks after entering the program – couldn’t make a call, no email none of that.

MARK SIMKIN: Clients have to report any fantasies to their counsellors, personal belongings are routinely searched. The rulebook is extraordinary.

BRANDON TIDWELL: Men must remove all facial hair seven days a week and sideburns must not fall below the top of the ear.

Women must shave legs and underarms at least twice weekly.

The clients may not wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Kline brand clothing, underwear or accessories.

No television viewing, going to movies…

You can read the transcript or listen to the audio here.

Ex-gay ministries in Australia is nothing new. This radio report comes on the heels of the apology of three former ex-gay leaders from Australia and then an announcement that two others have shifted their perspective. Perhaps this is a way to replenish the flagging leadership. Time to restock in Europe as the major ex-gay program, Courage UK folded some years ago.