This year Christine Bakke and I have committed to organize regional events in order to connect with other ex-gay survivors as well as stand as witnesses to the destructive results that often occur from submitting to ex-gay theories and treatments.
So far this year Beyond Ex-Gay has partnered with local LGBT groups in Memphis, TN and Barcelona, Cataluña to put together series of events that has helped to educate the public about ex-gay experiences, their potential harm and the ways that people can recover.
One of my hopes has been to take part in existing LGBT conferences to add an ex-gay survivor track or presence to them. Next month Christine and I will go to Nashville, TN to take part in the Our Family Matters Conference. The conference will cover many topics about faith and sexuality, but specifically the organizers have given us time to speak about ex-gay experiences and to connect with fellow survivors.
Tennessee’s Out & About paper ran a story this week about ex-gay survivors and the upcoming conference.
For nearly 20 years, Peterson Toscano underwent a variety of treatments meant to suppress his homosexuality. Two of those years were spent at Love in Action, a residential treatment center in Memphis.
The religious-based ex-gay movements are meant to straighten gays out but often do more harm than good, Toscano said.
“Right now, people in some churches feel that they must hide the fact they are gay for fear they will be thrown out,” Toscano said. “Many of us have tried to change, but instead of finding a blessing, the programs I attended nearly destroyed my faith and my life.”
Toscano will offer his unique perspective as part of the Our Family Matters Conference held Oct. 22 through 25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville.
Launched as a live version of Kim Clark’s acclaimed documentary, God and Gays: Bridging the Gap, the conference will address questions related to the relationship between God and the GLBT community. The event will include a film festival, live concerts, national keynote speakers Jack Rogers and Rev. Deborah Johnson, and three days of workshops
On Thursday October 23 Christine, Darlene Bogle and I will take the evening to share about our ex-gay experiences and how we survived and now thrive as we worked through our ex-gay pasts. You may remember that Darlene joined two other former Exodus leaders in issuing a public apology for their roles in promoting and providing ex-gay treatment. I will also do excerpts from some of my plays including Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House—How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement!
On Saturday October 25 we will get to meet with ex-gay survivors in a workshop setting which will give folks a chance to connect with each other, share their own stories and find strategies for recovery from the harm they experienced through ex-gay treatment and theories.
Since Christine and I will not be the key organizers of the conference, we will have SO MUCH more time to hang out with survivors during the many breaks, meals and other sessions. Check out the full schedule and please consider coming to the Our Family Matters Conference!
November 7-9 Christine and I along with Daniel Gonzales and several local groups will organize a series of events in Denver, CO in response to NARTH’s annual anti-gay conference. We will host an art show, a performance, ex-gay survivor gathering and a summit for LGBT-affirming leaders. You can learn more about our Denver event here.