Beyond Ex-Gay–Web Site & Conference


Okay BIG news. For over a year Christine Bakke and I have been working on a new web site called BeyondExGay.com (or bXg for short.) We then got together with the technical expertise of Steve Boese and BAM! we have bXg! The site will serve as an on-line community and resource specifically geared towards ex-gay survivors.

We recognize that many of those who have had ex-gay experiences could use a place to connect with others with similar experiences, to process their own histories and learn how to get beyond ex-gay.

Then a few months after we began building the site, I started a partnership with SoulForce to talk strategy about a positive response to the ex-gay movement. Through those talks we began to plan a special conference specifically designed for ex-gay survivors. After much talk and planning we are ready to announce that we will have the The Survivor’s Conference–Beyond Ex-Gay in Irvine, CA June 29-July 1, 2007 (which happens to be the same weekend and city for the Exodus ex-gay conference 🙂

The bXg site is up! The registration for the conference is ready!
Below is the full text of the press release announcing the launch of bXg and the conference.

Online registration is now available for The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-gay, a face-to-face event scheduled for June 29th through July 1st, sponsored by beyondexgay.com and Soulforce.

(Austin, TX)—Survivors of ex-gay programs can take advantage of two new resources this week. Beyondexgay.com, an online community for those who are healing from ex-gay experiences, will go live today. Simultaneously, online registration will begin for The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-gay, a face-to-face event scheduled for June 29-July 1, and sponsored by beyondexgay.com and Soulforce.

Recent events have brought national attention to the existence of programs intended to modify same-sex desires. While much of that attention has focused on whether sexual orientation is subject to change, beyondexgay.com and The Survivor’s Conference are the first efforts to move beyond that debate in order to focus on the community of “survivors”—people who feel they have experienced more harm than benefits from ex-gay programs.

“We use the term ‘survivor’ because we want to emphasize the very real psychological trauma that these programs can cause, and also because we want to highlight the strength of the men and women who, in spite of enormous pressures, come to accept themselves as they are,” says Jeff Lutes, a practicing psychotherapist and Executive Director of Soulforce.

Peterson ToscanoThe creators of beyondexgay.com, Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke, talked to hundreds of fellow ex-gay survivors. What they heard, again and again, was that ex-gay experiences brought inner turmoil, confusion and shame.

Many survivors acknowledge that some good came of their ex-gay journey. “We grew to understand our sexuality better and in some cases even overcame life-controlling problems,” says Toscano, but he is quick to point out that the harm most survivors experience far outweighs the help they receive. The consensus of the major medical and mental health organizations is that homosexuality is not a disorder and, therefore, does not need to be cured. The American Psychological Association identifies “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior” among the possible risks associated with ex-gay therapies.

Toscano spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents attempting to change or at least contain his unwanted same-sex attractions. He ultimately endured two years at the Love in Action residential ex-gay program in Memphis, TN.

“In the end I was still very gay, but also depressed, isolated and nearly faithless,” he says.

Toscano, now a Christian Quaker, has since created a one-person comedy about his ex-gay experiences and has presented Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House and his other work throughout North America, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean. In spring 2005, Bakke contacted Toscano after attending one of his performances.

Photo of Christine Bakke herself spent more than 4 years trying to change her orientation. She moved to Denver in 1998 to become ex-gay and participated in a program affiliated with Exodus International, the largest network of ex-gay ministries. In 2003 she realized that while she had changed in many areas, her sexual orientation remained the same. Bakke’s story will be featured in the May issue of Glamour, which hit newsstands April 10. Toscano will appear as a guest on the Trya Banks Show on April 12.

Bakke and Toscano continued to dialogue, and last spring they decided it was time to reach out to more ex-gay survivors through the Internet. Together with assistance from their friend, Steve Boese, they form the perfect team: Bakke—a graphic designer, Toscano—a writer, and Boese—a web guru and founder of MyOrgHost.

Image of two people having a conversation

Beyondexgay.com currently features diverse narratives from ex-gay survivors. It also provides an array of resources, including original articles and art by survivors, as well as links to other sites. Soon survivors will have the option to join the community and create a profile. Through an on-line form, they will document and share their own ex-gay experiences. Their responses will then be added to a database that will track the variety and scope of ex-gay experiences endured by survivors.

“The ex-gay experience is unique in many ways. No one understands it better than those of us who have been through it. Creating a communal space for ex-gay survivors to tell their stories allows us to share what led us into an ex-gay lifestyle and ways we have been able to recover from it,” says Bakke.

Creating a space for survivors to come together and share their stories was also the impetus behind The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-Gay. The conference, which will take place June 29th through July 1st at the University of California-Irvine, is co-sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine.
Photo of Jeff Lutes
“We chose Irvine because the annual Exodus Freedom Conference is coming to Irvine that week,” says Lutes. “For Soulforce, beyondexgay.com, and the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine, it is very important to provide a positive response to the Exodus message that gay men and lesbians are sinful and disordered.”

If you want to stand in peaceful solidarity to lovingly confront the damaging consequences of the ex-gay movement – this conference is for you. If you have ever been through an ex-gay experience or been damaged by the message that God does not love and affirm you – this conference is for you. If you are confused about the Bible and homosexuality, currently in an ex-gay program, or thinking about trying to change who you are – this conference is for you.

Schedule of Events

Friday, June 29, 2007, 7pm – 9pm, Crystal Cove Auditorium (free and open to the public): Doing time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House: How I survived the Ex-gay Movement – a performance by Peterson Toscano, www.homonomo.com

Jason and deMarcoSaturday, June 30, 2007, 9am – 5pm. Registration online is highly recommended. Registrations at the door will be accepted as space allows.

7pm – Crystal Cove Auditorium (free and open to the public) Jason & deMarco in Concert! www.jasonanddemarco.com

Sunday, July 1, 2007 – Optional worship at a local welcoming & affirming church.

This post has 12 Comments

  1. Carol on April 2, 2007 at 1:41 pm Reply

    Let me be the first to congratulate you! You are so right on with this direction.

  2. alex resare on April 2, 2007 at 2:06 pm Reply

    Congratulations! When I have gotten my new life and a identity that makes it possible to have a passport I hope to come to your conference!

    Just looked at your imdb-page mr famous. Your STARmeter are up 126% 🙂

  3. Scott on April 2, 2007 at 3:01 pm Reply

    Peterson,

    I’m so excited about the website and the conference. I am really looking forward to being an active participant!!

    Congrats on all of your hard work,

    Scott

  4. KJ on April 2, 2007 at 4:42 pm Reply

    Congratulations and God bless! This is likely a much better idea than the ones I floated. 🙂

  5. Jimbo on April 2, 2007 at 11:03 pm Reply

    Great stuff, and loads of content. I’ll need to visit it again.

  6. Kim on April 3, 2007 at 12:37 am Reply

    God & Gays: Bridging the Gap supports you all the way!! I’ve forwarded the announcement to our own ex-ex-gay, Darlene Bogle too. Success is definite and thank you for the work that you do and the courage you represent.

    Kim Clark
    Producer
    http://www.godandgaysthemovie.com

  7. Joe on April 3, 2007 at 3:02 am Reply

    boobala, this is great news – seriously – why hadn’t someone come up with an ex-ex-gay conference to counter the ex-gay nonsense. Love you for doing this although I would have enjoyed reading that you were pregnant. BTW – you need to start a twitter account so we can read what you’re doing moment by moment.

    XO, joemg

  8. Willie Hewes on April 3, 2007 at 10:58 am Reply

    Great work you guys! This is even bigger than I thought it would be big!

    I would love to come to the conference too. It’s a little out of the way unfortunately. I’m sure it will kick butt without me though. (Nonviolently kick butt, of course.)

  9. nonsequitur on April 3, 2007 at 3:10 pm Reply

    Yeah, I’m pretty much just reiterating with most of these folks have already said in comments, but big congrats to you and Christine in this new venture (adventure?). May it bear much fruit for the both of you and everyone it touches!

  10. Nillo on April 4, 2007 at 1:10 am Reply

    Great website and I was happy to see it took on the topic seriously while still keeping a good sense of humor 🙂 Peace —

  11. PW on April 4, 2007 at 1:33 am Reply

    Very exciting. The website is beautifully done, I was deeply moved by the transparency of contributors, yourself included.

  12. Sheila on April 4, 2007 at 4:49 am Reply

    I’m an old friend of Christine’s and I felt like posting a comment in your blog about your new website….just wanted to say that you should both be proud of your hard work!

    I’m sure that your new website will help many people.

    I’d like to be at the conference just to embarrass Christine with some “woo!” thrown at the stage followed with a little Cabbage Patch fonky moves for support, but she’ll just have to imagine me there.

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