Denver Post Article

Last week I had a great long talk with Cindy Rodrí­guez from the Denver Post. She had recently done a piece about Mike Haley of Focus on the Family (and a former Love in Action staff worker). Her follow-up piece is entitled “Reparative Therapy” Represses.

We talked for nearly two hours on the phone, which brought up lots of memories of my “ex-gay” years–so much longing for a different life, striving to be all that I believed God meant me to be, doing whatever it takes to “get right with God”. Then to consider all the people hurt in the wake, it shook me inside. It took a few days to feel stable inside again.

I know it is important to tell our stories. Important for us and for others to hear, but I also know the process drains us. I encourage lots of folks to get out there and share their experiences, but I warn them that it comes at a cost, great reward too, but a cost.

In her piece Rodrí­guez writes about one of my exorcism experiences (when I was commanded to vomit my demons of homosexual into a bucket.) and my time in Love in Action.

…Toscano learned how to speak in a more affirmative manner, with the last syllable intoning down instead of up. He learned how to walk and shake hands in a “manly” way. And there was lots of praying.

He graduated from the program but after six months, the real him came out. It took years for him to realize he needed to stop hurting himself by trying to change: “It’s extremely dangerous when we try to become something other than ourselves,” he said.

It’s a lesson that applies to all people who are marginalized in our society, but with all the pressures to conform it’s understandable why some would rather remake themselves.

She then goes on to discuss John Paulk and a recent conversation she had with him.

She also provides a Spanish language version “Terapia reparativa” reprime (sombrero tip to Christine), which works out very well as I have joined together with a Spanish speaking lesbian Quaker about doing a blog in Spanish about our experiences struggling with our same-sex desires and our faith. I’ll let you know when it is ready to roll.

This post has 5 Comments

  1. Steve Boese on August 7, 2006 at 6:46 am

    I love seeing the work of local writers… so many papers have lost those sorts of voices.

    When I was in Des Moines, the Register had (and still has, actually) Rekha Basu. Reading Cindy Rodriguez reminds me of her. From a piece she wrote a couple months ago:

    We also err when we confine our condemnation to random acts of bigotry by individuals. Racial injustice is equally in closing schools in minority neighborhoods without community input. It’s in not putting people of color in positions of power, and in keeping black voters away from the polls. It’s in throwing the book at Asian grocers for their minor environmental infractions while letting corporate polluters get away with major violations.

    To speak out on such issues is sometimes to risk your livelihood…

    The examples she cites are all from Iowa, references to incidents and issues her readers recognize from the many years she’s written for the Register.

    But, the writers don’t get to do their stuff apart from the folks who find the strength and the will to bare themselves, who open themselves up to old stuff in a disarmingly public manner.

    Thanks for that gift, friend, but also for the encouragement to others, and the determination to care for yourself.

    It can be tempting to think we can go any distance, bear any burden, re-open any wound, in hopes of preventing or soothing another’s hurt. Experience teaches us, though, that we do not marginalize our values by honoring our own limits.

  2. Bruce Garrett on August 7, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    In her piece Rodríguez writes about one of my exorcism experiences (when I was commanded to vomit my demons of homosexual into a bucket.)…

    Wow. Every time I see you release one of these little pieces of what happened to you back then it just gets worse and worse. I can see why revisiting all that rattles you for a time. I can see why a lot of folks who went through it and came out of it eventually accepting themselves as they are, don’t want to talk about it much all the same.

  3. Christine on August 7, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Bruce, I know. I feel that way about Peterson’s story, and I also know that many of us have similar stories and that’s why many people do not want to talk about it.

    After I did a two-day interview for a magazine writer, I was almost completely shattered. It took me a while to put things back together after going to that awful place again mentally and emotionally (and even physically as we visited some of the churches and buildings where I had my ex-gay experiences).

    Peterson, thank you for continuing to be willing to revisit these horrible places so that others can know what it is like…

  4. Bob Painter on August 8, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    Great article, Peterson.

    What makes it so much more powerful is that the article appeared in a Denver paper–Denver being in the backyard of Focus’s hometown of Colorado Springs…

  5. Christine on August 8, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    And in a paper that endorsed Bush last election, no less (although it was surprising here since the city swings Democrat).

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