Dueling Conferences and Positive Messages

The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference received some recent press coverage on the West Coast. The June 29-July 1 conference in Irvine, CA got a mention in today’s LA Times. Yesterday the Orange County Register published a piece about the two “dueling conferences” happening in Irvine this month.

Organizers of both conferences got counseling designed to help them “go straight,” also known as “pray the gay away.”

But they came to very different conclusions about the success of such programs and how much harm or help they can be.

“I chose to live differently, and my feelings changed, too,” said Alan Chambers, president of the Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International, who is married. “Today, I am a far different person. Not that I don’t struggle, but my life has changed. I certainly don’t have the desire to be involved in homosexuality. It has no power over me.”

One of the original founders of the Exodus movement has a different view. Michael Bussee, who co-founded Exodus at Anaheim’s Melodyland Christian Center in 1976, said he quit counseling people to go straight when he realized he couldn’t even “cure” himself.

They quote me too. Check it out for yourself.

I have gotten some really nice e-mails from people who will be coming to the conference, people from all over the world. German TV crews, folks in Australia, throughout the US and of course on the West Coast.

There is also this German article that appeared in today’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Was hinter dem Angebot „Befreiung von Homosexualität“ steckt, hängt allerdings davon ab, um welches der zahlreichen Programme es sich handelt. Peterson Toscano hat in dem jahrelangen verzweifelten Bemühen, seine homosexuellen Neigungen zu überwinden, alles Mögliche ausprobiert. „Genützt hat es nichts“, sagt der 42 Jahre alte Performancekünstler aus Hartford, Connecticut, der mittlerweile ein bekennender Schwuler ist. Toscano wurde mit 17 Jahren evangelikaler Christ. „Weil ich religiöse Leidenschaft suchte und einer einflussreichen Gemeinschaft angehören wollte.“ Doch seine inständigen Gebete, Gott möge seinen homosexuellen Phantasien ein Ende machen, wurden nicht erhört.

Deshalb suchte er Verstärkung bei den wöchentlichen Gruppentreffen der christlichen Vereinigung „Life Ministries“ in New York. Die meisten Teilnehmer seien aus der Unterhaltungsindustrie gekommen. „Mein Eindruck war, dass viele von ihnen aus Karrieregründen versuchten, heterosexuell zu werden. Aber am Wochenende sind etliche wieder in die Schwulenszene abgetaucht.“

It goes on and on like that with a few words that I understand (like my name and “ex-gay” and Hartford).

The creator of a really cool video sent me the link. What I LOVE about this video (besides the handmade feel to it) is that it shows the vital role that allies have in helping ex-gay survivors fully embrace themselves and find peace and a new life. Enjoy Arthur’s Reserved for Gays part one and two.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vagkz8fTIs]

This post has 5 Comments

  1. Jimbo on June 18, 2007 at 10:41 pm Reply

    Fun video! with a point.

  2. Melanie on June 19, 2007 at 9:43 am Reply

    Hey Peterson, I’m German and if I had a wee bit more time I’d go ahead and translate that article for you…they basically tell your story in that article, like that you became a Christian at the age of 17, that you tried to fight your homosexuality and joined Love In Action, got married in 1990 and that you eventually came out , also mentioning that today, you are trying to let people know how destructive reparative therapy can be.
    In the beginning of the article, they write about Jay Wilson, how he was sexually abused as a child and his “homosexual adventures” later on in life, and how he eventually got married but is still fighting “feelings towards men” today. Wilson himself says that he wants to help “homosexuals who “wand to repent and hunger for life”. All in all, the article is rather very critical towards reparative therapy…ah, and they didn’t forget to mention the “demons” that they tried to cast out of you and some LIA rules (15 min bathroom rule).

    Last but not least, I have to say that the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is very widely spread in Germany (quality newspaper) and though rather “conservative” (not in the American sense of the word, though), the article is pretty well written, looking at both sides of the medal.

    If you wanna know more, let me know.

    Love, Mel

  3. melanie on June 19, 2007 at 9:46 am Reply

    Oh, and they mention the German Exodus branch (wuestenstrom) as well as a Christian gay organisation that tries to reconcile faith and homosexuality (zwischenraum).

  4. Peterson Toscano on June 19, 2007 at 2:00 pm Reply

    Mel, thanks so much! or should I say danke?

  5. Melanie on June 29, 2007 at 10:48 pm Reply

    Well, I’m a bit late here, but I’ll say “You’re welcome” anyways.
    Sorry for that German TV team that’s been chasing you…I hope they were at least friendly or maybe funny? 😉
    Maybe something good will result from them broadcasting something…do you know where they were from?
    And thanks for keeping this site running, I’m learning a lot from what you write and feel quite understood in a way.
    Mel

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