Ex-Gay Statistics 101

One of the most frequent questions I get asked on my post ex-gay roadshow is, “What sort of success rate do the ex-gay programs have? Do they have statistics?” Alan Chambers regularly boasts figures of thousand and thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people who have found freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.

In an e-mailed response to Daniel Gonzales at Ex-Gay Watch, Melissa Fryrear, a professional ex-gay at Focus on the Faggot*, provides some insight into the scientific method of data collection used by ex-gay and anti-gay ministries,

…organizations like Exodus International have been in existence for several decades. Currently, for example, there are over 125 member ministries throughout the world. Each of these individual ministries have participants ranging in number of a dozen to hundreds. Given the longevity of Exodus and its breadth of referral ministries, again, thousands of men and women have participated and overcome their struggle with homosexuality.

Ah, so entering and attending an ex-gay program counts as an ex-gay success story. Didn’t the legendary Christian singer Keith Green once say something like, Attending church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting a garage makes you a car? (Christine, surely you know the exact quote).

Fryrear goes on to assert that “…the three major monotheistic religions of the world all see homosexuality as outside of God’s design for human sexuality” The big three she mentions in the previous paragraph are Christianity, Judaism and Mormonism–sorry Islam, you’ve been bumped, and Mormons, you aren’t REAL Christians after all.

Brady over at Some Guys are Normal paraphrases Steve from Tenable Belief who hat tips me on a post by Elizabeth over at Screw Bronze! (We’re all so incestuous)

The post links to a study by Dr Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder called “Changing Sexual Orientation: a consumer’s report” that was published in a peer reviewed journal in 2001.

Here are some findings from the study:

Study subjects: 202
Number that were no longer struggling and were fully heterosexual: 8
Of those 8, number that were not employees or volunteers of ex-gay groups: 1
Number that felt they had failed: 176
Number who felt conversion had done long term harm: 155
Number who attempted suicide during therapy: 23
Number who attempted suicide after therapy: 11
Number who reported spiritual harm: 100

Brady concludes,

So, according to this study, 1 person (arguably 8) of 202 were turned straight through therapy–a result I’d imagine was the goal of the people that entered the ex-gay therapies. At the same time, 100 had their faith dramatically harmed by therapy (if you’re Christian, we’re talking about their salvation here). And nearly 4 times the number that turned straight tried to kill themselves during therapy.

The burden of proof for the success of ex-gay therapy falls on the folks who insist that it works and intimate that such change is God’s ideal path for man (and woman). But since the debate is as much political as it is “spiritual”, it’s unlikely that Exodus , NARTH and Focus on the Family will honestly assess the efficacy of their claims.

For all the Bible quoting that goes on, one would think they would consider the old time favorite “Thou shall not lie.” Rather they tangle themselves up with “Thou shall not lie with a man as a man lies with a woman.” How about I deal with my own lying with and these ex-gay proponents address their lying to.

(*You’ve got to admit that Focus on the Family spends an inordinate amount of time on us same-gender loving folks)

In somewhat related news…what is it like to be in an ex-gay program? Is it anything like being kidnapped by an urban terriorist organization? Read Hanging with Patty Hearst.

This post has 5 Comments

  1. Bob Painter on May 11, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Peterson, it’s obvious from our time at Love in Action that attending an ex-gay ministry is not equivalent to “success.”

    I would venture to guess that one of four attendees actually “graduate.” And of us graduates, a tiny percentage remain “ex-gay” or celibate.

    Gosh! If I’d known attending LiA was the only prerequisite to the Ex-Gay Hall of Fame, I’d have dropped out within the first week instead of staying for two years!

    John Smid used to tell us in counseling that there was no such thing as a gay person: homosexuals were only gender-confused sinners. Using this argument as the basis for his ministry, I would suppose he could easily and proudly proclaim a 100% success rate once he’s indoctrinated his pupils…

  2. Contemplative Activist on May 11, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    I believe the Keith Green quote was, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.”

    Interesting stats btw – I wonder how the ex-gay movement respond to them?

  3. Peterson Toscano on May 11, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    CA, ah, yes that is the quote. Perhaps my veganism blocked out the exact image of the burger.

    How do the ex-gay movement will respond to these sort of stats.

    Typically it is “………….” cricket, criket “……………”

    In Quaker language we would say, “I’ll let the silence speak for me.” But I have a feeling their silence has a different purpose. They know when they speak up about these things they typically stick their feet in their mouths. (As was most recently modelled by Melissa Fryrear–which by the way is an unfortunate surname for an ex-gay anti-sex worker, but that is just me being snarky)

  4. Contemplative Activist on May 11, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Ha – looking at the website for Keith Green certainly brings back memories! I remember reading No Compromise – it had quite an influence on me at the time. Indeed, I still value some of the ways Keith Green lived – there was a certain authenticity there that you can’t help but admire.

    But I couldn’t help but notice the advertisement for a Christian musical cruise in the Carribean!!! (I kid you not: http://www.christiancruises.net/Caribbean.htm)

    I wonder what Keith would have said given his stance on giving his music for whatever people could afford…:O

  5. Liadan on May 12, 2006 at 3:26 am

    IIRC, the original quote is Billy Sunday’s “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to the garage makes you a car.”

    And Islam does have its own ex-gay program a la Evergreen / Exodus / JONAH, though it seems rather tiny:


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