Category: ex-gay

Back on Montel

Last week I was in NYC for another taping of the Montel Williams Show. This time the entire hour program will be dedicated to the ex-gay movement.

Guests include ex-gay survivor–Lance Carroll, the man who outed Ted Haggard–Mike Jones, President of Exodus International–Alan Chambers, and writer of this blog–Me.

The episode should prove to be interesting to say the least. I don’t know if anyone will get it up on YouTube. Hopefully since I don’t have a TV myself and will most likely be on a bus on the 15th.

The program will air on Thursday, March 15, 2007. Check local listings for details.

Montel Williams Show

Thank goodness for YouTube! I don’t have a TV and was traveling yesterday anyway when the Montel episode aired that had Lance Carroll and me on it. But I got an e-mail saying that it was uploaded on YouTube (oh and a wonderful photo of Noa and son watching it!) [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f78pA8jsRvE]

Spilling My Guts

Last week Susan Campbell from the Hartford Courant interviewed me for her regular column . In response to the Ted Haggard story she wanted to know about my own involvement in the ex-gay movement and in the conservative Evangelical church.

In telling my story I shared with her something that I nearly had forgotten. I was 17, had just become a Christian and my libido was on HIGH ALERT. She writes about what happened and the results of my actions and then my words.

He’d been caught in an intimate act with another young man at a band weekend in upstate New York. As he confessed what had happened to the angry organizers, he saw their faces soften when he said he was a Christian and didn’t want to be a homosexual.

I learned such a critical lesson that night spilling my guts in front of those angry men. I learned that straight men will show me tolerance and even compassion as long as I admitted I struggled with my same-sex attractions.

Throughout my career as an ex-gay, whenever I messed up, (and Lord knows I messed up a lot), I turned to a straight man–the hall director at my Christian university, my pastor, my accountability partner, an ex-gay program leader (okay not exactly a straight man)–and confessed my sins. I groveled, I cried, and humiliated myself in their presence. As a reward, they did not eject me from the school, the church, or the program, well most of the time.

Sometimes I did things so outrageous they had no choice but to eject me. Perhaps that was my way of ejecting myself.

Susan Campbell’s piece is entitled Saved By Therapy Or Faith?

Sad to Be Gay Remix

zoëstrachan.com posted a thoughtful analysis of the BBC documentary, Sad to Be Gay. This piece was filmed in early 2005 and shows a BBC correspondant, David Akinsanya, seeking change for his unwanted same-sex attractions. His quest brings him to Love in Action in Memphis, TN. David interviewed Wade Richards and me in Huntsville, AL as part of his research.

Strachan goes on to juxtapose same-sex attraction with the gay lifestyle (aka the bar scene for many) along with David’s difficult childhood and reveals why someone like David would be dissatisfied with himself. What emerges sounds very much like the profile of a “successful” ex-gay leader who testifies how he has fled the evils of homosexuality and an empty lonely life and not simply the story of someone experiencing an inward battle over sexual desires.

David is quick to deny he’s ashamed of his sexuality. It’s just that he’s been there, done that. “I’ve been out on the scene for twenty years,” he says, “And it’s not really done anything to enhance my life.”I’m not surprised. If I’d spent twenty years on the gay scene I’d be more than depressed, I’d be suicidal.

Gay may be good, but the gay scene isn’t, or not for me. More of my straight friends go to gay clubs these days, and if anyone has actually found the love of their life amid that heaving morass of sweaty male torsos bopping away to incessantly hideous euro-pop remixes, well good on them. The term “gay village” isn’t a misnomer. It’s invariably claustrophobic, incestuous and bitchy. Little wonder that David’s gay relationships haven’t made him feel good about himself. Even those who like that kind of thing tire of it, and twenty years sounds like a life sentence.

You can read the whole of Sad to Be Gay here.

NY Times Highlights Ex-Gays in Metro NY Area

Michael Luo, religion writer for the NY Times, wrote a piece that looks at various ex-gay options in the New York metro area (and not just Evangelical Christian groups). He focuses mostly on the words and lives of people who currently identify as ex-gay, but he also interviewed professionals who denounce gay reparative therapy.

“There’s not a debate in the profession on this issue,” said Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist and former chairman of the Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues of the American Psychiatric Association. “This is like creationism. You create the impression to the public as if there was a debate in the profession, which there is not.”

The piece goes on to talk about LIFE Ministries in NYC, a ministry that according to Luo claims, “that complete “freedom” is available for anyone willing to put in the emotional and spiritual work.”

Although Luo states that “for every ostensible success story, there are many other stories of people who have concluded they were deluding themselves, including some who used to be among the movement’s most visible leaders” he only includes one example of someone who had made that conclusion. That one would be me.

Peterson Toscano, 41, spent years in ex-gay ministries, including LIFE, during the 1980s and 1990s and eventually got married, only to see his marriage fall apart after he was unable to keep his homosexual urges in check.

He finally decided: “If you keep trying this, you’re fooling no one.” Now openly gay, Mr. Toscano lives in Hartford, attends a gay-friendly Quaker meetinghouse and performs solo comedy sketches around the country, including one that pokes fun at his experiences in the ex-gay movement.

Read all of Some Tormented by Homosexualty Look to a Controversial Therapy.

Daniel Gonzales on Weekend America Radio Show

Have a listen to Daniel eloquently speak on Weekend America about his sordid ex-gay past.

The announcement that Ted Haggard emerged from three weeks of intensive counseling convinced he is “completely heterosexual” has raised quite a few eyebrows. We talk about this with Richard Cohen, the author of “Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality,” and also with Daniel Gonzales. Gonzales went through therapy to “cure” his homosexuality, but says it did not work.

Daniel is in Phoenix right now where he protested Love Won Out, the Focus on the Family anti-gay roadshow and spoke to a lot of local press there. Go to Ex-Gay Watch to see some video of the press conference. Even Telemundo showed up!

It is not easy to stand up as an ex-gay survivor. I know there are many who prefer to leave that part of their lives far behind them, and I respect that. But we need people like Daniel to come forward and share their narratives. The parents who want to force their kid into some program might just change their minds once they hear the sort of damage that may come of it–damage to their child and to their relationship with their child. A person struggling with their same-sex attractions may hear something that will give them clarity, direction and hope.

More Doubts About Haggard’s “Recovery”

Both ex-gay activists and critics have raised questions about the validity Ted Haggard’s masive change in such a short time. Ex-Gay Watch shares Randy Thomas Weighs in On Haggard’s Recovery.

When a local reporter asked me about the Haggard situation, I remarked how I learned at an early age that as a queer person in the church filled with shame and fear, the best tactic to take was the submissive dog position. (Not to be confused with yoga’s downward facing dog position).

You can see what happens when two dogs meet and one is bigger and stronger than the other. A dance ensues where the weaker of the two (or at least the one that perceives itself as weaker) hunches its shoulders, pulls back its ears, tucks its tail between its legs, turns to avoid direct eye contact, and lies on its back with its stomach exposed. Sometimes the submissive dog will even urinate to demonstrate its place. Look I humiliated myself for you.

Faced with the power of the church, of heterosexual men telling me (implicitly and explicitly) that men with same-sex attractions are sick, sinful and dangerous, I learned that I could survive in the church if I submitted to their authority and asserted my status as a struggler, someone who felt conflicted over my transgressive sexual desires. In such a position, I experienced compassion, assistance and acceptance (well, to the point that they didn’t kick me out) from these men.

We hear very little of what Ted Haggard really feels and believes. He communicates through an approved spokesman. He has submitted himself to his handlers and may do anything in his power to stay in the church system that has become his home and identity–even if it means lying down like a dog.

Heterosexual in Just Three Weeks!

Wow, Ted Haggard apparently was healed of his homosexuality in just three weeks. Focus on the Family outsourced the healing to an undisclosed location outside of Phoenix.

Perhaps like recent improvements to chemotherapy, ex-gay therapy today is stronger, more directed and with less awful side-effects (like say vomiting, hair loss, memory loss, weight loss–although at Love in Action we all experienced weight GAIN, but that other stuff too). Hmmm, I somehow doubt it.

And here I spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents trying to straighten myself out and at best I lived as a “healthy celibate ex-gay” for a year or two at a stretch before having a tumble only to get back on that ex-gay pony again. But then Haggard did go to Phoenix for treatment while I ended up in Memphis. Maybe the dry desert air is good for more than just arthritis. I doubt it.

I am not the only one who has doubts about the claims made by Haggard’s handlers.

Alan Chambers of Exodus appeared on CNN’s Cooper Anderson’s program last night where he raised doubts about the sudden transformation and also affirmed the existence of gay Christians. Yes, we too exist. Ex-gay Watch has a transcript of it.

Of course it sounds like Haggard’s handlers may be claiming that he was never gay to begin with, he was just acting out in a homosexual way.

I mention here how Ted Haggard, in his fall in his ministry is my brother in shame, but in his rapid recovery, apparently not so much, well, not yet.

Update: Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin provides some more analysis on remarks made on CNN last night. Looking at the NYC papers today, this story gets mentioned EVERY WHERE. Ted Haggard’s spokesman should have consulted the image and PR folks at Exodus before coming out with such ridiculous statements.

Sorting Out the Spitzer Study

Daniel Gonzales over at Ex-Gay Watch along with film maker Esteban Rael, have put together a well done and absolutely essential video about the Spitzer Report.

A study of gay conversion therapy released by Dr. Robert Spitzer in 2001 sent shockwaves through the American media despite serious methodological concerns. This video examines those concerns and goes on to examine how the study has been abused by anti-gay political organizations such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family to promote anti-gay public policy

There is a nice summary at the end and some fun about 2/3 through. You can read a full transcript of the video here.