Category: exodus

The Harm of Ex-Gay Minister–A Mother Speaks Out

Truth Wins Out posted three great new videos with individuals speaking about the ex-gay movement and their personal experiences. The one that moved me the most features Susan Stanskas, a parent of a gay man who,

discusses how ‘ex-gay’ organizations divide families – in the name of family values – and even cause some gay teenagers to commit suicide. In this video, she urges parents to accept their gay and lesbian children and warns about the harm done by rejecting them. “Would you rather have a gay child, or a dead child?” she poignantly asks.

Clint Trout, who spent 13 years as an ex-gay, shares some of the outrageous things he did in order to get “healed” from being gay and also talked about the teachings he received that blamed his parents for his same-sex attractions. He also talks about life post-ex-gay and the clearness and fullness he has found since he left Exodus ministries and embraced the reality of who he is.

Change really is Possible

Change is Possible!

For years that’s been the major slogan of the ex-gay organization Exodus. Of course for people weighed down with the expectation that they must be straight at any cost, the vague promise of change lured them to seek a cure from being gay.

Once in the doors, they learned that an actual change in orientation was not a realistic goal for most, yet leaders dangled other vague promises before desperately hopeful strugglers.

“If you stick with it, you will find that some of your same-sex attractions will actually diminish just like they did for me.” (statement replete with photo of ex-gay leader accessorized with wife and some children).

People should feel free to live the lives they desire. If someone who experiences primarily same-sex attractions wishes to explore a heterosexual life, no one should hold them back. But if “growing into” that life requires years of counseling, weekly support groups, hundreds of hours of prayer, annual conferences, straight mentors, and a library of books, perhaps the person needs to face reality. That change is not for them.

The pressures to conform to the traditional heterosexual model and the adherence to society sanctioned gender normative expressions drive people to the point of madness. They throw away common sense and ignore modern science. I totally understand the drive though. I look back now at the nutty and even dangerous things I did in order to straighten myself out and wonder how I could have been so misguided.

Over and over again I bowed to teachings that insisted that I could not be gay and Christian. Ministers and ex-gay leaders taught me that the “gay lifestyle” included only reckless behavior, loneliness, and ultimately a life apart from God. No wonder it took me nearly two decades to come to my senses.

And then I changed–not my orientation–rather I changed the ways I viewed myself. I no longer viewed myself as a sick, degenerate, rebellious sinner, but as a normal human being with the same desires as most everyone else in the world–desires for love, for adventure, for accomplishment, for wholeness.

I began to see that being gay was not a curse or a sickness or a weakness. It was just part of how I was wired. And as I grew to accept myself and no longer conformed to the patterns that people in the church and the world laid out before me, I began to grow thankful for being gay.

Yeah, I thank God that I am a man with a homosexual orientation. Even though I chose to plow through decades of confusion, false hopes and despair seeking a change, I now feel grateful for how I am wired, how God wired me.

Being gay remains only a part of me. I have much more going on that defines me, but being gay has affected the way I view the world. It has both toughened and softened me in the best ways possible.

I can’t speak for most people, but some flee the gay life out of fear. Fear of disease. Fear of hell. Fear of letting other people down. Fear of an empty lonely life.

Fear breeds confusion. Literally neural pathways in our brains shut down, and we cannot think clearly or rationally.

We need not live under all that fear; change is possible.

New Video about Gays and Ex-gays

Jim Burroway and Daniel Gonzales over at Box Turtle Bulletin posted two new videos about the Focus on the Family Love Won Out Conference and specifically messages by ex-gays Mike Haley and Alan Chambers.

Mike Haley–The Hope for Marriage

Alan Chambers–I Live a Life of Denial

If you are in the mood for some fabulous logic (with a sprinkling of sparkling humor) around gay sex, “the gay lifestyle” and so many of the arguments that anti-gay people throw up about queer folks, check out John Corvino‘s newly released extended trailer of the DVD What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality.

And the following video is a fun and subversive view of the terrifying heterosexual disease that infects good wholesome American queer families. Remember anyone, anyone can be a heterosexual. It’s but so sad too.
Shame No More directed by John Krokidas.

Ex-Gay Harm–What Does it Mean for You?

Last week I posted a blog entry outlining the various types of harm ex-gay survivors may experience. In Ex-Gay Harm–Let Me Count the Ways I listed nine categories of areas where people who attempted to live ex-gay or were coerced to do so might experience harm:

  • emotional
  • psychological
  • spiritual
  • relationship
  • financial
  • career
  • physical
  • sexual
  • developmental

One commenter, John, suggested a 10th category of intellectual harm. Many people commented so far giving specific examples of how they experienced harm in one or more of the categories.

Reading these accounts I imagine many people feel moved by the pain and suffering ex-gay survivors have endured and still endure. I also find it encouraging that survivors have also found ways to recover and reclaim their lives.

In this post I want to address specific groups of people–Ex-Gay Survivors, Current Ex-Gays, Ex-Gay Providers, and Allies. I ask the query, But what does this mean for you?

Ex-Gay Survivors
Seeing the categories of harm, reading the descriptions and then the specific examples, what does this mean for you? We are all in different places of our recovery. For some we packed our ex-gay experiences away in the closet as we exited it. We’ve never mention it again partly because it feels painful and even embarrassing.

First thing we need to create safe spaces for ourselves. Facing the ex-gay harm alone may cause us to get traumatized all over again. We need to break the cycle of isolation find safe people who will compassionately listen without offering tons of advice, but instead will hear us. I know some people live in remote places, and it seems they have no one. One of the great advantages of the Internet is that we can connect with people far away and build a supportive community that way. Having someone nearby may be ideal, but not always practical. Through safe on-line communities and in your actual communities, build friendships where you turn for the support and comfort and validation you need as you unpack your ex-gay experiences.

Secondly tell your story. It may only be to one person or anonymously on-line or to a whole crowd, but the process of telling our stories, honestly and vulnerably,becomes a healing process. Seeing the expressions on people’s faces as they listen to your struggles, knowing that someone else bears the burden with you, lightens the load.

We can tell our stories in so many ways. Some have already done so through leaving comments at my recent blog post. Others have also expanded their comments and republished them on their blogs and web sites. You can read what Eric and Barry James Moore posted. Some, like Christine turned to art to process the pain and the pieces of the story that might get stuck with words. For me the art process helped me dig deep and grapple with my ex-gay past as I explored it through theater and comedy and storytelling. You can create a short film about your ex-gay experiences like Vince Cervantes has been doing. Others have submitted their narratives to bXg.

The important thing to keep in mind is that we tell our stories first for ourselves. Sure our narratives will help others in many ways, but first and foremost they will serve as part of our recovery process.

Ex-gay survivors may not be ready to face their ex-gay pasts, the damage they experienced and caused others. You may have far too much on your plate right now. That is fine. You can place your ex-gay experiences on the shelf and come back to them another day. They will be waiting for you, and you may find you have the courage, strength and resources to address them at a future date.

Finally, to ex-gay survivors I encourage you to pursue professional help when needed, especially if you are feeling depressed. After having “therapists” harm us in the ex-gay setting, I know it can be challenging to open up to someone again, but it may be the very help you need. Some have turned to churches and other faith communities. This can be helpful, but it can also create problems for some, especially those deeply wounded by the faith communities they loved and lost. You may find that going to a different style of church or faith community, one that you have not known before, may help in keeping you from experiencing post traumatic stress and such. Some former Evangelicals find comfort in an Anglican or Catholic service. I have found that the Quakers, with the stripped down silence, to be especially helpful for me.

Current Ex-Gays
I know that thoughtful blogging ex-gays have asked, “Well if you are an ex-gay survivor, what does that make me?” I know the term ex-gay survivor can be difficult for some current ex-gays to accept in describing ex-ex-gays, but for many of us we cannot think of a better term to illustrate our experiences.

What does the list of harm I outlined mean to those of you who currently identify as ex-gay (or some other term that you prefer)? When I lived ex-gay for 17 years, I was oblivious to any harm I may have brought on myself. I found myself in the midst of a spiritual battle and considered any feelings of depression or confusion or loss as part of the struggle to break from the world as I died to myself and crucified myself with Christ.

In the midst of it, I could not see the harm to my personality and even my relationship with God. I could not afford to see it. But God desires truth in the inmost part. Living in a way to avoid certain realities kept God’s grace at bay. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, and perhaps taking stock of our lives in light of potential harm we may have introduced may be an act of humility.

The reality is that the vast majority of same-sex attracted people who attempt to live free of their attractions or to label them as sinful and therefore off-limits, something to be nailed down and healed, will find that such a life does not work for them. It becomes unhealthy and unnecessary. Even Alan Chambers, current president of Exodus International, in stating that Exodus has a 30% success rates, in a backwards way acknowledges that there is at least a 70% failure rate. From the folks I’ve know, I see that this “failure” doesn’t come from lack of trying or sincerity. For many it comes after much soul-searching and agonizing in prayer and it comes with fears and doubts and concerns.

You may not be ex-gay for the rest of your life. And if you should come to the place where you see that an ex-gay life is unworkable, it is not the end of the world. You can live a healthy, holy and peaceful life.

Now as you receive ex-gay ministry or treatment, or simply maintain your ex-gay walk after receiving care, consider how to best protect yourself and your loved ones from harm. Do not lightly walk into a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Do not fracture your life into those times of doing good and those times of doing poorly. See your life as a whole. Too often I would struggle and fall, get back up, wipe myself off and begin anew, not realizing that I lived in a fixed pattern. The progress I desperately wanted to see was illusionary at best.

Take note of your mental, emotional, psychological and physical well-being. Sometimes our bodies sends us important messages that our minds cannot see. If you become depressed, emotionally exhausted, isolated or even chronically ill with no apparent cause, consider how your ex-gay experiences may affect your health.

Do not be afraid to pursue professional help. How many times did ex-gay providers tell me that I need to avoid secular help? But we need to realize that many of the ex-gay ministers and counselors have limited education and may overlook something that requires the attention of a professional, particularly when it comes to psychological distress.

Ex-Gay Providers & Promoters
After the launch of Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg) and this summer’s Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, I felt surprised and baffled by the insensitive and dismissive tone many ex-gay leaders and promoters took towards the stories of ex-gay survivors. I know it can be challenging to consider how something you do to help others might harm them, but the defensive and snarky reactions revealed to me that some of these ex-gay survivor narratives struck a nerve.

Christine and I did find a tiny handful of current ex-gay leaders who agreed to listen to some of the survivors share their stories over dinner, but we also heard from eye-witnesses at the Exodus Conference that senior leadership discouraged people from attending the dinner and even misrepresented it.

To those who provide and promote ex-gay ministries and therapies, I believe that most of you mean well. You genuinely want to help LGBT people and believe that the ex-gay route is the best route. Lots of gay activists may question this, but I have met enough of the ex-gay leaders personally to know that one of their major motives for offering ex-gay services is a sincere quest to help those who they feel would be lost otherwise. I believe they have other motives too as none of us do anything with a single, pure motive.

But what baffles me is that when you have someone under your care, you minister to them, encourage them and walk with them, how is it that once they leave your care and your way of thinking that they become “the other” and in many cases “untouchables”? But more importantly, how can you discount their experiences?

I can’t buy a cup of soy latte these days without having to fill out some sort of form or evaluations asking me to describe my caffeine experience? Yet people can spend months, even years and many dollars in an ex-gay program, yet once they leave their opinions do not count.

Perhaps they do at some of the smaller ministries, but since 1999 I have heard from people who have tried to communicate with Exodus about harmful practices at specific Exodus programs, but have barely gotten a hearing and then told that nothing can be done. Dismissed. Invalidated. Ignored. It is a bad business practice. It seems unethical. It runs counter to the ministry model I see in the New Testament, particularly the ministry of Jesus.

For people who run ex-gay ministries, provide ex-gay counseling, promote ex-gay experiences and refer to people to ex-gay programs, to folks who, like Warren Throckmorton, are trying to come up with therapeutic guidelines for those who want to suppress their sexual orientation, you need to sit down, shut up and listen.

I don’t mean to be rude, but too many of you have immediately gone on the defensive and shut your ears. Warren Throckmorton, Alan Chambers, Jason Thompson*, PFOX and Focus on the Family have each publicly downplayed the harm that ex-gay survivors say they experienced. Some say that no scientific proof exists that harm occurs. That is because no one has taken the time and the care to effectively study the harm. The recent study by Yarhouse and Jones fails miserably.

But these many stories that have emerged the past six months speak volumes. They reveal the role the church, society, family as well as ex-gay practices and theories play in damaging people who have come to you for help.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we’re not making this stuff up. We speak out as a witness and a warning. For those of you who provide and promote ex-gay experiences and theories, what does this mean to you? How willing are you to sit and listen at length over the next year to these people who once were under your care? Yes, it may mean you will have to rethink some things. You may experience pain and grief. You may also grow in grace and knowledge and love.

UPDATE 10/23/07 9:00 PM
[*I mistakenly placed Jason Thompson in with a list of people who “have each publicly downplayed the harm that ex-gay survivors say they experienced.” Actually Jason Thomson is one of the few who have publicly acknowledged possible harm and showed some compassion towards ex-gay survivors. In his August newsletter he writes,

The day of their conference I went with two other leaders to visit them. They were grateful we stopped by. A great sadness and a measure of confusion came over me. What happened to these men and women? In what ways do our ministries contribute to their pain? What are we saying or not saying, doing, or not doing that we can learn to do differently. Obviously, our foundational understanding of God’s truth is different than theirs and these differences can never be reconciled. At the same time, we in Exodus ministries don’t always do everything right. There is room for us to learn.

I had read the newsletter when it was published after Jason e-mailed me about it, but since then in writing this post, I remembered only the part where he gave his definition of ex-ex-gays, a definition that seems both simplistic and inaccurate of the ex-gay survivors who attended our conference. He wrote:

(If you are a little confused, “ex-ex-gays” are men and women who sought change but then found the journey to be too painful and now are content being gay as well as speaking out against the message of freedom).

Jason also acknowledged harm in the form of a public comment he left on Ex-Gay Watch. In prefacing a point about Ex-Gay Watch he states, “It is evident that ex-gay ministries have harmed many.”

Although Jason and I can disagree on several items, he has publicly shown his willingness to consider the harm that ex-gay survivors say they experienced. I apologize for overlooking Jason’s previous comments.]

Allies, Friends, Family and Partners of Ex-Gay Survivors
Thank you for being there. You may have no firsthand knowledge of what what ex-gay survivors experienced, yet you listen, you try to understand. In reading our narratives I hope you can gain insight into some of the challenges that some of us have in forming intimate relationships with you. You may bump into a wall and wonder if you have done something wrong or if there is something wrong with you. The wall may be one erected years ago through ex-gay therapy and ministry designed to keep us from experiencing intimacy and acceptance. It may be a wall of shamed piled high over time. It may be a wall of fear that we will get rejected once again.

Sometimes the ex-gay survivor in your life may not wish to talk about his or her experience. Too painful. But one of the best gifts you can give is a listening ear, let their stories sink in and simply be there for the person. No need to offer advice, just listen and hear and reflect back what you hear. What a gift. Express your shock and your sadness over what your loved one has to share. Let them know they are safe with you. And even though the ex-gay experience is not one you have encountered, assure them that you want to understand it and more importantly you desire to understand them.

Two More Former Ex-Gay Leaders in Australia Reveal Shift in Perspective

Last week BeyondExGay and Soulforce announced that three former ex-gay leaders from Australia publicly apologized for their roles in providing and promoting ex-gay conversion therapy.

Anthony Venn-Brown, (who appears right about now on 60 Minutes in Australia), a Christian leader in Australia, shares on his blog about two other leaders who also reveal how their perspectives shifted from when they were ex-gay leaders.

John Meteyard, a former Exodus Asia Pacific & Living Waters leader and former member of the International Advisory Board of Exodus, states,

Whereas once I was ardent in my opinion that homosexual orientation was unquestioningly a result of the ‘fall’ and God’s intention was therefore always to heal the same-sex attracted believer and help them to be ‘whole’, my position is now somewhat different.

What I now believe is that being a Christian with a homosexual orientation often causes a great deal of strain and angst for those of us so affected. The result of this strain can be traumatic, debilitating and overwhelming. I also believe that it is important that we all respect the rights of gay and lesbian believers to work through the complexities of their situation with God in their own way and in their own time.

A fellow former ex-gay leader, Paul Martin, is currently the principal psychologist at the Centre for Human Potential. Considering his experience as an Exodus ministry leader in Melbourne and his expertise as a psychologist, he concludes,

During this time, there was not one person that I met or worked with who, in any genuine way achieved the fundamental transformation from homosexual to heterosexual they so desperately desired. The stress of attempting to change their sexual orientation however increased risk of suicidality, and absolutely led to erosion of self-esteem and increased levels of depression and self-deprecation at a very deep level.

In his post Anthony raises the question, Why has it taken so long for people like these 5 and myself to speak up? He lists six possible reasons for this including,

  1. When people leave ex-gay programs they are not empowered but defeated and often live with a sense of failure and shame. It takes time to feel good about yourself again.
  2. The experience of spending years trying unsuccessfully to become heterosexual can leave a person traumatised. That takes time to heal.

The message that John and Paul share is consistent with what we have begun to explore in the US–ex-gay conversion therapy and ministry cause more harm than good. Well meaning people leading ex-gay ministries can actually hinder their clients’ wellbeing.

From reading scores of ex-gay survivor narratives and speaking with hundreds of other survivors, it becomes more and more evident that consumers of ex-gay ministries run the risk of experiencing psychological, emotional and spiritual harm, not to mention the negative impact on relationships, careers and finances.

I appreciate former leaders taking responsibility to counter the message they supported for so many years once they have come to understand the errors in their teaching and practice.

Former Ex-gay Leaders in Australia Apologize

Former ex-gay leaders in Australia have added their voices to a public apology for “the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith” caused by the message that gays and lesbians must change or suppress their sexual orientation in order to be good Christians.

On June 27, 2007, Soulforce and BeyondExGay (bXg) brought together former ex-gay leaders from the U.S. and U.K. to issue a public apology for their prior involvement in providing and promoting ex-gay conversion therapy. As part of their apology, Darlene Bogle, Michael Bussee, and Jeremy Marks appealed to other former ex-gay leaders to join the healing and reconciliation process by adding their names to the apology.

Inspired by this historic statement, Vonnie Pitts, Wendy Lawson, and Kim Brett–all former leaders of Australian ex-gay ministries–have come forward to confirm with their American and British counterparts that ex-gay ministries cause more harm than good.

Pictures and complete text of the Australian leaders’ statements are available at bXg and Soulforce.

“There has been an increasing uneasiness in me since 2005 that what I was teaching was harmful to people,” says Kim Brett, who founded an ex-gay program that was affiliated with Exodus and Living Waters, two U.S. ex-gay groups. “I became tired and ill at ease with always feeling that this part of my life and others attending the group were broken and in need of fixing.”

Wendy Lawson, former leader of an ex-gay group in Melbourne, emphasized the personal psychological impact of the ex-gay message:

“I suffered torment and huge anxiety all muddied by confusion and constant failure during the Exodus years. For me the most traumatic outcome was my personal sense of failure as a Christian and not being accepted as a part of the church family I loved,” says Lawson.

Vonnie Pitts was a heterosexual church leader who organized an ex-gay support group in the Sydney area. Although her group members were dedicated and determined, she did not witness the changes in orientation promised by the group’s curriculum, which was adopted from the Missouri-based Living Waters ministry.

“If I were to see any of the people that I took through the Living Waters program again, I would say ‘I’m sorry.’ My intentions were to help you through your struggle, but I acted in ignorance,” says Pitts.

The Australian former ex-gay leaders were organized by Anthony Venn-Brown, who attended Australia’s first ex-gay program in 1972 and spent the next 22 years attempting to suppress and change his sexuality. During that time he married and became a national Christian leader in Australia through the Assemblies of God Church. Through his own experiences, Venn-Brown eventually came to realize that the ex-gay message created trauma rather than freedom. He narrates this journey in the recently published book, A Life of Unlearning-A Journey to Find the Truth (New Holland Publishers) and will share some of his story on 60 Minutes in Australia on Sunday August 19, 2007.

Change Was NOT Possible–part 3 of 3

This is the third in a three part series.
Part One: What Was I After and Why?
Part Two: What Happens When Change is not Possible?

Part Three: Living on the Outside

After I exited LIA, I lived for a short time as an ex-gay apart from being in the program. I kept accountable, denying myself daily, being careful where I went and what I thought. I took up the struggle as my daily cross to bear, believing that God would give me the strength to bear it each day, one day at a time. It was pretty much everything I did for the past 17 years, but this time with more therapy and tools at my disposal.

During his talk at the recent Love Won Out Conference in Phoenix (hat tip to Jim Burroway) Alan Chambers spoke about denial.

I think you can expect a life of obedience. Matthew 16:24 talks about those who take up their cross and follow the Lord. They have to live a life of denial. And in the early days of when I started speaking and debating and doing all sorts of things related to the issue of homosexuality, and took my position with Exodus, people used to say, “Oh Alan, you’re just in denial.” I used to get so mad when they’d say, “You’re just in denial. You’re just denying who you’re really are.” And I’d say, “No I’m not. I’m not in denial. I’m not in denial.” And then I came to the place where I realized, you know what? God calls us as Christians to a life of denial.

I love that today, I realize that I do live a life of denial. Not denial of who I used to be, not denial of who I could be today, but I deny what comes naturally to me.

I too denied what came natural to me. My same-sex desires existed in me from the earliest time. I tried casting them out, handing them over to God, therapizing them away, containing them and ultimately denying them and nailing them to the cross. I crucified myself with Christ and died daily. The problem was I was not dying to “sin”. No what I thought was sinful in my life, my same-sex desires, only grew stronger with a natural energy that I could not destroy. No but I did died daily, by inches, my personality and my well being suffered.

Then one day I woke up and surveyed my life. I took stock of the depression, the stress, the feelings of self-loathing, and the exhaustion. I considered Jesus’ promise when he declared

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I stayed in bed feeling the weight of the burdens piled on top of me. That yoke was not easy and the burden was not light. It crushed the life out of me. The letter of the law kills but the Spirit gives life. No matter how much I trusted in the Spirit’s power, I had insisted that the Spirit enable me to follow the law of man and not the word of God, and the law was killing me.

Then I said to myself, “What are you doing? This is insane!” And at that moment I woke up as if out of a coma and for the first time in nearly two decades I understood that my pursuit to change and suppress my sexuality was unnecessary and unhealthy. Sure I experienced change, but not what I had hoped for. The ex-gay process transformed me into a joyless, uptight, frustrated drone of a man, growing more and more distant from God despite the many hours of daily prayer and Bible study.

In my journey I began to realize that I needed help with specific issues. I objectified people and their bodies as sexual objects. I had the tendency to be compulsive and addictive in my sexual life and not see sex as a means of loving and building a relationship but as a means to quench an unmet need. I also realized how much I wished to fit in and please the straight men around me and live in such a way as to gain their approval and acceptance. But none of these issues had to do with my natural orientation towards men. In fact, mine was a very human struggle that many more straight men face than do gay men.

But in demonizing all same-sex desire, branding it evil, demonic, unhealthy and abnormal, I sought to destroy it. First I tried to magically alter it into heterosexuality and when I understood the implausibility of such a miracle, I then tried to silence and suppress my desires looking to God to enable me to destroy myself.

I sought the wrong things. Instead of focusing on the simple message of Jesus—love your neighbor as yourself—I coveted my straight neighbor and tried to become just like him. In the end I hated myself. I felt ashamed of myself and as a result I acted shamefully.

I accepted that I could not rid myself of my same-sex desires. I grew to understand that my desires were not abnormal or wrong. I accepted and affirmed myself. I then began to see real change in my life—the ability to address the sexual compulsion, the moral will to stop objectifying people as mere sexual objects.

I also found a new honesty with God and others, a transparency that eluded me for years. Friends and family noticed the difference over the past eight years and remark how I am much more alive, solid and emotionally available than ever before.

Some suggest that since we never can actually change our sexuality that we should still strive to cage it in, silence it and nail it to the cross. For me I realize that such a life does come not from a following God but from following man.

Change from being gay to straight was NOT possible for me, neither was it necessary. Trying to NOT be gay didn’t work either, even when I viewed it as my sacrifice to God. Pursuing to change and suppress my sexuality came at a great cost. Sure I learned some good lessons, but ultimately the process caused me more harm than good.

Ex-Gay Survivors in the OC

The Orange County Weekly published a long piece about the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference held in Irvine, CA last month. The writer offers a stirring account of the Chalk Talk and gives survivors like Michael Bussee and Eric Leocadio a chance to tell their moving stories.

The writer also visited the Exodus Conference held nearby. I am on the road typing this on my phone, so no fancy formatting or links.

Here is the link to the article though

Former Exodus Missonary to Spain Shares His Story

A few weeks ago I posted video of Jose Luis Maccarone who served as a missionary to Spain in an attempt to start up an ex-gay ministry. After trying for years to be an ex-gay, living in celibacy and even giving up his career as an attorney in Argentina, he came to the conclusion that change is not possible nor is it necessary.

He speaks about what it was like to be a leader for Exodus International (note: Alan Chambers wants to make it clear that although it didn’t exist as such at the time, that Jose went to Spain with Exodus Global Alliance).

I just uploaded video of Jose sharing his story in Spanish which I have also posted at Dos Equis.

Neighbors? Alan Reacts to Ex-Gay Survivors

Over at her blog Christine responds to snarky comments Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, left over at Shawn O’Donnell’s blog. Shawn wrote about the moving experience he had at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference,

The most emotional part of the weekend was a chalk talk we did… where people shared their emotions about their ex-gay experiences on this huge sheet of paper. The entire ceremony was done in silence. It gave me the chills. I don’t believe there was a dry eye. I felt like I was at the Veteran Memorial or the Holocaust museum.

To which Alan lashes out,

Harm? Come on, Shawn. No one is being harmed by Exodus offering people a choice. You KNOW better.

Christine digs into this choice that Alan offers,

Now, about the “choice” issue. What choice are they offering?

Is it the choice between being kicked out of your church, or being loved as “the struggler?”

Is it the choice between a relationships with parents who believe we can and should pursue change because others claim to have done it, or living a life being true to yourself but without a good relationship with family?

Is it the choice between which state to live in because Exodus has politically backed anti-marriage equality amendments that could negatively affect your children or yourself?

Is it the choice that many women have to make whether they will stay in a marriage with a man who is not able to love them well, or whether they will leave and break up a family?

Is it the choice of having to believe that you are broken and inferior, or the choice of finding your own wholeness in a world that is all too ready to believe what they are told about gay people?

I can understand Alan being defensive when people who have intimately known the work of Exodus stand up and tell a different story than the party line. No one wants to hear that the work they do actually causes more harm than good. Although medical associations have warned of the risks of reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry in the past, we are seeing something different with folks like Shawn O’Donnell and the many others who are coming forward.

When survivors step up and tell their own stories, stories that challenge the misconceptions long held by Exodus leaders and the conservative Evangelical church, can cause people to scramble to silence these voices. It can also cause some people to humble themselves to listen to see if there is a truth they need to hear.