For Heaven’s sake, why on earth would you “de-gay” yourself?

I had the privilege to write a post for Ex-Gay Watch, which has presented news and analysis of ex-gay politics and culture since 2003. They were the first to review my play, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, which ultimately led me to some important friends in my life today.

After surveying others like me who tried to go ex-gay or to alter their gender differences, I shared some analysis about the many reasons why someone might choose that route for themselves.

I recently began a discussion with other ex-gay survivors about the reasons they tried to alter their sexuality, gender presentation, or gender identity. To help dig into the question, I prompted them:

Think about the point in time when you began to seek out ex-gay treatment. Then ask: “During that time, if I suddenly woke up the next day 100% heterosexual/gender normative, how would my life be different? How would my relationships be different? How would my future be different? How would my career be different?”

Here is a sampling of what folks had to say to the question, Why did you try to change?

Juli–Guilt. Never cared about god (or believed), but knew my parents would be ashamed and feel responsible (and ashamed for being responsible). Forty years and three marriages, and I still have to remind myself at least once a day they were wrong.

Derek–I was always the “good kid” so the thought of being gay didn’t mesh well with who I felt I was or more what others thought I should be. Faith, family, a desire for what was modeled as normalcy were blanket reasons.

Gail Dickert–I was highly motivated by the fear of hell and the idealism of hetero-supremacy that was proclaimed in my churches and especially in Bible College (Bridal College, as it was referred to by the women in search of their perfect husbands).  [Gail is the author of Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams]

You can read my entire Ex-Gay Watch post here. Others are weighing and sharing their own reasons in the comments section.

Anthony Venn-Brown

Anthony Venn-Brown, an ex-gay survivor from Australia, reminded me through his own comment of a potent incentive that propelled me to seek “change.” The criminality of homosexuality:

simply put…when I was growing up and realised I was gay it meant society viewed me as a pervert, the law said I was a criminal if I acted on it and would be imprisoned, the church said I was an abomination. I didn’t want to be any of these things so this launched me on a 22 year journey to do all I could to change which included a six month live in program, exorcisms, 2 x 40 day fasts and marriage.

Of course nothing actually worked in the end. it was like getting of a stationary bike you’ve been peddling. You are still in the same place.

Had I been growing up today with the new understanding of sexual orientation, change in laws and new understanding of the bible verses……how different my life would be.

Perhaps with informed consent, people today will not make the same mistakes that Anthony, I, and so many others made.

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  1. Peter Leeson on April 5, 2011 at 12:07 pm Reply

    I did not join an ex-gay movement, but spent 40+ years trying to stop being gay. My parents made many comments about “poofs”, recently my mother still used the term “bum-boy” about a couple in her building. I could not accept myself, and I could not even admit it sufficiently to seek outside help. I got married believing that with time, I would learn to be straight; I thought that once I had children, these temptations would go away. When living in the Pennsylvania, I joined a church like you only find in the US (the kind that believes Democrats are going to hell, let alone sodomites) – it was probably the easiest time for me, because I understood that this was just the devil and all I had to do was resist and he would go away. Finally, at the sweet age of 54, I accepted myself, told my wife and my grown children who have accepted me.
    In the mean time, I love my wife and do not want to lose her, so I am now married and celibate, out of love for the woman who gave me her life.

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