Category: Memphis

Walking in Memphis

Yeah, I actually did walk about three miles today in Memphis. Of course people of a certain race and class don’t walk much in this city, and I got strange looks as I walked along Cooper towards the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center and First Congregational Church. Christine Bakke has arrived, and I received a text message from Bruce Garrett that he pulled into town with sweet ride of car.

I saw Morgan Jon Fox tonight, poor guy looks wiped out from working on filming a movie while also editing This is What Love in Action Looks Like and still working his regular job. Artists will make great sacrifice to do their art. I know that what he shows on Saturday will be amazing, and he will also share about the film making process as well.

On Friday night I will do my official retirement performance of Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. I hired a camera crew, and four cameras will capture the performance so that the play can be put together for a DVD. Morgan will edit it for me and do it in an artistic way that I believe will capture the essence of the play.

Tomorrow Jim Burroway and Daniel Gonzales of Box Turtle Bulletin will arrive as will Jacob Wilson and his partner Ryan. Others are coming into town too who I am sure you will hear about in the next few days. I will keep you posted.

Ex-Gay Survivor Jacob Wilson Speaks Out

In the summer of 2005 the ex-gay program Love in Action made national headlines after accepting Zach, a 16 year old gay boy into their Refuge program. Before he went into the program, Zach called out for help on his blog. Concerned citizens and friends of the young man took a stand and each day shared their message of love and acceptance through signs, blog posts, interviews and social networking on MySpace.

Jacob Wilson was a 19 year old client in Love in Action’s adult program that summer. Back then Exodus programs did not have a prohibition to mix minors and adults together in their program, so Jacob sat in session with all the participants in both Love in Action’s programs. He didn’t have any real idea what was happening outside the building until he saw the trailer of Morgan Fox’s film that we screened at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this past summer.

Wendi Thomas of the Memphis Commercial Appeal interviewed Jacob for an article that appeared in yesterday’s edition.

Zach’s supporters protested outside of LIA, but Wilson says the men and women inside were told not to make eye contact with the protesters and not to read their signs.

After Wilson left LIA, he found out what the protesters had wanted him to know.

“These people weren’t doing it to be activists, they were doing it to show that we weren’t alone, that we were loved … It crushes me that that message was cut from us.”

That message of love — an affirming, inclusive love — will get another airing next weekend, at the same time that conservative Christian heavyweight Focus on the Family will hold its de-gaying “Love Won Out” conference at Central Church.

Jacob will come to Memphis this weekend to tell more of his story. He will also lead a round table discussion for folks 25 and under during the Beyond Ex-Gay Mid-South Regional Gathering. Find out what happened to Jacob that summer and learn how you can help your friends when they feel coerced or compelled to attend an ex-gay program.

Read more of Wendi Thomas’ article here. For more information about the weekend’s activities, visit Beyond Ex-Gay. See Daniel Gonzales’ video promo for the weekend here.

Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth in Memphis

In a week I will be in Memphis, TN one of my all time favorite cities in America. Some find that strange since I spent two difficult years in Memphis in the Love in Action ex-gay program. But once I emerged from that experience, for the next three years, I got to know the city and some of the many wonderful lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender folks in that city.

While in Love in Action, I never go west of Highland Avenue so I never saw Mid-Town or Downtown until after two years in the city. At Love in Action the staff forced us to avoid the Forbidden Zone. Apparently the gays took over Mid-Town and kept all the best cafes, restaurants and stores to themselves.

Next week we will deconstruct the ex-gay myth through action and art. Note we will not dismiss the ex-gay myth or rise up a diatribe against it. Rather we will carefully and thoughtfully deconstruct it. According to Miriam Webster online,

Deconstructverb: to take apart or examine in order to reveal the basis or composition of, often with the intention of exposing biases, flaws, or inconsistencies

As a survivor of the ex-gay movement, I have spent the past five years exploring, unpacking and deconstructing my experiences. Through counseling, reading, writing and especially performance art, I have grown to understand what I was after all those years, what I was promised, what I did to myself, and what I allowed others to do to me. I discovered the dreadful toll the ex-gay theories took on my parents.

This weekend will mark the five year anniversary of the premiere of Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House—How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement! Next week I will offer my official retirement performance of the piece. It served me well, but I see that now I must lay it down (soon–I still have my Cher-like tour the next few years, well except without all the costume changes and big hair).

Below I have Christine Bakke’s poster that will be going up all over Memphis. I ask you to hold the weekend of Feb 22-24 tenderly in your thoughts and prayers. We do not gather to protest but to bear witness to our experiences. The truth is that most people who pursue an ex-gay life cannot sustain such an existence. Nor do they need do.

Change is possible. We can change the way we view ourselves and the world and accept that our desires are not taboo. We can live happy and holy as homosexuals. We contribute to our communities, we create art, we live full rich lives. We struggle like all people because that is part of the human existence. Gay is good. Lesbian is lovely. Bisexual is beautiful. Transgender is terrific. The key is to be authentic. Be real. Be true.

And sometimes to get to that place of integrity, we need to do some deconstruction.

Video Ad for Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth

As some of you already know, Memphis-area LGBT groups have partnered with Beyond Ex-Gay and other people around the country to present a series of events under the heading Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth—A Weekend of Action Art. (February 22-24, 2008)

We have a new web page up with all the details, and Daniel Gonzales created a YouTube video ad outlining what will happen and why. Here is some of the transcript (video listed below)

On Saturday February 23rd 2008 Colorado-based Focus on the Family and Florida-based Exodus International will set up shop in Memphis to stage “Love Won Out” a day-long conference promoting gay conversion or “ex-gay” ministries. Held at Central Church in Collierville, Love Won Out targets family and friends of LGBT individuals, preaching the message that homosexuality is sinful and change is possible.

Concerned that this harmful message will misinform the community, local organizations, churches and citizens partnered with Beyond Ex-Gay and the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Drawing on their personal experiences and expertise they have responded with Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth—A Weekend of Action and Art