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.