Parents & the Ex-Gay Movement

This weekend staff from Focus on the Family and Exodus International, two large and well-funded organizations, will speak to hundreds of parents about the “gay lifestyle” and will present testimonies claiming that “change is possible”. Parents will listen to folks who directly and indirectly pin the blame on parents for having a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender child. We know what they teach because some of us recently attended the Love Won Out Conference and and also listened to the recordings of all the presentations. See Jim Burroway’s detailed account.

My parents suffered under this message while I attended the Love in Action program in Memphis some years ago. Today I recorded this video relating the horrific Family and Friends Weekend and the effect Love in Action’s erroneous and cruel teachings had on my parents.

In the past year I have shared my family’s experience with several ex-gay leaders. Many expressed shock at what happened at Love in Action. But when I spoke with someone who is slated to speak at Love Won Out this weekend about all that happened with my mom and the years of doubt and torment she suffered, he shot back, “Healthy people ask for what they need.” I said, “Wait, what!?” He continued, “If your mom was having problems, she should have gotten some help.” But my mom had already been burnt by “experts,” and I know she didn’t want to expose herself to more hurt. But even if she could of or should of talked to someone to help her understand the issues better, what a pitiful response from this Christian leader.

This sort of thoughtless, insensitive, reactionary behavior needs to stop. Many ex-gay programs like Love in Action make mistakes. They do things on a trial and error basis sampling whatever teachings drop into their laps. (I know because in two years there, we ran through several teachings and practices). These program leaders, who claim they care about people and families, need to listen to the stories of the many people who can point to the harm they experienced at the hands of ex-gay minsters. These are not a few isolated stories. Just in the past 10 months dozens of people have come forward to share their stories publicly. These are not paid professional activists or lobbyist, but people who stand up to bear witness to what they have seen and heard and experienced.

For further information, see What About the Parents? as well as the ex-gay survivor narratives over at Beyond Ex-Gay.

Also, join us for Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth—A Weekend of Action & Art.

This post has 5 Comments

  1. Daniel C on February 19, 2008 at 8:59 pm Reply

    What amaxe me in your stories are something I recognise from many places, school no less.
    A belief that “expert” know how human works, and uses small workshops or other fun idea they picked up from various places. That kind of things disturb me – LIA is not the only place. It goes on in more not that “extreme” movements, slef-helping groups that believe they can and need to heal people with just stupid organised torture – as they think they are expertise.

    They never have any ground to stand on – its just alot of belief – stupid theory that might sound good on paper but never ever been critisised.
    It seems like all those expert never ever ask “in what way could this hurt, in what way could this go wrong”. For them its just a piece of wonderful new equipment a new therapy and they have no second thought in what way that could hurt people.
    You seen it in LIA. We all seen it in school. We seen it in churches (yup – though allways being – even back then – the sceptical halfway atheist that I am you know I once been in one of those evangelical as a child anyway). And alot have seen it with other experts.

    They all mean so well – and hurt so much….

  2. Auntie Doris on February 19, 2008 at 11:17 pm Reply

    I must be tired. All the way through that post I read ‘Love Worn Out’. Please just ignore me.

  3. KJ on February 20, 2008 at 1:17 am Reply

    I was so glad that when I came out to my parents that they chose to weigh what they knew to be true about me against all the evangelical misinformation they were told. I pray for all glbt individuals and their parents who are sold a “bill of goods” based on nothing more than a whim, and certainly devoid of the evidence base that we should demand for all interventions.

  4. paraflax on February 20, 2008 at 6:14 pm Reply

    The guilt of being the reason of destroying a human life is horrible. When it comes to being your kid you have destroyed it is even worse. I have a number of people around me trying to put that guilt on me for destroying my kids by transitioning.

    I must admit that even if all my reason tells me that it is far more healthy for the kids to live with a bit unusual parent that are open and honest than with a more regular parent that is living a very unhealthy lifestyle with lies, depression and passing that onto the kids. I still really struggle with the guilt of destroying their life.

    It wasn’t until I started to talk about this with other parents and learned that even very normative parents often have the same feelings of not being good enough that I learned to live with my guilt.

    That organizations thrive upon parents impossible* love to their kids in this way is just disgusting.

    It makes me doubt my alleged pacifism.

    /Alex. Resare

    * with impossible I mean the fact that every single parent I know want to be a better parent that it is possible to be to make the best possible life to their kids.

  5. Daniel C on February 21, 2008 at 8:17 am Reply

    wonderful insight Alex!

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