Lass week Omar Hassan, a writer in the UK, contacted me with some questions about my ex-gay experiences for an article that appeared in today’s Pink News. I imagine the article came about in response to the news that an ex-gay conference will be held in Central London this weekend.
I especially appreciate Hassan’s questions that help get to some of the deeper issues. I have posted the questions here for other ex-gay survivors to consider answering for themselves in the comment section or on your blog (or both!) Feel free to answer any one, some, or all.
1) Did you find reparative therapy useful? Why or why not?
2) Why were/are you trying to rid yourself of homosexual tendencies? Is it because of personal, social, religious or cultural beliefs?
3) Do you believe that homosexuality should be frowned upon, or is it something that you simply did not want to be a part of?
4) Has the therapy altered your sexual orientation? If so, have you had or are you in a relationship with a female?
5) Can you divulge some of the therapeutic practices that were used on you?
6) Why did you spent so many years in EX gay programs?
7) Do you have any final words or comments that you would like to express to Pink News readers?
My answer to the last question didn’t make it into the final piece, so I will post my it here:
Do you have any final words or comments that you would like to express to Pink News readers?
It is easy to attack and criticize those who promote and provide gay reparative therapy, and I think we need to hold them accountable for their harmful actions, but we also need to consider WHY someone would elect to detach from the LGBTQ community and run headlong into one of these “change” programs. In what ways are we not taking care of our own? What needs are not being met in our own community? Who does not feel welcome and a part of the community and why?
I am a person of faith; I am wired for God. I sometimes wish I weren’t because it complicates my life, but the reality it is being an existential type person is part of who I am, just like being gay is part of who I am. I now have found a spiritual home among the Quakers. In the past though too often I was told I had to choose one identity over another–gay or a person of faith. This happens both in many traditional churches AND in our LGBTQ spaces. In fact, sometimes it is harder to come out Christian among queer folks than it is to come out gay among church folks.
In the LGBTQ community we police gender in very much the same way traditionalist Christians do. We silence and marginalize bisexuals much like the ex-gay programs do. We dismiss transgender people in our midst much like anti-gay churches do. If we took better care of our own, we would drive these ex-gay programs out of business. I see amazing progress in the UK with vibrant growing LGBTQ populations, people coming out and living openly, and a sweep of legislative reforms protecting the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ people and providing a model for other countries. But we still have work to do in the schools, churches and within our own communities to make them safe for all.