The MANY reasons I went Ex-Gay

In yesterday’s blog, Ex-Gay in the UK, I posted quotes from a friend in England who lived ex-gay for years. He shared some of his motivation to pursue a course designed to change and suppress his gay orientation.

He wrote,

I guess seeing Homonomo made me wonder again just why you/I/we put ourselves through it all. For me a big part of it was living inside a church community with such a narrow worldview, but one that I wanted to feel accepted and approved by. That coupled with my limited choice of ‘correct’ reading matter that took such a negative view of homosexuality, and that bore false witness to the scriptures and distorted and filtered science to make it fit its own viewpoint. The shame it induced was crippling to my emotional development, and I think you portrayed that well in your Homonomo piece.

I shared some of his words over at the Gay Christian Network and several there have begun to share their reasons for going ex-gay. I also read a blog post over at Peter Ould’s site where he quotes Mario Bergner and his reasons for going ex-gay. This got me thinking about my own reasons.

For years while I was ex-gay and soon after I came out I thought my primary reason had to do with my Christian faith; it seemed the most obvious reason. But in the past few years I have dug deeper to see many other factors that had little or nothing to do with my faith in Jesus. Here is a list of some of these factors

  • Desire to marry and have children
  • Fear of loneliness as a grew old
  • AIDS and other STDs that I assumed I would get if I came out gay
  • Misinformation of what it meant to be gay
  • The desire to fit in with everyone, to feel “normal”
  • Pressure from society through virtually every film, TV show, pop song and commercial proclaiming that the heterosexual life was the idealized norm without showing any alternatives
  • Negative portrayals of LGBT people in the media
  • Fear of physical and verbal attack for being gay
  • Witnessing physical and verbal attacks of those who are gay or perceived to be gay
  • Desire to advance in the church hierarchy to become a missionary or pastor
  • Desire to please family and friends
  • Fear of losing family and friends
  • No positive gay role models
  • Having furtive sexual encounters causing me distress in a society that punishes sexual “deviance” (while an addiction to credit never seemed to bother me in a society that encouraged debt)
  • Unresolved sexual abuse issues that caused me to carry my abuser’s shame with me thus causing me to question my own gay orientation and self-worth
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-hatred & internalized homophobia
  • Cowardice to stand against the tide and be myself
  • Living to please man and not God, bowing to man’s teachings while not actually seeking God about the matter

And the list can still go on and on. For me the faith issue was a convenient cover that distracted me from the many other factors that influenced me to seek change. Similarly some anti-gay Christian folks can use the religious argument to hide behind their own discomfort with the intimcay between two men or two women.

For me it took years to unearth the many reasons why I went ex-gay. Coming to a place of integrity and understand has led me to deal directly with these motivations and find the help I needed to address my true needs.

What about you? What led you to go ex-gay or why do you think some people elect to change or suppress their gay orientation?

Tags:

This post has 6 Comments

  1. Lynn David on October 10, 2008 at 5:10 am Reply

    Desire to marry and have children
    — Number one on my list too. It’s the Catholic way….

    Fear of loneliness as a grew old
    — Number two…

    AIDS and other STDs that I assumed I would get if I came out gay
    — Didn’t have that problem in the ’70s

    Misinformation of what it meant to be gay
    — Oh! All that playground ‘humour.’ And then the first thing a friend told me when I told him I was a “homosexual” at age 14, you don’t want to be a dirty…. well, it goes on from there. And I was rather ‘prissily’ clean.

    The desire to fit in with everyone, to feel “normal”
    — Yeah, I felt like the only queer in my town…. ‘cept I knew that wasn’t true.

    Pressure from society through virtually every film, TV show, pop song and commercial proclaiming that the heterosexual life was the idealized norm without showing any alternatives
    — I wouldn’t put that on my list, though it was one of the reasons behind the whole settle down and have 2.2 kids thing.

    Negative portrayals of LGBT people in the media
    — Back in my day they didn’t talk about us. Got it from the playground. Though I have this somewhat sketchy remembrance of listening to Walter Cronkite speak about the Stonewall riots. Unfortunatly, I think that somewhat bolstered the negativity I got when I first came out to that friend.

    Fear of physical and verbal attack for being gay
    — I was attacked three times when I was young, mostly at times when I was starting to wonder about myself as puberty came upon me. One was from behind while crossing a park. I remember the words, “g-d f***t” just as his fist hit me on the back of my head. I was walking along with a friend and was face-down on the ground being hit on the back of the head before my friend could react. When he did, he stopped the attack. I don’t think I would be alive where it not for him. I still don’t remember what the ‘older kid’ looked like.

    I remember thinking after that, ‘what am I doing that they know.’ That chilling fear that everyone could tell, that everyone knew. It stuck with me for may years afterwards.

    Witnessing physical and verbal attacks of those who are gay or perceived to be gay
    — Cannot say that effected me as much as what I experienced twice or more myself.

    Desire to advance in the church hierarchy to become a missionary or pastor
    — Oh heavens, no! Though being Catholic at that time, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Odd though, I was somewhat stereotypically, a church organist but never an altar boy.

    Desire to please family and friends
    — I think that goes along with the idea of being a good Catholic boy and giving my parents grandchildren… lots and lots of grandchildren.

    Fear of losing family and friends
    — Yep, from my first coming out at 14 to all of my family and friends who were Roman Catholic.

    No positive gay role models
    — I had three organ teachers when I was young, and let me say, I was good but not that good as an organist. But at some point in my young life (I think I was 15) my one teacher wanted me to take lesson from an organist/professor at our local university. This was a good, decent, talented man, who happend to be gay. He could have been a role model. But I got warned about him as though he could be a pederast by my teacher who recommended me to him. Such mixed messages…..

    Having furtive sexual encounters causing me distress in a society that punishes sexual “deviance” (while an addiction to credit never seemed to bother me in a society that encouraged debt)
    — Yeah, but you’re almost driven to it. As if such encounters are all you can have. In that case the Church/society has been quite successful in making your life as a ‘homosexual’ person be all about sex and nothing more. Thus you seek nothing more from other men.

    Unresolved sexual abuse issues that caused me to carry my abuser’s shame with me thus causing me to question my own gay orientation and self-worth
    — Sorry to hear that, never had that problem.

    Low self-esteem
    — Oh yeah… how could one not have low self-esteem, you’re a dirty… you know.

    Self-hatred & internalized homophobia
    — Comes bundled with the low self-esteem, it’s all a part of the bloatware on your software.

    Cowardice to stand against the tide and be myself
    — No, don’t say that about yourself. Though, my dad always told me to be strong enough to do what you had to do, that is what being a man was all about. I was never a man until I came out as gay. My best understanding of the man I loved and called ‘dad,’ says he would consider that to be truthful.

    Living to please man and not God, bowing to man’s teachings while not actually seeking God about the matter
    — Until I came to be irreligious, I was Roman Catholic. I felt almost as if Roman Catholicism was in my blood as much as I now admit being gay probably is. And yet I am no longer Roman Catholic. Something had to give. I was either gay or Catholic, one couldn’t be both. Though for a time, they coinsided in me until some later writings by Pope John Paul II clarified the matter for me.

    Sorta strange. Coming from such a small town and being Catholic, the whole ‘pray away the gay’ idea of being ex-gay never reared its ugly had for me. Instead I lived on the fringes of both ‘worlds’ and yet never felt as I belonged to either. Early in my life after my father’s death I ended up in a psychologist’s office after I checked myself out of a university. One of my fears was to just be around all those guys in my dorm. The psychologist seemed to have the idea I needed to ‘prove my masculinity.’ I guess to myself. He suggested the military, I never spoke to him after that even though I had other sessions.

    I believe thinking in the manner we did, we necessarily decrease the expectations for our lives. We induce ourselves into thinking any choice we make is second-rate if we should be gay. My hope is that no gay person may feel that way about themselves ever again.
    . . .

  2. pould on October 10, 2008 at 7:52 am Reply

    Peterson,

    For me it was a clear conviction that a dispassionate reading of the Bible gave me only one option for my sex life – marriage or celibacy. I stand by that conviction ten years later.

  3. p2son on October 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm Reply

    David, your comments bring me back. How much I remember the sense that if I were gay, I would be a second class citizen. I too grew up Catholic. I only heard about the ex-gay movement after I decided it was wrong to be gay. How convenient when I found scriptures that sounded like it confirmed all the things I heard on the playground. I didn’t even think to question those scriptures. They gave me the license I needed to completely go to war against myself.

    David you remind me of the desperation I felt. And what a crazy mixed message about the organ teacher you had. On the one hand you feel drawn to this man as a potential role model but then you are told to fear him. Those subtle messages play deep with young people. I remember something similar and how I didn’t want to be classed with someone who others talked about behind their backs.

    It’s strange but at the Love in Action program they encouraged to take a searching and fearless look at ourselves, of course within their prescribed parameters. It was only after I completed my time at LIA and began to look at other options that I was able to get honest with myself about what was going on in my life. In the midst of it I had too much to lose to question any of it, so most questions got blocked to the side.

    Peter, thank you for visiting. Perhaps next spring when I am in the UK we can finally meet up.

  4. dangonzales on October 10, 2008 at 7:05 pm Reply

    Hey this would make for a great article on BXG much like the list of types of harm we’ve already got up there.

  5. p2son on October 10, 2008 at 9:15 pm Reply

    Dan, great idea! I will work on it this weekend.

Leave a Comment