The Power (& Threat?) of Ex-Gay Survivor Narratives

Ex-Gay Watch reports about a letter PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) posted on their MySpace account. The letter lashes out at Ex-Gay Survivors with a threatened and aggrieved tone.

While you all claim in websites, protests, in organizations, or coalitions, to want to help people who are “trapped in the ex-gay movement,” you seem to be more concerned with sticking your nose in my business, and telling me the way you think I should live, along with who I am. You don’t know me, and you don’t know my needs and wants


I’m sorry you supposedly tried to “change” and didn’t, but I did, so please respect that. The only thing that your organizations tell me is that because of some bad experiences you all had in the past, you’ve decided to carry your bitterness over to people like me, and try to rub it in my face, along with everyone else who desires change.

You get the point. Reading this defensive response, I hear someone who genuinely feels threatened by our message. From the day we launched bXg in April of this year we stated on our home page,

Certain people who currently identify as ex-gay say they are content as such. We don’t seek to invalidate their experience. For us such a lifestyle was not possible or healthy.

Both Steve Boese and I posted comments to the letter the PFOX MySpace Page (comments that still await approval), but you can read Steve’s response on his blog and my response that I also posted on Ex-Gay Watch.

These ex-gay survivor stories strike a cord. While at Love in Action, whenever one of us would get defensive about some feedback we got from staff or other participants, the staff encouraged us to look into that defensiveness to see if there was anything in it. Perhaps we felt defensive because we heard a truth that we were yet not able/willing to grasp.

Claire Willett of Portland, OR and Daniel Stotenberg of Seattle, WA both attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference and sat down with filmmaker, Brian Murphy, to tell some of their stories. We have all sorts of ex-gay experiences, some through programs and some on our own. What I find notable is how these stories are said without bitterness or anger.[youtube=]

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Daniel C on July 10, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Strange letter.
    I cant understand – or ofcourse I can but its not rational – why it is offensive for you to tell your story.

    You are saying “this is us, this hurt us”
    Keep up the good work!

  2. M on July 11, 2007 at 3:15 am

    One aspect of my work on gay Christian movements is talking about the inherent power of narrative. Keep on telling your stories – that is what makes the difference.

  3. kurt_t on July 11, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    At first that PFOX letter struck me as really bizarre. I couldn’t understand what exactly the person was objecting to.

    But after I reflected on it for a while, the letter started to sound like grief to me. I hear denial in the letter, anger, bargaining (If the ex-gay survivors stop telling their stories, my life won’t be so hard.).

    And I hear that horrible sense of powerlessness that comes out of grief. Imagine how powerless that writer must feel.

    I think if I had a friend who wanted to pursue an ex-gay life, I’d say “Read this letter first. Then think about whether that’s how you want to live your life. Do you think this is the kind of person God wants you to be?”

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