Last spring I met with journalist Adrian Tippetts in London, and we talked at length about my experiences in the ex-gay movement and since. He must have inspired a lot of trust because as I read the piece as it appears in Winq magazine (global queer culture), I find lots of revealing things about my wild sex life, the street work I did (as an missionary to the gay community in NYC–a different sort of sex worker), my marriage, my faith previous and current and much much more. Here is a sample from the three page spread in which we explore my time at Nyack College (a Christian and Missionary Alliance School) and my first forays into the gay & ex-gay worlds in NYC during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 80’s)
And so began sessions of highly selective Bible study and prayer sessions. He was remarkably well accepted by his fellow students, who encouraged him in his struggle against his sexuality. In a sprawling, foreboding and lonely city, Peterson was glad to have a loving, supporting community at the College, who all knew about his ‘problem’ and admired his attempt to address it. Being a Christian college, Nyack College strongly encouraged its students to take part in outreach activities. He and his colleagues would witness every Saturday night in Greenwich Village, in order to save souls in the heart of New York’s gay district. During that time of fear, they were surprisingly welcomed by the community, as Peterson recalls: “Our Bible study meetings were full – dozens of people doing everything they can not to be gay. With Aids devastating the local community, we felt as if we had created our very own Noah’s Ark, collecting all the gays and saving them from having sex. It was meant with the very best intentions – and even now, there are out, happy gay people who believe that being part of this ministry actually saved their lives.” Peterson joined Life Ministries, who supported the Nyack mission to the gay community, which provided his first introduction to Exodus, the national ‘umbrella’ group of ministries that aimed to help people out of homosexuality. The group today claims over 230 ministries worldwide.
You can download the article ex-gay movement peterson toscano, ex-gay survivor, debunks the myths. Check out some of Adrian’s other pieces that cover queers in football, Iraq, in the military and more.
And if you want to hear me talk about ex-gay stuff in Spanish, check out the recent episode on the Don Francisco Presenta program. Dr. Alberto Dominquez was AMAZING on it, so I just sat and looked pretty, but I did get to talk about the almost always disastrous marriages between ex-gay men and straight women. I repeat more than once about the harm that can come from attempting to suppress or change one’s sexuality. I base this on the over 1500 people I have met personally who have outlined to me the harm they have experienced as a result of their time in ex-gay treatments and in a world that insists that you are worth more straight. Lies. You are a person of great worth and you can live in those riches when you are authentic and honest and live in reality.