So many things in the works. As many of you know, Christine and I over at bXg along with SoulForce and the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine will host the first ever Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA the weekend of June 29-July 1, 2007. I don’t know yet how many we will have at the various events, but the response has been amazing from survivors and concerned allies on the West Coast, throughout the US and from as far away as Toronto, NYC and London.
All day today I have talked to people coming to the conference to present their films or art or to just join in the discussion. No doubt this will be a historic event and will change some people’s understanding of ex-gay experiences. This will be true of survivors themselves who may not ever had the opportunity to effectively unpack their former experiences–the motivations behind seeking change, the good that came of their quest, and the harm they caused themselves and others. Allies will also learn much more about the broader issues in the life of ex-gay survivors and the complexity of the struggle that many of us faced.
I spoke with a reporter today who asked about the “dueling conferences” and if ours was a reaction to the Exodus conference. I explained that I don’t see it that way. Exodus has presented their conference for decades. Loads of people have protested it in the past. Ours is not a protest or designed to harass Exodus leaders or ex-gays. We seek a positive response to the Exodus conference and damage that many of us had done to ourselves (often with assistance from others).
Also the conference will give Exodus leaders a chance to hear other stories, stories that they may not hear often. What happens to someone after they leave an Exodus ministry or ex-gay therapy? Typically these programs have no follow-up or aftercare. The years of depression, confusion, discouragement and loss happen out of ear shot of many ex-gay leaders.
The conference will provide people an opportunity to tell their stories in many formats (Internet, written narratives, art, etc) so that these stories will reach the ears and hopefully the hearts of ex-gay leaders, pastors, parents and others who encourage (or even force) people into ex-gay experiences.
Exodus used to be a ministry that tried to help people struggling with a variety of issues. Today it functions more as a lobbying group in DC tyring to limit the rights of LGBT people. Within Exodus are so many people, many who I have met, many who have good hearts and noble intentions. They still want to help people. They believe that ex-gay ministry is the best they can offer. Many of us have found something better and have reclaimed our lives. We want the opportunity to share this with each other and anyone who may be interested in hearing.