I just spent an utterly delightful and exhausting week in Rhode Island for the 349th annual gathering of the New England Quakers. I served as an adult “resource person” (RP) for the Young Friends (YF) high school program, which meant spending most of time assisting with the high school-age Quakers in their worship meetings and play times.
In spite of the many hours per day devoted to the YF’s, I found I still had plenty of time to attend other events and even spent at least an hour a day working on my memoir as well as doing a little blogging. With the beginning of the two-year theme of Living into Jubilee, this week we focused on letting go of those things that tie us down, releasing our debt, clearing the land.
Back in 2003 I premiered my play Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement! I had a sense at that time what was in store for me, and sure enough over the next five years I took my work throughout North America and beyond into Sweden and the UK and Cameroon. I also got to speak often in the media helping to shape and deepen the discussion around the ex-gay movement. (See a listing of some media here.) I knew it was time to lay down that play in 2008, so I stopped performing it and had a DVD produced, which you can purchase at Quaker Books.
Since that time I have focused much of my energies on transgender issues and concerns through performing my play Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. I cannot properly express to you how different it feels to do this play than the Homo No Mo play. With Homo No Mo I felt that I had to relive in detail some of my own history and oppression. It was important trauma work for me and for others, but it came to the point where to perform the play dragged me down instead of lifted me up. With Transfigurations I experience an opening of my heart, an expansion of my soul. It doesn’t exhaust me nearly as much as when I performed Homo No Mo.
This week’s BIG ex-gay news is that we heard the result of a two year review by the APA in regards to gay reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry. There are tons of stories about it right now. What they concluded is what most of us have known for a long time. Reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry does not work. No one actually changes from gay to straight. Most likely to try to make that change through therapy will cause harm, in some cases serious harm. If someone continues to have a conflict with their sexuality, possibly stemming from their faith, but most likely influenced by several other sources, they can pursue a celibate life or else change churches.
In a way I feel this puts to rest the question completely. For those who wish to pursue a celibate life, I imagine many can successfully, particularly as they remain open and honest about their orientation adn feelings. One can live without sex. I do wonder though about the need for intimacy and partnership. That is another matter altogether. By encouraging gay and lesbians to close the door to partnership, ministers put burdens on other people’s backs that they are not willing to carry themselves leading to hellish outcomes.
Loads of people are blogging about this right now, so I don’t feel like I have much more to say. In a way I don’t have the energy for it or the interest. We have seen in the past few years several ex-gay survivors and concerned citizens come forrward to talk about the ex-gay phenomenon and the related issues.These folks are doing an excellent job of telling their stories and addressing the lies and misinformation that so often comes from Christian organizations whenever they speak about sexuality.
On Wednesday, the day the APA released their study and I hung out with the Quakers, I met for the penultimate time with my “affinity group”. This small group of teens gathered daily with fellow RP Adrianne and me for “check-ins,” silent worship, personal sharing, silly jokes, stories and games. At the Wednesday meeting we shared affirmations, each person writing about what we appreicate and admire about each person in the group.
One teenager wrote to me,
Although I think you must have been dilusional to think the world would be better with you straight, I am so so so so so so so so so so so glad that you came from your dilusion into the light.
Yeah me too, now I can walk in the Light and move on in my life to the business of living and serving and loving.