De-gay yourself? At what cost? Reflections of Ex-Gay and Ex-Transgender Survivors

If you speak Spanish, check out the Don Francisco Presenta program on Univision tonight (10pm ET/9PM CT) for a discussion about gay repartive therapy that includes a number of guests including me 🙂

Yesterday on Facebook and my Twitter feed I asked the following question:

Have you ever tried to de-gay yourself or suppress your gender differences? Why did you do it? What were the consequences?

Some Twitter answers I received were:

firefaunx @p2son yes. I had trouble w/ both of those. ended up w/ too much drinking, too much weed, too many bad choices. WAY better now.

verycarla @p2son Suppressing my gender differences lead to a lifetime of misery and self-hatred. Hard to unlearn that behaviour now.

kitty_burger @p2son I did because I was scared. I felt like I’d be rejected if I showed people my real face. And it turned me into a mean, lying weasel.

xiomberg @p2son Yes suppressed my gender in middle school lead to deepening clinical depression 2 much drinking & self destructive habits

xiomberg @p2son Years of therapy and nearly killing my marriage to get back to a semblance of health

Without revealing their identities, some of my Facebook friends wrote:

  • i tried to hide the fact that i am ftm for well over a year and i also ended up trying to commit suiside i finaly had to come out and be myself to save my life and coming out did save my life
  • Caleb, same here. Yes. Cause i loved my straight partner. made me suicidal. <_<
  • Oh, yeah… Tomboys not allowed in Catholic school… and I also got shit in my family, even though my then-mom was supposedly a feminist. Ugh.  Also, even to this day, more femme-y women are looked down on in lesbian/queer circles; more butch-ish women are more honored. This makes me sad. :(Apparently I was closeted to myself about my gender identity for quite a while. I’ve been really dealing with issues over the past year, but it’s intensified over the past 4 – 6 months. It was the reason my girlfriend at the time broke up with me, or at least one of the reasons.
  • But right now I’m having a very hard time because when you try to lock that stuff up, pretend like it doesn’t exist, or de-gay or de-trans yourself, it’s only gonna come bursting out all the more loudly when you can’t keep the charade up anymore. It’s just not worth it. Not for the sake of anyone. Sometimes it ultimately comes down to what’s right for YOU and building a support system out of it of people who are willing to accept this newfound real you….
  • I did the opposite- sometime way back when I came to the realisation that I fit into people’s ideas of what a straight man was much more than their idea of what a gay man was. I wasn’t going to change who I am and be nelly when I’m not, or try to supress any masculinity, so I decided to make a conscious effort to never suppress any of my more feminine/”gay” attributes if I had any. this leads to where I am now- people from work/etc that haven’t known me for long are surprised to hear I’m gay while people who are closer and have known me for longer find it hard to believe that anyone could think I’m NOT gay.

I also got an e-mail from a self-identified “Mexican friend” who shared at length some of his journey. He is still in the midst of the coming out process, so he wrote, you can share it but just do not put my name yet-or make a fake one, like Juan, or Pedro, or Chihuahua dog =) Gracias hermano por tu mensaje.

To answer your question about why do people choose ex-gay therapy & what are the consequences? I will say it is one of the most complicated answers I will ever give and one that I am still trying to answer myself.

When you have been raised with the no idea of homosexuality (because it is a taboo) you grew up with the idea of there is something wrong with me but may be will pass and one day I wont ever remembered, or at least nobody talks about it and you will discover this journey by your own means (I am talking knowing I was different while living in Mexico).

The other and most dangerous of any, is when your homosexuality is seen as SIN, or as an ADICTION, or an ILLNESS most of time these definitions of homosexuality are coming from the church of the self-righteousness Christians. Then not only you know you are different, but also you are wrong, you are dirty and YOU DO have a problem.You can not be part of this body of believers until you give up this ugly part of yourself to Christ. There is no way to ever pronounce the word “ACCEPTANCE”, because the moment you do, you will deny the all powerful quality of God.

So in a way you are convinced that your wrongness is part of the devil’s work to destroy the greatest plan God has for your life.So in order to help you overcome this addiction, illness and sin, you go to a cleansing house. A place where you are told that in one moment of your life(may be due to a trauma, or lack of relationship with dad etc) we made the decision to be–judged, criticized, seen as a second class people, some will be killed, laugh about them, tease about them, condemn them, live a life of animosity, a double life full if depression, that is our fault for hurting, our parents, our siblings, our spouses-(who would ever in their right mind decide to live like this)-and a place where we needed to overcome it and become the men and women God always intended for us to be. What I do not understand is if God give us free will, why the word acceptance is never in the vocabulary of the Church of the self-righteousness Christians?

My own consequences of going to an ex-gay ministry was to fell into a cycle of self- destruction, depression, not acceptance, guiltiness, and emotional instability. so my question will be? Is this cycle of emotions, destructions, depression and non-acceptance better than to be homosexual? Is it better to deny who you are and live a pretended life just for the sake of sanity, wholeness and “holiness”?(holiness is not what you do or do not do, but who you are) is it not wholeness the acceptance of who you are in God’s eyes and live like that?

Because for me coming out saved my life, and took me out from this so unhealthy cycle into a search of my true self. I know that finally I am who I am as person, and as a child of God.

Ironically all my family who once considered this a taboo has given me the full support, understanding and love, but I also know that staying in this spiritual journey I will have to face many of the questions, wonders, doubts, and judgments of the members of the self-righteousness Christian Church; but this time I will have my family and friends with me.


This post has 2 Comments

  1. cale on February 10, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Hey Peterson, its Cale from Memphis (then Northampton)..

    this is unrelated to your post, and i apologize, but i didn’t know another way to get a hold of you…

    i heard from some friends you will be performing in Asheville possibly tomorrow night? I live in asheville now and would love to see you, but im having a hard time finding the date and time of the event at UNCA.

    I would love to hear from you.

    or look me up on facebook? actually i might try to find you on there now. lets meet up if you are here!


  2. Justine on February 11, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Nothing is heavier than a secret. And, if you don’t toss it overboard, it will bring you straight to the bottom.

    And that’s why becoming clean and sober was the first step to recovering myself. I tried to suppress my feelings about my gender identity with alcohol and other substances. It took a long time, but dealing with my substance issues was the first step toward facing my identity.

    I also thought that the love of the “right” woman would make me want to be a man. You can guess where that led me: down a path through a failed marriage and a whole bunch of other relationships that simply could not work. I even tried living as a gay man because I thought, well, if I can’t make a go of it with a woman, that’s what I must be. I felt shame over it and even more self-loathing than I already felt when coupling with men didn’t work for me.

    And, yes, I tried religion, too. But neither Jesus nor anyone else could take the burden of my “secret” away. The result was, you guessed it, more guilt and shame.

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