Why Did I Go Ex-Gay???

In October I wrote a post The MANY reasons I went Ex-Gay. Since then Christine Bakke, Daniel Gonzales and I were able to meet with other ex-gay survivors during a gathering we held in Denver. In speaking with both ex-gay survivors and with anti-gay Christian leaders, I find we add depth to the conversation when we unearth the often hidden reasons for why someone would attempt to so drastically alter their sexuality.

Below is a video I put together where I share some of the reasons why I attempted to “de-gay” myself. I don’t see it as an exhaustive list, and I imagine people had other motivations that I don’t list here. In the comments feel free to share reasons why you attempted to alter something essential about yourself.


Update: You can read a transcript of this video over here. Thanks and hat tip to Emproph.


This post has 8 Comments

  1. lower case paul on January 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Your list about covers it Peterson.

    I remember as a early teen going to the library looking for information about my delicate condition (i.e., being gay). I was alone and books had always been my friends. Pretty much the only thing available was stuff that affirmed I was sick. Add to that the conservative, fundamentalist Christian upbringing I had had, the die was cast.

    But we are not metal that we should remain as we were cast.

    Even when I knew I was a depraved mess because I was gay, there was a place in my heart where I would actually thank God for the gift… because being gay forced me to look at life differently. Being gay was the window that I looked through to perceive my own delusion. I simply could not deny that what ‘should be,’ wasn’t.

    The irony of my life after trying so hard to alter the truth, even calling the truth a lie, was finally knowing (and accepting) the truth did indeed make me free.

  2. Rob79 on January 12, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Excellent video!

    I think Religion played a major role in why I tried to be a ex-gay, but I think also I felt like I wanted to give my Mother grandchildren, she always seemed to lay a guilt trip on not being able to have Grandchildren from me.

    I think part of it also was the people I was around who were gay, and I wondered if this was what being gay was all about, going to bars, sleeping around and that sort of thing…I knew thats never what I wanted, I just wanted to love someone and have them love me back.

    The breaking point for me was, I felt worse going to Church and lying about my sexuality, than going to Church and being honest that I was indeed gay.

  3. Sherryl on January 13, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Your video touched me. You seem so sweet. Do you think the sexual abuse you speak of effected you sexuality?

  4. Yuki Choe on January 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I think you covered all the reasons I spent 8 years trying not to be me. At times I look so ridiculous but people were happy. And I knew that I needed that acceptance because at that time I was very insecure with myself. I needed to be loved by people, and it was then the thought came to me that if they are really loving that something fake in me, because they are affected by potrayals of transsexuals being prostitutes et all. Even when I came out, the first question my mother asked me was, did I have sex with anyone for money? And it hurt me.

    Another reason will be perhaps the fact I am living in a country which has Islam as the official religion. The “syariah” rules and the “fatwas” would not really mix with civil law here. But it does creates a bad impression on people affected by it. When the Islamic law declared my existence as illegal, automatically even as a non-Moslem, I am branded as someone with something that is terribly wrong in her. Adding to that the society, here except in the heart of KL city can be closed minded, making job hunts and finding a place to stay very difficult. It did not help that the majority here are Moslem.

    Perhaps the biggest reason I attempted to closet my girl self, was the fear of violence or being killed. In those years as a teen, I have been subjected to various circumstances ranging from abuses to beatings which I find I cannot cope. It is not that Malaysians are generally bad. But there are quite a number of nutcases that just cannot stand the idea of me. And transgenders as a whole are branded as sex toys here, probably because we are so close to Thailand, and there are a lot of transgenders here plying their trade on the streets. And because we are different, we are easy notable targets for crime and hate. Sorry for the long post here, but thanks for the video. It really got me into a state of reflecting on my life.

  5. David on January 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Wow! I think your words speak for many gay people.
    I must say that I admire your courage and strength.
    I believe you were asking God for answers and that he was giving them to you but you, like all of us were not listening to him but instead, you were listening to everyone around you.
    I watched your video and I listened to your words. I believe you have truly found yourself and your place in this world.
    I hope you are proud of who you are and proud of the strength that it has taken to make this video.
    I wish you love and peace in your coming out process.
    Again thank you for putting a face and giving a voice to Gay people.

  6. Emproph on January 14, 2009 at 10:44 am


    I realize that video mostly says what you said in your “The MANY reasons I went Ex-Gay” post. But I transcribed it in full if you want to use it. Please feel free to copy it and tweak it for emphasis, refigure paragraphs, or whatever.

    I’m tempted to link to it on TWO and PHB, but my site can be a bit abrasive at times, to put it politely, and I don’t want to screw up the genteel nature that you tend to exude. 🙂

    So again, if you need it, please feel free to copy it and do whatever you want with it.


  7. John on January 15, 2009 at 1:53 am

    Thank you for this piece. A life is a terrible thing to waste. It took me over fifty years with untold damage to myself and to others before I was finally able to accept myself as a gay man. What a blessing it has been! I learned what it is for the first time in my life to truly be happy. While the church hierarchy to which I belonged continues to waffle on the issues of sexuality, the members of the church whom I knew have been completely supportive More importantly, I found a much higher sense of God’s love for His children then I every had before. Keep up your work. You are needed!

  8. p2son on January 15, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you all for the comments. Very affirming.

    Sherryl, you asked,

    “Do you think the sexual abuse you speak of effected you(r) sexuality?”

    I do not believe the abuse made me gay. I was already gay before it began. There were lots of signs. Crushes on male teachers. The whole sensitive boy thing. In fact, I think this is what made me more of a target for an abuser.

    What the abuse did was complicate my relation with my own body and my sexuality. I felt shame, anger, loss. I didn’t like to be touched and in some ways had an aversion to sex. The shame I bore was one imprinted on me by abuser. These feeling complicated how I felt towards myself.

    The ex-gay movement capitalized on this shame and self-loathing and added their own spin that the abuse made me gay, thus creating greater trauma and confusion.

    Abuse is a terrible thing that happens to far too many people. Fortunately there are effective counselors out there who can help navigate the muddy waters that can get stirred up by the abuse. We don’t have to live with the shame and confusion. But it takes work, at least it did for me.

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