Ex-Ex-Gays Speak Out June 28, 2007

Ex-Ex-Gays Speak Out

We laughed when we were told Ted Haggard was “cured” of his gayness after three weeks because the idea of a gay person magically turning straight (through “counseling,” no less) is ludicrous.

It’s not always a laughing matter. A lot of gay people, out of fear that there is something wrong with them, try to go to places like Exodus International, a ministry that claims prayer can fix your homosexuality.

However, three former leaders of Exodus are now issuing an apology.

Sort of.

(Emphasis below is mine)

“Something’s happening. And I think it’s very positive,” agreed Michael Bussee, who founded Exodus in 1976, only to fall in love with another man — a fellow ex-gay counselor.

Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee regularly speaks out against ex-gay therapies and is scheduled to address the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference at UC Irvine at the end of the month.

But Bussee put aside his protest agenda recently to endorse new guidelines to sexual identity therapy, co-written by two professors at conservative Christian colleges.

He and other gay activists — along with major mental-health associations — still reject therapy aimed at “liberating” or “curing” gays. But Bussee is willing to acknowledge potential in therapy that does not promise change but instead offers patients help in managing their desires and modifying their behavior to match their religious values — even if that means a life of celibacy.

So Bussee apologizes for thinking you could “cure” gays… you can’t. But he adds that gay people can just never have sex, and that could be ok.

He was joined by Jeremy Marks of Exodus International Europe and Darlene Bogle of Paraklete Ministries (an agency that referred gays to Exodus). In a statement, they said the following:

Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that this message creates.

The trinity also reminded people that it’s possible to be gay and Christian – a foreign concept for many struggling with their faith.

The director of Exodus, Alan Chambers, was also mentioned in some articles:

With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he’s a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he’s come to resent the term “ex-gay”: It’s too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete,” Chambers said.

Chambers and other Exodus leaders talk deliberately about a possible biological basis for homosexuality, in part to explain that no one can turn a switch and flip from gay to straight, no matter how hard they pray.

So he’s apologizing about the term ex-gay — you can never change completely. Though he still seems to be ok with what Exodus promotes: Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.

It would’ve been nicer had they all said, “We were wrong this whole time. Homosexuality can’t be cured. It’s just who you are. But we are still Christians and those two worlds are completely compatible.”

But that’s asking too much.

I suppose this is a small step forward.

(Thanks to Logos for the links!)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Ted Haggard, gay, Exodus International, homosexuality, Michael Bussee, Jeremy Marks, Exodus International Europe, Darlene Bogle, Paraklete Ministries, Alan Chambers, Jesus Christ[/tags]

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  • Darryl

    What’s more misguided than a true believer? A true believer that hates himself and believes God wants him to torture himself.

  • Hey there…

    The larger project which Bussee, Marks, and Bogle are actively supporting this weekend is described at http://www.BeyondExGay.com. (I’m the web developer there.)

    We’re hearing thoughtful folks musing that the apology simply wasn’t enough, or perhaps the damage done was too severe.

    I’m encouraging people to consider that Bussee has been a force for healing and reconciliation in the gay community since 1979, Bogle since 1990, and Marks since 2000. Marks stands alone among folks who left ex-gay ministry in that he didn’t leave, he reshaped the ministry to be supportive of queer folks.

    An apology, by its nature, is a symbolic act. In this case though, it’s the outward and visible aspect of the work already in process (though still embryonic) at BeyondExGay.com, and that work is coalescing decades of contributions by the likes of Bussee, Marks, and Bogle.

    We’re completely open to ideas, questions, suggestions about how to move things forward — all feedback is welcome at the contact form there. If there is some aspect of the work to be done that is not yet being addressed, we’ll be happy to hear about that.

    Take care…

  • Maria

    I used to be a mental health counselor, and ran into some people who had been through these “ex-gay” programs-let me tell you, they (the programs) seemed to me to do a lot more harm than good!

  • Exactly, Maria. The BeyondExGay.com founders summarize it this way on their home page:

    We believe that ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good. Certain people who currently identify as ex-gay say they are content as such. We don’t seek to invalidate their experience. For us such a lifestyle was not possible or healthy.

    Not that it was all bad: Some of us received positive help through our ex-gay experiences. We grew to understand our sexuality better and in some cases even overcame life-controlling problems.

    But for most of us, these experiences brought us inner turmoil, confusion, and shame. We are still in a process of recovery from the damage. Through sharing our stories with each other, we find wholeness and healing.

  • by him admitting that there is no cure is definitely a step in the right direction. So what about bi girls? Surely everyone loves a bi girl. 😛

    That is why so many priests wind up molesting kids. Not because they are gay or aren’t gay. Just because being celibate would get to you and you’d have to act in a way that you think no one will find out.

    Repression of any kind only will be worse in the end.

  • Maria

    Repression of any kind only will be worse in the end.

    I agree

  • i like what don henley said, “every form of refuge has its price”…

  • jake

    actually glenn frey sang that line.

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