Showing posts with label Ex Gay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ex Gay. Show all posts

May 1, 2018

Homophobia and The Ex Gay Movement Must Be Confronted and Challenged

 As a gay man myself I have always been somewhat aware of the ex-gay movement. One day in my early twenties, a time of my life in which I was most insecure about my sexuality, I was approached in the middle the street by a seemingly sweet old man. I noticed he was handing out leaflets, so naturally I assumed he was advertising a charity or local event. As I took a leaflet from his hand he looked me dead in the eye and yelled: ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.’ His words devastated me. This man had no idea I was gay, but that was beside the point. I had just experienced blatant homophobia in my home town and it went completely unchallenged by onlookers. 

My devastation only intensified as I continued to read the details of the leaflet I had just been handed, which outlined the details of the ex-movement. I read through bullet points that listed how gay people like myself were apparently destroying the fabric of society, and how ex-gay methods such as religious training and summer camps could help to turn me into a heterosexual, which was described as the ‘normal way of life’. Discrimination against gay people has taken many forms over the centuries, but in recent years a new kind of anti-gay phenomenon has emerged, known as the ‘ex-gay movement’. The term ‘ex-gay’ arises from the idea that people who are born gay can somehow change their sexuality or refrain from engaging in homosexual activity. 

The movement involves anti-gay people and organisations that encourage homosexuals to pursue a heterosexual lifestyle. More sensible members of our society might disregard the ex-gay movement as something so ridiculous it should just be ignored, but this movement can have a seriously damaging impact on gay people and can be more problematic than one might think. 

Gay people are susceptible to suffering with mental health issues throughout their lives due to the systematic homophobia that still exists. In many cases, this has led to extreme depression and suicide, the rate of which is disproportionately higher within the gay community compared to heterosexuals. Giving the ex-gay movement validation feeds into the already toxic narrative that homosexuality is something to be condemned and I believe this type of rhetoric should be challenged at every available opportunity. The ex-gay movement arguably had its most high-profile moment in 2012, when Christian group The Core Issues Trust placed posters on the side of London buses that read ‘Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!’ in an attempt to promote the ex-gay movement and anti-gay propaganda. 

The posters were produced as a direct response to the London bus poster campaign carried out by gay rights group Stonewall, which read ‘Some people are gay. Get over it.’ The ex-gay movement posters were eventually banned by the then London Mayor Boris Johnson, and rightly so. Religiously driven ex-gay organisations are intent of promoting intolerance against an entire group of society – something Samuel Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention service aimed at young LGBQ+ people, can attest to. 

At a young age, Sam was subjected to horrific physical and mental abuse during conversion therapy sessions arranged by his strict religious parents. Stonewall’s ‘Get over It!’ campaign attempted to challenge homophobia (Picture: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images) In contrast, LGBT rights organisation Stonewall led the ‘Get over it!’ campaign, which was intended to tackle bullying in the classroom and change negative attitudes towards LGBT people, according to the group. My biggest issue regarding the ex-gay movement is the lasting impact it may have. When anti-gay rhetoric is thrown around unchallenged it can become normalised, and this particular type of rhetoric is especially poisonous when you consider its origins. 

Gay conversion procedures, which can include electroconvulsive therapy and genital mutilation, were once considered a genuine ‘cure’ for homosexuality. Worryingly, for some people, they still are. In 2017 it was reported that hundreds of gay and bisexual men had been abducted and tortured by authorities in the Chechen Republic. Accommodating this way of thinking, either through laws or claims of free speech, can have a dangerous effect on society, which is why some MPs and gay rights campaigners are calling on the government to outlaw gay conversion therapy in the UK. Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, is one of the influential political voices contributing to this debate in favour of ousting gay conversion therapy in the UK. Hodgson says: ‘Gay conversion therapy has no place in an open and tolerant society. It undermines the ability of LGBT individuals to freely be who they are and can have serious ramifications on their health and well-being. ‘Campaigns to outlaw and criminalise this barbaric and heinous practice are welcome.

 The Government must recognise their duty to protect the LGBT community from these abhorrent practices.’ Although the government has made clear that a person’s sexual orientation is not an illness to be cured, there is currently no plan to introduce new criminal offences for practising gay conversion therapy. I share the view of campaigners that this response from the government is not satisfactory in dispelling the discriminatory viewpoint of the ex-gay movement, which gay conversion therapy represents. Outlawing gay conversion therapy in the UK would assist in dismantling the idea held by many that homosexuality is something to be removed from society, and remind those involved in the ex-gay movement that their aim will never be achieved, and should never have been attempted in the first place. 

{Annonymous but endorsed by this blog. Information obtained through Metro}

October 4, 2014

A “Saved” Ex Gay Activist Renounces the Movement after 20 Yrs


The ex-gay groups Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), Voice of the Voiceless, and Equality and Justice for All will hold their second annual gathering tomorrow to mark what they’ve dubbed “Ex-Gay Awareness Month,” which includes a day to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Yvette Cantu Schneider
Yvette Cantu Schneider
Speakers include some of the most virulent anti-LGBT voices on the right, including: Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who once called for the exportation of LGBT people; Matt Barber, founder of the extreme anti-LGBT site who co-hosts the Liberty Counsel radio show “Faith and Freedom”; Sandy Rios, a radio host for American Family Radio (American Family Association); and Alan Keyes, who thinks marriage equality is a “crime against humanity.” Keyes disowned his daughter in 2005 because she is a lesbian.

Last year’s “Ex-Gay Awareness Month” was cancelled, but the movement soldiers on despite growing national acceptance of LGBT people and marriage equality, the overturning of parts of the Defense of Marriage Act by the Supreme Court and certainly despite the numerous people who have left movement.

One of those, Yvette Cantu Schneider, agreed to speak with Hatewatch about her involvement in the ex-gay and anti-LGBT movement, and her views on conversion therapy.
Schneider came out as a lesbian as a young woman, then converted to Christianity in the 1990s and spent more than a decade working with anti-LGBT groups and campaigns like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family. She also was active in the Proposition 8 campaign in California, which resulted in the outlawing of same-sex marriage in that state in 2008. (The ban has since been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
Schneider, who eventually married a man, was for years one of the key sources anti-LGBT activists cited as “proof” that people can change their sexual orientation. But in 2009, she began to question her beliefs.

In July 2014, she joined eight other founders, leaders and promoters of the “ex-gay” movement—a largely religious movement that claims therapy can “cure” people of their homosexuality—in joining the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ call for a campaign to end so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy within five years. Schneider has also donated some of the proceeds from her latest book, Never Not Broken: A Journey of Unbridled Transformation, to GLAAD, an LGBT rights group.

Schneider’s perspective on ex-gay therapy is important. Anti-LGBT groups have used the idea that homosexuality is curable as ammunition for decades in their war against LGBT equality, holding it up as “proof” that homosexuality is a choice. But over the years, numerous people—including prominent spokespeople and leaders—have left the movement and denounced it, admitting that ex-gay therapy doesn’t work. Others have been revealed to be engaging in same-sex affairs or relationships. Just last year, Exodus International closed its doors and its president, Alan Chambers, issued a formal apology for the pain many people had experienced through ex-gay therapy.

The first ex-gay ministry, Love in Action, opened in 1973, followed by several others, including Exodus International, which started in 1976 and grew to be the largest. Religion fused with pseudo-science in 1992 with the formation of the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, which is made up of academics and therapists who tout falsehoods such as the claim that people become gay because of childhood sexual abuse or because they didn’t “bond” properly with a same-sex parent. A variety of conversion therapy practitioners have used techniques ranging from the bizarre (banging on pillows with tennis rackets) to the cruel (physical, sexual and emotional abuse) to basic talk therapy.

All of the nation’s leading professional medical and mental health associations have rejected conversion therapy as harmful and unnecessary. In spite of that, it is currently legally available for adults in every state. Two states—California and New Jersey—have banned it for minors. The New Jersey ban is being challenged in court.

Yvette, you identified as a lesbian early on. What caused your radical change in direction?

When I was growing up, I had a long string of crushes on girls and young women. I never expressed my feelings to any of them. Then, when I was studying at the University of Delhi in India as part of an education abroad program, I had my first lesbian relationship. I remember thinking that if I had any doubts about the morality of this relationship, it was because of what I had learned from my oppressive, controlling Judeo/Christian culture. In that moment, I felt the first spark of activism. A few months later, when I came out to my mom, she told me I needed “extensive psychological help.” This time, the spark felt more like a burn. In response to what I saw as disrespect, I came out to everyone I knew, knowing instinctively that to be seen was the first step to acceptance.

After a three-year relationship, I had a string of disappointing experiences dating women. I was stuck in a dead-end job that I didn’t enjoy. And another project I was working on fell apart. As this was happening, I worked with a Christian who shared Scripture with me about how God had a plan and purpose for my life. Even though I found him irritating, the Scriptures piqued my interest because they provided hope for a meaningful life.

When I went to church with him for the first time, I met dozens of young adults with the same desire. To be told week after week that our lives could be significant was like a drug. But, as with all drugs, there was a price. That price was to leave your individuality at the door and conform to what church leadership expected of you, to do as you were told, all in the name of serving the omniscient, omnipotent God.

When I converted to Christianity in 1992, I had been through a series of stressful circumstances and was looking for some stability in my life, and a sense of purpose. The church movement I joined preached that not only were we a family of believers who would be together in this world and for eternity, we were “called” by God for a purpose. That purpose was to establish God’s kingdom on earth.

How did you get involved in anti-LGBT groups?

I spent my early years as a Christian working in college campus ministry in California. There wasn’t much reason to mention my lesbian past, except on rare occasions when talking to students on campus who took issue with our interpretations of biblical passages condemning homosexual sex.

A church friend of mine who was politically active mentioned me to a friend who produced a cable TV show. He invited me to participate in a panel to talk about homosexuality and changing from gay to straight. I did, and the producer recommended me to a Christian group as a speaker for one of their events. After hearing me speak, I was asked by a large donor to pro-family groups to make a video of my speech for Gary Bauer [former director of Family Research Council], and for Focus on the Family. I was invited to D.C. for an interview with FRC after Gary Bauer saw this video. While at FRC, I wrote policy papers, spoke at conferences and other events, participated in state and national congressional briefings, lobbied swing voters and did TV, radio and print interviews.

And how did your views come to change?

From time to time, I was plagued with prickly feelings of unease. I remember speaking at Dartmouth College in 2000, I think it was, and feeling that I didn’t want to be there. A student group had invited me to speak, which outraged other members of the student body. I understood their indignation. I understood that when I said I used to be gay and wasn’t anymore, I was insulting LGBT students by implying that they could change, too. And even though I cried in my hotel room that night, this life of an evangelical Christian, “pro-family” activist was my identity. It’s where I fit.

A few years later, I had occasional bouts of free-floating anxiety, seemingly unrelated to anything in my daily life. It was as if something was “off,” but I couldn’t identify what it was, or I refused to identify it, a sort of willful denial. Then my husband and I discovered that the church movement we were a part of was terribly corrupt. We had seen the manipulation and control that were a staple of how the leaders kept the followers in line, but we didn’t realize that the financial corruption ran deep, as well. We blew the whistle on this organization, but churches aren’t subject to much financial accountability, so nothing happened. After that, it was impossible for me to trust another church leader.

Then, in the spring of 2009, my 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. After she spent a month in the hospital before returning home for 28 months of treatment, I went to a psychologist for help with the overwhelming anxiety I felt. She told me that anxiety can also arise when you are living incongruously from your true self, and living according to someone else’s expectations of you. At that point, I started on a personal journey to figure out who I really was.

Have you had conversion therapy?

I never sought therapy from a licensed professional in an attempt to change my orientation. Professionals were considered unnecessary by the church movement I was a part of.
When I first became a Christian, I was assigned a “discipler,” or a mentor who held me accountable for reading the Bible and praying, attending church and Bible studies, and for appropriate behavior. Several months later, I was assigned a new discipler who told me she saw a “spirit of homosexuality” in me.

She and my previous discipler confronted me and accused me of deceiving them by not admitting the depth and extent to which I had been involved in sinful homosexual behavior. Together they laid hands on me and cast out the spirit of homosexuality, replacing it with a spirit of purity. I was then told that I was under “quarantine,” that I couldn’t leave the house where I lived with other young women from the church. I was only allowed to go to work, read my Bible, and pray until they decided I wasn’t a threat to any of the other young women.

In your experience, is ex-gay therapy effective?

I spent 20 years in the Christian world and I have never seen anyone’s sexual orientation change. I’ve seen men and women with same-sex attractions marry people of the opposite sex, and even have children. But no one I knew personally ever lost their attractions to the same sex.

Why, in your experience, is ex-gay therapy so important to the religious right?

You’re not going to convince people that LGBT rights should be denied based on someone else’s religious beliefs; evangelical Christian activists know this. So it became convenient to come up with arguments based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was meant to prohibit discrimination by establishing protected classes based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion or sect, and gender.

What gives these classes the right to protection, according to analysts, is a history of discrimination, economic disadvantages, and immutable characteristics. (That last can’t, of course, be said for religion. But freedom of religion is already guaranteed under the First Amendment.)

If some people could change from gay to straight, then same-sex attractions can’t be considered immutable, which means that gay men and lesbians don’t fit into the civil rights category of unchangeable characteristics. Their romantic and sexual behaviors can be considered a choice, not an inevitability. If religious-right activists can show that it’s not only possible to change from gay to straight, but that many people have done it and are living happy, healthy heterosexual lives, or even lives that aren’t gay, then they’ve made their point that rights are not necessary for sexual minorities.

What’s your take on ex-gay therapy now?

Ex-gay therapy is a political tool of the so-called pro-family organizations to deny LGBT rights, and it’s also a way to convince the Christian faithful, those who fill the pews every Sunday, that while denying LGBT rights seems unfair, it’s actually the best thing for what they consider to be “sexual deviants.”
What makes ex-gay therapy so devastating is that people are taught to believe that there is something wrong with them that needs healing. The message that resounds like a relentless drumbeat is that you aren’t good enough, and you need to change. It isn’t hard to imagine the effect this has on LGBT people, which is why all the major mental and medical health organizations have deemed sexual orientation change therapy efforts not only ineffective, but damaging.

Has anyone from the organizations with which you worked spoken with you since your most recent public statements?

Some people have been supportive, while others have lashed out against me. It’s something I knew would happen, so I was prepared for every type of reaction. The difficult part has been losing friends and losing a way of life I had known for 20 years.
The prevailing response, however, has been one of sadness and regret for what they perceive to be my recalcitrant views. One woman sent me an E-mail imploring me to re-think. Then she invoked my daughter’s cancer, saying, “The God of the universe has rescued your child. He has mercy on us all, and that is our constant hope.” I’m not sure what she meant by that, but I found it subtly manipulative, as if implying that God could easily take my daughter’s life if I chose not to comply with evangelical fundamentalist dogma.
To suggest that God might decide to kill my daughter if I don’t march in lockstep with patriarchal, misogynistic and homophobic interpretations of the Bible is not only spiritually insulting, it is morally outrageous.

What do you feel is the future of the ex-gay movement?

I think the ex-gay movement will be dead within the next 10 years. As churches become more gay-affirming, parents and church leaders won’t seek parachurch ministries to “fix” in gay Christians what isn’t broken. The fact that the ex-gay movement has been a monumental failure with no real, lasting change in those who have sought to negate same-sex attractions and become heterosexual will become more and more apparent to the average lay Christian. This is especially true in the age of social media, when information spreads like wildfire and can’t easily be suppressed. I’m sure there will be pockets of people here and there who will still try to change someone’s orientation. But the movement as a relevant entity in the push for LGBT rights will be defunct.

May 3, 2014

Ex Gays-Ex Exodus-Religion-Gays

gay,exgay,gay, Johm Paulk   (pic by John Paulk)
On a Tuesday evening nearly 14 years ago, John Paulk walked into a gay bar in Washington, D.C. At another time in his life, Paulk would have fit right in. But in 2000, Paulk’s life as an openly gay man was far behind him. He was then one of the most prominent so-called ex-gays in the country, only two years removed from appearing on the cover of Newsweek, posing with his smiling wife for an article about gay conversion therapy.
At 37, Paulk had spent the prior 13 years involved with Exodus International, one of the largest and most influential ex-gay organizations in the world. He married another ex-gay, Anne, and together they rose through the ranks, becoming leaders and eventually the faces of a movement that attracted thousands with its message that, if they tried hard enough, gay and lesbian people could become happy heterosexuals. “Change is possible” was their rallying cry. You just needed to surrender yourself to God. Look at us, they said to rooms of thousands. Look how happy we are.
 “We were all over the world. We had been on every show, People magazine,GQ, Time, Newsweek, every newspaper. We wrote three books, toured Europe speaking,” Paulk tells Newsweek. Today, Paulk is openly gay again, divorced and running a catering business in Portland, Oregon. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was trying hard to keep the closet door closed, while preaching a message of ex-gay deliverance from within it. Exodus International was bigger than ever. It served as the umbrella organization for hundreds of ex-gay ministries spread across several countries, some of which performed “reparative” therapy, and all of which preached a message of “healing” the “developmental condition” of gayness through prayer.
Far-right groups including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association pooled $600,000 to place ads promising the effectiveness of reparative therapy in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Anne and John Paulk smiled from full-page newspaper spreads.
In front of the crowds and cameras, Paulk was the image of certainty. But backstage, he was faltering. More than that, he knew he was lying.
“It’s funny, for those of us that worked in it, behind closed doors, we knew we hadn't really changed,” he says. “Our situations had changed—we had gotten married, and some of us had children, so our roles had changed. I was a husband and father; that was my identity. And the homosexuality had been tamped down. But you can only push it down for so long, and it would eke its way out every so often.”
When Paulk walked into that gay bar in 2000, someone recognized him and phoned Wayne Besen, a gay rights activist who now runs the nonprofit Truth Wins Out. Besen rushed over and snapped a picture. In the ensuing scandal, Paulk initially claimed he just went in to use the bathroom, and didn’t know it was a gay bar. But really, he was aching just to be in a welcoming environment.
“I went to a gay bar—not looking for sex, which is what people thought—but because I was missing my community. I was looking to sit in a place with people I felt comfortable with, and that was other gay people,” Paulk says. Though he continued to take speaking engagements, by 2003, he was burned out.
“I would be in hotel rooms, and I would be on my face sobbing and crying on the bed,” he says. “I felt like a liar and a hypocrite. Having to go out and give hope to these people. I was in despair knowing that what I was telling them was not entirely honest. I couldn’t do it anymore.”
Even in its earliest days, Exodus’s philosophy—that same-sex attraction meant a person was “broken” and could be “fixed”—was undermined by the reality of its members’ actions. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, two of the co-founders, left the movement in 1979 to be in a committed relationship with one another. (Bussee has spent the decades since actively fighting Exodus’s message.) John Evans, one of the founders of Love in Action (LIA), an early ex-gay ministry that helped establish Exodus in 1974, left LIA after a friend committed suicide over his distress at being unable to change his sexual orientation. "They're destroying people's lives,” Evans told The Wall Street Journal in 1993. “They're living in a fantasy world.” (LIA has since changed its name to Restoration Path.)
But there was a time, from the early 1980s all the way through the mid-2000s, when the ex-gay movement appeared to be flourishing. There were the aforementioned newspaper ads, and the big crowds at conferences and speaking events. The Exodus Global Alliance (the organization’s international outreach arm) established ministries in 18 countries, and in 2006, President George W. Bush invited Alan Chambers, Exodus's president, and Randy Thomas, Exodus’s director of membership, to the White House to lobby for Bush’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. The rightward shift of American conservatism and debate over gay marriage brought fringe organizations like Focus on the Family, which was closely connected to Exodus, into the news spotlight again and again.
But all the far-right funding and rapid expansion did little more than prop up a withering institution. A series of scandals chipped away at the ex-gay movement’s veneer of success.
First came the photo of Paulk in the gay bar. Then in 2003, Michael Johnston, founder of “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day,” was found to have infected men he’d met online with HIV through unprotected sex. John Smid, who joined LIA in 1986 and eventually became its executive director, left the organization in 2008. Three years later, Smid wrote on his blog that he "never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual," and that reorientation is impossible, because being gay is intrinsic.
Then it crumbled further. In 2012, psychologist Robert Spitzer—one of the leaders of the successful push in the 1970s for the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a disease—retracted a controversial study, published in 2003, often cited by the ex-gay community that had concluded some “highly motivated” individuals could change their sexual orientation. Spitzer wrote an apology to LGBT people who “wasted time and energy” on reparative therapy.
By that time, policy within Exodus began to genuinely shift. “We renounced and forbid reparative therapy,” in 2012, Chambers tells Newsweek. “And there was an enormous split inside Exodus. Many who were more fundamentalist in approach had already broken off and formed Restored Hope Network.” Anne Paulk, John’s ex-wife, was one of those who left. She currently serves as executive director of Restored Hope, whose website harkens back to the early days of Exodus, claiming that those with same-sex attraction are “broken” and can “become who they are” under the guidance of Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that Restored Hope’s board is composed almost entirely of ex-Exodus members, the website makes no mention of the older organization.
Anne Paulk did not respond to Newsweek’s questions on the subject, although she did email Newsweek a statement in which she declared “We, at Restored Hope, are happy to continue to care for those who are seeking help in aligning their life with classical Christian sexual ethics. Although some choose to return to homosexuality, others who have chosen to leave that same life and thrive. My life would be one example of the latter.”
The members of Exodus International who were on board with Chambers’s decision to renounce conversion therapy remained until June 2013, when he shut down operations for good. According to Chambers, once he realized there would be no way to separate Exodus from its “sordid history,” the only option was to shut the doors. On disbanding, Chambers issued a deeply apologetic press release, stating, “I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.”
Today, Chambers says that Exodus’s focus on conversion therapy was unplanned and spun out of control. “I never liked the term ex-gay,” he says. “I never wanted to be an ex-gay. I just simply wanted Exodus to be an organization that helped people live in congruence with their own lives and goals.”
Other organizations, however, have filled the void left in Exodus’s wake. The Restored Hope Network has taken up the mantle of conservative Christian conversion. And in October 2013, a newly formed group, Voice of the Voiceless, hosted its “First Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Dinner and Reception” that attracted about 60 Christian leaders and ex-gay individuals.
Then there is Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, a nonprofit created in 1999 by two New Jersey parents who each had a gay son. In November 2012, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sued JONAH and one of its counselors on behalf of four men who underwent conversion therapy in the late 2000s. The lawsuit alleged that JONAH violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and used invalid practices to try to “fix something that isn’t broken.”
JONAH told Newsweek in an email that it “doesn't ‘fix’ anything.” According to co-directors Elaine Berk and Arthur Goldberg, JONAH “refers individuals to independent counselors who employ frequently used techniques to help a person deal with painful issues in their life. These techniques are designed to help people feel better about themselves and to live a life consistent with their religious and personal values. The result is often a diminution of their unwanted same-sex attraction.”
The Superior Court of New Jersey rejected JONAH’s motion to dismiss in the summer of 2013; Sam Wolfe, SPLC senior staff attorney, expects the case to go to trial in early 2014. Wolfe also notes that since the lawsuit got under way, a number of other individuals have approached SPLC with potential cases of their own.
In the meanwhile, criticism directed towards JONAH has come from within the religious community, as well; when the lawsuit was filed, the Rabbinical Council of America (one of the most influential Orthodox Jewish organizations in the country) immediately distanced itself from JONAH,reaffirming that, based on the current scientific evidence, they did not endorse gay conversion therapy. (On the other hand, the Torah Declaration, a statement of support, has been signed by many prominent members of the Jewish religious right.)
Lastly, there’s the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), founded in 1992 by psychologist Joseph Nicolosi. NARTH considers itself the foremost secular proponent of conversion therapy; it counts hundreds of well-credentialed mental health professionals among its ranks and has issued a number of white papers on the subject. It too, however, has suffered in the public eye in recent years: In 2007, NARTH therapist Chris Austin was convicted of sexually assaulting a client, and sentenced to 10 years in prison; in 2010, NARTH board member George Rekers was found to have employed a male prostitute as a companion for a two-week European vacation; and in 2012 the Internal Revenue Servicerevoked NARTH’s nonprofit status for not properly filing its paperwork.
Paulk left Exodus in 2003. He cautions against “speaking for everybody,” but says in his more than two decades of watching people undergo ex-gay therapy, the “large majority” of people he met “did not change one iota.” Paulk remained silent for a decade, until he issued a formal apology last year. "I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, " Paulk wrote in a statement. "I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.”
 Today, Paulk strongly believes that no child or teen should be put through any type of “treatment” for their sexual orientation. On the other hand, he says adults should have the right to pursue any therapy they choose. “If I go see a therapist because I am uncomfortable with homosexual feelings or attractions and I do not feel that those are compatible with who I see myself to be, [I] should have the right to determine the course of [my] therapy,” Paulk says. “However, I completely draw the line when it comes to minors.”
The tragedy that Paulk lives with to this day is that organizations like JONAH often specifically target minors, with summer camps and teen programs. “For 25 years I felt guilty and filled with self-loathing, trying to reject this part about myself. I’m culpable—I spread the message that my sexuality had changed, and I used my marriage as proof of that,” Paulk says.
That marriage ended recently. Anne and John now share joint custody of their three teenage sons. At 51, Paulk is living as an openly gay man for the first time since he entered the ex-gay ministry at the age of 24. Paulk said despite the fact that his decision to live a life true to himself was difficult and was accompanied by significant risk (not the least of which was breaking up his family), it was well worth it. During his 10-year silence, Paulk went to culinary school and opened a catering company in Portland. He says he is now “thriving.”
Paulk’s story echoes those of many others whose lives were damaged by the shame, guilt, and self-loathing that marked their involvement with ex-gay therapy, and who overcame their past to eventually live life as their LGBT selves. In 2007, the website Beyond Ex-Gay was founded by Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke, who both were part of Exodus. The site collects first-person narratives from “ex-ex-gays.” Among them is Darlene Bogle, who was a leader in Exodus until 1990, when she fell in love with a woman who attended one of her ex-gay meetings.
“There were a lot of people in leadership positions [in Exodus] who still felt that they were gay but could not admit it,” Bogle tells Newsweek. “We learned to lie.”
Like many, Bogle wanted so badly to change her orientation that she convinced herself that if she just kept saying she was ex-gay, and didn’t actually have any sexual relationships with women, then she actually was ex-gay.  “But the things you do do not change who you are,” she says. “Even if I was not sexual at all, I would still be a lesbian. I just wish more people had a grasp of that truth.”
Bogle, too, regrets the role she played with Exodus.
“In just trying to help, I did immeasurable harm,” she says. “It’s like when children are molested, and they live with that for their entire lives. They’re still being harmed, even though it happened years ago. I think it’s a lot like what happens when people are involved in ex-gay ministry.”
Bogle and Paulk’s beliefs are held widely by both public health officials and lawmakers. Today, state-level legislators across the country are beginning to push forward rules meant to protect minors from this potential damage. Both California and New Jersey have officially banned gay conversion therapy for minors. In Washington, a bill has already passed in the House by a 94–4 vote and awaits approval by the state Senate. A similar bill was introduced earlier this year in both houses of the New York state legislature, where it still awaits a vote. And lawmakers have announced they will be pushing anti-conversion-therapy laws in FloridaMassachusettsMinnesotaOhio and Pennsylvania.
On an individual level, many ex-ex-gays are trying to repair the damage they believe they caused while complicit in ex-gay messaging. Bogle, for her part, has written two books about how being gay and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive.  
“I’m trying to go back, to try to bring healing to those who believed my lie,” she says. “It’ll take the rest of my life. I’ll be 70 this year. I just hope God lets me live long enough to let me do it.”
Paulk, meanwhile, hopes his story encourages others to overcome their own fears and uncertainties. “It’s difficult, but worth it at the end of the day because of the peace that comes with it. It’s happy on the other side.”

November 23, 2013

USAF Defend their Action Appointing ex-gay Counselor for the Academy

An email from an athletic trainer at the U.S. Air Force Academy pledging to “talk about Jesus Christ” at work does not reflect Air Force policy, the academy said, but the official will not be disciplined.
“Mr. Allen Willoughby does not speak for the Air Force’s Academy and we absolutely do not tolerate proselytizing among our ranks,” said a statement emailed Tuesday to JTA.
Willoughby this month emailed Mikey Weinstein, who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, or MRFF, an organization that exposes and advocates against proselytizing in the military.
“God will always be a part of the U.S. Military even when you are gone to meet him face to face,” the foundation quoted the email as saying in a statement. “I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with.”
The U.S. Air Force Academy spokesman, John Van Winkle, said Willoughby would not be disciplined and noted that Willoughby sent “an e-mail to the MRFF in his personal capacity and not as a representative of the Air Force’s Academy or the Prep School.”
Weinstein said in a statement that he wanted Willoughby to face disciplinary hearings.
“We want an apology to me, my family and the foundation, and we want him disciplined,” he said.
The MRFF in response posted a billboard at an intersection in Colorado Springs, Colo. where the Academy is located. It features a U.S. flag made up of crucifixes and quotes Willoughby, and then adds: “We get it, but we won’t tolerate it!”

 Below Rachel Maddow dishes out the details on how the USAF Academy is being fought for defending their actions like “All is quiet on the northern front.” Is anything but quiet is anything but wrong what the academy has done.

November 22, 2013

UK Health Minister: Ex-Gay Therapy “Utterly Abhorrent"

UK health minister Norman Lamb labelled ex-gay therapy "utterly abhorrent" but ruled out banning the practice during a Nov 20 debate in parliament, Pink News reports.  
In October, Labour MP Geraint Davies proposed a bill to ban ex-gay therapy. The measure has the support of MPs among the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru (described as a Centre-left party in Wales) and his own Labour Party. According to Pink News, Davies suggested making regulation compulsory as a means to ending the practice.
But during Wednesday's debate, Lamb rejected the introduction of a regulatory framework for dealing with the practice as inappropriate, saying that it would incur costs to taxpayers that could not be justified, Pink News adds. 
More than 50 MPs signed a motion in June against the practice. The motion states in part, “This House believes that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not a disease or illness and that therapy which attempts to cure or change a person’s sexual orientation is both ineffective and potentially extremely harmful.”
It also calls on the government to "investigate any NHS [National Health Service] links with conversion therapists, ensuring that NHS medical professionals cannot inflict this cruel treatment on their patients and to take steps to ban conversion therapy for under-18s.”
Lamb said he isn't aware that the NHS sanctions ex-gay therapy. He adds that government would proceed with the introduction of a voluntary register for psychotherapists, who aren't regulated. 
In an opinion piece published on the Pink News site, Davies' Labour colleague Sandra Osborne further criticized Lamb's approach, saying conversion therapy "belongs in the history books." With the legalization of gay marriage, the focus must now be on ensuring that public services respond to, not undermine, LGBT people's needs, Osborne writes. Osborne had called for the parliamentary debate.
She adds, “Gay conversion therapy is just one aspect of this wider problem we have: some medical professionals just don’t know what to do if a gay person comes to their clinic expressing an uneasiness about their sexuality.”

November 21, 2013

Rachel Maddow Unleashes Her Anger at USAF (ex-gay) Cadet-Counselor Head

Out MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow filed an impressively in-depth report on the state of the GOP's current antigay animus on hereponymous show last night
Maddow opened by taking to task the U.S. Air Force, which recently confirmed that the man leading its mandatory cadet counseling program has spent the past two decades of his career advocating the scientifically debunked, harmful process of "ex-gay" or "reparative therapy." Our colleagues at sibling site The Advocate reported on those allegations yesterday, first broken byAmericaBlog's John Aravosis. 
"What were they thinking in hiring this guy?" asks Maddow, incredulous. "Did the Air Force hire him despite this area of expertise, or did they hire him because this is actually what they wanted?"
In uncovering Dr. Mike Rosebush's professional background, Maddow notes that the antigay scientist authored at least two books on how to rid oneself of "unwanted homosexual desires." One of those, a "handbook" for "overcoming" a gay or lesbian sexual orientation, was co-authored by disgraced researcher and former board member of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, George Rekers. You might recall his name from the infamous "RentBoy" scandal, when the leading proponent of therapy that supposedly turns gay people straight was found returning from a European trip with a young, handsome call boy. Rekers claimed he hired the strapping young lad from to "carry his luggage," but the young man contended that Rekers instead requested intimate massages. 
Maddow then turns her attention to the "Radically antigay politics [that] are in ascendance in the Republican party." Touching on the very public feud between the Cheney family over marriage equality. 
Next, Maddow reports on yesterday's decision from the Texas National Guard that it will continue to defy direct orders from the Pentagon ordering all Guard units to extend spousal benefits to the partners of legally married gay and lesbian soldiers. 
"In Texas, the political calculation is that it is more important to be antigay than to support the troops."
But ending on a positive note, Maddow sits down with Illinois governor Pat Quinn, who is scheduled to sign marriage equality legislation into law this afternoon. 
Watch the entire segment below. 

March 21, 2013

Gov. Christie Plays ‘Im a Moron’ Card with Gay Conversions

Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he's undecided on whether the state should ban the controversial use of "gay conversion therapy,"but the Republican governor still opposes same-sex marriage.
Christie said that he knows little about the method. California enacted a law prohibiting the practice, but a federal court has blocked its implementation.
"I'm of two minds just on this stuff in general," he said at a news conference at Stone Harbor Elementary School. "Number one, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children. I don't — this is a general philosophy, not to his bill — generally philosophically, on bills that restrict parents ability to make decisions on how to care for their children, I'm generally a skeptic of those bills. Now, there can always be exceptions to those rules and this bill may be one of them."
As is his practice with most legislation, Christie said he had yet to look at the bill and won't until it gets to his desk.
 After a hearing in Trenton on Monday, the Senate’s health committee approved a bill that would ban licensed counselors from using “conversion therapy” on gays. Supporters called the practice damaging and demoralizing, while bill opponents accused state lawmakers of interfering with the counselor-patient relationship and intruding on parents' rights.
Asked about Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's decision this week to support same-sex marriage after his son revealed to him he is gay, Christie praised Portman, a Republican, in general, but didn't budge on his stance.
"But as far as how it affects my view, no," Christie said, "because that question implies that somehow this is a political judgment and for me it's not."
UPDATE: Democratic challenger Barbara Buono today said Christie should have outright denounced gay conversion therapy, instead of saying he needed to learn more before supporting a ban.
“Gay children don’t need to be cured,” she told reporters on a conference call. She called the practice “nothing short of child abuse" and “a cruel and damaging practice of trying to shame children into being someone they’re not."
Buono, a state senator from Middlesex County, said Christie’s decisions are dictated by how the national GOP will react.
“The governor said he doesn’t know much about gay conversion therapy. I don’t know how much more you need to know,” she said. “I couldn’t believe the stunning level of ignorance that that statement showed.”

February 7, 2013

The Grindr Was More Powerful Than Religion For This ExgayExStraight

The powers of religion may not have been enough to veer an “ex-gay” Christian advocate away from gay hook-up app Grindr.
Matt Moore, a blogger for the Christian Post who has said Christianity helped him to turn away from his homosexual tendencies, was exposed actively using his Grindr account, according to Freethought blog writer Zinnia Jones.

The “ex-gay” promoter admitted to using Grindr: “I am wrong in having been on grindr. I haven’t changed my views on homosexuality, the bible, etc.,” he told Jones.
“Creating a grindr profile and talking to guys on it was major disobedience on my part….disobedience to Christ. Disobedience to a loving and gracious God. Thankfully, I believe that He forgives me for this disobedience. I believe the blood of Christ covers this disobedience. And I won’t be on grindr again….ever.”

He promised that this will be his last time using the gay hook-up app: “Thankfully, I believe that He forgives me for this disobedience. I believe the blood of Christ covers this disobedience. And I won’t be on grindr again….ever.”

Moore explains in one of his blog posts that he “never really thought, ‘I want God to cure me of my homosexuality,’” but he’s also “able to see clearly that the homosexual feelings I have are a perversion of the gift of sex that God gave mankind.:

The “ex-gay” Christian advocate had gone as far as doing interviews with Christian websites on how his homosexuality was cured through religion.

Written by Sergio N. Candido

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