"Freedom March" Celebrates Freedom from...Crowds?

When you read “ex-gay” marketing materials, you’re given the impression, either directly or by not-subtle insinuation, that thousands of people have successfully changed their sexual orientation.

When you listen to Fundamental preachers and evangelists, they adamantly proclaim that multitudes have found freedom from homosexuality.

When you hear “ex-gay” leaders, they will insist they know hundreds who’ve “walked away from the gay lifestyle.”

(Thank God for vague, nebulous, impossible-to-verify words like “many” and “countless” and “numerous.”)

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Last week, several of these “ex-gay” groups held the much-touted Freedom March in Washington, DC.  
This is how it was promoted on the Facebook Page:

HISTORY IN THE MAKING
To those who have bought the lie that we don’t exist...
The ex-gay movement is stronger than ever.
We are great in numbers and only growing!

Tagline: “A celebration of freedom from homosexuality and trangenderism.”

On May 5, this history-making, “great in numbers,” “growing” movement came together to celebrate their successful transition into elite ex- people. (Not to be confused with the X-Men!) They are, according to their testimonies, their videos, their website and their new documentary: ex-gay, ex-lesbian, ex-queer, ex-transgender. 

There were thousands in attendance.
Technically...no.

Hundreds showed up. 
Uhm...not exactly.

Well, okay…less than FIFTY people were there!
(But if we count the conference speakers and entertainers, the band, and the media, I’m sure it could be classified as a multitude!)

Background: One of the primary promoters and organizers of Freedom March is a group called Voice of the Voiceless. In the past, they held a Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, predicting hundreds would gather to proclaim the reality of sexual orientation change. Only 15 people showed up, which included reporters or staff. Another of their much-hyped events, “Ex-Gay Pride,” apparently got little support or interest, so it was abruptly cancelled. A press release blamed “anti-ex-gay extremist threats.” One year an award to an individual who exemplified the “ex-gay” message. He later admitted he continued to “slip up” and have sex with guys.

The Freedom March, like the organizations and folks behind it, is more hype than reality.

They pretend—something they are adept at doing—this event wasn’t about promoting “ex-gay” treatments. The initiator and organizer of the event is Jeffrey Mccall, founder of For Such a Time Ministry and self-proclaimed “former transgender,” said: “Please hear our testimonies and know we are not about conversion therapy. We are about the transformation power of Jesus Christ.”

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That’s not completely accurate.
Just a cursory visit to the Freedom March Facebook page shows pictures and testimony videos of individuals who swear they’ve changed, and tag lines that promised “God can change anyone” and “Homosexuals can change.” 
Make no mistake: this entire event was a day-long commercial for “conversion therapy,” which is just an updated, more formal term for “ex-gay” therapy.

Aside from “freedom,” the purpose was also to focus on a recurring themes of these groups: how mistreated they are.

We truly hope that through this March and this movement, people will learn to be more accepting of former homosexuals and transgenders, and stop stifling our voices for fear of our influence.

Yes, they are upset at being silenced.
After all, they’ve worked diligently to deny and suppress their unwanted sexual orientation or gender identity, and feel they aren’t getting the recognition and accolades they deserve. Never mind that science, historic evidence, and research doesn’t support their claim, they are convinced of their reality, and everyone should listen to them. 
One speaker called said “ex-gays” were “misunderstood and hated like no other.”

They are being maligned.
They complained about states passing laws forbidding the use of their snake oil on minors. They exaggerate (i.e., lie!) the situation and what it means. (e.g., “California wants to ban the sale of Bibles.”)

They are the victims here.
(Not the ones who’ve been subjected to this bogus therapy, and been severely damaged by it. Not the ones who’ve chosen suicide because they couldn’t change.)

They moan, they gripe, they whine.
And we are supposed to listen.

But truthfully, many of us have listened. For 30+ years, we’ve listened.
We’re heard their false message of change.
They want to be heard, but they really have nothing new to say.

The stories shared at the Freedom March are not unlike the hundreds I’ve heard. They carry similar messages—drug addiction, destructive behaviors, life out of control, sexual compulsions. Now they’ve cleaned up their life, and they’re “ex-gay.” 
I’m thankful for their recovery, but please stop equating such behavior with what it means to be gay! (I encourage you to read my post on How to Listen to an “Ex-Gay” Testimony, which has been featured on several national platforms and publications.)

I’ve been called a hater of these groups, and those who participate.
Please hear me: That’s not true.
I was there once myself.

I am not doubting the sincerity of many of those in attendance, or those who shared their story. I just think they are sincerely wrong.
(That said, I’ve made it clear what I think of the leaders in this movement.)

I know the attraction of these group and their promises.

For example, one of the speakers was Luis Ruiz, who survived the Pulse nightclub massacre. In his own words: “I remember my struggles of perversion, heavy drinking to drown out everything and having promiscuous sex that led to HIV…The enemy had its grip…I should have been number 50 but now I have the chance to live…being in love with Christ and sharing His love. I know who I am and I am not defined with who the enemy says I use to be - but who Christ Jesus says I am.”

This is a tragic story, from a hurting young man who was traumatized by a horrific experience. 
He lost friends that night, and surely suffers with survivors' guilt. Probably PTSD.  
Since the shooting, he’s undoubtedly heard those who died deserved their fate because of their "sin" and their "lifestyle."
Reading his "testimony," it's similar to so many I've heard over the years: drugs, alcohol, religious pressure, demonic influence, a personal health crisis.
These "ex-gay" groups are a magnet for such desperate folks.
They use words like "healing" and "wholeness" and "change."

Personal Note: I hope this young man gets the help the needs and deserves. I hope he gets proper medical treatment for his HIV, and his addictions.
Sadly, I’m certain he won't find that long-term, lasting "change" in sexual orientation he's now touting so confidently.
I pray he finds peace and reconciliation in a settled assurance that God created him, God loves him, and God accepts him...just the way he is!!

The “historic” Freedom March is over. (If you blinked, you missed it!)
Having worked for several years in meeting and event planning, I can only imagine the amount of money that was invested…and lost…in this endeavor.
By all external evidence (not that evidence matters to these folks), it was a failure.

But we should not be dismayed.
They are assuring us that, just like all those folks who are free from their former homosexuality, the Freedom March was a rousing success.

WOW!!! God did something amazing today. Thank you thank, you THANK YOU to all of our amazing speakers, organizers, musicians and prayer warriors who made [Freedom March] possible.

What can I add to that?
Amen, and hallelujah!