Unmasking the "Ex-Gay" Deception
In my second book, The Mind Set on the Flesh, one of the themes involves “healing” homosexuals, often call Reparative or Conversion Therapy, but generally known simply as “ex-gay” treatments. In the (mostly) fictional story, a number of rather EXTREME methods are used, including hypnosis, drugs, implanted memories, aversion therapy and shock treatments. While I freely admit the actual protocol used in my book comes from my active imagination, the pressure exerted on gay and lesbian people to deny, suppress, ignore or change their sexual orientation is very real. Moreover, these forms of (debunked) “therapy” have been shown to be harmful, especially to young people who are usually forced to submit by parents.
I was once involved in these programs, and ultimately began the Executive Director of an “ex-gay” ministry, a consultant for several national organizations, and had the opportunity to share my “personal testimony” to a national audience.
It’s not something I’m proud to admit.
I was locked in a narrow theological dogma regarding sin, with a narrow view of human sexuality not based in science, and I was caught up in the hype of vague promises made by these groups.
I was convinced I must change.
I was assured I could change.
I was afraid not to change.
I confessed that I was changed.
I felt guilty there was no change.
In this section, I’ll scrutinize various aspects of so-called “ex-gay” programs, people and ministries.
A Common Core Belief
I observe one primary presupposition of these groups, usually expressed in three key messages. This inflexible precept is not open for discussion or disagreement.
Four Functional Fallacies
The underlying premises and practices or these groups are problematic, and call into question their veracity.
The Promise of "Change"
Those who are convinced their sexual attractions should be changed are promised they can and will change. But what’s meant by the word “change?”
Damage and Danger
Not only are there fallacies in these programs, there are also some inherent dangers, making them not just wrong, but harmful.
Examining the Allure
There’s probably not one singular reason why people go to an "ex-gay" program, but from my research, I've determined at least four possible catalysts.
Those Testimonies of Success
I offer some possible explanations for those who claim success with "ex-gay" treatment, as well as suggestions for listening to their testimonies.
A Short History
While these groups promise change, and hype their substantial results, history doesn’t back up their claims…even from their own leadership.
I not only sought treatment to change my sexual orientation, I became the leader of an “ex-gay” ministry.
My Personal Apology
After leaving my leadership role in “ex-gay” ministry, I issued an apology for my involvement.
Medical and Mental Health Professionals Statements
Every major professional medical and mental health organization opposes attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation, and have issued official statements.
Links to others sites, books, etc.
For provide for conversation and interaction, I've included a Comment page.
I invite questions, discussion or opposing opinions, as long as they are presented respectfully, following the guidelines I’ve set up in my Rules of Engagement.
Clarification of Terminology: I know that many now use “reparative” or “conversion” therapy when talking about these treatments and programs. However, I’ll primarily use the old-school, generic term “ex-gay,” merely because for so many years, that’s the term those of us involved in the programs used to describe ourselves. It was our identity. We were once gay, but now we’re not. We are...ex-gay. And I think it keeps in focus what they are ultimately promising to those who come to them for help.
For the sake of simplicity, when I talk about “ex-gay” programs, I’m including a wide range of different entities: individuals, specialized ministries, workshops, online seminars, websites, counselors, churches, etc. My intention is not to make sweeping statements that would include everyone involved, but to offer some general observations based on what I’ve learned over decades.
Also, many years ago, I made a personal commitment to always use quotation marks when talking about these groups and programs. (e.g., "ex-gay") I never want to legitimize who they are or what they do, so I see the designation as significant.