Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Open Invitation to Exodus Leaders

In regards to same sex attractions, the question has been debated over and over, Is Change Possible? but for many of us who attended Exodus programs, in some cases for years, the more important question is not about the possibility of change but the costs involved in pursuing that change. Change at what cost?

Next week many Exodus leaders, of both large and small ministries, will gather in Irvine for the Exodus Freedom Conference. A smaller conference will take place nearby where a group of ex-gay survivors along with concerned allies will meet to share and try to make sense of their own ex-gay histories.

These concurrent gatherings in the same city present us with wonderful opportunities to connect with each other. With that hope in mind, Christine Bakke and I, co-founders of BeyondExGay (bXg), issue the following open invitation to Exodus leaders.

We have already sent a signed copy of the invitation to Alan Chambers, president of Exodus along with an e-mail and will e-mail it to specific Exodus leaders we know. We also posted it on bXg. All Exodus leaders are invited. Please share this letter with any Exodus leader who may be in Irvine next week.

An Open Invitation to Exodus International for Dinner and Dialogue

Dear Exodus Leaders,

It is no coincidence that we scheduled the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference at the same time and in the same city as Exodus’ Freedom Conference. Although we do not wish to interrupt your gathering, we do long for the opportunity to connect with you. Many of us have spent months and years under your care in your ministries. We turned to you for help and received some good from our time under your care. Sadly our ex-gay experiences caused more harm than good, and for many of us we have needed years to recover.

We understand that this was not your intent. From knowing quite a few of you personally, we know that you have a heart to help people and to serve God. You meant to bless us.

Too often once we leave your programs, you never hear about our lives and what happens to us. Most ministries do not have aftercare programs or any formal means to follow-up on participants. Some stories you do not get to hear. If you do, our stories can be simplified by the press or infused with anger or hurt. In hopes of giving you the opportunity to hear about our experiences and the harm that we felt came to us as a result of our pursuit of an ex-gay life, we would like to invite you to join us for a private dinner on Friday, June 29, 2007.

The purpose of the dinner is to give you an opportunity to hear our stories. We do not wish to bash you, attack you or shame you. We simply desire to share our stories with you. No members of the press will be allowed into the dinner and it will not be recorded or filmed. We are hoping for a small gathering with a few ex-gay leaders and some ex-gay survivors. At the dinner a few of us will tell you our stories.

If you are interested in attending this dinner, please RSVP to


Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke

Ex-gay survivors and co-founders of

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At 8:13 AM , Blogger Allyson Dylan Robinson said...

I think this is lovely, Peterson, and more importantly, I think the time is *just right* for it. I'm praying it comes to pass.

At 10:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great chance to open doors once closed. I commend you on this effort and pray it goes well!

At 12:05 PM , Blogger grace said...

Peterson (and Christine),
What a beautiful beautiful way to extend the hand of fellowship. I will be praying it goes well. Wish I could be there!


At 11:48 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

Thanks ally, joe and grace.

Gosh ally, commented minutes after I posted! I must be on your RSS speed dial or something :-)

At 1:04 PM , Blogger Allyson Dylan Robinson said...

Peterson...two words: "Time. Machine." Don't tell anyone. =)

At 3:39 AM , Blogger Willie Hewes said...

Read about this on Box Turtle. (Do I check Box Turtle more than I check your blog? Oh noes!) I think it's an excellent initiative, and I hope the time is just right for it, too.

I feel like things are moving, somehow. I can't be there for the conference, of course, but please imagine me being there, cheerleading you all the way. Christine too. Go Christine!

At 8:19 PM , Blogger Jason said...

If I was a leader with Exodus International, I would surely show up for dinner to see you folks. I wish Tom and I could come to the conference. Sometime I will get to share my art and stuff there.
Jason Ingram - KY

At 1:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just added a link to this post in my recent post about Exodus's Freedom Conference. I will follow both conferences with interest.


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