Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shift at Exodus?

Lots in the news yesterday about a possible shift in focus at Exodus, or at least with Alan Chambers. See Ex-Gay Watch for details about the possibility that there is no such thing as an "ex-gay".

No doubt lots of discussion has gone on between folks at Exodus and concerned activists and citizens. IN the past few months Exodus president Alan Chambers has made some moves to better protect youth in their programs and has come out against bullying and homophobia.

All of this is welcomed news. Dialog helps us challenge our assumptions, stretch our thinking, consider new possibilities. I know that when I speak with people who identify as ex-gay or former homosexual (or whatever term they may prefer), I walk away with a deeper and broader understanding.

Some time ago I put out a call to Exodus leaders to hear the stories of survivors, people who attended Exodus programs for months, even years, and at the end of the day came away harmed more than helped. For some of us the process of recovery from our ex-gay experiences has taken years and will take plenty more time. We submitted ourselves to the care of people we trusted, people, who for the most part, intended to help us. But we walked away depressed, discouraged and depleted.

I don't know if there is a shift at Exodus. I know that there are ex-gay leaders who really care about people more than issues. These folks may not speak out in public much or get on national TV programs, but they are part of Exodus too and have been working behind the scenes for years to help move the organization back to the ministry roots and away from political lobbying.

In the past few years Exodus has intentionally shifted their focus to target youth with their own Exodus Youth MySpace page and of course Love in Action's Refuge program.

As of this moment if you go to the Refuge site, www.asafeplace.org, it looks much more understated than I ever remember it. I cannot easily find a reference to Refuge on Love in Action's pages. It is not listed as one of LIA's current programs, and I can't find a link on Exodus Youth. Has this program quietly ended? If so, this is a BIG shift.

Since I posted this earlier today the Refuge page has been taken down. You can see a cached page of what I saw this morning.

This is not about politics, about winning or losing. It is about people. There are people who do feel uncertain about their same-sex attractions. They feel this way for many reasons. In trying to sort these feelings out, folks have turned to Exodus, and although Alan still claims that hundreds of thousands have been helped (see video below), I imagine many more people have been harmed than helped. Even the help we received has not outweighed the harm.

My hope is that in Irvine we can continue the dialog.

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At 4:17 PM , Blogger Alex Resare said...

watched the clip and got physically nauseous. Didn't know what to say or even feel and it was a nice relief to watch the next clip from youtube in that new little bar in the bottom of the frame and got this from the ointment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Opvvqjz6trk

I really hope some change is coming. I know how much love and good will these persons really have so I want to believe that they in time acutally will stop and listen.

At 4:30 PM , Blogger Elliot Coale said...

I really hope that things are changing as well, Peterson. For everyone's sake. It's definitely time for that sort of shift, but I don't need to tell you that.

At 4:46 PM , Blogger Bruce Garrett said...

Firstly, the link to the refuge site on your blog isn't right. It's a mix of your blog's address and theirs. Secondly...

...when you correct it to www.asafeplace.org, you are redirected to another LIA page that says the page you have requested is no longer available. There is no mention of Refuge on their main page at first glance.

Hmmmmm..... Will dig more later...

At 4:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found that video extremely difficult to watch. I'm not really sure what to say - the music is still playing in the background and it seems to over ride anything rational I might have responded with.

This reminds me why I love silence quite so much.


At 5:37 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

Bruce, sorry for the bad link.
Fascinating that the page is not longer available. If you go to the cached page you can see what I saw this morning:

At 6:06 PM , Blogger Brian said...

I found Alan's blog (and a few others) right as this change in language was happening ... guess I jumped in at the right time.

I'm encouraged to see more honesty in their claims about change. I hope that soon an honest examination of the rationale for the need to change will come.

At 1:34 AM , Blogger Christine Bakke said...

That video was painful to see. It brought me right back to the time of listening, taking notes, trying to uncover all of my "roots," hearing these kind of "statistics" and having hope for my heterosexual future.

I also found it interesting that it was so upbeat, as I never got that from the ministries. Instead, I got that whole "struggling" mindset, and started looking at every relationship for the dreaded "emotional dependency" or "enmeshment."

I also learned that almost anything a straight Christian said to me was more important than my thoughts or feelings. That by virtue of being straight, they were automatically closer to God and could have an important say in my life. I learned that I could not be "holy" unless I pursued an ex-gay life.

I learned so much in my ex-gay years, much of which I am having to unlearn.

Painful to watch, but necessary I think. Sometimes it's good to remember from whence you came...

Also, I am so thrilled to hear that Refuge seems to have gone away. :) Your work is so important, Peterson.

At 1:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wise words, christine.

At 10:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments here are extremely HETEROPHOBIC!

At 12:40 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

anonymous, just because something is gay-affirming doesn't make it heterophobic. I have no beef with heterosexuals. Some of my best friends are heterosexuals. :-)

At 9:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

this Exodus clip:marketing campaign is slick-offers hope, and todays youth crave that more than anything else, especially in America. Perhaps it is not possible-to believe changing your true orientation is not possible- unless you try and struggle for years and have the bad memories and awful taste in your mouth from these programs. It is convenient to blame our innate sexual attraction/feelings for the deep depression, insecurity, and loneliness many of us face. Spiritual and self actualizing journey must take place..but with the oppression in this country towards homosexuals-oppression that these ministries unwittingly (and sometimes purposefully political) promote it makes that journey much more painful, difficult, and time consuming.

The word survivor is a meaningful one, because much like abused children who have been told they are lesser than other human beings, that they are worthless unless they fit their caretakers mold of who and how and what they should be (which is usually highly inconsistent and impossible to accomplish anyway) you take those messages into yourself and they color your perspective on everything in your life. it requires a lot of work to undo the programming, automatic thought processes, and the internalized disgust.

I assume ex-gays who find success are actually bisexual and focus on their monogamous heterosexual marriage and treat their SSA thoughts/impulses much the same as a spouse who has been straight all their life.

The thought that sexual attraction can be created, modified/influenced or controlled-without damage to a person is fascinating. Although it is obvious that reparative therapy and Christian ex-gay ministry is very damaging and psychologically unhealthy in their approach, and generally unsuccessful.

The primary difference between a sex therapist and a Reparative therapist..and why one is usually successful and the other is not...

One values the individual coming to know themselves, while the other values a set of rules that you must change parts of yourself-who you are-not just behavior-to conform to.

The Narth folks seem to have more credibility with their unsupported "research" on gender identity, and with their removal of biblical scripture towards a more inclusive *higher power* spiritual message. I'm guessing this approach is supposed to appeal to atheists and non-christians, by proving that homosexuality-and respecting a homosexuals choice to live their life and not be criminalized, dehumanized, or treated as a second class citizen-is bad for children and bad for society

This amuses me since I know a great many homosexuals who adhere to a moral code of conduct and family values that would put the right wing speechmakers to shame.


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