Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ex-Gay Survivors Reaching Out

A few weeks ago on a phone call with ex-gay survivor Daniel Gonzales, he said something that resonated with me.
I didn't really understand my own ex-gay experiences and the harm until I began to speak out about them.
I totally get that. Writing and performing my play and sharing my story has helped me to unpack my experiences and understand why I put myself through so much trauma and allowed others to do horrible things to me in the name of God and recovery from homosexuality.

What I also see is that folks like Daniel, once they begin to tell their stories, then reach out to others in innovative ways. Daniel has done a series of excellent YouTube videos about the ex-gay movement including his most current one Dan's Wish List of Christmas Past. He also writes for the blog Box Turtle Bulletin and has made told his story in the media.

Athena McConnell, a lesbian, Christian and a wonderful writer (check out her poetry), recently blogged about some of her ex-gay experiences at former churches she attended. Some folks think that ex-gay ministry only happens in ex-gay programs, but so much happens under the radar through abusive and invasive practices like Athena describes in her piece, The Purple Heart of Ex-Gay
Church staff members began to shout tongues at me, and laid their hands on my forehead in order to cast demons from me. I didn’t know whether to cry, laugh, or scream, so I stayed emotionless, quiet, and scared.
Jallen Rix, another ex-gay survivor who attended and assisted with this summer's Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, has shared some of his story on the web and in the film Fish Can't Fly. He recently completed a university course making him an actual doctor of sexology. Armed with his degree and lots of helpful knowledge, he now offers private consultations and group work to ex-gay survivors, including his six-week class "Ex-Gay?" No Way! Most recently he has been taken on as's Gay Sexpert and published an excellent piece Am I "Normal?"

Take, for example, gender. The first thing you ask a new mother: "Is it a boy or a girl?" If you met someone a year ago, you may not remember the person's name. You may not even remember the person's hair or eye color. But without fail, you remember the person's gender.

There's nothing wrong with these details per se. Just notice how our thinking is heavily influenced by gender -- even before a person leaves the womb. Furthermore, sexologist Dr. Charlie Moser believes that when a minority gains some degree of acceptance in society, it's then easy for that minority to oppress the next. We have seen this when some black communities align themselves with the religious right to condemn queers. We have seen it in our own community's struggle to understand transgendered and bisexual people.

I love how Jallen takes on the issues of gender and identity and I expect he will offer lots of useful advice to the LGBT communities.

Another ex-gay survivor who I met this year and who reaches out regularly through his blog and videos is Vincent Cervantes. In his most recent post hetakes on Marriage and the Bible
and even includes a list of the eight types of marriages in the Bible:
  • Nuclear, traditional model - one man and one woman
  • Polygamy - extremely common, Abraham to Solomon
  • Levirate marriage - law to ensure male progeny, "widow marriage"
  • Bond marriage - made female slaves of the primary wife a wives as well
  • Concubine tenure - matirmony minus the designation and certain privileges
  • Forced servitude, war conquests - conditional on sexual status of victim, virgins only
  • Slavery - patriarchal society, women were property, and so on
  • Rape - perpertrators had to pay a a dowry to avoid penalty (Deuteronomy 22:28-29; 50 shekels dowry)
Christine Bakke has been working hard these past few months to process her ex-gay experiences through her art. In addition to curating Beyond Ex-Gay's on-line gallery she has done moving and insightful art that she has posted on her blog. See Reason and Art, Remember Pearl Harbor and In Mesh.

Yesterday I wrote about recent updates to the Beyond Ex-Gay web site. I didn't mention that I recently spoke with the wife of a former ex-gay. She gave me the BEST Christmas present ever when she told me that she and two other wives with similar experiences have been in touch to support each other as they forge their new lives. Two of them met at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this summer.

This sort of thing thrills me, seeing people move beyond their ex-gay pasts, past the hurt and the anger and the shame of it and as they move more fully into the lives they have reclaimed.

Well it is a lovely snowy day here in Sweden and I must take the dog for a walk. How great to be in a country where people actually get excited when they see snow and instead of canceling events and activities because of the weather, they actually get out and do more!

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At 2:56 AM , Blogger cubbie said...

thank you for the work you're doing, and being true to you. :-)

At 4:39 PM , Blogger Michael Camp said...

I am always amazed by your work, experiences, and circle of influence. My newest writing project will deal with the ex-gay myth and the root of it--Bible abuse. As I write and talk about my ex-Bible thumper experiences (Confessions of a Bible Thumper, it really does help to clarify things. And, yes, my experience is the same... one doesn't have to commit to an ex-gay program to get the spiritual "treatment."


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