Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ex-Gay Ministries (part 1)

As a person who lives his life as openly gay, I have some very
specific views on the idea of the "Ex-Gay" movement. This
piece will be a little different, though, as I attempt to explore
the idea with a more even-handed response.

I should say first and foremost that I came to know of my
'differentness' in dealing with other boys at an early age.
I knew enough to hide it (for self-preservation, certainly not
for my mental health) but did come out at 15 years old.
Not too terribly long after that, the idea of curative therapy
within the 'ex-gay' movement was offered.

I was in a very dark place in life, and had been listening to all
of the anti-gay rhetoric from the evangelical high school I
was attending, as well as television talking heads, family members
and so forth. Even television shows then depicted being gay as
this horrible sentence of isolation and desperation that must be
endured (this was the mid-1980s.)

I joined Exodus International Ministries in Tampa, Florida
in about 1987. I was part of a church that frequented the
Clearwater-based Christian television station, where they were
frequently dealing with 'overcoming' homosexuality, and I
believe that group was called Eleutheros Ministries.

I came to associate every aspect of depression, unhappiness,
awkwardness, despair, insecurity, dread, life-pain, fear, and
worry with my sexual orientation.

The message preached was that we were not whole as a result
of our homosexual actions, and that only by accepting Jesus as
our personal savior could we find wholeness, transformation,
and acceptance. (Although, obviously not acceptance for the 'us'
that existed then.)

They viewed homosexuality as a sin against God and that the
thoughts and actions of homosexuality were delivered by 'evil
spirits' and demon possession. Other takes on this were that a
lack of father figure, a lack of a loving father-son relationship,
an overbearing Mother, or other environmental factors were
root causes of male homosexuality.

(Women were, as always, not considered that important, but
the root cause of their 'problem' to the ministries was sexual
abuse or poor body image.)

As today, there were well-intentioned church-members (who
identified themselves as heterosexual) who were involved in the
ministry alongside avowed 'former' homosexuals looking to
help 'cure' others and remain what they believed was Godly.

I also remember the school I was attending, Bayshore Christian,
had a special presentation one night. In the chapel, after hours,
a group or preacher came with a message as to how homosexuality
was the greatest sin facing our world. I believe this was before the
much-maligned 'Homosexual Agenda,' but it could've been the same
propaganda film.

I just remember endless graphic 'details' of how Hall & Oates and
Elton John had to get their stomachs pumped to remove animals
and copious amounts of sperm. Stuff the media was 'afraid' to tell
us about! I can remember thinking how insane these people were,
and yet being frightened by what they were saying nonetheless,
because their sincerity was infectious. I knew that the things they
were saying about gay men and women were false, but their fear
was palpable and intimidating.

...to be continued.....

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