Guess who’s coming to dinner?

The organizers of the Ex-gay Survivors Conference have invited Exodus conference participants to a dinner on June 29, 2007 in Irvine, CA. The invitation does not say who is coming or who will speak. I would want to know this in advance if it were me. The invitation provides an email address for RSVP which I suppose could be used to ask questions. It seems to me just sitting down together would be an accomplishment, without the speeches. Having both sides offer comments might be something worth considering as opposed to one side having the program.

I won’t be in Irvine but I will post an open forum next week for those who are there to offer observations.

30 thoughts on “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

  1. What kind of dinner will it be, what would you eat? Would some alcohol be allowed, like wine? Perhaps you all need some Tequila, to have a right fisticuff fight. What will be served in the US, as most of the planet survives on under one Dollar a day? Bon Appetit!

    Peter Damm.

  2. Michael… Skeptical… I really couldn’t be anything but skeptical. I am just trying to be completely honest. I hope being skeptical doesn’t demonize me further. In all fairness, don’t you communicate yourself as someone who knows and understand Scripture? Shouldn’t I be skeptical? What would it be like if Exodus or First Stone Ministries was to have a stand up comic to make fun of their experiences in the gay community? How would you feel if we were to actually personally make fun of you and what happened with your decision to leave your wife for Gary? Honestly, how would you feel? It would be awful! How should I feel about when the exexers from our ministry communicate complete distortions and lies of their experience with First Stone Ministries? Proverbs and 1 Cor. communicate several warnings for me to have dinner, especially with a group of so called brothers/sisters who have maliciously slandered me. I am NOT saying that is true of the keynotes or leaders of BEG.

    Michael, I have met your exwife. She is precious! I would never want to hurt you or make fun of you or anyone on of the BEG people. Yet there are those with who are exexgay, ‘Soul Force’ and BEG that have of First Stone and/or Exodus Ministries. Yes, Michael I am just a bit skeptical. Perhaps, someday we will meet… but not in a BEG format.

  3. The first reports on the dinner are on Peter Toscano’s site. Sorry, I don’t know how to link. It seems to have gone very well. (I think I got there by following the Beyond Ex Gay link above and then found Peter Toscano but not sure.)

  4. “The passage I cited is specific to those who claim to be Christians and defiantly, proudly engage in homosexuality at the same time — those who have once been enlightened and have returned to sin.”


    If you had a daughter who was a Christian, gay and marrying another woman, would you refuse to have dinner with her? and/or her partner?

    Interesting all the ways in which we can isolate ourselves in the name of Christianity.

    The Pharisees would be proud.

  5. If not dinner, I am hopeful that at least Alan and I will be able to meet sometime soon. We’ve got a lot in common and we really don’t have anything to lose.

  6. Stephen,

    If you had read Christin Bakke’s responses to Eddy’s questions, you would have known that she and others at BEG had talked to Exodus staff about whether there would be time in their schedule to have the dinner.

    BTW, this isn’t a protest conference – You may clearly deem to categorize it as such, but everyone has gone to pains to say that that is NOT in fact what it is.

    I’m not saying your view is biased – but the fact that you are at the Exodus Conference tells me more a great deal.

  7. Stephen: I think you ARE being too skeptical. I know these guys. I think all they really want to do is establish some sort of dialog — other than faceless blog fights and endless media wars.

    I think they asked you to dinner at this time because you’re in town. It was an act of hospitality. Informal meetings like this and some open channels of communication would be wonderfully refreshing, wouldn’t you agree? I know I would love it — and I think both sides of this issue would be better for it.

    To its credit, EXODUS has recenlty adopted an official stand against bullying, violence and hate. EXODUS is also becoming more transparent about what “change” is and what it is not. Even though I disagree with EXODUS on many points, I support EXODUS’s right to exist and to act in accorance with its beliefs.

    30 years after EXODUS was created, I think both sides may finally be trying to mature a bit. It’s time to extend a peacepipe of sorts — or maybe just a dinner invitation (since you happen to be in town.)

  8. Let us pray that wisdom and understanding can guide the participants of that meeting. We all have much to learn about listening, recieving, giving, and being Christians. Peterson, Christine, Alan and others will be in my prayers over the next few days. Can I have others to join me??

  9. Yes, Stephen, we are all aware that you are suspicious of the motives of Beyond Ex-Gay. But may I suggest to you that perhaps the reason for proposing that time was because all the individuals were in Irvine at the same time instead of scattered across the country and because they already checked the schedule of Exodus.

    But somehow I doubt I alleviated your skepticism.

  10. WOW… what a wonderful opportunity? It doesn’t seem very kind or loving to make fun of people… Is that part of the Beyond Exgay platform? OH… and then come over for dinner, because we want to share our stories… No doubt there could be some benefit to hear critics, we can all learn to minister and serve others, and it helps to listen to constructive criticism… however, it seems disingenuous to me on the timing, scheduling a protest conference on top of the time the Exodus Leadership is very busy serving individuals coming from all around the world. If you really wanted to do some thing cordial it should have been done at another time… I am skeptical, and I am at the Exodus conference as a director of First Stone Ministries.

  11. How ironic,

    The passage I cited is specific to those who claim to be Christians and defiantly, proudly engage in reviling at the same time — those who have once been enlightened and have returned to sin.

    Oh wait, it was the same passage.

  12. The passage I cited is specific to those who claim to be Christians and defiantly, proudly engage in homosexuality at the same time — those who have once been enlightened and have returned to sin.

  13. If memory serves me well, Jesus didn’t attract followers by denouncing them as sinners (even though they were). He seemed to reserve his disgust for the self-righteous religious leaders of his day who proudly declared their own holiness and strict obedience to the Law — but showed no love.

  14. It seems mostly to me, that those who are most adamant about gay people “changing their ways” are those that are disgusted with the idea of gay sex. I am having trouble reading in Peter or Sonja’s comments anything resembling a true desire to understand gay people, as their comments lack any awareness or association with gay people who have changed or seek change or ex ex gays who have been through the mill. It seems to me like the same ol, same ol stuff of just wanting gay people to stop. Funny how they clump gay sex into the same sin category as adultery but don’t question their friends or seem to have any knowledge of that sin taking place in their own lives.

  15. “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.”

    I guess none of us can eat with Sonja. If there ever was a reviler…

    The great irony of Sonja’s quotes is that they almost always seem to apply to her as much as anyone else. But she never notices.

  16. Luke 18:9-14 — maybe?

    And certainly….

    Matthew 9:9-13

    Mark 2:13-17

    Luke 5:27-32

  17. Didn’t Jesus eat with sinners? Didn’t that upset the religious conservatives of his day? And why is Sonja still hanging around talking to us blasphemous homosexuals anyway? I sure hope she’s not getting titillated.

  18. Sonja, I am curious about something.

    Do you interview everyone who wishes to host you for a meal to find out if they do anything out of greed, or put anything in their lives above God? Do you question them about whether they’ve fornicated, or committed adultery? If the answer is yes, do you decline the invitation?

    Not only do you use this scripture out of context, but you are applying it to people that you would not consider as your brothers and sisters in Christ (this is who the verse is referring to, not those outside of the church).

    When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied:

    ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    —Matthew 22:37-40

  19. Well, there you have it! Throck, you might as well shut the site down. EVERY question can be answered by a Bible verse.

    No need for comment threads either since you surely can’t argue with the Bible.

    Oh, silly me! I almost forgot this is an ‘open discussion forum’. We’re ALLOWED to discuss different points of view and, in the process, learn from one another. (I’m getting squirmy now, though, what if what I’m doing here with you all is ‘associating’? And, does it matter if I’m eating at my computer and you’re eating at yours?)

    Sonja, I do appreciate you. In some of your comments I’ve detected a bit of heart but I’ve got to agree with the others: the Bible billy club has got to go. Even given your own theology, ask God for a vision of ‘ensnared’. Do you approach the ensnared with a billy club or in some more compassionate manner? Which method would be more likely to make them more sensitive to the voice of God? There is a way to ‘speak the truth in love’ and even that will be misconstrued–but, right now, it’s looking like you’re leaving out the ‘in love’ part.

    If you really feel that this site is a misguided effort, would you do us the courtesy of respecting our right to gather? If you want to learn, to contribute, to help round out discussions with another point of view, by all means, keep coming back. MANY of us had a rather rocky start here but we’ve finally found ourselves communicating somewhat civilly. (That, in itself, has been worth the price of admission.) (What?? Am I the only one he charges to blog here???)

  20. What is the Biblical response to the invitation?

    “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

  21. Thanks, Christine (and Jayhuck)…It does sound like you did your homework and have tried not to cut into actual programs. As I recall, Exodus used to leave one evening open for people to get off-site and fellowship. That may have been the Friday idea.

    I do hope that at least a few from Exodus would show up and will be anxious to hear how it turns out.

  22. Eddy,

    Christine Bakke of Beyond Ex-Gay has responded to all of your questions. She tried to post here but her responses have not shown up yet. Until they do, you can read her responses here.

    Christine – I hope it was ok to direct Eddy there!

  23. Hi Eddy. Perhaps I can attempt to answer some of your questions.

    1. I checked with two Exodus folks and their conference schedule, to make sure there were no leadership meetings that were scheduled that night (of course, we weren’t able to ask Alan or Randy about the details of their schedules, but we did take care to try to confirm that there wasn’t any kind of special event or Ex-Gay Leader meetings planned). But of course we are not privy to any “off the record” events. In addition, since our conference is only over the weekend, we are not able to meet earlier in the week. We had no desire to plan something when the leaders can not attend.

    2. Both Peterson and I have private conversations with a few folks involved in Exodus at different levels, and we don’t talk about these discussions publicly. Because of that, we have all (both sides) been able to discuss our lives and many of these matters in a respectful way. Our goal is not to make this “an event”, but to just tell our stories, so they can hear what they often miss by not conducting any aftercare or follow-up on participants.

    3. We have conceived this dinner with the thought that we would like to share some of our stories, because they are so seldom heard by the ex-gay crowd, but it is not about us getting an emotional or psychological need met. If there are only a few people who attend, we would still like to have the dinner. It is not about the numbers, but about being seen as real people too, and not just “protesters,” and perhaps we will make some small difference. Even Alan is now becoming public with his thoughts on what change really means, and that is definitely a step in the right direction. We are wanting honesty and some thought about certain practices or prevailing theories, so as not to cause harm to the (by Exodus’ calculations) 70% of individuals who do not succeed to consider themselves or their behavior as ex-gay.

    4. I think it will not be an easy thing for leaders to go to this dinner. I don’t imagine them saying “oh goody, this sounds like fun!” I instead imagine they are not looking for a good time in attending. In our letter we state that we believe they intended to do us good, and we acknowledge that they wanted to help. Peterson and I have also been clear about the fact that some good has come out of our experiences, even though we feel on the whole that we experienced more harm than good.

    I think it will be a fruitful experience, and I hope that one of my friends will be in attendance. He’s someone I care about and we have a good relationship in spite of being on different sides on this issue. With that in mind, I do not wish for this to be a dinner that will bash folks or have an angry feel. While we have legitimate hurt and concern, I would not want to treat any leader differently than I treat my ex-gay friend. I think if folks spend even a little bit of time on our site they can see the specific tone that Peterson and I have set, and it is not one of projecting (contrary to what Randy Thomas has asserted), bashing, or denigrating ex-gays. While you are worried about potential “slants” on the issue, I think that there are many who are reading into our letter a lot that is not there.

    I hope this helps answer some questions.


  24. I have trouble with this meeting for several reasons.

    1) I find it in bad taste, to say the least, to invite someone to an event when you already know they have a prior committment. (Friday dinner and evening meeting are usually important parts of Exodus conference schedule.)

    2) If ‘no press’, ‘no cameras’ at this newsworthy and well-hyped event, just how will we find out what transpired? Any reports on this event are doomed to be slanted–whether by Beyond Ex-Gay or by someone from Exodus who attends.

    3) How many delegates (including some of rank) would it take for Beyond Ex-Gay to feel (and report) that they’d ‘been heard’?

    4) From the invite, it doesn’t sound like a dialogue forum. Sounds like “you sit there while we tell you how you hurt us”. That could make the dinner difficult to digest.

    Under the circumstances, I’d be suprised if ANYONE from Exodus opted for this evening’s festivities over their own.

  25. This does seem disingenuous. Considering the level of scoffing of the Exodus Ministry presented by this conference’s leadership. I would like to know if any of the Exodus Staff is actually going. Has the Lord prepared a table in their midst?

Comments are closed.