Exodus Conference: Open Forum

Today begins the Exodus Conference in Irvine, CA. I have attended the last two meetings but cannot attend this year. Anyone who is there and would like to offer comments or observations are welcome to chime in. Let us know what’s happening this year…

46 thoughts on “Exodus Conference: Open Forum”

  1. Mary,

    I don’t think the you-haven’t-experienced-it-so-you-can’t-possibly-understand argument works here! I agree with Tim

  2. Your statment is myopic from where I sit. I don’t expect you to understand something you have never experienced or felt. Just like those who don’t understand what it is like to be gay. How can you be expected to understnad what change is like if you don’t experience it. You can’t really – just hoping for some. Sort of what gay people expect from those who have never had a gay feeling in their life.

  3. Mary,

    A person may have sexual inclinations but it seems that the gay community want ex gays to only focus on the gay feelings they have and not the vast and broad range of other feelings and emotions they have about their own sexuality.

    That makes just about as much sense as complaining that coca-cola dealers only want to focus on when their restaurants serve Pepsi and ignore the bread sticks, cheese cake, and penne arabiata.

    It’s because in the context of “ex-gay” it just isn’t relevant what someone feels about their cat. It doesn’t matter if they not alone drinking every night. I really doesn’t even matter if are closer to God. If the discussion is “changing sexual orientation” than that which is relevant is “sexual orientation”, not whether they are happier or have different values.

    So yeah, that’s what we focus on. If you want to talk about religious conversion, well jolly for you. But when you talk about “change” in the context of attractions, then it seems to us to be a classic bait and switch to then say, “oh, but I meant something else”.

  4. Gordo,

    Sexual abuse of children is not sex – it is abuse. And though my heart aches deeply for those children who have suffered at the hands of the Catholic church, there are priests who are not involved in that.


    A person may have sexual inclinations but it seems that the gay community want ex gays to only focus on the gay feelings they have and not the vast and broad range of other feelings and emotions they have about their own sexuality. I do not think that those who live celebate lives by their own choice are lving miserble lives. It is closer to their faith and values than to live and act out on their same sex attracted feelings. You might not think so – but it is not your life they are living. As far as my inclinations and attractions towards women – they are far and few between and not something I struggle with in the same way that others might. That is today – it may change in the future. But it is my choice to live as I choose according to my perspective and so it is with you and others – gay, straight, ex gay, ex gay celibate, ex ex gay or whatever.

  5. Priests do it and you don’t seem to be complaining.

    Mary – obviously, you have’nt been paying attention. There are thousands of fomer alter boys who might differ with you.

  6. Mary –

    You stated :

    “what is wrong with putting God before affectional/sexual living. Priests do it and you don’t seem to be complaining. Widows/widowers do it. Married couples commit to each other and I am sure have sexual feelings for others throughout thier marriages?? Why can’t someone give up themselves for their God?”

    Realize that in every example you gave, the person still has the same sexual inclinations, they are ONLY choosing whether or not to act on it. Just like in an “ex-gay” situation, you still have inclinations and urges, but do not act on that. It doesn’t make the priest any less heterosexual…see what I’m saying?

    People can choose to live in alignment with their sexuality, or deny it and live miserably – that is their choice. Try as they might, and spout the rhetoric as they might, in the end – their heart is in the right place, but they still have the same desires. They’re gay doing their best not to be.

    It’s like me trying not to be right handed – I can practice and practice writing with my left…it’s awkward and sloppy, but eventually it will look pretty good. Others will likely never know that deep down, all I want to do is grab that pen with my right hand when I write – it comes so naturally, I genuinely enjoy it, and what comes of it is absolutely beautiful.

    People have the right to choose how to express their sexual inclinations…in the end, their just practicing with their nondominant hand until they look good enough to pass with others- or maybe for a while, fool themselves.

  7. Jag,

    I did not say anywhere that God requires gays to give up their sexuality. I did say that a person has a right to choose what they will do with their sexuality.

  8. Mary –

    I totally agree with you. Priests do give up sex for God…but not every heterosexual does or should. Married individuals do limit their sexual partners and commit to one person under God…just as I think same-sex couples can and do in the places they are (and are not) able to marry legally. The toronto star did a wonderful story that I linked to of two young women from america who went to canada to make it “legal” and then had a religious ceremony in their hometown in america. Marriage and celibacy are both admirable things, and are options for all.

    I don’t assume you are a religious zealot…wow…you misread that. I’m an avid churchgoer, but in a reconciling methodist church. I do see that the larger church community communicates the message that being gay is wrong – and to me, that is a shame.

    We agree that anyone can give themselves up for God…but seem to disagree that God does not require it of gay or lesbian people any more than he requires it for heterosexual ones. Both are equally valid if practiced under the same principles (For example, just as a heterosexual person should not have sex with a child…neither should a homosexual, no rape, etc…)

  9. David and Jayhuck,

    I think abbreviating as ‘BEG’ may have been my bad. When I noted Warren was abbreviating as BXG, I switched. My apologies. LOL! We’ve got enough to sort through without unfortunate acronyms.

  10. Jayhuck,

    It’s not earthshaking, but I believe the abbreviation the Beyond Ex-Gay people are using at the site is bXg, not BEG. Seeing the latter in print here helps me understand perhaps why 😉

    We do something similar with XGW, instead of EGW.

  11. Jayhuck–

    I almost responded here and then remembered Warren’s blog suggestion to move comments over to the more recent thread. Will catch up with you over there.

  12. I am going to cross comment here and on the post that is dedicated to this topic. Hopefully, we can move this discussion over there.

    I have no doubt the sentiments expressed by the three Exodus leaders were sincere. I have gotten to know Michael in the last year and I have no doubt at all that he was absolutely sincere. My observation however, that their views have been expressed before still stands. If those three had had a news conference two months ago, I doubt an AP story would have resulted. Timing in media, like location in real estate, is huge.

  13. Eddy –

    One last thing – even if you’re right, and I’m not saying you are, and the apologies were a media stunt – that STILL doesn’t mean they weren’t heartfelt, or meant sincerely.

  14. Eddy –

    I’m also more than a little surprised at you attempting to judge someone’s motives, when you and other ex-gay people keep claiming that no one should be doing that to you!!!!


  15. Eddy,

    You talk as if these 3 people are the only Ex-Ex Gays our there, or if they are the only Leaders from Exodus that have left – they are not – and you’re attempt at trying to discredit them by saying they left too long ago to be relevant now, or they don’t understand the movement now, is rubbish.

    The BEG people are the ONLY ones who have been open and mature about this whole experience, apart from maybe Alan Chambers. Randy Thomas completely dismissed their invitation to talk.

    I’m sort of surprised at you Eddy – these are hurt people asking to have a dialogue with Exodus and all you can do is judge them, belittle them and devalue them because, I think, they threaten your own belief system somehow.

  16. Michael Bussee was involved with Exodus for 2 years in its infancy. At the time, Exodus was nothing more than a coming together of somewhat like-minded people. Michael came from a ministry called EXIT and brought two somewhat unique situations…diving into heterosexual marriage and falling in love with his ministry partner. (I’m sorry but, if he was capable of delivering judgmental advice while he himself was having a homosexual extra-marital relationship, he ought to apologize for his part. And, if he wasn’t delivering judgmental advice, then just what is he apologizing for?)

    Michael’s connection to Exodus ended 28 years ago. He’s been on record as anti-Exodus and anti Ex-Gay for YEARS. The timing of the ‘public apology’ was nothing more than a staged media event. Had it not occurred, I believe more delegates from Exodus would have attended the dinner.

    LOL! We’ve got our fair share of judges on both sides of the issue. Thank God you and I have never been guilty of it! 😉

    BTW: my karaoke outing was ‘event-filled’. The following may shed some light on my uniqueness.

    I’m sitting at a table with a short (that’s how we met), beautiful young girl. Even if I in the market, I’m more than twice her age. (LOL! That didn’t stop us from dancing together to “Chain of Fools” and singing a duet of Blondie’s “One Way or Another”…we ROCKED by the way!) A young man she worked with joined us. I assumed straight but wasn’t sure.

    So, later in the evening, four guys come in as The Village People. They did it well and were looking ‘buff enough’ to attract a lot of attention. (I still don’t know if they were straight or gay!) My lady friend asked which one I’d like to have and I quipped “No thanks! I’m trying to quit!” We got great use of that line for the remainder of the evening. Maybe a button that simply says NTITTQ could replace ‘ex-gay’.

  17. Eddy,

    I’m sure your reasons wouldn’t be anything we haven’t heard before – and if you’d like to share them, I’d like to hear them 🙂

    To be fair, Exodus and many Ex-Gays, Randy Thomas included, do their own fair share of judging.

  18. David,

    I’m glad you had the integrity to confront me on my ‘arrogance of claiming to know someone else’s motivations’ while you skipped right over JAG’s insinuations that us ‘ex-gays’ have gone that route simply to escape societal pressure. (MY motivation, BTW, was NOT societal pressure but– if I were to try to explain my real reasons to you, then I’d be tripping Timothy’s buttons. …if I say what I believe, I’m preaching…) LOL! for ‘loving, accepting, non-judgemental people’, you guys sure do judge a lot!

    Was one of the two ‘sincere and heartfelt’ apologists you cited Michael Bussee? (I’d really like to respond to your second paragraph but I’d rather respond to ‘what is’ than to ‘speculation’.)

  19. Eddy,

    You blame BEG for publicity stunts and somehow manage to excuse EXODUS for all of theirs? I can understand, I think, why you are cautious, but I don’t believe you’ve really given BEG a chance at all – you’ve been distrusting them from the get go – and even if there was some PR involved in their apologies, I agree with David – they were VERY heartfelt. These are people who were truly hurt by ex-gay ministries. You seem to be fine with the good they do, but you can’t seem to accept the bad.

  20. @Cindy

    What in the world are you talking about? Of all the people commenting here, you have a problem with Michael Bussee? No issues with the wackado’s Phillips, Paul Cameron, Sonja, Swissalps, Peter LaBarbera, etc? And you don’t even know if he is a man or woman? You have some very odd sensibilities.


    Putting the arrogance of claiming to know someone else’s motivations aside, you are dead wrong on this one. I know positively, at least for two of those who apologized, that it was a sincere and heartfelt apology, and a long time in coming. I’m quite certain there will be more.

    Considering your attitude above, I’m not sure there is a venue where someone could offer such an apology without bringing on your judgment, but I assure you they were serious. And what better place and time to make such an apology?

  21. Cindy — I am kind of at a loss as to how to respond to your concerns. A blog is a web log or blog for short which means it is whatever the moderator/owner wants it to be. I am very interested in conversing civilly with people who are interested in sexual identity, values and how they intersect and interact. This means that there will be numerous views expressed, many of them I personally disagree with. However, as an academic and Christian, I do not believe I should insulate myself from opposition or disagreement.

  22. Sorry, didn’t have much time to respond to any blogs last evening–had an unplanned ‘command’ karaoke deal to attend.

    Jayhuck, I thought you were connected to BEG because in the one thread I think it was you that blogged wanting to make sure I didn’t miss Chrissie’s comment. (Hope I spelled it right…I know there are variations….). Michael Bussee may not be part of BEG but he is VERY regular on this site and IS one of the people speaking at the dinner.

    This ‘very private’ dinner has somehow ‘leaked’ so much that a 70+ year old friend of mine who doesn’t have a computer either read or got wind of it.

    Then there was last Friday’s incident and the cynical responses to it. It was enough to push my ‘caution’ button.

    A day later, I followed your ‘Go here!!!!’ link and found the ‘Ex-Ex-Gays Publicly Apologizing’ story. Call it what you will but it’s nothing more than a public relations and publicity ploy to ‘force’ Exodus to respond. I’ve always been pretty much a ‘free will’ kind of guy; I detest ‘force’ under most all circumstances. (In the long run, you’re not really happy with the results because you know they weren’t freely given.)

    To me the ‘public apology’ was akin to what we call ‘prayer gossip’. (Dear God, please give Sister Suzie the strength to deal with that shiftless bum of a husband I saw coming out of the bar last night….) Under the guise of prayer, they air the dirty laundry. Under the guise of an ‘apology’ they’re really laying guilt on EXODUS.

    In reality, I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight. I’ve given input where I can and I’ve prayed for God to steer. And now I’ve got to head out for tonight’s karaoke.

  23. Dr. Throckmorton

    I don’t understand how you can allow Michael Bussee to be a major commentator on your blogs. It is a disgrace to you. His actions this week have been not of an outstanding counselor but a bully who loves to have his name in the limelight, no matter what the cause. I have wanted to write several times in reading your blogs. I know that you allow all to contribute in your science studies but how can you post this man or woman as being a major commentator.

  24. And Jag, besides, what is wrong with putting God before affectional/sexual living. Priests do it and you don’t seem to be complaining. Widows/widowers do it. Married couples commit to eachother and I am sure have sexual feelings for others throughout thier marriages?? Why can’t someone give up themselves for their God?

  25. Jag,

    Just so you know, I am not one of those who felt I had to fit into a heterosexual society. Nor am I a religious zealot – religious but not a zealot. So…. again you are making assumptions not based on an entire picture. I am simply providing to you my perspective and it is very different from yours. While I abhore the idea that Exodus makes political statements against gay people ( so I do not give them my money) I am familiar with some of the presenters and they have added value to my life.

    I can read in your comments that you feel pressured by others to not be gay or you think others feel that way. So Exodus also is not a place for you. But it is a place for some. And research does support change – maybe not in the way you would expect it – but it certainly has occurred for some.

  26. As well, they should apologize for saying that gays are unworthy in front of God even if they are ex gay, gay, or ex ex gay. It was their mistake. Not every ex gay person’s makes that mistake to make that claim.

  27. Mary,

    While I think that these presenters may be “relatable,” to some, it doesn’t change the fact that research does not support “change.” It is sad to me that some yearn to fit in so badly to a religion or society that rejects them, that they are willing to sacrifice their affectional inclinations – setting themselves up for years of struggle. As badly as some might want it, you’re never going to be heterosexual. You might stop having sex with the same gender…but the inclination will be there.

    So while I can understand why some may want the acceptance that comes with a primarily heterosexual society, and primarily homophobic religious institutions, as well as want equal citizenship (to get married, etc..) – be informed enough to know that same-sex pairings happen throughout species in approximately the same percentages we see in our own human species…it’s natural.

    So while you may say “different strokes for different folks,” it’s hard for me to stand by and watch anyone self-destruct under a deprecating environment like exodus which operates under the umbrella of false “science” that NOT ONE major scientific organization supports (the American Medical Association, etc..).

    I pray for discernment for all those who struggle unnecessarily.

  28. Warren,

    That’s a good question – is anyone protected by hate crimes legislation? Where can we go to find out that information? I know there have been convictions under hate crimes laws, so it seems as though they have helped some – do they help more than current laws? I don’t know?

    Other questions would be, what do we do if we don’t have hate crimes laws? Are current laws really enough to protect those who suffer the most under them? Is it right to treat all groups equally, when it is clear certain minorities, gay people included, suffer far more violence and abuse than many other groups, like Ex-gay groups?

    I don’t really know the answers, but those are good questions.

  29. Eddy,

    Alan brings a great deal of this on himself. I’m not trying to verbally bash him, but rather challenge many of the claims he made.

    Personally, I feel you have been looking for any reason out there not to trust the BEG invitation. Please remember, none of us on this site are associated with BEG. I do not speak for BEG, I am not a part of BEG, I have not been through what BEG members have been through. So don’t try to juxtapose what is going on here what might happen at the BEG conference – please


  30. Eddy: I hope that I did not give the impression of bashing Alan. On the contrary. Even though I strong disagree with EXODUSS on many points, I do sincerely hope that the Freedom Conference goes well, without further incedent. The Tuesday night incident was ugly and totally un-called for.

    As a Hate Crime victim myself, I am very familiar the feelings of fear and helplessness that sweep over you when you’re the target of such hatred. I think it was courageous of EXODUS staff to calmly confront their attackers. I hope the police were called.

    I am relieved that Alan and his family are safe and well. I pray that there are no further incidents of harassment or vandalism. These things are completely wrong because they violate of the Golden Rule.

    And as for dinner, I hope that brothers on both sides of this issue WILL finally meet each other this weekend and will take a few moments of “time out” — to pray together and reason together. It’s what Christians do.

  31. A question for those discussing the incident at the conference: Is anyone protected by hate crimes laws?

    Well probably not really. But we aren’t protected by laws against murder either. I do hope over time that as people become aware that crimes that target a group rather than an individual have great consequences, then violence will be somewhat reduced.

    “Hey, let’s go beat up some fags (or ex-gays, or Christians, or whatever)” may get the response, “dude, no way. That’s some serious jail time.”

    Or that’s the idea anyway.

    BTW… Alan, I am sincere about following up and pressuring local law enforcement to treat your situation seriously. If it truly was a hate crime or actually was advocating violence, I want to do something about it. I live in Southern California.

  32. Jag,

    Actually, I am personally familiar with some of the presenters. And their insight and experience have added much value to my life and understanding. It may not resonate with you… in that case but it does resonate with some of us.

    So let me sum it up – different strokes for different folks.

  33. Just bopping in for a brief look around while away. I hope we can stay on topic — the Exodus Conference.

    A question for those discussing the incident at the conference: Is anyone protected by hate crimes laws?

    There I went and violated my own rule. Oh well, I’m on vacation.

  34. Alan, I’m sorry about the Friday night incident and will pray specifically for protection throughout the week.

    Am hoping for more conference news but, given the verbal bashings above, think your time would be better spent just tending to the home fires.

    I have serious reservations about the Friday night BEG dinner and program. If the mood here is any indication, I can envision 1000 more productive ways of spending that evening. Take that with a grain of salt though…I’ve always been the wary one.

    May the Holy Spirit guide you throughout the remainder of the conference.

  35. Alan Chambers –

    There was just a report released a couple of days ago saying that crimes against gays and lesbians are on the INCREASE!!! Where do you get your information – the AFA????? C’mon!!!!!

  36. Warren, if you are looking for someone to sum up the conference at Exodus, let me save you the trouble.

    Pseudoscience, poor research, and shameful faith-based bigotry will be there in full force…

    I don’t think you’ll be missing much.

  37. EXODUS may indeed be “promoting choice”, but don’t forget that it’s a choice with a threat attached. The choice is “Try to not act on your homosexual feelings. Try to “live heterosexually” or live a life of celibacy”. Those are indeed “choices” that people can make. It’s a free country.

    But the threat is, “Or else –or else you will spend eternity in Hell.” Make no mistake. EXODUS still believes that gays are “broken” and ought to be fixed. They believe that homosexuality is evil. No matter how they dress it up, the choice is always “turn or burn”.

    It is very interesting that even though Alan’s attackers were consumed by violent hatred, they could still be subdued by some “kindly confrontation”, a lttle “dialog” and a polite invitation to attend the EXODUS conference. Usually, violent hatred of this kind does not respond to kindness or reason. The gang members who tried to kill me and murdered my friend were not interested in dialog. They wouldn’t stop punching, kicking and stabbing — no matter how strongly I begged for them to stop.

    In any event, Alan is well protected by our State’s hate crime laws — both on the basis of his sexual orientation and his religion. I certainly hope this hate crime was reported to the police. To protect the general public, these vandals need to face legal consequences. Otherwise, hate-mongers like the ones who harrassed EXODUS will likely target others.

  38. “Warren, the Exodus staff was a victim of a hate crime incident on Friday night. A number of college students wrote nasty messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside of the room where my two toddlers were sleeping, made a lot of noise and trashed our golf cart. They said that they did it because, “They don’t believe in ‘curing’ gays.”” – Alan Chambers

    “Today, we celebrate a sacred right to freely practice our individual religious beliefs, and at the same time, Congress is debating legislation that could eventually destroy these freedoms. Hate crimes legislation does not prosecute illegal actions that harm others, it prosecutes beliefs about homosexuality that for many Americans, is consistent with their faith.” – Alan Chambers, 16 Jan 2007

    ”[R]eally what we’re saying is this legislation is unfair, because it means that I was more valuable as a homosexual than I am today as a former homosexual. You know, this law would give special protection to those who are gay and lesbian, yet it doesn’t give any protection to those who are children. That’s saying that a gay man is more valuable than a child, is more valuable than a grandmother, is more valuable than the majority of Americans. That’s just not fair.” [The bill is] “primarily being pushed by those in the homosexual activist community, really as a reinforcement that homosexuality is valid, that they need protection, and that’s just not the case.” [Homosexuals are] “protected as much as I am protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. I believe that this is a great opportunity for us to share the truth … about freedom, the truth about this bill and really to reinforce the fact that hate crimes legislation is unnecessary—for one reason, the FBI uniform crime report has shown that bias-motivated crimes are on the decrease. Crimes against those who are gay, or who are perceived to be gay, have decreased over the last several years. So it seems like in a free and tolerant society where Americans are beginning to learn to treat their neighbor like they’d like to be treated, we’re seeing a decrease in some of these crimes. And that’s a good thing.” – Alan Chambers, 17/20 April 2007

    Words…. huh?!

  39. Alan,

    One more thing – Gay people have ALWAYS had a choice – your message is really nothing new when it comes right down to it. We’ve seen gay people trying out marriage or living celibate lives since the beginning – none of this is new, you have just formalized the message and process.


  40. Alan –

    I don’t believe they are PROMOTING violence, I believe they are committing violent acts.

    Second, you are doing more than promoting “choice”, whatever that means, you are are actively seeking to make being gay a much more difficult choice by your involvement in politics.

    I’m truly very sorry that you and your family had to go through this, but when it comes to hate crimes, unfortunatley, the gay community suffers FAR more from them than the ex-gay community – and they suffer far more violent acts.

    You are not promoting “choice”, not any kind of fair choice. That is just a buzz word to make your message more palatable.

  41. Well Alan, under the California Hate Crimes law, you are well protected.

    You see, because you are a straight person, the term sexual orientation applies to you and your family.

    Also, if the “attack” was based on your religious beliefs, you are equally protected.

    Welcome to my state, hopefully your visit here will give you some insight into how hate crimes laws really work so you can go and report the truth about them instead of the made up talking points you’ve been spouting off in the press as of late.

    By the way, you’re not far from the Boom Boom Room in Laguna. I hear it’s closing soon so you and your crew better get a last visit in before the doors shut.

    If that’s no convenient, my town of Long Beach is only 25 minutes away (if it’s not rush hour).

  42. I wholeheartedly oppose efforts to vandalize or terrorize Alan, Exodus, or any other ex-gays. I truly hope this unacceptable behavior stops.

    But, Alan, I am curious about your word choices. Was this a hate crime? The last we heard, you didn’t really think such things exist.

    And the definition of “hate crime” in the state of California requires a violent criminal act, not chalk.

    If indeed this occurred in the context of a violent crime then BY ALL MEANS this should be pursued as a hate crime. Ex-gays are protected in the state of California against sexual orientation based hate crimes and I would want the law to be upheld. I would join you in insisting that the local law enforcement uphold the law equally.

    If, however, it is not a hate crime as defined by the State, then it is untruthful to describe it as such.

    And you state that they are promoting violence. This is very serious. Fortunately threats of violence are also covered by the hate crimes laws here. Can you please give the police report number so that we can put pressure on the local police to treat this seriously.

    I would really love to know what violence they were advocating and if a violent crime occurred.

  43. Alan and I both know the pain of childhood bullying — and now, sadly, the helpless terror of being targeted for a hate crime. Nasty messages written in chalk on the sidewalk, a lot of noise and vandalism of property is inexcusable and wrong. I am disgusted that people would do this — just because they object to EXODUS’s message. I am very glad that Alan and his children are OK.

    But this sort of pales in comparison somehow to being jumped, beaten and stabbed by a gang of five gang members screaming “faggot” — and watching in horror as your best friend gets beaten, kicked and stabbed five times in the back — and is then left for dead in a parking lot.

    Alan can take some comfort in the fact that, after awhile, the chalk blows away. The noise dies down and the property gets cleaned or repaced. You just can’t do that with a human life.

  44. Interestingly, Warren, the Exodus staff was a victim of a hate crime incident on Friday night. A number of college students wrote nasty messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside of the room where my two toddlers were sleeping, made a lot of noise and trashed our golf cart. They said that they did it because, “They don’t believe in ‘curing’ gays.”

    Funny, we are promoting choice and they are promoting violence against those of us who believe in choice.

    One of our leaders kindly confronted the group of students and the dialogue ended well. I am planning to invite the students to my opening session tonight.

    As an aside, CBS, LA Times, CNN and Christianity Today will be here, as well.

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