Exodus International: Open forum

This week Exodus International is holding the annual conference at Ridgecrest, NC.
From time to time on various posts Exodus history comes up. I have been privileged to have numerous Exodus participants past and present comment here over the years, but the comments often go hither and yon.
So I am creating the post for that conversation to continue. I am going to talk to my weboverlord, Paul to see if we can get a link to it in the right column so we can find it easily. So spread the word, if you have ever been involved with Exodus International, feel free to comment here, good or bad. Feel free to cut and paste comments from other threads. I do not intend for this to become a praise or bashing session, rather a forum of sorts to discuss history and impressions, aspirations, positives, areas for improvement, etc. If you really like Exodus, I hope you might glean something from those who do not, read and learn if you will. And if you don’t like it, I hope you will recognize that some others have found much meaning and blessing in the relationships they have formed via Exodus.

193 thoughts on “Exodus International: Open forum”

  1. The side blog that Justin created was active for a few days but I’ve checked in occasionally and the conversation came to a halt weeks ago.

    Thank you so much for reminding me about Justin’s blog – I hope it continues.

  2. Ron-
    Didn’t mean to ignore the fact that you had dropped in. I was actually waiting for Michael to respond to you. I did note that he was commenting on some other topics but then most of the topic threads went to the political race and a number of us regulars got a bit scarce.
    It was good to hear from you. I’m in regular e-mail contact with Robbi K., Lori T. (now Lori R.) and Doug H. Since Warren’s blog pulled me ‘sort of’ out of retirement, I’ve also had a few email chats with Alan Chambers and Dan P. (current director of Outpost).
    I’m trusting all is well with you…and hope that you ‘subscribed’ to this topic so that you’ll get my greetings.
    The side blog that Justin created was active for a few days but I’ve checked in occasionally and the conversation came to a halt weeks ago.
    If we survive Campaign ’08, check back in and search either ‘ex-gay’ or ‘Exodus’, it’s likely you’ll find us commenting there.

  3. Hi Gang,
    After hearing that I was being “beaten up”on the Exodus International Forum, I reluctantly and hesitantly went there to see what was going on. I’ve been interneting since the 80’s, and the few forums or’blogs’ I ever went to (gay or Christian) started out good, but always degenerated to *&#@* and name calling. It’s refreshing to hear civil dialog from both sides.
    I’m going to try to keep this short for now. Lots more to read. It’s great to hear from some “old timers” from the original Exodus Board. Hi Robbi, and Mike. Hi Ed, Justin, et al.. Been in touch with Frank, Doug and Greg a few times over the years.* Once with Jim K (years ago). He requested his name be withheld and I’ve honored that request. Did some ministry together with Perry Desmond in California a few years before he died. I still have a few copies of his book, “Perry.” What ever happened to Sharon Kuhn. I remember she married. I still have a copy of her little red booklet, “Misconceptions of Homosexuality.”
    *note: all the original Exodus Board did not “go back into the gay lifestyle” – as posted elsewhere.
    BTW Mike
    I think you have me mixed up with someone else. My testimony speaks of being beaten up and left for dead in a robbery at my home several years before my conversion to Christ at MCC in 1973. Haven’t hit (cruised) the bars since. There was a Brother at Oakland Exodus who believed God was calling him to go into gay bars to minister, could have been him.
    Most of my dialog with you and/or Jim was weeks before the first gathering at Melodyland that you both thankfully pulled together (1976?). A friend from church in Las Vegas had visited Melodyland (his wife sang there one weekend). He brought me a bulletin mentioning an informal gathering for people in ex-gay ministry. He knew my story, and that I had started Theophilus Ministries here in Nevada (NV), which still goes on. He thought maybe I ought to go. I thought we were the only ministry of its kind.
    I called EXIT and wanted to come. Response was, “No, it’s a closed meeting.” I called a week later, response was about the same but “we’ll see.” I called a third time, the day before and said, “I’m coming,” and the rest in history.
    memories Mike – A long time ago, several of us were concerned when you took your path away from Exodus and family. We located and visited you. We were invited in to your place and met your friend. I believe that was Gary.
    All for the moment, will be back soon.
    With love in Christ,

  4. Veni…Vidi…Voci. (I came…I saw…I spoke….made that last one up.)
    This is just my way of letting the others on the blog know that a conversation has begun on Justin’s links. ( see post: 126159) There’s more on the second than the first but that’s to be expected. Hope you’ll drop in.

  5. Justin–
    We’ve suddenly got plenty to get started with. Let’s see who drops in. I really am in a bit of a time crunch…just got back from vacation and doing errands,etc…so will check back in either tomorrow before karaoke or on Saturday.
    You went to a lot of work and were unbelievably thoughtful. I sure hope the others were subscribed and will come and join. Talk to you later. Dinner is calling.

  6. So, obviously, the part I want to discuss isn’t the introductory section I quoted above; it’s the second section, which is a response to the ex-gay question. I’m still working on getting that ready to paste.

    So, are you saying that so far it’s really just been published here?

    Right, the site I linked to earlier is one I set up this morning. It’s set up to be hidden from search engines and doesn’t appear in any listings. I only created it for the purpose of discussion with you guys (and whomever else you wanted to invite) and only linked it here. It’s not a public blog or a pre-existing website. It was just a way to take a piece of this discussion and expand it a bit into several sections.
    Do you want me to go on pasting the rest of what I’ve posted so far?

  7. Justin-
    Thanks for responding so quickly. So, are you saying that so far it’s really just been published here? That could definitely work. One of my biggest concerns is that some of us would have all of this history and baggage and we’d be discussing along with people who we’d have to keep explaining ourselves to.
    I don’t recall seeing any posts for a few weeks from some of the regulars; it may take a while for the conversation to get rolling.
    I’ll check out the links by Saturday at the latest.

  8. Okay, here was the introductory post I made:

    Section 1: Why This Space?
    Based on an ongoing conversation at Warren Throckmorton’s blog, I wanted to open up a space to sort through some of my own ideas and questions on issues pertaining to ex-gays, Christianity, and homosexuality.
    I am considered by many to be a leader in the gay Christian community. As such, I am frequently asked to discuss these topics in public. I think it’s important, then, for me to be open, honest, and well-educated about the issue. I don’t want to demonize or misconstrue the views of those who disagree with me.
    It seems that many ex-gays are frustrated with the current state of the public discussion on these issues as well. I know that I find these topics frequently blow up and turn into shouting matches on other sites. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities for open dialogue in the past, and I’d like to recapture some of that.
    I’m going to be posting some of my thoughts here, and I welcome feedback from those whose perspective is different from my own. Help me understand you better so that I can be fairer when I discuss this issue in public.
    I cannot promise to agree. But I can promise to listen.

  9. Eddy said:

    I don’t believe that this was your intent but, in effect, it seems you are asking us to leave our conversation here to go and have it over at your place. One of the reasons this conversation ended rather abruptly is that a number of us were awaiting your promised comments. Now, it appears we have to go someplace else to get them and discuss them. That isn’t sitting well with me.

    Oh dear! That wasn’t my goal at all! I’m more than happy to have the conversation here.
    The primary reason I posted the comments on the other site was because you had said that you didn’t think this was the best place for them, since this thread was “tainted” and likely didn’t have many people still following it. I didn’t want to post them on my (pro-gay) site, since that wouldn’t be fair to you, so this morning I took some time and set up a new, entirely private blog just for this conversation. My intent was to only link it here, so that only you guys would have access to it, and then you could invite any others you wanted without forcing them to wade through the negative stuff earlier in this thread.
    Also, at the time when I first suggested that I would post some thoughts, they were just a few sketchy ideas in my head. Over the last few weeks I’ve been fleshing them out more, to the point that they’re now quite a few pages long. So I decided to break them down and take them one bit at a time, which seemed easier to do in a fresh space with separate links for each section.
    I did it that way, thinking it would be easier on you, not harder, and that it would create a friendlier, more neutral environment for you. I had no idea I was breaching protocol by doing so. Please accept my apologies; give me a few minutes to re-do the HTML code and I’ll paste the first section into my next comment.

  10. Ron, great to hear from you. It’s literally been ages. I look forward to hearing more from you. I hope I didn’t contribute to the ‘hearsay’ issue. If so, I’m sorry. I’ve tried to emphasize that there is much I wasn’t privy to. (BTW: I’m in regular–almost daily–e-mail contact with Robbi, Lori and Doug. I’ll let them know you’ve checked in.)
    I don’t believe that this was your intent but, in effect, it seems you are asking us to leave our conversation here to go and have it over at your place. One of the reasons this conversation ended rather abruptly is that a number of us were awaiting your promised comments. Now, it appears we have to go someplace else to get them and discuss them. That isn’t sitting well with me.
    If it was your intent to discuss them here, you are placing an extra burden on those who comment. In order to reference something you said, we would have to quote it or rephrase it in our own comments before we can respond to it. (LOL. And if we said “re first post, paragraph 3”, a reader would have to keep accessing your link as we referenced different comments. That’s not much fun, either.)
    Historically, the links provided in the opening topic thread are often discussed but links provided in the comments generally fall into the ‘for more reading’ category. More for research than discussion. (LOL. And the numbers aren’t in on how many comment without following the links at all.)
    I’ll follow both links by the weekend, I promise. But, I think that if I do any discussing, it’ll be back here with my homies.(If what you’ve written is as good as I hope, even if we don’t discuss the ideas directly, you should begin to notice a difference in tone in our responses to one another in all of the topics that hit close to our ‘trouble zone’.)

  11. Glad you posted, Ron; it reminded me to follow up on what I said earlier.
    I mentioned before that I wanted to talk more about my thoughts on the debate and trying to find points of agreement.
    Rather than trying to do it in this thread, I created a new space to post some thoughts and get everyone’s feedback.
    I’d really like to hear from the ex-gays here as to whether you feel I’m representing you fairly in this.
    Here’s my introduction to what I want to accomplish:
    And here’s where I start posting some of the thoughts I was originally going to post a few weeks ago:
    Would some of you be willing to give me some feedback on this and let me know if you feel I’m on the right track? I’d appreciate it. There will be more to come after that, too.

  12. Disregard the strikeouts on my post, I hit the wrong button and it would not correct. Everything posted stands.

  13. Hi Gang,
    I heard about this forum and that my name mentioned several times. Did a quick scan of the text today for the first time. I need to read it through (from July postings) and will get back in a few days – but wow!!! what a bunch of hearsay, misinformation.

  14. Fair enough. You’re right – past conversations reside in my heart and at best are emotionally untidy.
    I was terse, flippant and overall disrepectful. I apologize to you ( and/or anyone else) for the offensive attitude.
    I respect your opinion and hope my outburst does not prevent others from sharing.
    I did re-read Emerson’s essay on Self Reliance today and found an interesting quote…
    “… The simplicity of nature is not that which may easily be read , but is inexhaustable. The last analysis can no wise be made.”
    Well, enough of my soapboxing.

  15. Mary:
    Yikes! I think the comments you’re responding to were directed at me…and I didn’t find them terribly offensive. I think sometimes the frustrations from past conversations creep into the new ones. Believe me, I understand and sympathize with the frustration completely but blog conversations are difficult enough without any flare-ups. I’m hoping we can proceed somewhat graciously. (LOL. I know that’s asking a lot of ALL of us but I do have high hopes!)
    Please forgive, I don’t mean to sound like the blog police…I’m really looking forward to JustinLee’s promised comments and I was hoping we’d at least rate as ‘cordial’ when that conversation proceeds. I may be a bit hyper-sensitive as I await those words that might lead to ‘peace in the valley’.
    Visualize Whirled Peas!

  16. JustinLee:
    I’ll look forward to it. I was afraid that this one might have run its course but Warren knows best! Glad you’re willing and able to hang out here for a spell.

  17. Here’s revolutionary idea!
    Some people view themselves as gay. Some don’t.
    No one defines another person except that person.
    Oh and one more revolutionary idea – I don’t pray to other people’s God. You don’t have to pray to mine.
    Not Carlin enough for you?
    Try this: I’m not fooling you. I will define my life and by the same token LET you do the same for your own life. Because really, you don’t want me to tell you as I see you.

  18. JustinLee. LOL…once again, I’m thinking your thoughts deserve a less tainted environment than the tail end of this thread.

    I chatted with Warren about it and he indicated that this thread would be the right place for the discussion, not a new one.
    I’m pulling something together and will try to post soon.

  19. My God says that if I’m not doing it…not planning to do it…not attempting to identify myself with it…then I’m not IT.

    This is how I feel too. My temptations come but they do not define who I am. I define myself as to how I respond to them. Also, I have a life to live and God to serve, and the labels that work for others just have no place for me personally.

  20. Boys:
    No apology is owed. None will be coming.
    I was making a point that–even though I had responded honestly to Michael’s questions, that was not enough. Ex-gays, if they still have homosexual feelings, must accept the fact that they are GAY. That’s Michael’s point. And it continues to ignore the point that I’ve made umpteen times, that God defines it differently. My analogy was intended to be thought-provoking…not just provoking. (I gave Michael all the admissions he asked for…the only thing i resisted is identifying myself as gay because it conflicts with my religious beliefs…and Michael both–won’t let it go and won’t give an inch. He must have that admission. He insists, therefore, that my religious beliefs bow to his psychological ones.) I can live with that…but I can’t pretend that that isn’t what he’s doing. It’s way too obvious.
    Your diligence for the truth is severely one-sided. Michael said in 2nd post on this topic re Lisa Darden: “She has hours of interviews with all of those who were closely involved in the formative years of Exodus.” That statement is simply untrue. If he meant the original board members…it’s untrue; if he meant a broader group that just the board, it’s still untrue. “All” is a word in the English language that means ‘every’; even one exception means that “most’ is the word that you use if you are speaking accurately and truthfully. I’ve established that there are a number who did not participate in the interviews. Michael’s later questions, if sincere, revealed the same. (Would he need to ask the whereabouts of Jim Kaspar, Greg Reid, Ron Dennis if he had access to hours of fairly recently interviews with them? I know that Robbi Kenney declined to be interviewed…and if we’re going beyond the originators…I declined. Perry and Gary are both deceased. That’s a whole lot less than “All”, don’t you think?)
    What makes it all the more ironic is that Michael’s protest in his last post was about the dishonest and misleading speech of the ex-gays…and yet he says ‘all’ when he means something else entirely. I’m not attacking Michael. I’m going after untruths that are being spoken–not only in my presence–but often, directed directly at me. “So what do you think of THAT, Eddy?”–not an exact quote but the attitude in several of the comments. Well, now you know what I think. I haven’t used the words ‘liar’ or ‘lies’ re Michael and his statement because I feel that those words carry a sense of intent. I’m not sure that Michael intentionally spoke an untruth but that doesn’t change the fact that the statement itself is, without question, untrue.
    Why do I seem to be endlessly harping on that one point? 1) Because it’s never been answered…only danced around. 2) Because the principle of having our words be honest and true is actually one of the things you all gripe about the most re Exodus and ex-gays. Fairness demands that you also be extra attentive to the truthfulness of your statements. 3) He made that statement in a post where he was telling newcomers that he was their ‘go to man’ if they wanted the facts about the early history…and already, he was misrepresenting the history.
    The fact that my straightforward question was dodged so many times–and usually with some fresh bashing towards either me, ex-gays or Exodus–meant that I had to be even more direct. Directness, in writing, has its risks. It’s often misinterpreted as an attack.
    Oh, and while you have your scorecards out, see how many times I tried to leave this conversation somewhat tactfully and gracefully and then see what pulled me back.
    JustinLee. LOL…once again, I’m thinking your thoughts deserve a less tainted environment than the tail end of this thread.

  21. Eddy,
    Psychology is your #1 god and so, you not only accept its definition for yourself but you DEMAND that Christians who still have God as #1 bow to your god.
    Wow Eddy – I’ve seen you slam Michael a great deal but this is pretty low. Coming from someone who has been at the receiving end of your seemingly never-ending put-downs, this probably won’t mean much to you, but I think you should apologize. Psychology is your number one god???? Are you serious?

  22. Eddy said in post 121367:
    Psychology is your #1 god and so, you not only accept its definition for yourself but you DEMAND that Christians who still have God as #1 bow to your god.
    This kind of childish attack is uncalled for and I think you owe Michael an apology.
    Psychology is the appropriate field to define sexuality, not religion. What Michael is doing is pointing out how religious leaders have inappropriately redefined homosexuality to suit their purposes and deceived people in the process. Not all of these people are doing it on purpose ( “Never ascribe to malice was can be easily explained by stupidity” ), and perhaps Michael needs to recognize that. However, you have repeatedly and inappropriately tried to attack Michael’s character, apparently because you don’t like his message. This latest attack sounds an awful lot like: “you don’t believe as I do so you’re not a true christian”

  23. JustinLee:
    LOL. I have no special pull with Warren. Several times since I’ve been blogging here, Warren has posted interesting or insightful comments that people have sent to him for consideration. If it ties in with the new Exodus sidebar he’s contemplating, I’ll bet he’d appreciate suggestions for discussion topics. Otherwise, he’d either consider setting it up as a topic or introduce a topic where your comments would fit in well.
    And, you could present your thoughts here in this thread, but new readers would likely wade through a lot of verbage before getting to the part where the conversation hopefully turns. I’m just thinking that they’re more likely to get lost here. LOL. At this point, the only subscribers are probably me, Mary and Michael. I think most others bailed this conversation a while back.

  24. Hi Eddy! Thanks for the welcome back.
    I would be happy to hold my comments for a separate thread, if you think that would be best. (Though if we’re going to do that, would you mind being the one to ask Warren for it? You’d likely have more pull than I would, since I’m such a newcomer around these parts and Warren hasn’t had a chance to get to know me yet.)
    I’m actually quite eager to post my thoughts. I’m very interested in trying to represent both sides fairly and I’d like to know if you think I’ve done a good job, and if not, how I might improve.
    There’s a lot more I’m tempted to say now in response to some recent posts, but I’ll hold my tongue until we decide what to do.

  25. JustinLee:
    Welcome back. Rather than bring those observations to this thread, might I suggest that you submit them to Warren and he, in turn, could make them the actual topic of a thread? (LOL. This thread was supposed to be about the value of having an Exodus-related sidebar…about the possibility of discussing multiple issues without getting caught in the endless loop…about assessing both the good and the bad within Exodus over the years. We haven’t spoken to any of that since the third or fourth comment in this thread!!!!)
    This could be great! I’ve complained frequently that no matter what the topic, it always gets turned to ‘the meaning of ex-gay’ or ‘the validity of the ex-gay experience’. Now, I’m wondering what would happen if THAT turned out to be the topic…would we stick with it or detour to some side issue?
    Some of us have blogged here A LOT …and for several years. There’s been heat, smoke and even fire on a number of occasions. This discussion has actually been rather tame by comparison. We are people who KNOW we disagree and yet still come together to discuss. (To get a sense of where we’ve already been, your best bet is to plug either ‘Exodus’ or “ex-gay” (with and without the hyphen) into Throck’s searcher…it’s probably where a number of us regulars began our climb up the ‘top commenters tally board’.)
    I actually agree with most of what you just commented. Your conclusion makes perfect sense–for you. Psychology is your #1 god and so, you not only accept its definition for yourself but you DEMAND that Christians who still have God as #1 bow to your god.
    My God says that if I’m not doing it…not planning to do it…not attempting to identify myself with it…then I’m not IT. He doesn’t say “if you are tempted”, He says “when“. I don’t think He’s got a sin meter running…tallying up my homosexual temptations while neglecting my issues with selfishness, unkindness, slothfulness, etc. I don’t label myself by any of the latter terms so I can’t see why I must, at your insistence, label myself according to the first one. I took on the label ‘ex-gay’ because I felt it was honest about what, at the time, was the main focus of my life. I had chosen to leave ‘gay’ behind, realising that I’d likely hunger for ‘the leeks and the garlics’ from time to time–but I did make my exodus. Just as I saw Exodus, the organization, as ‘a journey out of homosexuality’, I saw the term ex-gay in much the same way. “I’m ‘out of’ gay…’out of’ homosexuality’.
    So, you detest the term that I feel best sums up who I am (if I must label myself by my sexuality) and DEMAND that I accept ‘gay’ which, as I’ve explained again above, conflicts with my Christian religious beliefs and, due to my Christian beliefs, no longer fits me the way it once did. (And, yes, I know you’re a Christian too…that’s partly why I find your intolerance so baffling.)

  26. Hi everyone! I’m back!
    I’ve been reading this latest discussion with great interest. I hate to see things turn personal or for tensions to get so high. I suspect that it’s partly because this question of what “gay” and “ex-gay” mean, though it might seem to be way off subject, actually strikes pretty closely at the heart of the differences between the groups and helps to explain a lot of the tension between gays and ex-gays.
    I’m trying to get my thoughts organized before I respond fully, but I’m planning to post something shortly with what I hope will be a fair analysis of why this is so important to both sides and how we might go about resolving these tensions.
    For now, let me just say that my heart is grieving for the obvious pain and frustration I’m sensing on both sides. More soon.

  27. Michael,
    As much as I would like to see you find peace with you decisions, I cannot accomodate you by seeing only through your eyes.
    You are ill and unreasonable. I think the two are connected. I hope you are able to heal – both.

  28. Michael,
    Once again you wish to draw on the extremes of this debate to negate those who do not see the world as you do. 100% straight men may not fanasize about other men, but there are many levels between that and 100% gay which you seem to want to put out there as your norm. It is not for many who may have some level of attraction to the same sex for some as of yet unknown reason.

  29. Mary: You are not qualified and I do not appreciate your trying to diagnose me. It is not “sick” or “obvious” that “something else is at work here” — besides my desire that ex-gays tell the truth.
    As I said, you can use words any way you please (just like humpty dumpty) — but they are still misleading, confusing and not needed — we have perfectly food English words to describe the experience. Even Eddy admits ex-gays are not straight and most (if not all) continue to masturbate to fantasies of their own gender. Any way you slice it, That’s GAY. Straight guys do not do that.
    If it is “obsessive” to point out the obvious, so be it.

  30. Hi, Michael.
    Sorry to hear about your hospitalization. Hope you have recovered/are recovering well.
    Regarding saying ‘hi’ to Robbi. My comment wasn’t intended as sarcasm; it was intended to wake you up to how obsessively you pursue this ‘ex-gay label’ point. I was being cordial–even helpful. I coaxed Robbi to post. She did—and, then you responded…not even acknowledging that she had dropped in. But you took nearly everything she said and demonstrated how it fit your point.
    Her question to me after reading your response was “why did I even bother? I knew better.” She made another comment that ties in to what I think Mary has been saying. “The conversation is circular. They always bring it back to the same point.”
    And that’s where we are now. I’ve given you some pretty candid statements re behavior. And I’m simply refusing to turn this topic into ‘the definition of ex-gay’ or ‘the pros and cons of labeling’. We’ve pursued both topics endlessly and, the divide of mistrust and miscommunication here on the blog is such that we’ve never come to any real consensus. So, until either topic becomes THE topic again…and until we get other reasoned voices to join in on the discussion…I will do my best not to follow such detours.
    On the bright side, your argument and reasoning behind your belief is here to be read without any challenge or rebuttal from me.

  31. MIchael,
    You are sick and that is obvious. I am sorry that this has happened to you.
    Also, we know ex gay has a broad definition and it depends on with whom you spoke. Let’s not rip that open again. As I will respect your definition of you and you respect my definition of me.
    I am just trying to say to you , in a polite way -that you’re anchoring on to something in an obsessive way. So much so, that something else seems to be at work here rather than just the topic. I truly have concern for your health.
    We all know you and I and others will have to agree to disagree on some issues if we are ever to walk across the soial schism and shake hands. A meet in the middle where we can talk.

  32. Mary: Thanks for your good wishes. Just so you will know. I am doing well and this IS (blogging) one of my “other interests”. But, I am not going away simply becuse you think the subject has run it’s course. Eddy keeps side-stepping the issue. “Ex-gays” are STILL gay. Sorry.
    I was first objecting to Eddy’s rather sarcastic implication that I didn’t care about Robbi Kenny because I had not not popped in lately to say “hi”. Hard to do when you are laid up. He should not assume things about me or imply that I don’t really care.
    On the topic of homosexual masturbation, I just find it highly objectionable (if not downright dishonest) to claim to be “ex-gay” when a man has ONLY interests in the same sex and still masturbates ONLY to these male-on-male fantasies. Straight guys don’t do this.
    Therefore, “ex-gays” (as the title of Wayne Besen’s book correctly suggests) are “Anything But Straight”. You can’t become heterosexual by redefining it any way you choose. It’s time “ex-gays” stopped fooling themselves and misleading the public.
    Why not call it what it is? A homosexual person trying NOT to act on his homosexual feelings for religious reasons? But to give the impression, deliberately or not, that one is a “former homosexual” or “ex-gay” when one still has ONLY gay attractions

  33. Michael,
    Sounds like you’ve been sick. Not to be rude, however, perhaps this subject has run its’ course.
    As we have discovered, many things will not be agreed on. Since you have been hospitalized, you have probably more time on your hands than you know what to do with. LOL!!!! But can we let this go, gracefully?
    I hope you return to health and can be active in your other interests again. Take care.

  34. Eddy, you said: “I’ve agreed with you that they likely masturbate; I’ve also said that, if they fantasize when they do, the fantasies are most likely of the same gender.”
    By any reasonable definition, that’s a homosexual person, not a heterosexual one. Calling it “ex-gay” doesn’t change that basic fact. I am pretty sure that straight guys don’t get off sexually thinking about other men’s bodies and/or what they would like to do with them.

  35. If I neglected to say Hi to Robbi of “thanks for dropping in”, I may have missed her comments. I have been hospitlized recently and had no access to computer. So don’t be so quick to judge whether or not I care about her. I do. I think of her as one of the most honest and caring people I know. And you should really quit taking jabs at my honesty or caring. The founders were my friends. As to how many of the founders were interviewed on camera, you would have to ask the producer of the film.

  36. Michael–
    We’ve had this conversation in other ways before. We disagree on labels, when to apply them, and, most importantly, on what ‘ex-gay’ means. I’ve said many times that for any productive conversation to take place we need to come to some common definitions…but, discussions on this blog never do come to conclusions…so, we have no common ground for discussion.
    I’ve agreed with you that they likely masturbate; I’ve also said that, if they fantasize when they do, the fantasies are most likely of the same gender. I mentioned that I wrote an insightful piece on the “Masturbation Dilemma” and I could bring some of that insight into this discussion but I won’t. 1) The topic isn’t masturbation or the definition of ex-gay 2) You only have one filter working at the moment and won’t hear anything except how it might fit into your belief; therefore the effort will be a serious waste of my time.
    I know that latter statement will strike you as harsh. But please consider your previous statements on this thread where you said that your interest in the whereabouts of the founders was out of your concern for old friends and colleagues. I bought into that. I e-mailed Robbi Kenney, one of your dear former colleagues from Exodus, and informed her of this conversation. In response, she came and blogged and was quite forthcoming with whatever updates she could respond. Do you realize that you didn’t even say “hi” or “thanks for stopping by”? A caring person such as yourself was blinded by their single purpose of exposing Exodus as a sham—so, all you did, was summarize her post and how it supported your point…you even threw her into the mix due to the one project she’s interested in. So, Michael, I feel no need to be gracious to you. I will be respectful and will do my best to be courteous but I won’t dance to your questions.
    If that seems unfair, consider this: In your first comment on this thread, you advised those reading of your Exodus history and how you could enlighten them. You then linked the site that has ‘hours of interviews’ with all the original founders. We now have that list. You provided it, Robbi concurred and so did I. You said “ALL”, Michael. How many of the ‘founders’ are interviewed? I’m thinking that if even half of them were interviewed–for hours–that you would have KNOWN where they are today. So,it’s a question that I’VE asked…that YOU haven’t answered…and, IMHO, it’s more legitimate because it is closely tied to the topic.
    (LOL…if you define and use the simple word ‘all’ that much differently than I do, how can we ever really communicate using even more complex words and concepts???)

  37. I am tempted to ask Eddy for stats when he claims that “Actually, a fair number of straight men openly admit to enjoying gay fantasies…it’s just that they’re fantasizing two women together.”
    Hey Eddy, any reserach studies you can cite to support that claim? I ask because you seemed incredulous that religious guilt could be a contributing factor to gay teen suicide and challenged me to prove that.
    In any event, you completely avoided the point. As far as I know, truly “straight” men do not “struggle” with masturbation to fantasies of nude males or achieve orgasm by thinking about sex with men.
    That’s what gays and “ex-gays” do. Or are you “ex-gay” as long as you limit yourself to masturbation, virtual and imaginary gay sex — and never really touch another guy?

  38. Eddy,
    Actually, a fair number of straight men openly admit to enjoying gay fantasies…it’s just that they’re fantasizing two women together.
    This may not be as common, but believe it or not, I’ve had female friends admit to me the same thing about two men. Odd, isn’t it?

  39. Actually, a fair number of straight men openly admit to enjoying gay fantasies…it’s just that they’re fantasizing two women together.

  40. Eddy, you said: “I have no trouble believing that most probably masturbated…and likely with fantasy.”
    Neither do I, that’s what gay men do. but that’s also a big reason why I have trouble thinking of these folks as “ex-gay”. I don’t think straight men masturbate to gay fantasies, do they?

  41. Thanks, Michael. That helps a lot. LOL. I wonder if straight Christians regard masturbation as being ‘sexually active’. At one of the early conferences, I’m thinking it was year 3, 4 or 5, a ‘prophetic word’ came out ‘that some of you still masturbate’; a friend later quipped that the real eye-opening revelation would have been ‘that some of you don’t‘.
    Anyway, when you followed the charge with a statement that suggested I’d have a hard time believing this FACT; I thought you were referring to ‘interpersonal sexual activity’…I have no trouble believing that most probably masturbated…and likely with fantasy. Several years later I wrote “Masturbation Dilemma”, a teaching insert in the Outpost News…it was our most requested piece of literature for years afterward. LOL. We even gave it it’s own unique paper color so it would be easier to spot on our lit sorter rack. When it was time to replenish the stock, we’d embarrass our Christian printer by requesting it be printed on ‘masturbation blue’. I think it’s real name began with a c…cobalt blue, perhaps.

  42. To answer Eddy:
    (1) What did you mean by ’sexually active’? I mean that all of us who talked to ech other privately and off the record were still masturbating to gay fantasies while with EXODUS. We wanted to stop, but gay feelings were the only ones we had — and most of us were still rather young with very strong, healthy, young adult sex drives.
    The topic came up all the time at our meetings and at our support groups — what do to do about the problem of ongoing masturbation to gay feelings? What did God expect? Were we supposed to be entirely sexless — no outlet at all? Some suggested that it might be OK (Biblically) to masturbate “as long as we didn’t fantasize about anything” while we did. You ever try that? Is that even possible? We reasoned that if we could just “do it quickly with no fantasy” then we could still think of ourselves — and call ourselves — “ex-gay”.
    Some of us,(nd I willl not say who) were sexually active with each other — a one time happening for two of the leaders, an ongoing addiction to gay pornography for another. We were all (with the exception of Robbi Kenney) still homosexual, even though we were claiming to be “ex-gay” by faith. We had not been “delivered”. We were not “free’ of it. We wanted to be, we believed we would be — but we were still gay. Some could live with that paradox. Gary and I could not.
    (2) Did ‘while they were ‘ex-gay’ mean while they were with Exodus or did it include pre or post Exodus times? Yes, pre and during EXODUS times. I don’t know about after.
    (3) Who were the ‘founders’ from your list? I’ve got you, Gary and Jim from your last post. Frank? Greg? Anyone else? This is a hard one. Some would argue that the only true “founders” were the ones who were on the first board. Some say that all 63 delegates were “founders”. That would include my wife and the Hotline volunteers and theology students from Melodyland — even though many of these attendees did very little.
    Others will argue that it’s whoever played a major role in getting EXODUS started. I take this last definition. So my list would include, me, Gary, Jim Kaspar, Robbi Kenney, Frank Worthen, Greg Reid, Ron Dennis — I may have left someone out. I am sorry if I have. I mentioned Perry Desmond only because he was such a “big” personality during the early years of EXODUS– not really a founder, but you could argue that. He had been doing ministry for some time — just like Frank Worthen who started the first “ex-gay” ministry in 1973.
    I have never claimed, as some have accused me of doing, that I was “the” founder or that Gary and I were the only founders. If Gary, Jim and I had not gotten the ball rolling, someone else would have. It might not have been called EXODUS, but some sort of “ex-gay” organization would have been created sooner or later.

  43. Michael-
    I stand corrected. Thanks for the further insight to the first two years.
    Now can you help me with your statement?
    What did you mean by ‘sexually active’?
    Did ‘while they were ‘ex-gay’ mean while they were with Exodus or did it include pre or post Exodus times?
    Who were the ‘founders’ from your list?
    I’ve got you, Gary and Jim from your last post. Frank? Greg? Anyone else?

  44. Eddy,
    That’s one of the reasons I don’t “out” myself at church. I’m not sure I want to be the gay answer lady.

  45. Eddy, boy are you out of touch with what really happened! You were not even at the first conference so you have no business saying who did what. You said:
    (1) It’s the people who dreamed up the idea of having such a gathering in the first place. I agree! That would be me, Gary and jim Kaspar. It was our idea. Frank had his own ministry and we had ours. The EXODUS conference was our idea. Frank only attended, He didn’t come up with the idea. If anyone did, I think I did.
    (2) it’s the people who provided the mailing list that Gary mailed to. Again, that would be me, Gary and Jim Kaspar! We made the phone calls. we researched what other small ministries were popping up across the country. We found out about Frank’s and Frank gave us names of others we might contact. That’s all Frank did. He didn’t invite them or compile the list of delegates who would get invitations. Many of the attendees were ministry students at Melodyland School of theology, where Gary was attending, Some were Hotline workers at Melodyland. Gary, not Frank, invited these people..
    (3) It’s the people who composed the schedules and materials he printed. Again, that would be me, Gary and Jim Kaspar. We created those schedules and materials. Gary typed them out on an old IBM Selectix while the three of us brain-stormed. Frank had NOTHING to do with that.
    (4) it’s the people who spoke into the microphones he set up in the conference rooms he arranged. OK, so Gary was not one of the speakers. Organization and hard work were his strengths, not public speaking. If you are only going to count as “founders” those who actually spoke or presented workshops, you would have to excluded some of the commonly accepted “founders” who did not speak — and include Walter Martin who did speak.
    (4) In common lingo, the founder(s) bring the original vision and give it shape. Here, I agree with you! And Gary — whether you like it or not — was one of those people. Frank did a lot for the second EXODUS conference, but actually did very little to bring about the first — except for suggesting some names. Even Alan Chambers finally agreed (on this blog some months ago) that Gary should probably be counted among the true “founders” of EXODUS. You sure weren’t and since you were not there, you are no authority on who acutally was.

  46. Timothy-
    That is something that I considered but I’m leaning more towards a church that doesn’t predominate on that issue at all. LOL. Do you realize, though, that if I did start attending any gay church (we have at least half a dozen in the Twin Cities), I’d have to go under an assumed name. You just know someone would be dying to leak that story!
    Actually, that was part of the problem with the ‘regular’ churches I thought of attending…and with two of the three that I was part of while in the ministry. I couldn’t get through an entire church service without someone wanting to pull me aside for some confidential advice on ‘you know what’. Going to church wound up being more draining than edifying.
    But, I think enough years have passed that I can safely resume. Thanks for the kick in the pants. Now, if I can bring my Saturday night karaoke demons under control, I could attend somewhere besides “Bedside Assembly w/ Brother Pillow and Sister Sheetz”.

  47. Eddy,
    You say you haven’t found a church. Well I’m going to make a wild suggestion… maybe not even a good one, but an idea to consider.
    Personally, I think it’s good to attend church. It gives (me anyway) structure to my spirituality and allocates a specific time for worship and fellowship.
    I think you should try a gay church. But talk to the pastor first and make sure that s/he doesn’t require that you think “gay is OK” or that you accept the church’s doctrine on sin.
    Now I know that sounds a bit odd and outside expectations, but I do know that quite often pastors of mostly-gay congregations will have at least a few parishoners that believe homosexual behavior (or maybe even identity) is sinful. Heck, I think gay churches have the most diverse church backgrounds of any body of believers ranging from Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Jewish, Mainline denominations, everything. They are used to the devout, the questioning, the agnostic and even occasionally an outright athiest who for some reason is there every Sunday.
    And somehow they manage to find a way to apply Gospel to pretty much everyone there.
    So if you want somewhere that you are pretty sure to be welcomed, that’s a possible place to try.
    As to your concerns about temptations you mentioned earlier, this may sound funny, but I really think that you’ll find that this isn’t going to be an issue. There are never any “gee, I wonder” moments because generally there’s nothing to wonder about. And because of context, the approach is desexualized.
    OK, that was my wacky recommendation. Feel free to ignore it.

  48. Michael-
    I’m not questioning Gary’s involvement but I think it’s a stretch on the commonly held definition of ‘founder’. LOL. Many founders, to most people, look like they’re just sitting on their butts as you say Frank did…that’s because the founding already happened. It’s the people who dreamed up the idea of having such a gathering in the first place; it’s the people who provided the mailing list that Gary mailed to; it’s the people who composed the schedules and materials he printed; it’s the people who spoke into the microphones he set up in the conference rooms he arranged. In common lingo, the founder(s) bring the original vision and give it shape.
    You said: “Several of the ‘founder’ were still sexually active while they claimed to be ‘ex-gay’.” I am not refuting your statement since I have no knowledge other than hearsay but I would like some clarification. By ‘sexually active’ do you mean ‘doing it with another same gender person’ or does it include things such as masturbation, fantasy and pornography? You said “while they claimed to be ‘ex-gay'”. Are you saying that the sexual activity happened during the time they were serving on the board or are you counting times they may have fallen as a new ‘ex-gay’…or later in their post-Exodus life?
    The allegation you’re making is a serious one. As you made this statement of FACT, who did you include in your notion of ‘founders’? (I’m not asking who the guilty ones were; I’m asking for the names of all the people you believe are Exodus founders…I want a list that I can research.) And, please, don’t read attitude into this. As i said, it’s a serious charge and you’re aiming it right at the foundation…so each of the three questions I posed deserves a straightforward answer.
    1) What did you mean by ‘sexually active’?
    2) Did “while they claimed to be ‘ex-gay'”, speak to times before or after their involvement with Exodus or was it speaking to their time while on the board?
    I need the answer to those two to understand what the charge you’re making really is.
    3) Who is on YOUR list of ‘founders’ (my possible suspects)? (You and I differ on the definition of ‘founders’ and Gary was on your list when you made the statement…but it is YOUR list so, certainly, you should include him.)
    And, please, just the names. You provided ‘background info’ several times previously and I know much of it myself. Of course, if any of the sexual activity is already in print or of public knowledge, that would assist in my fact-finding expedition and I’d appreciate the saved steps! (You and Gary being ‘of public record’ is another saved step. Robbi Kenney, being a non-gay woman, is another.)
    It turns out I really didn’t have anything to add to the ‘change’ dialogue after all. It’s started me thinking but the thoughts haven’t completely gelled yet….but they are along the lines of bringing that beast into submission!

  49. Eddy: I will not take Gary off the “founder’s list”. He worked harder than anyone to see to it that the first EXODUS conference was a reality. A founder is one who helps to establish something — and he did. You could also call him an organizer, a catalyst, a helper.
    He printed and mailed the first EXODUS newsletters, arranged conference rooms, set up microphones, sent out invitations, drove other attendees to and from the airport, arranged host housing, cooked the food, served it, etc. By contrast, Frank Worthen, who EXODUS used to call THE “founder” of EXODUS, just sat on his butt and took part in discussion. He was more guest than “founder”.
    Gary chose, to not be very public about it or serve on the Board because he had kids at the time and did not want to be in the public eye.
    I am not trying to discredit anyone — I am simply pointing out that the claim that “no one besides Mike and Gary returned to the gay life” is simply FALSE. Serveral of the “founders” were still sexually active while they claimed to be “ex-gay”. You may not like it, but it’s a FACT.

  50. LOL. Maybe I do believe in miracles after all…it’s been at least 2 1/2 days since anyone has lapsed into snarkiness. We’ve actually been discussing and having genuine dialogue. Does my heart good! Thanks all.
    Glad the earthquake hasn’t impacted any of you seriously. (We do seem to be overrun by Californians at the moment….)
    Even though you are saying some negative things, you are doing it in truth and sincerity. The negative experiences and the pain you feel today are real; I’m glad you shared them. Beyond that, nobody could say the rest any better than Wendy already did.
    Thanks! I only take exception to one word–and it’s my fault that you used it. You said that’s maybe why I’m still here. I summed up 20 years in one paragraph…it’s near the end of my post, begins with “Probably the most tortured…” and ends with the fresh journey of self-discovery and personal integration. I alluded to the torture but didn’t elaborate. I took on an F U attitude towards the whole world and a ‘go away, don’t bother me’ attitude towards God. I self-medicated with alcohol, pot and a straight party crowd. (I purposely chose a neighborhood sports bar where, at the time, gays simply did not go.) My head was still pretty twisted and I couldn’t see (or didn’t care) about the sinfulness of not only my ‘medications’ but of the fact that I was denying God the access to my turmoils.
    The word ‘tortorous’ probably encompasses 5 to 7 years! I’ve got to save some things for the book I hope to write someday but I can tell you that my ‘track record’ felt like the biggest burden; I despised it. I snarled and snapped at any Christian who tried to get close to my pain..and, to the rest, I was cold and matter of fact. The life of the party to my crowd and a total b____ to everyone else. (LOL. I meet people at karaoke who say they ‘knew me when’ and they like the new me much better.)
    Then I started working on that grudge match I was having with God and the positive part of the journey began. So, it’s not really ‘still’…it’s more like “I’m back.”
    LOL. I’m still more wary of other Christians than I am of most anyone else. I find myself trying to discern which Christian belief system they ascribe to (and how seriously they ascribe) before I reveal anything personal about myself. I still haven’t even found a church to settle into. I’m making do with ‘leftover’ Christian friends I made over the years, the Christians in my large family, the fellowship (though sometimes brutal) here.(I’m avoiding the public Christians at work; seems to be a ‘prayer gossip’ group.) Among my Christian friends are those who believe as I do…feeling that the Bible calls homosexual behavior sin but, LOL, I just realized that a good half of them either don’t or are undecided. (Family reunions are rife with “I see you still haven’t found a good woman” and even more “I wish you’d find a good man”.) But, for me, it’s not by popular vote.
    LOL. I’ve learned over the years how strong willed I am. That can be good and it can be bad. If I believe something, I can find the will to follow through. But what if my belief is wrong? Well, that means I’d be running on all of my own steam and none of His. That doesn’t strike me as efficient!
    I think I mentioned this maybe a year or so on the blog but I gave God my permission to change my mind about how I interpret those verses. I’m aware of how the Bible can be twisted to suit individual agendas yet I can’t see another reasonable way of interpreting. LOL. Earlier in this blog, I inquired sincerely about other reasonable interpretations of arsenokoitae. If he’s not talking about homosexuals, who is he talking about? A particular subset? Hustlers? Prostitutes? Were they a big enough part of the culture to merit special mention?
    LOL. The humidity is kicking in again and I’m crashing momentarily. I’m pretty sure I wanted to say something in response to your posting to me and AM about that word ‘change’. I’ll try to check back in after dinner and a PowerAde.

  51. AM – I think we agree here ….. everyone benefits from honest and transparent sharing of personal experiences. The whole culture of “fake it till you make it”, whether that be in the area of sexuality or spirituality in general, promotes a restriction of liberty rather than the kind of freedom I believe we are to experience in relationship with Christ. If I have to pretend I am more spiritual than I am, I will eventually lose touch with the grace that is mine in Christ. This is tragic at multiple levels, and I believe breaks God’s heart. He knows us completely – what do we gain from faking, pretending, posturing on any level? The sad reality, however, is that many, many of our churches are full of people pretending to be more spiritual and more put together than they really are. We have perpetuated a “we’re fine” persona corporately within the church ….. and the culture around us is calling us on it when over 80% of 16 – 29 year olds say they feel that Christians are hypocritical. In a post-modern context a lack of authenticity is intolerable – and yet we find so much pretending within the church …… driven by the fear of being exposed for who we really are ….. truth is, in Christ, we are accepted – the good, the bad and the ugly of us. The question is, will we risk being real? Not just same-gender attracted people in heterosexual marriages ….. but all of us.

  52. I am sure that there are gay people in straight marriages who are successful and not struggling on the level that many have. But perhaps that begs the observation: they may no longer have a gay orientation/were more bisexual/fluid, etc… I believe that you said it yourself.
    I talked with many, many ex-gays around the U.S. (Have the phone bills to prove it!), and the example you give above of John was so rare that I can think of only 1 person who could fit that scenario. Now the scenario you give, I am assuming that John has never physically cheated on his wife, uses porn on a regular basis, etc… Sure I encountered married gays, but they usually had extra relations from time to time.
    I have no interest in refuting John’s or anyone else’s story. I am honest about mine because I am at the point in my life in which I have nothing else to lose relationally. What I do ask is that gays who are married not paint an inaccurate picture and live differently, all the while claiming change and leading others to believe a prototype when looked at more carefully is far less than honest.

  53. AM – thanks for your thoughts. Your personal perspective is compelling given the crucible of your own journey with it’s pains, discoveries, joys etc.
    One of the challenges that must, I believe, be wrestled with, is the complexity that comes with different people, different experiences, and different responses.
    I do respect your story AM and honour your right to tell it with honesty and frankness. Our stories do carry the potential to inform, warn, encourage etc. And certainly, there will be others who resonate with our story, share similar experiences, insights and outcomes.
    The caution I feel, in looking at the various and diverse experiences of people in relation to their sexual identity, is to not project any one person’s story and experience on everyone’s story and experience. This goes for ex-gays not projecting on everyone – and the other side as well.
    I can never claim to offer a corrective to your experience – your experience is your experience. But in a similar way, your experience can’t assume corrective for other’s experiences. Categories and labels aside, some people who experience sga are able to enjoy a healthy heterosexual marriage – some people who experience sga are unable to enjoy a healthy heterosexual marriage. Whether that is because of orientation, bi-sexuality, fluidity etc…… you could likely find diverse combinations in diverse scenarios.
    I feel for your pain when you talk about wasting your life and hurting another person. And I can completely understand why you would want to take your experience and use it to ensure that no one else has to walk the road you did. Another man, my colleague John, would say his life journey of facing his experience of sga within his marriage to his wife has been challenging but rich and that he is more in love with his wife and experiences greater intimacy with her today than ever – despite lingering sga. I don’t think he is lying – I know him well enough and know his wife well enough. And I don’t think his experience takes anything away from what your true experience has been. But nor should your experience take away from what his true experience has been.
    This is the challenge of relational and discerning engagement. Each person, each story needs to be given the space to find their own path. And the paths will often look very different from the other.

  54. Eddy, AM,
    If we took away the word “change” and all the definitions that go with it, wouldn’t we all talk about this issue differently? Perhaps using this word as the substantive outcome of our efforts has in fact done just the opposite. It has mastered us instead of the other way around. We give it too much power to rule the outcome. This is why I think the SSI framework is so important. Being active or inactive in same gender sexual relationships is a decision only an individual can make and that decision can always change throughout a lifetime.
    Your post touched me deeply. I hope in the responses that you receive, you will see that you are not alone and what you think and say does matter. I also hope you find peace and contentment in your future and that it will come to you without any more pain.

  55. Eddy,
    I appreciate what you have said. And I think you were fortunate in that you didn’t go into the process with expectations of “change”. If I can be so presumptuous, that’s probably why you are still here when others have said, “the heck with it”.

  56. AM-
    I’ve been appreciating your presence here. Both you and Justin have a been a breath of fresh air. LOL. Many of the rest of us have danced many a time around these topics before. I’m a former Exodus ‘leader’…taught at conferences almost annually during my ten plus years but never served on the board. That’s why I first got invited to come to the blog. I knew (or knew people who knew) of Exodus’ first decade. But that topic is long gone. My Exodus involvement ended some 15 years ago (although I do maintain contact with Outpost, the ministry I was a part of.) I’ve been on my own journey of discovery since then, private except to family and friends. I came to the blog because of that invitation; I remained because I felt it would be helpful to my journey. And it has been.
    We talk a lot about change here. i talked a lot about change when I was in the ministry. As I mentioned earlier, I always tried to explain the dynamics…the struggles, the challenges, the growth spurts, the growing pains…or change. But I believed the end result would be different for different people. For some, change could be a satisfying heterosexual marriage but, for others, change could be a fulfilled and satisfying life without an intimate sexual relationship. Their very real change being that they found not only peace but fulfillment in an ongoing daily walk. NOBODY in their early 20’s wants to seriously consider the prospect of a lifetime without sex. (Well, I’ve heard there are a few….) I think most of us probably figured we were goihg to be a part of the ones who could achieve a good heterosexual marriage. I know I did.
    But i remembered something awhile back while responding to a blog here. When I set off to Bible school in 1976, I had no visions of ever being a minister–not in any capacity. My chief reason was that I could learn enough about the Bible and its principles that I could manage ‘my issues’ …chief among them being homosexuality. LOL. I figured I needed a little more Biblical self-sufficiency than your average Joe in the pew.
    My point, though, is that I had been a Christian for two years at that point. I was in my early 20’s. My simple goal was to learn management not change. I was quite happy and content with my new life and saw homosexual behavior as just one of many ‘sinful pleasures’ that I needed to harness. The church I came from sponsored a Teen Challenge…weekly testimonies re various ‘big’ issues…so, I really didn’t see the specialness of homosexual behavior…still don’t. It’s something I believe the Bible calls wrong and it’s sexual…so it’s got some oomph…and, as I pointed out more than once, the ex drug addict can come to church and feel fairly safe that he won’t get tempted right there in the pew…but the Christian with a homosexual past, not only has temptation sitting right there in the pew with them, but later are called upon to hug and share the love of Jesus. It’s a tough road. –And then, to make the road even rougher, most people in that unique Christian predicament don’t really have anyone they can talk ‘gutsy’ with. I was fortunate…perhaps a little obstinate. (I think I got what I demanded.)
    LOL. I think I’m off my point. My point is that I went two or three years as a reasonably content and fulfilled Christian before I was even willing to consider the possibility of change. (I had a serious case of “Girls, Yukk!”) AND THEN, I caught the ‘change’ bug too. I had it for ten years and then some.
    Probably the most tortured part of my Christian experience came when I realized that, while change meaning ‘fulfilled marriage’ was indeed a viable possibility for some, I probably wasn’t destined to be a part of that group. I’m guessing it took the better part of a decade for me to consider the word ‘celibate’ much less embrace it. Due to being in the specialized ministry for a dozen years, I had a fresh journey of reintegration to preoccupy me. (Other areas of my life that God was ready to speak to but I wouldn’t let Him change the topic.)
    Oh damn, just realized I’m not 100% cured. Just then, in the back of mind, the thought went “and maybe that’s God’s surprise way of bring you around to being ready for a fulfilled marriage”.
    …I believe I’ve gone to ramblin’…

  57. I don’t think it matters what I think. I don’t say that callously, but to quote the old AA adage, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” That’s how I feel about the whole nature/nurture argument.
    And to put it in a purely pragmatic, self interested terms, it doesn’t really matter to me: I wasted my life, literally wasted it trying to change and deeply hurt someone else in the process.
    So, overall, I think people will do the best that they know how to do to get through this life. However they define it.

  58. I hear what you’re saying. Do you think that other people who have had SSA are also born with it or do you think there is a difference?

  59. I was introduced to HA (Homosexuals Anonymous) in the 80’s and became acquainted with the names of Ed Hurst, Robbi Kenney, and Doug Houk at that point.
    Late 90’s was when I re-aquainted myself with “ex-gay” ministries, Exodus and others and realized that the HA meeting room of people falling, slipping, living in gay relationships was largely par for the course, not just HA in particular. Even though I thought at the time that HA was uniquely problem ridden. HA! Nothing new under the sun; not even Moberly and her spiel.

  60. Thanks AM. I hope my questions were not offensive – as they were never meant to be that way. Sometimes I get a little too clinical at times and forget there is ahuman on the other side of the key board.
    Anyhow, thank you for your answers. It helps me understand you better.
    Just on more question because I am curious. What year did you go through the ex gay ministry stuff?

  61. Yes, I have been to counseling; what Christian in my position wouldn’t have? And, no, it did not help: it did not make me heterosexual in my marriage. It was not fair to offer my former spouse an essentially asexual arrangement (which is what it became) nor for me to be in great turmoil about it.
    I answered that second question because, yes, after decades of soul searching, I do believe I am hard wired gay. One can uncover only so many psychological “possibilities” and be left with nothing in its wake.
    Owing to the uselessness of counseling in changing my sexual desires, my age would, by definition be irrelevant. I received no great revelation in my forties as how to truly change than I did in my 20’s. If anything, I realized that it was immutable in my case after my intense quest for root cause.
    The root cause is that I am naturally, spontaneously attracted to one sex and not so much to the other. And, ironically, I have ex-gay ministries to thank for showing me that; they are truly the best evidence of little to no practical change.

  62. AM,
    Do you believe that gay people are born gay? Have you ever been to any counseling to discuss these issues before/during/after marriage? And how old were you when you married? What is your current age?

  63. I was in a 20 year heterosexual marriage, and I can tell you that managing gay attractions is nothing like straights limiting themselves to one partner.
    The difference is that after the heterosexual sexual activity, there remains and may even exist in the midst of it a sense that this is most definitely not my first choice or orientation. IOW it does not feel natural. It may very well feel good physically and loving emotionally, but there remains a very real and unsatisfied yearning. Probably much as heterosexually oriented people would feel about gay behaviour. Something is missing and feels off kilter. Peterson Toscano describes this in a similar fashion and probably much better than I am doing here. But it remains a reality, a very painful reality.
    When one is 21 years old and the sex drive is at full tilt, who is to know that 10, 15 years down the road that the true desires and attractions will not kick in ? One simply can’t. And for many, many gay Christians they kick in much sooner. Personally, I used pornography to stave it off, but even that didn’t go for the long haul.
    With the reality that reparative and other therapies do not truly cure anything, on what basis would a gay person enter a straight marriage with some reasonable assurance of fidelity? Pre-martial experimentation? I did some of that. And that is something that is referred to as fornication in many interpretations.
    Yes, I wanted to live consistently with my values, and I am guessing that 99% of Christian gays who did marry did want to do that. However, the testimonies speak more of forgiveness on the part of the straight spouse as the gay partner “acts out” (hate that inaccurate term), than actual successful management.
    Again, ask a straight oriented person to manage him/herself in a gay relationship, and I am guessing that eventually s/he, too, will also experience grave futility in the endeavor and fall in love with an opposite sex person.

  64. Timothy,
    I always appreciate your even-handed respectfulness.
    I also think that this topic is complex enough that sometimes we talking ‘apples and oranges’.
    One aspect is the question of disingenuineness of those who claim to no longer experience sga – and the plea for honest, transparent and authentic testimonies. I echo this plea – and think there are other leaders within ex-gay ministries who also want to see an end to the misleading, triumphalistic style of testimonies.
    Another aspect is whether or not someone who experiences sga can thrive in a heterosexual marriage. It seems clear that some such marriages end in disaster with heartache all around. This is a clear word of caution to anyone considering entering heterosexual marriage. However, there are some marriages in which one or both spouses experience lingering sga yet are deeply in love and also sexually attracted to their opposite gender spouse. In these cases, they manage their other attractions – in a similar manner to anyone in a committed and chaste marriage needs to manage attractions to those other than their spouse (of either gender). The huge challenge, of course, is realistically ascertaining whether or not the attraction that one thinks they feel for their opposite gender fiancee will be sustainable in the huge commitment that marriage is. I am just engaging with an individual who felt very sure that marriage was the best choice and now six months in this person is absolutely distraught with regret. (note – they didn’t speak to us prior to getting married) So these are very real situations that are still happening, still causing pain and heartache …… It is one thing to be married and want to find a way to live consistently with your values and save your marriage. It is another thing to enter marriage expecting everything to just “work out” …..
    These are issues that Exodus needs to be brutally honest about.

  65. Perhaps I was a bit confusing.
    I think the point that we were discussing was why it is that ex-gay ministries place so much emphasis (or did) on a total change of orientation. I was simply pointing out why I thought that some did so: a religious culture that places great emphasis on miracles.
    As for whether people “leave SSA behind”, I think that a careful inspection of the testimony of most gay men reveals that this is not an accurate description. I do hear testimony of happy marriage, but I can only think of two ex-gay men that claim to no longer experience same-sex attraction.
    But clearly some do respond to such attraction in a manner that allows them to live in accordance with their values, whether they marry or not. And I’m pleased for them.

  66. We’ve got that.
    Nor does it mean he is gay and faking it.
    (maybe you missed that part?)

  67. I should probably rephrase that – now that gay people can get married. Just because a man is married to a woman, that fact alone doesn’t make the man straight! 🙂

  68. The point that is getting overlooked here, isn’t about whether some people leave SSA behind and get married and have a happy life, or whether a man leaves his wife and marries a gay man and has a happy life – the point is that being married doesn’t make you straight! That’s all I was trying to say anyway 🙂

  69. Mary,
    There are plenty examples of men who got married because that’s what they felt society/religion demanded of them – McGreevey is only one – there are many more. I don’t think it happens as much today, but it definitely does.
    Do some people do what you say? All I can say is that some claim to have done that, yes!

  70. Not everyone has a political career that needs a wife – so I don’t think the two can be compared.
    Did it ever occur to anyone – that some people do leave SSA behind, do get married, and are happier and satisfied with how their life is going?

  71. You can’t take someone’s story from them, that’s true, but if someone is saying look I’m cured and you can tell that, you know that, because I’m married, I’d simply ask them how they feel about Gov. Mcgreevey 🙂 Being married isn’t a good meter stick for determining whether someone is gay, ex-gay, etc. I think that was the point of Tim’s comment.

  72. You can’t really take someone’s story away from them. Yes, they did overcome their same sex attraction and yes, marriage is what they got out of it. That is true for some people – and that is their story. Taking that away is sort of like saying that no gays are bar flies.
    However, it has been (from my experience) that more people are understanding the complexity of sexuality and that marriage doesn’t “cure” homosexuality anymore than it cures any other sexual “desire” when a person gets married.
    In that sense , I think the counseling has come a long ways since the early days.

  73. Mary,
    I don’t think it’s so much “marriage will cure you” as it is “see, I’m cured. I’m married”. I’m still seeing a lot of it.
    But I’m glad it isn’t being pushed to new comers inside the groups as much.

  74. Trust me Mary, I have been reading some of the newer books that are being published – but its not the books that I’m talking about. I’m talking about how Exodus markets itself – who and what they put up on billboards or on talk shows, or even when marketing LWO. PFOX is also to blame for this. I know there are many people at Exodus not doing this, but its clear that message is still being pushed by some.
    I do hope that you’re right, though, and this is a trend from which they are moving away 🙂

  75. It may be in older testimonies but it is not being pushed on people who are now coming to those places for help. It’s pretty much seen as a bad thing to do and in bad form.
    Perhaps you can read some of the newer books that are being published?

  76. Mary,
    Perhaps – and this may be more true than either of us realize – its simply RETRO 😉

  77. Mary,
    I think the issue isn’t so old though. These groups still offer up such examples as testaments to their worth and their legitimacy – I still see it anyway. I don’t think its old at all.

  78. I don’t think the “get married it will cure you” program is offered anymore. The treatment didn’t work and now a more practical approach is being applied to ex gays at EXODUS and LWO conferences.
    Bringing up that is sort of like bringing up disco – kind of old.

  79. Why do so many ex-gays seem to feel that the testimony is somehow more powerful if God removes the temptation completely?

    I have some thoughts on why that may be.
    I come from a pentecostal background, of the more faith dependent sort. There was a belief that if you had faith, God would work miracles. If you were sick you didn’t go to a doctor (and put faith in the hand of man), you relied on God.
    And I would be untruthful if I didn’t also say that I saw many things that cannot be easily written off or dismissed. Relying on “God’s wonderworking power” was not without signs to continue in the faith.
    If that is your faith perspective (or is even an influence in your faith) there are some assumptions that this community shares:
    1. God condemns homosexuality – and not just the acts, but the condition.
    2. It is God’s Will that persons not be homosexual
    3. Those seeking God’s Will in their life over sickness and sin can experience immediate miraculous divine deliverance
    Ask anyone from that faith background and they can list the miraculous healings of all sorts of diseases. They can tell you about financial miracles and relationship miracles. They can list addictions broken. They can tell you about the blind seeing and the lame walking.
    These stories are all told repeatedly from the pulpit with the healed person nodding to give faith to the faithful and to encourage the believers. The worship a powerful God.
    So it really should not surprise anyone when this branch of Christianity, at least, wants an example, an evidence of God’s miraculous power.
    And let’s be frank for a moment, even in the heart of the ex-gay world there just aren’t very many good testimonies of instantaneous miraculous change into heterosexual attraction. So they go with the next best example of the miraculous, marriage. Ta-duh!!
    Now I’m sure we can all disagree (in many ways) about what a lack of miraculous change means about the Will of God 😉
    But I think that it does play into why some Christians latch onto testimonies of complete change.

  80. Justin,
    The sharing of the 5 major ways sounds good to me; I’m not sure who is perceived in the category of wounded and vulnerable. If I am one of the ones, I would like to say you have a green light with me.

  81. Justin,
    Forgive me if you’ve already discussed this, and if its not something you want to share here I will understand, but are you one of the principle founders of http://www.gaychristian.net? I had it in my mind you might be that Justin – you sound like him, but I wasn’t sure. If you’d like to answer me privately you can have Warren forward me any such message 🙂

  82. Justin–
    Please don’t ever leave us…LOL. Your voice is very much appreciated here. I know that I find myself slipping into the role of ‘fact-checker’…I proofread for a living…anyway, that tendency does make me sound far more combative that I actually am. My best friend is an ex-ex-gay. People often can’t understand how we can still be friends with our ‘big’ difference of opinion…but we can’t understand how we couldn’t be friends…we know each other so well; we only want the best for each other; we’ve got lots of views, opinions and values that ‘line up’ with each other but it’s the areas where we don’t completely agree where we challenge each other.
    Thanks for being a better model of that kind of relationship than I have been.

  83. Justin,
    I see both sides to this.
    Unfortunately, I was one of the ones who believed Michael Bussee’s story (of not changing) for so long that it left me isolated and lonely for many years. I thought for many, many years that only religious fanatics could find support. However, over time I learned differently, change can happen and it does. But not for everyone, and not in the same way if it does happen.
    And I too am vehemently oppossed to the politicking that goes on the EXODUS website. It offends me to no end and therefore, I will never be a part of that organization. I don’t care if someone has a different opinion than mine – I do care that they send a double message to the very people they try to reach. From my perspective, we should be more concerned with His Kingdom to Come and not of this country – since it has already crashed anyhow.
    I wish and do not have the answer, that somehow we could all meet in the middle.

  84. I appreciate all the positive feedback to what I said. That’s always nice to hear, and your comments were very kind.
    Here’s the thing: There’s tremendous pain and personal investment on both sides of this.
    I know that we pro-gay folks sometimes come across, as I said before, as taking joy in ex-gay leaders’ falls or trying to turn their private struggles into public objects of discussion (at best) or ridicule (at worst). I know that must be incredibly painful to those of you who identify as ex-gay. That grieves me, because it’s not at all how I want to come across.
    I have friends in ex-gay ministries, and I care about them very much as people. I know that they didn’t get into ex-gay ministry in order to make a statement about others’ lives; for them, it’s a very private, personal experience. Those who share their stories publicly do so only for the sake of others like them, to provide hope to those who want it. It upsets them as much as it does me when their stories are used for political purposes – by either side.
    I respect their attitudes and love them dearly as friends.
    At the same time, however, every day I also see the very real damage that is being done by Exodus, not just through political channels, but through the sharing of testimonies that don’t tell the whole story. I know that none of these people mean to be dishonest in any way, but often they are simply unaware of the huge negative impact their stories are having on some people’s lives.
    Many of my ex-gay friends are fond of saying things like, “We just want to offer hope to those who want it. We don’t want to push a change message on anyone who is happy being gay.” They are truly, 100% sincere in this. And they are genuinely shocked when some gay people (myself included) are so adamantly opposed to what they do. A few have even suggested that gay people get angry about this only because the Holy Spirit is convicting us of our sin and we don’t want to face it. I hope I don’t have to tell anyone here that that isn’t the case.
    Just as many gay people don’t understand why ex-gays do what they do, I think it’s also true that many ex-gays don’t understand why gay people see the simple sharing of their stories as so incredibly damaging. And truth be told, what’s so damaging isn’t that people are sharing their stories, it’s that typically those stories are de-emphasizing or leaving out certain parts, and the (often unintentional) dishonesty is having a much larger impact than many ex-gays realize.
    Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 5 major ways I’ve seen the sharing of these sorts of ex-gay stories damage the church, but I’m reluctant to share them just yet because I don’t want to be perceived as attacking anyone here, especially since I see that some of you are already feeling very wounded and vulnerable. I will be happy to share them in the future, however, when you feel the time is right.
    So I just want to say that I understand and appreciate where the ex-gays are coming from, and I know that the ex-gays I know are good, genuine people who have no desire to hurt anyone else through their private journeys. At the same time I understand and fully identify with the anger and frustration of Michael and others, because I too have seen many horrible things come out of all of this, and at times it does feel like the truth is getting lost somewhere.

  85. I have been “convinced” it is a sin and “not convinced” it is a sin.
    Either way, it is not easy to dismiss, for myself at least.
    I guess this just goes to show how unique every individual is.

  86. AM, I know many long term gay relationships (mostly women of course since I am a woman) So, no I don’t believe the old song that gay relationships are doomed because of some intrinsic value. Like anyone, it depends on the people, how well do they communicate, do they care about the relationship, etc….
    I, too, am tired of the EXODUS testimonies that talk thay way. BTW, when telling my story to some gay people they seemd to imply and asked all those stupid questions , too – you know like “Maybe you just haven’t met the right women?” “Did you have a bad experience with a woman?” etc… It was kind of funny getting that same garbage from the “other side.”

  87. Well-put Eddy! That makes sense. Perspective has a great deal to do with outcome! I completely understand that.

  88. AM–
    I purposely used the phrase “their reality is”…to convey that it is THEIR reality. If they are convinced that it is a sin, then that temptation is NOT going to deliver the sense of intimacy and fulfillment that it’s promising. If they can recognize this simple fact, the temptations are much easier to dismiss. –And if, at some point, they come to a point where they no longer believe its sin, then, yes, they could certainly find a good measure of intimacy and fulfillment.

  89. My homosexual “impulse” *did* deliver on intimacy and fulfillment. Just as a straight person’s may do the same for them with a lifetime marriage.
    It was a robbery that ended my relationship with my partner, not lack of happiness.
    This was one of the most dishonest things for me to understand with what ex-gay ministries pumped: that gay relationships were DOOMED to fail due to their instrinsic wrongness or sickness. Then I decided to look around for myself and saw gay men and women who had been partnered for years and happily so. Back to the drawing board *without* Moberly.
    What *did* fail was my long term heterosexual relationship because I could not be what and who I needed to be: a straight person in love and long term sexually attracted. Count me in for taking years from someone else’s life trying to be “normal”. Yes, the person agreed to be with me: no force was used other than perhaps religious guilt.
    Let’s start with honesty here: not all gay relationships are unfullfilling just as all straight ones are not unfullfilling. If you choose celibacy do so because of religious convictions, not a mythical template that all gay relations are sour from the get go and the living out of them.

  90. I agree with that Jayhuck. I just spent time in a class where I was trying to drive home the point that homosexuality is not the biggest sexual sin going on in the church and that we all struggle with something – gay, straight, or otherwise.

  91. Thanks Eddy! I really appreciate any efforts you’ve made in that regard. What I think would be great would be the realization that Gay Christians of all sorts, whether they are pro-gay or pro-Exodus, often, as Justin beautifully illustrates, have the SAME values. A person, gay or straight, can obviously be promiscuous and struggle with all manner of self-destructive behaviors, but to tie these behaviors in with one’s sexuality is a mistake that some ex-gay folk make. Justin is obviously pro-gay, but he has values that I don’t think any ex-gay person, or conservative religious person could argue with or deny or object to. It would be nice, sometimes, for Exodus members to realize and accept that the values they hold may also be help by pro-gay folk. These similarities and realizations might go a long way to building bridges between the two groups 🙂

  92. Good comments, jayhuck.
    I do get weirded out by the use of the word ‘change’ though. It’s just as ambiguous when either side uses it. In your post, you talked about some who didn’t change at all–or hardly at all. Was that speaking to behavior, feelings, identity, values? It seems its as easy to say ‘they didn’t change’ as it is for them to say that they did. We’ve all really got to be careful with that word.
    The biggest change that many experience is a change in values. Although they are still drawn by homosexual attractions, they have a totally different way of responding to those attractions. Many KNOW that although a homosexual impulse promises intimacy and fulfillment…their reality is that it will not deliver on those promises. So, they decide not to act on the feelings. The values have changed while the feelings still exist…whether or not we call that ‘change’ seems to depend on our separate definitions of what homosexuality is and what change is.
    I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort, when using the word ‘change’, to specify a change in what….going back to that list of behaviors, feelings, identity and values. (Might be other things to add to the list but those are the areas that readily come to mind.)

  93. Mary,
    Change, if it means being obedient to God, is exactly what I’m talking about. I hope You know I was talking about Exodus and not you when I posted my message above – I know that you are sensitive about these issues and I understand why – I tried to make it clear in that last paragraph I wasn’t talking about YOU 🙂

  94. Why do so many ex-gays seem to feel that the testimony is somehow more powerful if God removes the temptation completely?
    Thank you for your entire post Justin. I specifically appreciate the above question, and it goes to the heart of the problem I think. How does Exodus, a group that believes being gay is a sin, maintain its ministry without denigrating or offending other gay people who may disagree with it? That seems like it would be a tough thing to overcome. Ex-Gays sometimes do focus so much on change that many many ex-gays who haven’t experienced change, or who may never experience change, in that way, feel jilted or somehow less-holy or not as good as others. Exodus so often holds the I’m-straight-but-used-to-be-gay individual up its difficult not to hear the message they are intentionally or unintentionally sending. The goal, as I’ve said before, shouldn’t EVER be on change – at least not regarding one’s orientation, the GOAL should be being HOLY, and I think that is where Exodus falls short. If they don’t change their ways (and I do see some attempts at change being made, which is good), it may be their undoing.

  95. When I use the word transformation I intend to say that it does not mean changing sexual interests. It means coming to a place of obedience with God. (I am speaking of my own experience)
    Change on the other hand can mean sexual interest moves in the direction of opposite gender attraction.
    I will not dialogue anymore on the definitions I have just posted.

  96. Mary,
    Well, the transformation takes a loooonnnnnnggggggg time (no matter who you are or what your particular struggle happens to be) and there is no guarantee that those feelings will never come up again.
    I understand what you are saying, and I agree with you, but there’s also the strong possibility that that transformation may NEVER happen – and that is what I meant above when I was asking Exodus and its leaders to be honest – some have experienced change – on different levels, some more, some less – but some good Exodus members have never experienced any change at all despite their years in the ministry – and this isn’t a bad thing, but it IS something that needs to be acknowledged and accepted. The idea that if someone DOESN’T change they didn’t try hard enough or aren’t as good as anyone else, are ideas that need to be done away with.
    I also want to make sure you know I’m NOT saying you are suggesting any of these things – I was merely using your words as a springboard to talk about what Exodus sometimes does – NOT what you do 🙂

  97. My hope and prayer for Exodus is that they be honest – with themselves and with others who are interested in joining such groups. I was once very interested in joining and then I learned how they tend to twist scientific findings and research to fit their own ideas and beliefs and got the strong impression their agenda was more important than honesty – all of which completely turned me off to the idea of participating in one of their groups – and will most likely prevent me from ever becoming a part of them. I do believe there are people who have found real peace through Exodus, and I’m nothing but happy for them. But it would be nice to see Exodus’s leaders stand up against hypocrisy and bigotry more than they currently do.

  98. Justin,
    I am ex gay for lack of a better word. My position is that it is a sin for me. And I struggle with sin all the time – not just sexual sin but all kinds. You’re right people should not be ashamed to admit the struggle – whatever it may be.
    I think in the early days, evangelicals wanted to hear that once a gay person left the lifestyle and could be attracted to someone of the opposite gender that they were completely healed and transformed. Well, the transformation takes a loooonnnnnnggggggg time (no matter who you are or what your particular struggle happens to be) and there is no guarantee that those feelings will never come up again. Expecially for a person who was completely immersed in a lifestyle where they did have good feelings of community, friends, supoort, etc….
    Also, no one should prop up a person who has left the lifestyle too early in their walk. There is a lot to work on and a lot of pressure out there to perform either as completely hetersexual or homosexual again. People who are new in their faith walk need to be given time to grow and strengthen.

  99. Justin Lee is a voice of reason and sanity in all of this. Very glad he is commenting.

  100. WOW – another reason to stay out of the limelight. For the sake of a person’s personal dignity and mental &emotional health, I am disturbed. What has been written here by some people is outrageous and unjust. Is this what you call healthy? Growth? Look at all the misinformation provided about people. People demand transparency. Why? Will it be used incorrectly some years later to gossip about someone? Why would anyone feel comfortable discussing their feelings with a person (even in private) who would later sit down to “jot” them into a public forum as if it was no big deal?
    Not that we should paint only a picture of roses but hey – could some of these things be said in a different way that does not betray anyone??

  101. MCC stands for Metropolitan Community Church. It had commonly been known as ‘the gay church’ especially before any denominations developed a welcoming attitude towards gays. There’s often an MCC church in any sizable city.
    Thank you Eddy – I will check them out 🙂

  102. It appears Greg Reid is presumed guilty simply because he’s making no public statements on this issue…he’s still a minister though. And Karen said it well enough about Ron Dennis. Michael, there was a time about a year ago when you thought that I was the one looking to get beat up. While I’m glad you got your memories straight, Karen’s point is well-taken. By your own reports, you lost touch with all of these people many years ago. Whoever it was that made that statement about looking to get beat up made it nearly 30 years ago. But your post makes it seem like it’s a current state of mind.
    I am glad that you’ve gotten me off that founders list, but while you’re at it, you really need to remove Gary and Perry. Neither one was in any leadership or founder capacity. If they rank as founders simply by being in those early two years gatherings, then we really ought to look into all the others (I’m guessing at least another dozen or more) who were part of those first two years.
    But I think Justin’s opening point is more fitting. LOL. Poor Robbi. She just doesn’t understand how this blog works. She thought she was being helpful, offering updates on the whereabouts of folks Michael said he cared deeply about. I tried and tried but couldn’t find any of that care or concern expressed in his response to her updates.
    I appreciated the rest of Justin’s post also. If we ever do get to the point where we can openly discuss rather than just look for ways to refute one another, I hope those points resurface. For now, though, I just want to reiterate that I was known for teaching topics at Exodus national conferences on “Lessons for the Battlefield”, “The Reality of Temptation”, “Progressive Reality”, “The Struggle with Life-Dominating Sin”. LOL. Didn’t my ‘mantle’ fall on anybody when I moved on?
    (I’m thinking it did but that our human tendency is to overlook my ‘tedious’ message and instead the professed ‘miracle cures’ catch our eyes and attention.)
    Ann–MCC stands for Metropolitan Community Church. It had commonly been known as ‘the gay church’ especially before any denominations developed a welcoming attitude towards gays. There’s often an MCC church in any sizable city.

  103. The church you are thinking of at Franklin and Highland (the one with the 20 foot AIDS ribbon) is a United Methodist Church (UMC) not an MCC church.

    I am thinking of the one at Franklin and Highland – thanks for the clarification. I’ll check out the MCC soon.

  104. Ann,
    The church you are thinking of at Franklin and Highland (the one with the 20 foot AIDS ribbon) is a United Methodist Church (UMC) not an MCC church.
    The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Los Angeles is located on Franklin between Normandie and Vermont in Los Feliz. This church has an interesting history in that it was the first MCC church in a denomination that is now international with hundreds of churches and tens of thousands of congregants.

  105. Karen,
    I just figured out what church it was – thanks anyway. They have one on Franklin and Highland Ave. in Hollywood – just didn’t recognize the initials you mentioned.

  106. Michael writes … “The last time I talked with Ron Dennis, we was going to bars to look for straight guys to beat him up because he felt guilty about his gayness.”
    And exactly when was that, Michael? Twenty plus years ago? Thirty? The man you described is NOT the Ron Dennis I know and work with today. I think it’s time you arrived in this millenium. Your attempt to lump all the Exodus pioneers into the same pathetic category is getting old.
    For other readers … yes, there was a time in Ron’s life when he was nearly beat to death by a man. It was one of the incidents that led up to his conversion from Judaism to Christianity, and that in an MCC Church. As I posted earlier, Ron’s testimony is on our website on the “Finding Help” section.
    Eddy – I’m going to alert Ron to this thread and encourage him to respond. Thanks for your kind words.

  107. Justin,
    Ok, not only do I completely agree with you but I can definitely see why you are in a leadership position.
    I do feel the tide is turning – little by little – those who have made these claims before about being totally free from all same gender attractions are tempering their tone and words and being more genuine and authentic when communicating their daily journey. I applaud them and hope others will follow in their foot steps.
    BTW – Very cool web site!

  108. Here’s where I struggle. I feel like so often we (the pro-gay folks) come across as almost taking joy in pointing out the failures of prominent ex-gays. No doubt this gives them a horrible impression of us and only adds to the pressure so many of them must feel already. That is not how I want us to come across.

    Just like Renee Zellweger said to Tom Criuse in Jerry Maguire – “you had me at hello” – is exactly the way I felt reading the above paragraph. THANK YOU! I really appreciate your fairness and ability to look at an issue with the greater good in mind. Ok, now I’m going to read the rest of your post 🙂

  109. Here’s where I struggle. I feel like so often we (the pro-gay folks) come across as almost taking joy in pointing out the failures of prominent ex-gays. No doubt this gives them a horrible impression of us and only adds to the pressure so many of them must feel already. That is not how I want us to come across.
    I have sympathy for their position in that regard because I know that I, as a gay Christian leader, feel a tremendous amount of pressure to be a good example. I know that if I were to make a mistake and be caught in some sort of public sin, it would surely be used by others to try to discredit me and my ministry. That is, at times, an almost overwhelming burden. Who among us can withstand that constant scrutiny?
    But that’s why I’m always so clear about the fact that I’m human, and I’m a sinner, and I would never claim to be otherwise. I publicly admit that I must wrestle every day with my own sex drive, pride, selfishness, and so on. I do my best not to sin, but I do, every day, and if someday it should happen in a publicly embarrassing way, I will of course be humiliated, but it’s not at odds with who I’ve claimed to be: an imperfect, sinful, yet forgiven man.
    The message so many of us keep hearing from Exodus and many ex-gay testimonies is that they have not merely stopped having gay sex, but that they have been freed from all gay attractions as well. In the cases where I’ve heard ex-gays admit to still having any such attractions at all, it always seems to be minimized as a sort of “lingering, residual temptation” that pops up now and then but isn’t a major struggle. And of course, the implicit (sometimes explicit) message is that you, too, can be rid of your attractions – a message I find to be dangerous for many reasons if it is untrue.
    I will openly admit that as a 30-year-old gay Christian man, I have a powerful sex drive. It’s not just a temptation that pops up now and then, it’s a force I must wrestle with every day (just as my straight Christian brothers do) in order to make moral choices and live the life I believe God has called me to live. I believe this is true for many self-professed ex-gays as well, and I only wish they could see that there is no shame in making such an admission. To say that God gives me the strength to make the right choices every day in spite of strong temptations to do otherwise (not just sexually but in every aspect of my life) is a powerful testimony, isn’t it? Why do so many ex-gays seem to feel that the testimony is somehow more powerful if God removes the temptation completely? That’s not how I’ve known God to work in any area of my life.
    Robbi – the name you’re looking for is Dr. Ralph Blair.
    Michael – I wanted to ask you something privately; is there a good way to contact you? Or you can contact me through the conatct form on my website.

  110. He told me he was going to bars to try to provoke fights — looking for straight guys to beat him up as a sort of punushment for still being gay.

  111. Michael,
    I am so sorry – just read your post again and see that he wanted straight men to beat HIM up. I knew something was amiss and now I see it.

  112. The last time I talked with Ron Dennis, we was going to bars to look for straight guys to beat him up because he felt guilty about his gayness.
    I don’t know who Ron Dennis is but would this be considered a hate crime in reverse if he was targeting straight guys to beat up?

  113. So let’s recap. No one seems to know where Jim Kaspar is — but I have reason to believe that he was never really “ex-gay” when I knew him and probably is not now.. Greg Reid was questionably “ex-gay” when I knew him, is no longer involved in ex-gay ministry and no one knows what kind of ex-gay lifesytle he is living now — if any.
    Robbi Kenney was never gay and is producing a “classic gay love story”. Gary Cooper is dead. Perry Desmond is dead. Guy Charles is dead. The last time I talked with Ron Dennis, we was going to bars to look for straight guys to beat him up because he felt guilty about his gayness.
    Frank Worthen is married and still likes the term “ex-gay”, Eddy was not one of the founders, so you can’t count him. I am openly gay So how can Thockmorton most of the founders never returned to the gay lifestlye?.

  114. I interviewed both Kaspar and Reid for an article i did a couple of years ago. They both said they had not come to believe living as gay was right for them. Reid was more emphatic about it than Kaspar. But Kaspar was not involved in ministry and did not want to comment any further or have anyone contact him. I only interviewed those who were on that first board, except you Michael, because everyone knew where you were 🙂 – I now regret that I did not contact you directly sooner. Ron Dennis appears to have survived whatever beatings he sustained and is still in ex-gay ministry in NE.
    Lots of twists and turns, most of which are complicated.

  115. I loved those early EXODUS days. Loved Greg, Mike and Kaspar. Felt energized by being a part of something larger than myself. I think a lot of us, completely apart from the sexuality issues, longed for camaraderie and a sense of belonging. I wasn’t coming from a gay background of course (and that’s the phrase I coined for OUTPOST when ex-gay became completely untenable very early on), but I was single, celibate, sexually interested. (In Kaspar, poor guy, and Greg until a mighty blow-out at the Johnstown conference in, uh, I want to say 1979). So I could identify with the sexual temptation issues that we all talked about.
    I am greatly encouraged by the leadership of EXODUS agreeing to withdraw from Republican etc politics and re-forming its stance on “change.” That was, what, Ed, a year or so ago? Of course I don’t know what happens at the local level. But Alan Chambers drops us notes occasionally, as does Dan Puumula at OUTPOST, as to what’s going on. Dan’s take on change isn’t much different than Ed’s and mine (and Jeff Ford’s when he took over). We weren’t interested in teaching that heterosexuality was the goal and made that statement in our literature more than once.
    We’ve lost so many of those very early EXODUS, and for a few months pre-EXODUS participants. Guy Charles was the first to pass away. Heart condition. He went back to the gay life not long after that very first Melodyland meeting where EXODUS was named.
    I saw him again in Chicago about 1978. Ed (Eddy) had crashed the OUTPOST station wagon on the way home to Mpls from Harrisburg. He rolled over into a ditch near Angola, Indiana. A wonderfully frank guy named Marty Hanson, who stated bluntly at that year’s EXODUS conference that he didn’t believe in change, drove out to pick him up and put him on a Greyhound bus. Somewhere in there I spent a weekend with Marty and we tracked down Guy who gave me a box of ministry memorabilia that I eventually passed along to Bob Davies when he was still running EXODUS.
    The interesting thing about Guy’s views on things at that point in his life (in his early 70’s I think) is that he’d simply given up the fight to stay celibate. He was in a long-term relationship with a partner at that point, but was adamant that he would never “cross over” to Ralph whatsinames take on gay theology. Ralph. Evangelicals Concerned Ralph. Man, menopause. Mind like a sieve now. I loved his being able to tell me this stuff, and how glad I was that he was comfortable with himself and with me to do it. Plus I got to use his bathroom, papered over with hunky naked men from magazines doing whatever. THAT he was a litlte embarrassed about. I think he told me to close my eyes and pee.
    Barbara Johnson of Spatula Club fame, who was also an important participant at the Melodyland meeting, died of brain cancer a year or so ago. I lost track of her years ago, and it was interesting to me that after the success of her first couple books about being the parent of a gay son, she took her sense of humor out to the masses, not speaking of homosexuality in the last few of her books.
    Perry Desmond. That was one my saddest moments when I’d heard he’d passed away. I”m thinking we heard during the Las Vegas conference in … 1981? The stress his body went through – with the surgeries, breast implants and removals, all that — plus his weight issues. God. He never forgot me. He always dropped me the happiest little lines NEVER mentioning his illnesses. If email had been around in his day, Perry would’ve been a one-person viral campaign for WHATEVER he was into. The man WAS the smiley face in those days.
    I had breakfast with a good friend this morning. Patricia Nell Warren, author of the classic gay lovestory The Front Runner. She knows about my background. I came out to her very early in our relationship. I think producing The Front Runner would be a nice counterpoint to all those years in ex-gay ministry.

  116. Why wouldn’t I have the right to ask another person’s opinion on anything? Is homosexuality and how it is dealt with or lived out off limits or taboo? We can discuss other issues — alcohol, divorce and remarriage of which many opinions and yes Scriptural opinions abound and yet homosexuality is cut and dried with no discussion necessary?
    Hmm….maybe Warren should shut down this blog if all questions are answered, all dilemmas solved.
    Come to think of it, I would like to hear his thoughts on what we have been discussing.

  117. AM,
    Why would you ask another person’s opinion on that? Sin is sin – none is greater or lesser than the other.
    (BTW, I believe SSS is a sin for me and do not make that call for other people)

  118. Michael,
    Was that for me for AM?
    Of the three scenarios, which one do you feel more aligned to? Is there another one not mentioned that would be personally better for you? People are always going to have opinions about what others should or should not do with whatever set of circumstances they are dealing with, but ultimately, it is a personal choice what we decide and we can always change our perspectives over the course of a life. I certainly have. Also, if you do not feel a sense of conviction in any of the choices currently available, then I don’t think you have to choose anything yet. Be careful who you listen to, and if a person is really interested in your well being, they will be listening to you.

  119. Ann: I was actually told (by quite a number of EXODUS people) that what made my situation particularly sinful was that I was “living” it (staying committed to one partner) as opposed to repenting and falling, repenting and falling, repenting and falling…
    You are OK as you repent and really mean it — even you can only keep that promise for a couple of days. At least they are being obedient and I am being rebellious. To their way of thinking, promiscuity with repentance was better — you could still call yourself ex-gay.

  120. Thanks, Michael, for putting into words that which was at the forefront of my mind and heart as I tried to talk with ex-gay leaders and participants. Occasionally, one of these concerns which you so eloquently state would rise to the surface and be expressed but would be met with the deafening silence I alluded to, earlier.
    So, *which* is better: having a heterosexual mate and “falling” sporadically, being in a committed gay relationship, or going “solo” (masturbation) for a lifetime?
    How about just checking out of life nearly entirely, keeping people and opportunities at a distance?
    Of course the answer I would get (typically) was, “None of the above; God wants you healed.”
    Still wondering where more than a scant few of these folks reside.

  121. Eddy: Thanks for filling me in. I find it interesting that your urges come in surges – and that they tend to se seasonal. It reminds me of what Frank Worthen once said about the matter in one of his old newsletters:
    “When the sun [comes out] and the clothes[come] off, [‘ex-gays’ have] a full blown problem.” He admits that even “during the winter months,” the “ex-gays” have only “a measure of victory.”
    This was (and probably still is) a “full blown” problem among many other EXODUS leaders — at least in those early years. They may not have acutally been having sex with another person (I know that some did) but when we got together as a group, we all admitted privately to each other that masturbation to gay fantasies was an ongoing problem.
    I believe the “masturbation problem” was even discussed at a couple of EXODUS conferences — so no one was really ex-gay in the sense of now being heterosexual. I was the only one that made it very public. I told the truth and they got credit for “not returning to the gay lifestyle”. Question: Is repetitive “falling” into gay masturbation somehow morally better?
    While they were “falling” and being hailed as somehow holier than me, I was being vilified and demonized for telling the truth — that “ex-gays” were still gay. I have been told that I am not saved and was never saved. I have been told that my father is “Satan” and that I am his “seed”.
    I have been accused of lying, spinning and distorting the truth. Frank Worthen even sent me graphic descriptions of the flames of Hell that await me and now refuses to speak to me. And even though I apologized to my wife and family for my infdelity, I have been told that I owe EXODUS an apology. If only the WHOLE story of EXODUS’s early days were told, other people (a lot of people) would need to offer an “apology”, not just me.
    One “ex-gay” back then had an addiction to gay porn. Another took nude showers with another ex-gay leader. That saddest stoy of all is of one “old-timer” who told me that he was “going to bars looking for guys to beat him up” over the guilt he felt for “falling”.
    I am not saying these things to discredit them. These people were brothers in Christ and good friends — I am just tired of being singled out as the bad seed who did not repent — while they continued to mislead their audiences.

  122. Karen,
    Thanks for the update. I’ve wondered for years myself where Ron was and what he was up to. I’m sorry for the loss of his wife. The next time your paths cross, try to let him know we’re hanging out over here. Perhaps he could stop in for a spell.

  123. Michael writes … About EXODUS history, whatever happend to these EXODUS old-timers? Greg Reid, Frank Worthen, Robbi Kenney, Ed Hursrt, Ron Dennis, Jim Kaspar. Michael Bussee, Gary Cooper, Perry Desomnd, etc. Where are they now? Except for Robbi (who was never gay) how many of these guys are still “ex-gay”?
    Ron Dennis is the President of my Board of Directors (Transforming Congregations), and for many years during the 80s served as one of our regional Executive Directors. (His personal testimony can be found on our website under the “Find Help” section. He was married for several years until his wife died of cancer, but I don’t know if he embraces the label “ex-gay.” He currently lives in Pahrump, Nevada.

  124. LOL. And please don’t ask me analyze the ‘attraction levels’ further…even I don’t know if they’re diminishing due to personal growth or age. I’m human enough that I get worried in the spring if I don’t have a brief surge of attractions. Proof that I’m still alive. (It’s been a struggle ever since my first AARP mailing arrived.)

  125. Preface: I just reviewed this and it’s incredibly long but I couldn’t figure out what to leave out. and figured ‘you can skip over it if you want to’…except Michael, you’re not allowed to skip since it’s in answer to your question. I did realize though that parts of it speak back to or embellish other parts. (How it’s been a somewhat rewarding journey and how–parts of me that I once despised were turned into assets.) I also wanted to reward the tone of Michael’s post to me. When it turns personal, please know that I’m not prescribing this as THE way. It’s the path I’ve chosen/stumbled upon. LOL! “I did it my way!” would be a strange epitaph for a conservative Christian. I WILL have to consider that…. (Not planning on departing any time soon, though.)
    LOL. I never heard the reference to me as ‘the seventh founder’…while it is flattering, it simply isn’t true. I joined up with Robbi at Outpost in May of 1978. Because she already served on the Exodus board, I could not. (They didn’t want any one ministry to dominate…or appear to.) Perhaps she came to those board meetings with enough “Ed said” or “Ed thinks” statements that people got the impression I was there. I believe I taught my first session at an Exodus conference in 1979. I’m thinking it was most likely “Lessons for the Battlefield”–where I said pretty much what I’ve been saying here–that to me ‘ex’ simply means ‘out of’…that most, if not all, of us should expect a wilderness experience…and that I really didn’t know how long that might be. I did think that heterosexual marriage was likely in store for me one day but I had prayerfully decided that it would not be until after I left the ministry. I remember two principal reasons: 1) I didn’t want my wife to be subject to the kinds of invasive personal questions people were asking…simply because she had hooked up with me. (There is no wife…I was thinking ahead.) 2) I really couldn’t see God putting me under the stress of the public scrutiny of ministry at the same time He was asking me to make the big leap into the foreign waters of heterosexuality.
    I remember telling the class that anyone who claimed to go directly from gay to straight ‘concerned’ me. I majored on PROCESS. So much so, that some people complained to the board that I was too negative. The usual retort to that was “you mean he’s too REAL.”
    As to those people, Robbi always kept better tabs on people than I did. When I took a hiatus from Outpost and returned to Dallas in 1980, it turned out that Perry lived just 3 blocks from me. We got together a few times but I swear he always had an entourage…always a few friends coming and going…I much preferred my quiet apartment. I was all ‘peopled out’.
    Regarding Greg and Robbi’s silence about their previous history, there’s really no mystery. I’ve said before that this is the only place where I’ve re-emerged associated with this topic. I can’t speak for Greg but I can speak, in part, for Robbi since she and I are in regular contact. We KNOW how polarizing this issue can be; we KNOW there are many presuppositions attached to our Exodus roots…we don’t choose to meet people that way. When in the ministry, the issue consumed 90 to 100% of our focus and attention; there is so much more to life…we have so many more energies…than just our sexuality. From our talks, I know that Robbi’s still has the same heart of love and concern that she always had but I’ve found that she’s also found others who are oppressed to care about as well. She’s still pursuing the producing dream but I have a hard time grasping that whole business. LOL. I understand create and perform; I don’t understand buy, option, bid, broker, deal, talent, negotiations, facilities, crews, locations, backdrops…Holy Buckets. Just the list is wearing!
    Me, I’ve spent my entire life rediscovering myself. I mentioned in several previous posts about my adolescent bouts with depression, self-mutilation and thoughts of suicide. (razor cuts to forearms intended to cause pain not bleeding) Well, I needed to come to peace with that self. LOL. For years after I became a Christian, I loved myself simply because it was right to agree with God…if He loves me, it’s pretty audacious of me to overrule His opinion. But I remember saying to my counselor from church, and this while I was working at Outpost, “so what, God loves me…He loves EVERYbody…He’s got no taste…that statement says more about Him than it does about me.” It started me on a journey of examining, sometimes purging, but, more often, embracing parts of myself that I had learned to hate or at least dislike. My intensely analytical nature, my compulsive awareness of my surroundings…and the people in them, my height, my stocky frame, my looks, my quirky, bizarre and irreverent humor, my tenacity and/or stubbornesss, my fear of new things, my tendency towards ritual (just two weeks ago, I forced myself to switch my lunch place for 2 days each week. Now I go to the same new place on Tuesdays and another same new place on Thursdays.) LOL. So, you see, my life is full of exciting growth challenges to keep me occupied.
    It took a long time for me to find the right fit for my creative hunger. One of my favorite tasks at Outpost was the writing. LOL. It’ve dabbled at writing over the years but simply haven’t found a topic yet that I could pour myself into. But I found out that I’m a pretty good nature photographer…a good sense of centering and cropping and an eye for things people would pass by. With or without a camera, I need to be ‘in nature’ more than most people. I have favoritte trees, favorite paths, favorite destinations, favorite sitting spots, favorite thinking spots… (I think I’d been in Minneapolis about a week before I confided in my mom, “Sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever be moving back home; lakes, rivers, creeks, parks, woods, waterfalls…and it’s all right here IN the city.) LOL. I like to bike but I don’t like to pass by the nature that fast…I really like to drink it in.
    Blogging here takes up a lot of my time. As does emailing a gang of 3 others from my early Exodus days. And my family. Now that mom has passed, I’ve informally assumed her ‘occasion reminder’ role…tipping family members off that another family member is having a special anniversary or birthday. (We’re brothers, so annual remembrances just don’t cut it but we’ll all make a point to acknowledge a 25th, 30th, etc. And, besides, I have the gift of nag.)
    My strangest obsession is that I watch ‘junk tv’ critically. I learn of a show that is stupid beyond belief and then find out that it’s on the ‘most watched’ list. Then I watch the show wondering ‘what appeals to people’, ‘what is it about this that draws them in’ and, much worse, ‘ohmigod, there are people out there, in my world, who think this is (pick one: real, entertaining, educational, worthwhile, exciting)…lol…then you wait for the commercials to see what category of people they’re geared to. (My obsession about media messages pops up now and again in my comments.)
    Karaoke has been the biggest breakthrough for me though. I was pulled out a class production in the 3rd or 4th grade because the nun said I was the one who was off-key. I never sang in front of people again (except ‘Happy Birthday to You). After my conversion, of course, I sang in church and I even joined the choir–but Joe, my choirloft neighbor, would always direct his voice towards me so I could match.) When I first started, I’d run to the hallway just before I got up…to shake the previous singer’s voice out of my head and put the original singer’s voice from my song in my head. If I couldn’t hear it in my head, I’d go miserably offkey. And (from all reports) I often did! But I had challenged myself that I had to try something new and that I couldn’t give up until I’d given it a fair shot. LOL. It’s been a fascinating ride of challenge and self-discovery—and many trips to YouTube–a few hours a week just singing, practicing, searching at home. (Often between blog comments.)
    Oh, and I can’t leave out the ‘social butterfly’. Terry, my gay friend and neighbor from across the hall, thinks I’m a social butterfly because I seem to know everyone. But I’ve lived in this neighborhood for the past 15 years and, in all my years in Minneapolis, never lived further than 5 miles from here. I have about 10 people locally that I’d call ‘friends’–we make it a point to get together and do things together occasionally. I have hundreds of ‘hello, neighbors’, acquaintances and close acquaintances. (You tend to get beyond the basic pleasantries and actually know and care a bit about each other’s lives.)
    LOL…and my job is just a job. I’m good at it; it doesn’t bore me to tears (mostly because, I can wear headphones all day when I’m keying…I lip sync along to karaoke discs all day on Thursdays and Fridays)..and it pays the bills.
    I’ve developed a word game for use both in schools and nursing homes (could also be a parlor game) but it’s all on paper…not on disc, yet…LOL. I have zero business sense. I excel at efficiency…finding a way to lower production costs (the goods not the laborers)…but I don’t manage, supervise, do accounting, marketing… so that’s on semi-hold. Meaning, I can start setting up a database and keying all the handwritten info. (Over 500 word puzzles and their solutions.)
    Am I straight? No. I can appreciate the physicality of a woman but I’ve only felt feelings beyond that for 4 or 5 women in real life that I recall and only two onscreen. (Jane Fonda in “Coming Home” and Olivia Newton-John in “Grease”). I can see aspects of Olivia in 2 of the real life women and Jane in none. And I’ve tried not to analyze it to death. Am I gay? No. I can appreciate the physicality of a man and there are times when I feel attractions but I don’t pursue them and the attractions don’t drive me. Often, being analytical, when I feel an attraction, I’ll start ‘looking for the hook’…what is it about this guy that’s drawing me? And I find myself chewing on whatever it is that I just learned rather than pursuing the attraction. A few times I found that my attraction was more of an admiration and, recognizing that as a healthy motive, actually struck up a friendshp. LOL. The attractions are kinda like mosquitos…a bit bothersome but easy to deal with (unless they come in hordes)…seasonal…don’t purposely draw them to you…and, when all else fails, try some repellant. 🙂 Regrets? I’ve got a few. But, then again, too few to mention.
    LOL—and then, after writing the preface, did one more review and realized that I forgot to mention that I actually got good at karaoke. People actually invite me to sing for events. I’ve learned my range…the songs I can try, the songs I should avoid, the songs I know I’ll do well and the songs that are guaranteed to ‘bowl ’em over’ every time. “My Way” is the most recent addition to the hot list.

  126. Michael – Who are you referring to? I talked to all of those who were on the first board and they all indicated to me that they still had the ex-gay perspective. Perhaps you are thinking of the founders more broadly than me…

  127. Just read the material on Greg Reid’s site. When I last spoke to him, he wasn’t using the term ex-gay at all and was really vague about where he stood on that issue. He had changed his minisry focus dramatically.
    On his site, he makes no mention of his “ex-gay” past or his part in creating EXODUS. Curious,,, I know that Robbi Kenney also prefers not to publicize her involvement and that she shares some of Wendy Gritter’s concerns about EXODUS’s current focus and direction.
    I mention this only because I have run across article form supporters of the ex-gay movement, including Dr. Throckmorton, who claim that apart from Gary and me, “none of the original founders returned to the gay lifestyle.” http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2005/01/subjective-view/
    I have personal knowledge to the contrary. Let’s be clear. Robbi was never gay to begin with and I know from direct, personal experience that at least two more of the “old-timers” never really left it — and were still “falling” while they were leading. That fact is one more reason that Gary and I decided to leave — the movement was not delivering what it claimed,

  128. Well, maybe not nuff said. EXODUS may have lots of trouble explaining what “ex-gay” and “former homosexual” actually mean (or whether or not to even use these terms), but they have no trouble at all describing what they believe homosexuality is.
    Alan Chambers says it is “evil” — “One of the many evils this world has to offer…” At the recent conference, EXODUS keynote speaker, Andrew Comiiskey, calls it “spiritual disfigurement”, says that it is “wicked” and calls EXODUS members to join the “war” against it:
    From Mr. Comiskey: “Wickedness is a reality, and those with same-sex attraction that succumb to the spirit of the age, can become agents of that wickedness…When you claim healing for the homosexual, you have declared war. And people, it is only going to get worse; it is only going to get worse in the changing cultural climate in which we live. Ours is not a benign healing path, it is a call to battle.”
    That’s not how EXODUS started or what it was intended to be. A “healing path” is exactly what we had in mind…

  129. Eddy: “But back to the point, once more you seem to be incorporating me into Exodus memories and history before I ever was ‘notable’.”
    I guess put you on the list because I have always thought of you as a very important and notable figure in the early, formative years of EXODUS. It was a compliment You have been referred to as “the seventh founder” (or was it sixth”?)
    What has happened with you in the years that followed? Where are you now? What are you up to, besides our mutual enjoyment of karaoke? I wonder the same thing about some of the others, since they were once good friends and I have lost contact with most.
    I put Gary and me on the list, just in case some readers might not be aware of what has happened in the years since EXODUS was formed. There is life after EXODUS. Just trying to start a walk down memory lane — and maybe get an update on some of the folks I have lost contact with.
    I wonder what ever happened to Jim Kaspar? i have completely lost contact with him. Frank Worthen won’t speak to me. His wife told me “light has no fellowship with darkness”.
    Greg Reid, who was at one time a very close friend, created E.A.G.L.E. ministry (Ex Active Gay Liberated Eternally) some time before EXODUS was formed and then started up a ministry for victims of ritual satanic abuse: http://www.gregoryreid.com/. We spoke many years ago and he told me he was “too busy” to think about his sexual orientation.
    Robbi Kenney was never gay but was there from the beginning of EXODUS. I talke with her over a year ago and she was doing some sort of work producing films, I think. She doesn’t really like the term “ex-gay” from what I could tell and also thought EXODUS should drop the politics.
    Perry Desmond (what a character!) attended the very first EXODUS conference. He was a former drag queen, former post-operative transexual of very large size and personality — and very big sense of humor. Referring to his sex-change surgery, he referred to himself as “the mutilated man”. Sadly, I had also heard that he had passed away. I found this about him: http://www.leaderu.com/stonewall/pages/perry_d.html
    I have no information about some of the others, but would love to fill in the gaps. Any info would be appreciated.
    Regarding terminology, I don’t want people to use MY definitions. I just want to understand theirs. Nuff said bout that.

  130. Michael-
    I think I have the answer to your ‘where are they now’ question. There’s a link in this thread (see post 113588) that purports to be ‘hours of interviews with all of those who were most closely involved in the formative years’. Except for Gary, Perry and I, the rest of your list was the original board. Since “all…who were most closely involved” are interviewed in the video, you should find your updates there.

  131. Michael–
    Your question about the whereabouts of the old timers puzzles me. If it was a genuine question, it’s odd that you placed yourself and Gary Cooper on the list. Gary is your deceased partner and you are here. And you certainly know that. More baffling was sticking my name in the middle of your list. LOL. We’ve been blogging somewhat intensely over the course of what? two years? Surely you knew that Ed and Eddy were one and the same. (I was Eddy as a kid and then Ed from 6th grade on–until the late 90’s when I worked in a nursing home. The hard of hearing never heard me when I said “Ed” but “Eddy” they’d hear…it wound up on my name tag and stuck. Meaningwise, it was a shift from “witness” to “whirlpool”.) —But back to the point, once more you seem to be incorporating me into Exodus memories and history before I ever was ‘notable’. I met you and shook your hand once; perhaps we talked for 2 to 3 minutes but I doubt it…there was always a line-up to talk to you. I didn’t even meet Robbi until February 1978 and i wasn’t part of any Exodus recognized entity until I went to Outpost in May 1978 immediately after graduation from bible school. Everyone else on your list predates me by a year or two. –I actually met Perry and Greg first, just a day before they convinced me to join them at the Oakland Conference. Greg flew. Perry, Steve, Frances, Ann and I drove cross-country. Perry died some time ago. You can find Greg by googling his name. He’s got an outreach in Texas somewhere. The others I barely knew. (I believe you’ve had contact with Frank more recently than I have…it’s been nearly 20 years for me.)
    As to your second post, I agree that folks should stop misleading with their words but I disagree that the answer is that THEY start to use YOUR terminology. If we recognize that this divide in our definitions exists–and we truly do respect each other–then neither side ought to defraud and neither side ought to force the other into a definition that isn’t right for them. We’re grown-ups…we celebrate diversity…and yet we can’t seem to work away around the fact that our definitions vary. (‘Vary’ and ‘diversity’ share a common root word.) Let’s get real. If a gay man calls another person ‘sister’, do we conclude that the guy he’s talking to is a female to male transsexual…that the guy was actually his flesh and blood ‘sister’? And, if a girl walked in, and he called her ‘sister’…would we automatically assume she was his biological sister? No, we’d get our understanding from the context and, if it wasn’t clear, we could even ask for clarification. I’m convinced that if we WANTED to, we could communicate effectively despite our differences in definitions. LOL. Instead, our usual response to ‘What did you mean by that?’ is to feel accused and challenged. It’s as if we read italics when none are offered. (Try “What did you mean by that?” 6 different ways. One with no particular emphasis on any word, another with the emphasis on “What”…another with the stress on ‘did’…another on ‘you’…another on ‘mean’ and another on ‘by that’. The meaning shifts with each different inflection. So, we could help each other in two ways. 1) If we mean to stress a particular word, then bold it, caps it, put it in italics…do something to show the emphasis. 2) If someone has put stress on a particular word in their post, we need to receive it with that emphasis.) Anyway, if they’re simply asking ‘What did you mean by that?’, we really shouldn’t feel challenged or attacked. )

  132. Eddy: Just trying to provoke and vex you a bit. 🙂 When it comes to “God’s definition” and “psychology’s definition”, of course I know that Christians have a different world view, a different internal experience, a different “identity”, a differernt language for describing spiritual realities and their own transformational journey.
    I know very well that when some people say “I am ex-gay”, they mean “in the eyes of God”, not “I am now heterosexual”. Just want everyone to get that — in case they don’t. There has been too much “hype”, too much “spin” and too much “Christianese” when it comes to this issue. Many have felt deliberately decieved. It’s time that Christians learned to speak secular.

  133. To Ann: P.S. New Direction would be much more comfortable identifying ourselves as a Side B ministry than an ex-gay ministry.
    That’s why I love ya, Wendy. 🙂
    To Eddy: I kinda always knew that message. You tend to pick it up from the culture. But it was at Melodyland (about 1974) where I was taught that becoming “ex-gay” was a condition of salvation, based on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 — “…those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. When I asked if others on this blog believed this, I could not get a straight answer (pardon the pun).
    About EXODUS history, whatever happend to these EXODUS old-timers? Greg Reid, Frank Worthen, Robbi Kenney, Ed Hursrt, Ron Dennis, Jim Kaspar. Michael Bussee, Gary Cooper, Perry Desomnd, etc. Where are they now? Except for Robbi (who was never gay) how many of these guys are still “ex-gay”?

  134. Thanks everybody for your comments. Seems a bit odd that there are no recent Exodus voices contributing …. though I’m guessing they have all been very busy with the current conference.
    Timothy – would you mind if I took your comment about reaching gays for Christ and reposted it on my “Bridging the Gap” blog? Thanks.
    Nice to see you here Justin – you’re always so smart 🙂
    P.S. New Direction would be much more comfortable identifying ourselves as a Side B ministry than an ex-gay ministry…..

  135. Michael–
    It sounds like you heard and received a pure gospel, can you recall when the first person added ‘but you can’t be gay’ or how it was that you got that message?
    (ALL–This is not a facetious question so please, I’m not looking for a diatribe against the conservatives, I’m curious about a true to life experience such as Michael’s, where someone added that condition to the gospel they’d already received..)

  136. Michael
    it’s certainly not rude to ask how “psychology’s definition” and “God’ definition” differ. Exasperating, perhaps, but not rude. I truly am sorry. Between the thoughtful comments I tried to convey the first half dozen times this topic came up and the remarks I posted to Justin…I simply can’t think of a better way to convey it to you. It’s something I can see quite clearly and you can’t see at all. I honestly can’t say whether I’m seeing something that really isn’t there–so, of course, you can’t see it….or if I’m seeing something that is there–but you, for some reason, cannot. Either way, when I realized I had no better way of conveying it than I have in my multiple attempts here on the blog, I opted to ‘let it go’ in the hopes that I’ll get inspired with a new way of saying it. Nothing has come to me so far.

  137. Timothy: Very well said! Hope it helps to answer Eddy’s question (message # 113758) “Now if we could only concede that SOME gays are indeed likely on the path to hell and figure out how to reach them–and with what message…”
    What message? In my own case, I was reached with the simple message of the Gospel. Not a word was said about my “SSA”. It wasn’t wrapped up in anti-gay jargon, promises of “change” or conservative politics. The person who led me to Christ just told the story.
    It was all about who Jesus is, what He did and how I could have a personal relationship with Him (John 3:16). It was “Come to Jesus first, as you are, and then let the Holy Spirit guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
    Most of all, it was that God loved me, that I was His child and that being His, nothing (not even me) could ever separate me from His love. (Romans 8:38)

  138. 2. Don’t coerce conversion.
    Jews today still resent the efforts of Christians to convert them in the Spanish Inquisition at the point of a sword. Gays don’t feel much different about current efforts to instill repressive and discriminatory laws. They believe that Christians only want to be kind and loving to Christian people and that they will punish you if you are not.
    Lets talk some truth.
    Behind every effort to treat gay people differently in this country is language about Sin and Abomination. Gay people observe Christianity to be a threat to their freedoms and sometimes to their very lives. (Yes, some “Christians” use death language).
    You may “love the sinner, hate the sin”. You may think homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle. You may have pity for the person trapped and not want to enable their destruction. You may think that homosexuality is a cancer that will destroy the culture and the nation. You may think that this is a sin that makes God nauseous and that God will rain judgment on the nation that doesn’t harshly punish such filth.
    None of that matters.
    At all.
    Currently, gay people experience their interaction with Christianity as being full of hatred. And the fault lies entirely with the Church (yeah, it really does).
    When you seek to harm the livelihood of someone, when you tax them more, when you take away their children, when you deny their ability to serve their country, when you “would never vote for” them, when you lie about their “lifestyle”, when you make entirely bogus claims about their mortality, when you support discrimination against them in business and housing, when you pass laws to remove their health insureance. When you just treat them with contempt.
    These are all things that have been done in the name of Christianity. And they are all experienced as hateful.
    If you really genuinely want to reach gays for Christ, you cannot do so in a manner that looks like hatred to the people you are trying to reach. You cannot be coercive.
    If you care more about reaching gays for Christ than you do about the culture war, you will give up these efforts. Because you cannot reach gays while simultaneously harming them.
    And if the culture is destroyed and the nation crumbles, take it up with God. After all, He didn’t call you to protect nations but to win souls.

  139. The question was raised earlier as to how best reach gay persons for Christ. I’m not sure I have an answer for that question, but I do know some things to avoid if one has any real genuine desire to reach gay people for Christ:
    1. Don’t demand the impossible.
    Telling gay people that they shouldn’t be gay is probably going to be about as successful a witness tool as telling Asians they shouldn’t be Asian.
    It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in orientation. Or if you think the Bible talks about behavior not identity. Or if you can reference a whole list of folks who have “walked away from homosexuality”. Or even if you believe homosexuality is nothing but an addiction, or sin, or the result of some root cause, or a lack of paternal attention, or a demonic spirit.
    If you want to reach gay people, it doesn’t matter what you believe at all.
    Gay people generally believe that the direction of their attactions is innate and immutable. To ask them not to be gay is, to their way of thinking, preposterous.
    This is not to say that you must give up your religious convictions. But rather that you should allow God to guide others to His will.
    Remember, the reason for gay persons to come to Christ is not to become un-gay or even to avoid Hell. The reason for gay persons to come to Christ is to have a relationship with God.
    In my opinion the smartest response to oreintation is to introduce God’s love and grace and simply say that God wants his children to grow into the life He has for them. And then let God direct them.
    And if God leads some gay people to some direction other than the plan YOU have for them, well you can take it up with Him.

  140. I just re-read Justin’s post and really liked his “side B” idea: “It’s for our brothers and sisters who have SSA and believe God has called them not to act on it. We support them in living celibate lives and obeying their consciences on this matter.”
    If EXODUS did that — if they explained their ministry in these terms, rather than implying that the EXODUS experience is about changing sexual orientation from gay to straight — I would have NO PROBLEM with EXODUS
    Well, OK, just one: It’s ongoing involvement in rightwing, Republican politics, rather than sticking to its original purpose of pastoral outreach and ministry. OK, just two: Politics and its ongoing affilitation with NARTH. OK, maybe three… 🙂

  141. Eddy said : “I share the frustration that you have with those who purposely mislead with their words.”
    It’s not just those who “purposely mislead” that bother me. “Spin”, “Christanese” and “hype” from ex-gay leaders and members, even if not intentionally misleading, has the same confusing effect. Alan Chambers, to his credit, seems to be one the first EXODUS presidents to begin to more transparently address the language issue — what Wendy Gritter of EXODUS has referred to as “the impression that we have lied.”.
    Many people have gotten that same “impression”. So, I ask — especially when I hear words like “ex-gay” or “former homosexual” or phrases like “freedom from homosexuality.” That only seems fair, I ask for clarification, but some take this as an intrusive insult. Why can’t I ask, “Does that mean you no longer have gay feelings?” or “Does that mean you are are now heterosexual?” Eddy speaks of “psychology’s definition” versus “God’s definition”. Is it rude to ask how these differ?
    Yes, it is their “right” to use language however they please, but don’t I also have the right to ask “what does that mean to you?” If not — if words mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean and the speaker has no obligation to clarify, real communication breaks down. They might as well be speaking some instinct Polynesian dialect. Without at least some clarification, we end up with the Humpty-Dumpty dilemna: http://sundials.org/about/humpty.htm

  142. Thank you for the loving responses all around.
    Like Michael, I too experienced positives from Exodus. I found it to be an organization of loving Christian people with good hearts who truly wanted to serve God. I enjoyed the worship and fellowship at the conferences, and Exodus was one of the first places I was able to openly admit to my SSA in a Christian environment without being judged for it.
    The Gay Christian Network has a wing of our ministry we call “Side B,” in keeping with terminology developed by Bridges Across the Divide. It’s for our brothers and sisters who have SSA and believe God has called them not to act on it. We support them in living celibate lives and obeying their consciences on this matter.
    To the extent that Exodus does the same (supporting SSA people and helping them to abstain from activity that would violate their beliefs), I am fully supportive of the ministry, and I think many other gay Christians would agree.
    But I must disagree strongly with Exodus’ tactics when:
    a) Exodus leaders, speakers, or materials suggest that anyone can go from “gay” (SSA) to “straight” (OSA) and/or imply that certain individuals have done so when in fact they have not; or
    b) Exodus encourages folks with continuing SSA to marry a member of the opposite sex and/or glorifies those who have done so as “success stories.”
    I have a problem with these things because I see the aftermath of them every day. I am constantly encountering people who have been led to believe that God would take away their SSA if they had faith, and who either subsequently lost faith in themselves or God when it didn’t happen, or else were badgered by others (outside of Exodus) who had gotten that message from Exodus and believed that the SSA individual simply wasn’t trying hard enough. I am also constantly encountering those who married with encouragement from Exodus, believing their SSA had been reduced to a mere temptation, only to discover down the road that they were still gay. This situation has no happy ending, no matter what happens, and so many lives are ruined this way.
    In my view, Exodus is at its best when it avoids these traps, but I know from private conversations that there is still a great deal of disagreement within Exodus about both of these points.
    I’ve heard some say that gay people oppose Exodus because we think that people “coming out of homosexuality” somehow invalidates our “lifestyle.” Speaking for myself, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As a Christian leader, my concern is for the lives and faith of those who are affected when claims are exaggerated (even if unintentionally).

  143. arrggh …it sent on it’s own. As I was saying…
    It seems Michael only asks those very personal questions of those who have set themselves up as ‘evidence of change’. (There are others who seem to challenge everyone who identifies as ‘ex-gay’ but I haven’t seen Michael challenge them until they speak of being ‘changed’ or ‘free’…THEN he pursues the clarification that he’s entitled to.)

  144. In my personal quest for “hope for change”, I found the idea of a psychological versus a Biblical underpinning to be useless in my life as far as how I would be able to genuinely and completely live.
    Let me explain: When I read ex-gay testimonies of men or women who were heterosexually married and having gay relations and yet claiming change or wholeness or whatever Biblical message they wanted to couch it in, all I could do was shake my head and say, “I hear Bill Clinton in the background echoing that he “did not have sex with that woman!” Because that is about as much credibility as that had with me.
    Personally, I have a very difficult time believing that God is A-OK with a “same sex attracted” person who has several one night stands a year as long as he or she asks for forgiveness after each affair, and yet the Almighty is ready to express utter outrage at a committed, monogamous gay Christian couple. How bizarre is that!? Yet…testimonies seemed to abound of these “overcomers” who are one night or one year standers. These are supposed to give me hope?!
    Perhaps I am not as Biblically advanced that I can disengage myself totally from my behaviours and claim “In Christ” without doing a little bit more soul searching about why I am leaning or heading in a certain direction.
    Because perhaps I am biologically hard wired in a a certain direction which was fairly evident when I was a kid: I (and others) just didn’t want to acknowledge my gender atypicallness.
    I simply don’t understand the sense of peace and comfort when one says, “that is not my identity”, and yet one regularly and genuinely pursues a certain course of action. This is where I couldn’t ride on the ex-gay train.

  145. Justin, Michael, Ann
    All good comments. (Look, Warren! We can agree once in awhile!)
    I share the frustration that you have with those who purposely mislead with their words. When I was in active ministry I spent a lot of time undoing the damage done by such messages. All that God promised was that ‘sin have no more dominion over you’; how that plays out is different for every individual. (including those who don’t see it as sin at all.)
    i don’t think however, say in situations like this blog, that we have to define our words every time we use them. We recognize the two common definitions and the context would reveal which meaning we ascribe to. To make the disclaimers every single time to an audience who should know what we mean by now seems tedious.
    If a person inquires if I’m gay, my answer depends on a few things. 1) Do I feel they have a right to know the answer? 2) If they’re demanding a yes or no, they get a no. (My thinking is that if they haven’t allowed for answers that qualify the yes or no, they really have no regard for me or my point of view.) 3) If they are genuine and appear ready to talk, I’ll give ’em a ‘no but it’s not as simple as that…” A time or two I even answered “by psychology’s definition ‘yes’, by God’s ‘no’.
    I agree with Michael on this one. While I can see what you’re saying about respecting the personal, if a person makes a misleading statement of a personal nature…it is appropriate, within reason, to flesh out that statement. Michael and Justin are responding to a number of very real situations where the intent of the speakers was to (get out your dictionaries) obfuscate. Technically not a lie but a clear attempt to mislead and a definite furthering of untruth. God does not need us to embellish the stories of our lives in an attempt to prove anything. I’ve just met Justin and have known Michael for some time. It seems Michael only asks those very personal quesit

  146. Particularly when one is promoting or touting the benefits of a particular “change” program, I believe the person has a ethical responsiblity to clearly explain what they do and do not mean by the terms they use.

    Herein lies the issue – at least IMHO – I don’t think anything this personal should be promoted or touted. It is almost like those products advertised in late night television that people buy only to find out they don’t work. Well, ah, advertising only late at night is one clue 🙂 Anyway, anything as personal as our sexuality is private and whatever changes we make or don’t over a life time should not be held as a standard for anyone else. Whatever resources are used – organized religion, private ministries, counseling, therapy, etc. should be private or held within a family or close friends arena. Whenever a lot of fanfare is made out of private issues, the prevailing consensus is that any success is unsustainable. I also think our most epiphious moments come quietly and are so profound we want to keep them within our hearts and minds because to try and share them only diminishes what they were meant for in the first place.
    Ok, brunch time 🙂

  147. Let’s talk about the positive for a sec. I gained much from my EXODUS experience. I learned a lot about the Bible, reading and re-reading it in several translations, studying it and discussing it with others. I enjoyed the music, the Bible stuides, the prayer meetings. I gained a deep and abiding faith in Jesus.
    I had a place where I could be me — a young Christian man struggling with gay feelings. I finally met others like me. I have to say that ex-gays, by and large, are very intelligent folks of deep faith and with great senses of humor. I really enjoyed their company.
    I had an opportunity to really explore what my sexuality and spirituality meant — in relationship to each other. I got to know myself better. And, I met Gary — the first person I really loved totally — body, mind and spirit. My love for him and with him made me feel whole for the first time. I will always be grateful for these things.

  148. Justin,
    I also want to echo what Michael said about your post. It was a very good example.
    I just don’t like any orientation label at all and don’t think they are necessary to define a whole person. The people I know who are no long in same gender relationships and are on a different path or now in opposite gender relationships have all done so quietly and in a measured way without any fanfare or need to publicize it. They just don’t care what others think and don’t want to be held up to scrutiny. I think that is very smart and sustainable.

  149. Ann: Very well said. On on purely private, personal bssis, I have no problem with a person creating, redefining, using, or not using, any term they please. However, on a public level, I agree with Justin.
    Particularly when one is promoting or touting the benefits of a particular “change” program, I believe the person has a ethical responsiblity to clearly explain what they do and do not mean by the terms they use.

  150. Justin and Michael,
    I “think” the point Eddy was making is that there is no need to have any kind of label if one doesn’t want to – their life and identity is much more than a sexuality identity/preference label. They chose to forego a label and instead live a life.
    I do understand what you are referring to though – those that stand on a soap box or put themselves on a perch and claim they have made a 100% change and that others can and should too. That is not right nor accurate nor fair and should not be held as a standard.
    All this talk about labels just makes my hair hurt.

  151. Eddy,
    I definitely understand and appreciate the reason that many ex-gays choose not to identify themselves with a word like “gay.” You’ve explained those reasons eloquently. But if you’re going to use a word to mean something different from what everyone else in the culture uses it to mean, you need to explain that every time you use the word to avoid confusion.
    Example: Let’s say Sue has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. For a while, she lets this news get her down, and she allows the label of “sick person” to take over her identity. One day, through prayer and reaffirmation of her faith, she makes a bold decision: she will no longer allow the label of “sick” to categorize her! She will no longer see herself as dying, but rather as living!
    A wonderful change of heart, to be sure. Nothing wrong with that.
    But then let’s say Sue goes on national television, and on the radio, and begins a speaking tour of churches and hospitals, saying, “Thanks to God, I am no longer sick! And you too can overcome your disease if you just have faith!”
    What she means, of course, is that she is no longer bound to the depression and identity of a sick person. But to say “I am no longer sick” suggests that she no longer has cancer, which is not true. What she ought to have said is, “I no longer identify myself as sick because I don’t want to label myself that way, even though the cancer is still active in my body.” That would avoid the false claim she otherwise seems to be making.
    She might say many of the same things you did: “I choose not to identify myself by my sickness at all”; “I’ve decided not to give it any undue recognition in my daily affairs”; “I want to leave my ultimate health in the hands of God”; “The problem with the word ‘sick’ is that it speaks to a condition… something that you ARE… but in Christ I have victory over the spirits of sickness and death.”
    But none of that changes the fact that it is entirely irresponsible of her to travel around the country proclaiming, “I once was sick with cancer and now I am no longer sick!” when in fact what has changed is her self-label, not the state of her health.
    Obviously, I do not believe that homosexuality is a bad thing or a sickness. You might disagree. But the point of the analogy, I hope, is clear. When ex-gays make public statements that, “I am no longer gay!”, it is reasonable for their audience to assume that they mean “I no longer have attractions to the same sex,” since the word “gay” in our culture means “attracted to the same sex,” and is the antonym of “straight,” meaning “attracted to the opposite sex.”
    If, in fact, that is not the case, then it is the responsibility of the ex-gays and those publishing their stories to say something like, “I no longer identify myself with the word gay, although I still experience attractions to the same sex.” That makes the point clear. That is not, however, the message that is frequently preached, and it is precisely for that reason that so many of us have been accused so many times of a lack of faith when we did not experience a change in our attractions.

  152. What if I don’t choose to identify myself by my sexuality all?
    IMHO you don’t have to – why would you?
    If I’ve decided not to give it any undue recognition in my daily affairs? If I want to leave my ultimate sexuality in the hands of God? Must I still self-identify by one of the existing labels?
    Again – IMHO – NO! Why would you? You are a whole person, not a label.

  153. Eddy asked: “What if I don’t choose to identify myself by my sexuality all? If I’ve decided not to give it any undue recognition in my daily affairs? If I want to leave my ultimate sexuality in the hands of God? Must I still self-identify by one of the existing labels? Why can’t it be “ex-gay…?”)
    Answer: That is your choice. There is no law that says you owe anyone, including me, an explanation or that you “must” apply any particular label to yourself pertaining to your sexuality. No one says you “must” self-identify by of the existing labels.
    It’s a free country. You can do anything you please. You can make up any term you want. You can redefine any existing label to fit your personal experience. You can call yourself “ex-gay” or “former homosexual” or “from gay” or…. You don’t have to give the matter any more recognition than you want.
    All I am asking of you, or any person who uses such terms, is to explain what they mean when they use them. But, that being said, you can tell me to stick it. You also have to absolute right to say: “I don’t want to explain.”

  154. Eddy: Please forgive me, but due to my visual problems (reattached retinas make it hard for me to read small text sometimes) I cannot seem to locate where you discussed wiith Justin the distinctions you see between “tempation” and “orientation”.
    To me, “temptation” implies (as in the dictionary) “an inducement; an allurement, especially to do something evil” or “the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid; as in “he felt the temptation and his will power weakened”.
    For example, Alan Chambers of EXODUS says that homosexuality”evil” and speaks of homosexual “temptation” (and especially homosexual acts) in these terms — as something he believes is wrong or sinful and should try to avoid..
    Whereas, to me, “orientation” is just a description of the prevailing object or direction of those desires — with no value judgement (at all) as to whether or not the desire is evil or the behavior is something one knows is wrong and should avoid. To me, “orientation” equals “direction” — nothing else, as in “the house was buility with a north/south orientation”.
    It seems as though “orientation” may mean something very different to you. I am not insisting that my understanding of these two terms is the only and only correct defintion, so I am “willing to give an inich” in trying to understand how you understand these things. Would you be willing to try again to explain to me?

  155. What if I don’t choose to identify myself by my sexuality all? If I’ve decided not to give it any undue recognition in my daily affairs? If I want to leave my ultimate sexuality in the hands of God? Must I still self-identify by one of the existing labels? Why can’t it be ex-gay or something else that expresses that for personal reasons I don’t fully identify as gay–or straight–and i certainly don’t want to be re-evaluating the label every six months to see if I’ve shifted on some scale of identify. Dangerously introspective!
    Whoops! I’m late for the fair! Volunteering…. Later…

  156. Also to Eddy, “The peculiar thing about the ‘common definition of the word gay’ is that the word speaks to a ‘condition’–a state of mind or being–something that you ARE.”
    I know that is how you and how some people (maybe even most people) use the word “gay”. I do not. I use it only as a synonym for homosexual — meaning not heterosexual in orientation, the opposite of “straight”.
    And by “orientation” I mean only the “persistent and prevailing direction of one’s sexual/romantic/emotional attractions and drives.” Mine are gay.. My brother’s are straight. I do not mean it as a “condition”, as an all-encompassing description of the person’s “identity” or as a definition of what or who the person IS — only that they are not heterosexual..

  157. Michael
    I think the biggest distinction I see is the one I cited in my response to Justin. That seems to be a frequent point of communication breakdown. Neither side feels that they can give an inch in the discussion and they can’t seem to find common language to talk it through.
    Even when we can’t find the common language, it seems we ought to be able to grasp the other person’s intended meaning (if they aren’t, as I suggested earlier, being purposely deceptive). I quickly learned that ‘bad’ meant ‘good’ when my teenage nieces and nephews started talking cool. I haven’t changed my usage–and they understand that–they haven’t changed theirs–and I understand that. Usually the context of the conversation will elaborate on the definition.

  158. Eddy: “If you were in the room, I’d have rolled my eyes in exaggerated exasperation at the word “Seriously” and likely have playfully punched your shoulder.”
    Ok, I get it. And If you you had been in the room, you would have heard and ssen that I was not “injecting value judgements”. I should not have asked “Why pick on gays, Eddy?” — without some sort of explanation. I meant it playfully, like your “punch on the shoulder”.
    I KNEW you weren’t picking on them in the sense of having negative intent towards them. As I said, I KNOW better than that. I should have said something like, “Lest anyone think that you are singling out gays or picking them out as being especially needful of salvation, you and I both agree that pertains to everyone — gay and straight — right, Eddy? — knowing that, as an evangelical Christian your answer would certainly be “yes.”
    On the issue of “temptation” versus “orientation” I would really like to understand how you see these concepts. I see them as synonyms — one religioous and one secular. What are the distinctions you see?

  159. Justin
    Thanks. I was honestly under the impression that the Moberly model was no longer a main focus. If they were still featuring it prominently at national conferences, then it seems obvious that it was still having major impact.
    The peculiar thing about the ‘common definition of the word gay’ is that the word speaks to a ‘condition’–a state of mind or being–something that you ARE. That psychological definition is at odds with the Bible understanding. First, the Bible doesn’t really identify anybody (other than Pharisees and hypocrites) by labels, When the Bible does make statements that appear to apply to the issue, it speaks to behavior. If you’re actively engaging in the behavior, the label fits. If you’ve engaged (regardless of how recently), if you’re forgiven, the label no longer fits–not ‘in God’s eyes’.
    The implications of this distinction are significant. Many believers, when faced with identifying by a Bible definition or a psychological one, choose the Bible one. What’s unfair to the discussion though, is when they are aware that what they are saying is being misinterpreted–and they take no steps to correct the wrong impression. That’s disrespectful to the truth. Equally unfair is the demands by their opposers for them to define themselves by the psychological definition. (Or, when they’ve shared their experience to ‘pronounce their label’…I think of people who are big into astrology. They meet someone who (usually for religious religious reasons) does not identify astrologically. I believe we agree it would be offensive to say “Well, guess what, you’re a thus and such and here’s what that means…”)

  160. Michael
    LOL. It seems you can’t help yourself. You said “Why pick on gays, Eddy?”. I answered rather matter of factly and unemotionally and now you’re declaring “You are being a bit overly sensitive, Eddy.” There is a way to make your points without injecting value judgments or critiques as to attitude before any such attitude is clearly presented.
    Seriously, you came back in your later post and said you knew those weren’t my attitudes? So what was the point of saying it? Would it enhance the experience of some troubled youth that dropped in? If I didn’t respond to it, wouldn’t they assume that the inference was true…that I didn’t grasp the revelations you were about to lay out next?
    And, if you were to see me right now, you’d see no burning intensity of any kind. I’m simply working on a problem/issue in a timely fashion at the point it presented itself. If you were in the room, I’d have rolled my eyes in exaggerated exasperation at the word “Seriously” and likely have playfully punched your shoulder.
    LOL. You’re good at pointing out my bad habits and I’m good at pointing at yours. I’m really trying to learn from the things you’ve pointed out and I trust you’re doing the same in kind. Let’s mutually agree, when faced with a choice, to aim for taking the high road. (chuckling aloud: I think the blog would appreciate it.)

  161. Eddy said:

    When I was actively involved in Exodus–from the late 70’s to early 90’s, the Moberly model was popular but wasn’t viewed as the only model. However, there were individual ministries that seemed to think it explained everything. I’m wondering if your impression comes from exposure to the ‘parent’ Exodus or from exposure to one or more member agencies. During my more than a decade with Exodus, it always seemed that there were at least two or three theories of origin and two or three (at least) approaches to therapy.

    To answer your question, my impression comes primarily from the national Exodus conferences in the late 90s. As a gay man who has always had a close relationship with both parents, was not a victim of abuse, and had plenty of same-sex friends growing up, I didn’t fit the boxes people tried to put me in (which were Moberly-related about 90% of the time).
    I agree with Michael that what one person calls “temptation,” another calls “sexual orientation,” and it’s always seemed disingenuous to me when someone says he is “no longer gay” if he continues to experience SSA, unless he is very clear with everyone that he is using the word “gay” differently from how everyone else uses it.
    One of my primary struggles with Exodus in the late 90s was the proliferation of ex-gay testimonies (shared through venues like Focus on the Family) where someone talked about “coming out of homosexuality” and being “no longer gay” while minimizing or not even mentioning the continuing same-sex attractions. For me, as a teenager who was openly gay and openly celibate, it was incredibly frustrating, because people would tell me that I should trust Christ to become like so-and-so when I knew very well from private conversation that so-and-so was experiencing just as much SSA as I was and simply used a different word to describe it.
    But again, this reflects my experience from 10 years ago and may not reflect the Exodus of today. I truly don’t know.

  162. You are being a bit overly sensitive, Eddy. We both seem to bring that out in each other, don’t we? I am not implying that your motives are hostile towards gays. I know better. I know you believe that homosexual behavior is sin, but I don’t assume that you have any particular attitude towards the sinner. I apologize if my words made it sound as though you do.
    I wish you could see my facial expressions or hear the tone of my voice and not just the words I use. I guess I should have used the :). I meant it tongue-in-cheek — and should not have used “picking on”. I apologize if I offended you. It was trying to convey a gospel truth — that we all sin and all need God’s forgiveness.
    What I am getting at is that I don’t think there is any special way to to communicate the gospel to gays — it’s just that you often have to dig through a lot of anti-church/anti-religious sentiment to get there.

  163. I try not to speak to thinks I am not sure of. Michael, not knowing, would still say ‘certainly’; I, not knowing, feel the word ‘likely’ is more honest.
    While there are similarities and overlap in the definitions for ‘temptation’ and ‘orientation’, there are significant differences as well. Our understanding of one another would be better served by trying to grasp the distinctions and their significance to the various points of view…this, rather than trying to make the terms synonymous.

  164. Michael
    I’m not picking on gays. Responding to gay–for good or for bad–is what the topic is when discussing Exodus.
    Please note that you are the first person in this conversation to assume what the attitude of another poster is. You judged me to be picking on gays and infer that I have a different standard for them. Based on what?
    I am actually in total agreement with the rest of your statements except that I find them somewhat dismissive. I thought maybe we could discuss the unique issues surrounding presenting the Gospel to gay people. Evidently some well-intentioned people have made some serious blunders in their attempt to do this and it sounded like the intent of the discussion was to delve deeper respectfully.

  165. ” It may not be as often; it may not be as intense; it may be easy to dismiss–but the temptation will likely come again”
    “Likely?” In my experience with ex-gays, it’s more like “certainly”! Have you ever met a person (who previously had only gay attractions) where the “tempations” disappeared entirely? I am not saying it’s impossible, but In thirty plus years of searching, I have not.
    Eddy calls it “temptation”. I call it sexual orientation. Same thing. The sexual orientation (meaning the prevailing direction and object of the “temptation”) does not seem to change much. The attractions may not be as intense or as frequent, but the person is still not straight.

  166. Eddy: “…now if we could only concede that SOME gays are indeed likely on the path to hell and figure out how to reach them–and with what message.”
    Why pick on gays, Eddy? Doesn’t conservative, Evangelical Christianity teach that we are ALL “on the path to hell” and that we are ALL in need of a Savior? (Romans 3:23)
    The “way to reach them” is that same way to reach anyone — to preach and live the Gospel — to communicate and demonstrate the love God has for ALL His children. (Romans 5:8)

  167. I’ve always maintained that once we’ve found pleasure or gratification through any means, we are susceptible to temptation in that area again. It may not be as often; it may not be as intense; it may be easy to dismiss–but the temptation will likely come again.

    Well said.

  168. Justin Lee
    When I was actively involved in Exodus–from the late 70’s to early 90’s, the Moberly model was popular but wasn’t viewed as the only model. However, there were individual ministries that seemed to think it explained everything. I’m wondering if your impression comes from exposure to the ‘parent’ Exodus or from exposure to one or more member agencies. During my more than a decade with Exodus, it always seemed that there were at least two or three theories of origin and two or three (at least) approaches to therapy.
    I, personally, never believed in “100% gay to straight”. Although I never quantified expectations, I think somewhere around 90% was my highest hope for anyone. I’ve always maintained that once we’ve found pleasure or gratification through any means, we are susceptible to temptation in that area again. It may not be as often; it may not be as intense; it may be easy to dismiss–but the temptation will likely come again. Many in the Exodus of my day shared that view.
    …now if we could only concede that SOME gays are indeed likely on the path to hell and figure out how to reach them–and with what message…

  169. Yeah, it’s nice to be able to breath around Exodus. I’m glad to see that there is an admission that gays are not doomed to hell.

  170. Michael, I very much hear what you’re saying.
    When I was more active in Exodus circles nearly 10 years ago, I was heavily criticized for suggesting that Moberly’s theories couldn’t explain all SSA or that promoting 100% gay-to-straight change as the goal was unrealistic and counterproductive. Now, it seems, some of those very ideas are being discussed in Exodus leadership.
    To be honest, though, I find that refreshing. But now that I’m viewed most definitely as an outsider (I’m now Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network), I’m not sure how to gauge the extent to which the mindset has actually changed within Exodus. Is this more nuanced approach really reflective of what is taught on all levels, or is there still a disconnect between the PR and the daily ministry?
    That’s what I’d really like to know. I am no fan of ex-gay ministries; I think they’ve done tremendous damage to the church. But I also don’t want to bear false witness against Exodus if the Exodus I knew 10 years ago has truly become a different ministry today.

  171. Timothy, thanks for the quote. I find it puzzling to me that some in EXODUS are now saying the very things I have been saying for years — things that used to get them really upset: “Gays will go to heaven,” “I dont’ think I have never really met an ex-gay” — both comments from EXODUS president, Alan Chambers.

    “EXODUS needs to deal with the perception that it has lied (about orientation change)”
    and “EXODUS should make a clean break from politics and stick to pastoral ministry” — both from EXODUS’s Wendy Gritter.
    “Ex-gay does not mean ex-homosexual” and they (ex-gays) are just ‘Christians with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies” — both from EXODUS’s Joe Dallas.
    How come when they say it, EXODUS supporters don’t get upset and when I say these things, I am dismissed as an unrepentant gay activist? Isn’t this a glaring double standard?

  172. So…when I would ask, “Does anyone change? What does change mean?’, I was met with the most deafening silence of my life. It has made me wonder if God is silent, too.
    So, no, I will not be attending any Exodus conferences. I just pray that the sense of abandonment will lift enough that at some point I will want to pursue a genuine relationship with God.
    That is my biggest objection to reorientation based ministries (along with their polital activism).
    Far too often participants believe that they must choose between their orientation and God. And finding that they do not experience reorientation, they believe that they have been failed by God or rejected by God or that if they embrace their orientation that they cannot approach God.
    It was with encouragement that I read the following quote Alan Chambers made to the Asheville Citizen-Times:

    “The truth is that homosexuality does not send people to hell. Gay people live in heaven. It’s not about fire and brimstone, it’s about an alternative option,”

    I genuinely hope that this is not just for public consumption or has special secret meanings that are the opposite of what the reader hears. I really hope that this is a change in perspective because too many people have left Exodus believing that they are going to burn in Hell forever so what’s the point of seeking a relationship with God.

  173. Thanks for the link, Michael, I’ve been meaning to check that out. One clarification though… there were several key players from the early years of Exodus who declined to be interviewed. I was among them.

  174. Warren commented: “And if you don’t like it, I hope you will recognize that some others have found much meaning and blessing in the relationships they have formed via Exodus.”
    I am glad you pointed this out, Warren. Exgay Survivors (me included) are quite critical of EXODUS and yet we did have some very positive and meaningful experiences during our time with EXODUS. This from the Beyond Exgay webpage: http://beyondexgay.com/
    “Not that it was all bad: Some of us received positive help through our ex-gay experiences. We grew to understand our sexuality better and in some cases even overcame life-controlling problems. But for most of us, these experiences brought us inner turmoil, confusion, and shame. We are still in a process of recovery from the damage. Through sharing our stories with each other, we find wholeness and healing,”

  175. As one of the founders of EXODUS, I would be happy to answer any questions bloggers may have about how and why EXODUS was formed, who the other key players were, etc.
    I can only speak of the years I was directly involved — from 1974 to 1979. My intent will be to give the most truthful and accurate account I can possibly give — no “bashing” or “spinning”.
    The person with the most extensive video history of EXODUS’s roots is documentary film-maker, Lisa Darden. She has hours of interviews with all of those who were most closely involved in the formative years of EXODUS: http://www.hopeunlimitedproductions.com/

  176. AM — “So…when I would ask, “Does anyone change? What does change mean?’, I was met with the most deafening silence of my life. It has made me wonder if God is silent, too.”
    Sadly, AM, that is an all too common experience.

  177. My experience with Exodus was over a four year period of great intensity. I was ready and willing in a way I had never been to get serious with God and homosexuality. There was nothing left in my life: no long term relationship, no established career, nothing.
    I had gone the Homosexuals Anonymous program route in the late 80’s. As a matter of fact, Robbie and Ed’s names were familiar to me back then. I started a relationship with a woman in 1989, but she was killed in a robbery.
    From that point on, I did not pursue the “gay lifestyle”. Neither did I pursue anything else, the majority of my energy devoted to shutting down my sex drive. I lived with a male friend for most of my adult life.
    In 1997, I believed there was something more: that God had a husband for me. I had been celibate for quite awhile.
    As I talked with as many ex-gay ministries in Exodus who would talk with me, I derived one overwhelming reality:
    GLBT Christians who are ex-gay are not celibate; they live lives that I had given up. Now, they may call themselves SSA and say that they have slips or falls (sometimes ongoing ones for years), but I can name 2 unmarried Exodans who claim 20 years or so of celibacy: Dan Puumala of Outpost and Karen (forget her late name now), who worked for Regeneration.
    I am not saying that there are not others, but the majority of Exodus contacts I had were with people who were “strugglers” not overcomers. I use those words advisedly, but some delineation needs to be made.
    I found the Moberly model still hauled out…and yet also found that the brothers and sisters who had tried desperately to grasp her theory (and therefore be repaired — from reparative, of course ) were non existent. At some point in time they jumped ship and are now settled with partners.
    So…when I would ask, “Does anyone change? What does change mean?’, I was met with the most deafening silence of my life. It has made me wonder if God is silent, too.
    So, no, I will not be attending any Exodus conferences. I just pray that the sense of abandonment will lift enough that at some point I will want to pursue a genuine relationship with God.
    Thank you.

  178. I might add to the post as information warrants but for now I wanted to have a post that we could grow into.
    I might be pulling some links together from past posts and archiving them here.

  179. Will you (or someone) be offering topics for discussion or will it be a free for all? My inclination is that I might observe it for awhile to see if there’s any hope of civility and mutual respect in the conversations. If there is–and if I’ve learned a few things by example–then I’d be inclined to join the conversation.
    LOL! Warren, maybe I’m in a pessimistic mood, but unless you’ve got a boatload of current and former Exodus folks that are itching to discuss, count me out. If it gets to history from the time that I was involved, get yourself a site librarian to see how I responded the first time. (Neither ‘do over’ or ‘look it up’ appeals to me.) I’m already over my time budget here; I already spent plenty of time in Exodus history and Exodus related discussions. To have that as the focus of the entire site would mean the ‘conversation’ level would always be tense. Yukk! But if you do have some folks in the wings who have been interested in having some focussed discussion–some Golden Rule people maybe? Then there’d be an offsetting reward for the challenging (several ways to take that word, they all apply.) conversation.

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