Can we believe ex-gays and ex-ex-gays?

Peterson Toscano makes a curious comment about ex-gays and ex-ex-gays in an email to Box Turtle Bulletin

In sharing ex-gay survivor narratives, I see the importance of digging up the many non-religious reasons people go ex-gay. For too long Focus on the Family, Exodus, etc, have been hiding behind a religious curtain. Similarly many ex-gays and former ex-gays I meet express that their ONLY reason for going ex-gay was their faith. Warren Throckmorton capitalizes on this sort of thing claiming that the struggle is an incongruence between faith and sexuality, when in reality for many it is primarily a conflict between society and sexuality.

First, Peterson says the ex-gays and former ex-gays express that the only reason for seeking to be ex-gay is related to conflicts over faith. And then he says I, in some way “capitalize” on this claim when in fact, the conflict is not really with faith but derives from conflicts with society. Maybe it is just me, but it appears he is saying those congruence seeking ex-gays and former ex-gays are wrong. They really weren’t motivated by religious conflicts at all. Apparently, I am wrong as well when I believe them. Perhaps, he is suggesting that I know that they and I are wrong but I ignore that. I am not really sure. But the message I get here is that he knows the real motives.
Seems like you find confirmation bias all over. Those ex-gays and ex-ex-gays are mistaken, the real reason they seek ex-gay is social conflict, Peterson asserts, even if they don’t know it. He needs to dig for what he knows is there.
I am sure in some cases, that social disapproval is more motivational than religious issues. Religious disapproval is a metaphor for disapproval from all sources. However, on the other hand, I think you risk missing the individual factors by “digging up the many non-religious reasons people go ex-gay.” Sure those who minister and help should be open to those reasons. However, those who dig should be prepared to find little else but what the conflicted person said in the first place.

144 thoughts on “Can we believe ex-gays and ex-ex-gays?”

  1. i hate the lables…i find that gay homosexual lesbien heterosexual and SSA and OSA…the whole lot to be rediculously inadiquate discriptive terms that really do nothing but cause confusion and devision….people love to define others by forcing them into these tiny boxes…and when they dont fit just right, there must be something wrong with them…..well i reject all the lables….its harmful to even use them, in any context….if it were not for sexuality lables and the desire for people to feel the need to conform to them…we would see a lot less problems with sexual attractions and (go figure) fewer people living in shame over having some level attraction to the same sex, even if they never act on those attractions or want to act on them…..but you folks go ahead and continue to debate over the usefulness of one pointless lable over another….its just silly in my view..

  2. @Mary,
    I’m a lesbian who is attempting to be chaste because of religious beliefs. However, I’m not the least bit upset about being lesbian. In fact, I feel ‘gifted’ by God for being ‘disordered’ because Our Lord has a special love for the poor, the sick, the weak, the helpless. I feel I’ve been given a special gift from God to participate in His Cross, His social opprobrium, etc. I’m not about to change, and I don’t engage in the ‘gay’ culture. And, I don’t hide the fact that I’m a lesbian if questioned.
    I’m also a bit confused about the term SSA. It’s a very misleading term. Every person of whatever gender who has a friend is same sex attracted to that friend. For example, a guy likes sports, cars, music …. he’s attracted to guys that also like sports, cars, music. SSA, Same Sex Attracted, is a cutesy term to hide centuries old terms that were completely legitimate: homosexual, lesbian.
    However, I’m confused about your position, Mary. Are you saying a lesbian like myself is socially unacceptable … that I need to change to be acceptable even if I’m chaste? Are you saying my disorderedness has to be treated?
    Are you now straight, married, with children?
    I am by no means being contentious. I’m new here, and because women are different than men, I’d like your input.
    Thank you.

  3. It is so disheartening when a label becomes such a point of focus – really, what does it matter how I think of myself or how I live my life and how does it interfere with how anyone else thinks of themself? Don’t tell me who I am – trust me, I am capable of knowing myself better than you. Call me what you want but don’t count on me to respond – sorry, my identity doesn’t have to be limited to accommodate you or anyone else.

  4. Kristin,
    Being intellectually honest? I am straight to most of the world – except here. I don’t consider myself bi sexual or same sxz attracted anymore. I don’t know what the rest of my life holds for me in the future. By all definitions, I am ex gay and if you have been following the definitions given by the many people here – you will find a variety of answers. Simple? Not so. It has more to do with than penises, vaginas, breasts etc… and what people imagine or do with those things. Many SSA people do not define themselves by a label such as gay because the bible does not refer to people in that way. That is a faith based person who does not accept the “secular” definition of a person. And that is intellectually honest, too.

  5. HI everyone,
    when we need to use labels to define or undersand something, it is not wrong to say “gay”, “bisexual” or “ex-gay” (a gay person not acting on ssa) if someone is attracted to the same sex.It’s a way of differentiating them from heterosexual, which, if we are intecllectually honest about this, they are definitely not. A straight person who has no attraction to the same sex would feel rightly they are being misdefined if an ex gay or bisexaul or gay personn called themselves a heterosexual. Why? Because then the defintion of straight in intellectually dishonest.
    We need to replace political correctness with intellectual honesty-it’s as simple as that.
    We’re not defining them as a person.

  6. Wow. I think we all understand each other a little bit better after all of that. Many people will always say I am defined by my attractions and temptations, and that’s fine. God defines all of us as either In Christ or Not In Christ. If we are in Christ, then whether or not we have attractions and whether or not we are acting on them falls into the secondary category. How meat eaters do best not to cause vegetarians to stumble, vegetarians don’t put down meat eaters, drinkers to teetotalers, teetotalers to drinkers, everyday vs one day a week is special, one day a week is special vs everyday, etc. each “side” having trouble with thinking that both sides can’t be in the Right. Freedom in Christ is always biblically tempered by avoiding a great risk of being a stumbling block. And that works both ways. The gay christian’s freedom could easily be a stumbling block to the samesexattracted christian who doesn’t want to live out those feelings, and the freedom of the samesexattractedchristian who doesn’t want to live out those feelings could easily be a stumbling block to the gay christian. So we understand that we disagree. Someone famous said “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, charity; in all things, charity”. How about now lets move on in love (easier said than done for any of us).

  7. You’re absolutely right about not finding a bible definition. The bible does not define people by their sexual attractions. So, I only label myself when absolutely necessary…such as in a blogsite as this one.
    Psychology studies the workings of the mind. It finds like things, puts them in classifications or groups, and studies them. More often than not, they come up with labels for the groups that seem to fit. I belong to a group that they really haven’t studied much or tried to work with. They already believed we were embarking on an impossible journey just as the ex-gays were beginning to emerge and begin to find each other. You have your goals, I have mine. Mine is to convince psychology that we are a legitimate population of like-minded individuals worthy of both study and professional assistance. You won’t likely find me caving in to your demands to accept their classification.It conflicts at a very basic level with my faith. I will NOT identify myself by something my faith is calling me to walk away from. “Learning to see yourself as God sees you” clashes with psychology’s label. You are concerned about the psychological confusion; although it does concern me, I am more concerned about the spiritual and religious dilemma.
    And once again, I’ll remind you that the dictionary supports ‘ex-gay’. The word has a hyphen suggesting it’s made up of two parts. “Ex” means “from” and “gay” means “gay”. The term speaks to our current commonality based on where we’ve been; heterosexuality or straight aren’t mentioned at all.

  8. Michael-
    I am quite disgusted by the level of your disrespect demonstrated towards myself and others who believe as I do. Your recent behavior towards me in particular is, IMHO, way over the top.
    On another thread, you rant that Exodus and ex-gays are heretics, suggesting that they live by works. I respond with a question about the role of repentance and you simply don’t answer. You let your heresy charge just stand there…you left my question ignored for several days. Then, you come back to the blog from your 2 or 3 day hiatus, ignore my question still and post a sarcastic blast on this thread with me as part of your sarcasm.
    I bring the repentance question over here and again have to ask you twice to get an answer. (Although you took the time to tell me how I’m always assuming.) And I’ve posted several comments re your (n.s.) idea, yet you felt no need to come forward with the fact that it was sarcasm until I’d asked you at least two times. (And I’m guessing Carole’s post re sarcasm was also a way of saying “please acknowledge it”.)
    And, always, in the process of not answering legitimate questions, in the process of wasting my time, you find a way to throw in a ‘stinger’ barb jab in every response. I personally find ‘purposely wasting another person’s time’ to be one of the greatest signs of disrespect ever invented.

  9. Mary: You are right when you say that “it just seems that no matter how a person changes you are still trying ot categorize them as gay.”
    Yup. You got it, If they are still only attracted to the same sex, they are STILL gay! Gay (or homosexual) only means that the person is attracted to the same sex and not the opposite sex. They may not like the term, they may not call themselves gay and they may have made major changes in their lives.”
    But no matter what other changes ex-gays may make, they are still gay. It is not that I am trying to “categorize them as gay”. I didn’t make up the words and I did not define them.
    Don’t blame me. That’s what the words mean. Only ex-gays insist upon redefining these terms to suit their own puposes. Like it or not,straights don’t have SSA. Only gays, ex-gays and bisexuals do.
    Of course, I am using standard, English definitons of these terms. Contrary to what Eddy suggests, there are no “Biblical” definitions of gay, ex-gay. straight, bisexual or heterosexual! I know. I checked.
    Eddy, I was being sarcastic about suggesting “n,s” at the end of “ex-gay”. We all now are perfectly clear that “ex-gay” is “not straight”. And I never called you or anyone esle “works heretics”. I said that I find the notion that we are saved by anything other than grace “heretical” — because it is.

  10. Michael – it just seems that no matter how a person changes you are still trying ot categorize them as gay. That’s all. You just want gays to stay gay it seems.
    I’m tired.

  11. Michael,
    See Warren’s comments. Men and women are different – just is. And sexually again – we are different – even when we are ex gay. Women make a greater shift.

  12. Michael–
    I haven’t said on this blogsite that I believe all homosexuality is sin. Please don’t assume. I certainly lean very strongly in that direction but I’ve always been open to the possibility I’ve misinterpreted.
    Now, let’s go to your example of dancing as sin to some and not to others. What ought the behavior of a dancer and a non-dancer be when they are thrown together? Should the dancers spend their lives trying to prove to the non-dancers how wrong they are? If a non-dancer lapses, is it cause for celebration (a dance perhaps)? Does it really say anything about whether dancing is or isn’t a sin when someone does lapse? Or what about when a non-dancer is tempted to dance but doesn’t? Or dances without a partner? Is it our business?
    I think I’ll close with the question you posed to me:

    Or do I have to agree with you, use the words you use and live as you do?

    LOL. You’re the one who’s been fighting about our use of the word ‘ex-gay’; you’re the one demanding that we identify ourselves by the psychological words you use rather than the bible ones we choose. What’s that all about?
    You said your ‘slam’ was that we were ‘works heretics’ was based on several things and then you gave an example of Frank Worthen and labels. I don’t get the works connection there. Neither do I see where Frank Worthen should be presumed to speak for all ex-gays or all of Exodus. And I didn’t see any other explanations for why you referred to us as ‘works heretics’. In short, I still don’t see your basis for making such a charge. Please help me out here.
    You still haven’t answered on the ex-gay (n.s.) thing either. Do you think we should proceed? I’m very perplexed that I ask simple and direct questions yet you always seem to go somewhere else. Should I bold them? If you’re going to pretend to be actually conversing with me–which is what you do when you address your comment to me–please do me the courtesy of respecting the questions that I ask. I do my best to answer yours.

  13. Eddy, you said: “I don’t understand the earlier slam you took towards Exodus and ex-gays that suggested they were living by the heresy of works as opposed to grace.”
    I base my “slam” on a number of things. First, a newsletter from Frank Worthen in which he asserts that we are “justified or condemned”, not by grace, but by the labels we apply to ourselves! He argued that “gay Christians” were not saved, indeed could NOT be saved, because they still use the word “gay” to describe themselves. That’s not the Gospel I received!
    You argue that “continuing sin” condemns us – when the fact is we ALL continue to sin. Is one time “continuing”?” Where is the cut-off? If I die with unconfessed and unrepented sin, do I go to Hell? How scary would that be?” We would all live in fear that we had “continued” one time too many.
    Like you, I believe that God calls us to repentance and holiness, but I can only “:repent” of something that I believe is sin. Some Christians believe that dancing is sin. Others believe that drinking is sin. Or blood transfusions — or organ donations. You get the point.
    To you, it is perfectly clear that all homosexuality is sin. It is not that clear to me. Are we saved or condemned by the language we use — as Frank argues? Am I condemned because I understand certain Biblical passages differently than you do? Can we each live according to our individual conscience and still be saved?: Or do I have to agree with you, use the words you use and live as you do?

  14. Michael–
    You seem to be saying that we’re pretty close in our theological approach except that we view homosexuality differently. If you really believe that, then I don’t understand the earlier slam you took towards Exodus and ex-gays that suggested they were living by the heresy of works as opposed to grace. That’s when I introduced repentance into the conversation. My conclusion only came after I asked your opinion of repentance twice and you didn’t even acknowledge the question. Just as you assumed Joe Dallas ‘hemmed and hawed’, I assumed you had internal reasons why you couldn’t answer a simple question. So, while you’re pointing the finger of accusation against me once again, please take a moment to feel the imprint of your own fingers pointing back at you. (It would appear with the ‘works heresy’ charge that you were simply tossing out an indefensible negative observation, that even you didn’t believe in, simply for the sake of obstructing the progress of the conversation.)
    You don’t think that homosexual behavior calls for repentance and I do. LOL. I’ve been saying that since day one. The way we believe about it impacts our worldview and the way we communicate. To understand that about one another would be a great step towards conflict avoidance and resolution.
    When will you begin using your new ex-gay terminology? I noticed you didn’t in your most recent thread. I couldn’t be sure when you suggested the (n.s.) if you were serious or just trying to be negative. You’d thought about it for days and presented it as a revelation of sorts. Is that true and will you be following through? Or is it false, supporting the possibility that you were simply finding a way to say the same old thing but make it sound new?

  15. @Michael Bussee:
    I wish we could all just stipulate that men are different from women. In sexuality, this seems beyond dispute. Women may indeed make a complete shift without even trying according to Diamond’s work (and my own clinical experience supports this). However, I have only known a handful of men who say the same thing. And in a couple of cases, they thought they were completely changes but later experienced SSA.
    This debate is probably endless. I agree with a comment made by Timothy Kincaid here some time ago. We are really talking about the edges of groups statistically. Most people do not switch broad categories once they become adults. There is fluidity from adolescence to adulthood and women are more likely to flex than men.

  16. Mary, I would love to hear how “ex-gay men are different than ex gay women.” How so? Can you give me a few examples of the major differences as you see them? I admit I have trouble understanding what ex-gay men are — and I have very little knowledge about ex-gay women
    I know that ex-gay men are (1) not straight, (2) that they still have “SSA”, (3) that some manage refrain from some gay behavior, (4) that some may remain celibate and (5) that some marry, and (6) that some have both attractions even though they don’t consider themselves bisexual.,
    I know that (7) some consider themselves “ex-gay” even though they continue to have some type or gay sex from time to time (for example, masturbation to gay fantasies) — even though, as Eddy points out, “continuing “sin” of this type puts them at risk of Hell — and that (8) that some find their “SSA” is less intense over time . Could the same things be said of ex-gay women?

  17. Although MIchael, it would not fit everyone as a woman like myself does consider herself straight. Exgay men are different than ex gay women. A topic you seem to continually overlook.

  18. Eddy: You say that you have “been thinking for the last few days how we distinguish between Christians who actually believe in concepts like sin, repentance, monogamy and those who have a ‘new’ revelation of a grace only relationship.”
    I assume from this comment that you are assuming that (unlike you) I am not a “Chriistian who actually believes in concepts like sin, repentance, monogamy”. Here again, as with many of your assumptions about me, you would be wrong!
    I believe that we all sin and that we need a Savior. I believe He calls to repent. I believe He expects us to use our sexuality (and all His good gifts) responsibly and lovingly — not to abuse others with it (sin against aothers) or dedicate our lives to the worship of lust (idolatry).
    I doubt that you and I really differ on HOW we are saved — or the need for repentance. We disagree on whether or not all homosexual behavior is always sin. You believe it always is and I do not. I believe that is a matter of individual conscience before God. Real, Bible-believing Christians disagree on the gay issue. It’s not as black-nd-white as you would like to make it.
    So, once again, we are saved by grace. That being said, we are called to act like it — loving God with all our heart, soul and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves..

  19. Michael-
    It occurred to me that ‘ex-gay, nst’ might be more functional in the long run. The meaning of ‘nst’ is ‘not straight though’. 1) it rolls off the fingers onto the keyboard easier 2) it pronounces easier in speech: nist.
    I might even be able to persuade a few others to use it. Back in the day, we wanted people to ask what ‘ex-gay’ meant. It would open the door for us to share the Gospel of redemption and a daily walk with Jesus. And, they didn’t ask. I think if we attached the ‘nst’, they’d ask. We’d get a chance to explain what we believe and it would encourage a more realistic sense of the meaning of the words ‘change’ and ‘freedom’. (“Yes, I heard him say that Jesus changed him completely BUT nst.” or “When he said he had freedom from homosexuality, he also said nst. He’s not dead yet so likely has sexual temptations at least once in a while. We can safely conclude that those temptations are sometimes, perhaps most times, homosexual. That’s only logical.” That could also serve to curtail the way too personal questions in public. There would be no need for them.
    I have an absurdist bent: Chuckling over the image of some taking it a step or two further. Exodus makes it compulsory. New ex-gays start out with an all caps NST. After some ‘change’ or ‘freedom’ milestone, they drop to lower case nst. And if they get to an 80% straight/20% homosexual blend, they can drop the nst. Ex-gay opponents and detractors wouldn’t start harassing you until you dropped the nst.
    But back to point a or thereabouts: even I might be persuaded to use ‘ex-gay, nst’ but ‘ex-gay (n.s.)’ is awkward to type. Compromise?

  20. Michael-
    Go for it. It will be your special usage and until it catches on you’ll have to explain it. But I like it. I’ve been thinking for the last few days how we distinguish between Christians who actually believe in concepts like sin, repentance, monogamy and those who have a ‘new’ revelation of a grace only relationship. I was thinking of going with Christian with a capital C for the former group and christian with a small c for the ‘grace only’. If it catches on, it could even translate to spoken English, “Yes, I’m a ‘big c Christian” or “No, I think I’m more aligned with the small c’s on this one.”
    Uh-oh, you’re new definition has some problems. I don’t recall that either Joe Dallas or Alan Chambers ever said that they still have ‘exclusively or mainly same sex attractions’. They didn’t qualify, quantify or compare to their level of opposite sex attractions; they simply stated they still have them. But, the more I think of it that won’t be a problem. You can write ‘ex-gays (n.s.)’ in all of your posts on the topic. I’ll see how the big C, little c thing works for me.
    I look forward to this change, actually. For once we’ll have agreed on terms so we won’t have to keep going over the same ground. I won’t have to fumble for non-offensive words to describe Christians who still hold some of the old school values. The Big C will say it all. And you’ll simply be able to say the names Alan Chambers or Joe Dallas, ex-gays (n.s) –and you won’t have to tell their stories anymore. LOL. Both of us will have less time at the keyboard.

  21. I posted this on the Ted Haggard thread –
    I am aware of individuals having sex with people they are not attached to in any way or want to be attached to in any way – the sex satiates a temporary impulse and then is not thought about in any kind of positive way afterward, sometimes causing self loathing or repulsion. I am not sure if this is what happened to Ted Haggard but it is a possibility.

  22. I fall victim to it as much as the next person, but this quote from John Knowles’
    A Separate Peace helps remind me of what I think is a truism. His narrator and the novel’s protagonist says the summer between his junior and senior year was his “sarcastic summer.” As an adult looking back at his teenage years, he concludes, “It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak.”

  23. I have been giving this a lot of thought, and I realize that I have beating my head against a wall — for nothing! Eddy actually agrees with me! He says that straight did not fit”. (Ex-gays are not heterosexual.) He says that “bisexual did not fit.” (Ex-gays are not bisexual.) “Ex-gay” did fit — even though it seems to imply that ex-gays have “changed” and are no longer homosexxual in their attraction. But this is clearly not the case!
    Joe Dallas, Eddy, Alan Chambers all admit to “SSA”. So, regardless of what the label may intentionally (or uninterntionally) imply “Ex-gays” still have exclsuively or mainly SAME SEX ATTRACTIONS. Who has SSA? Bisexuals and gays do!
    Heterosexual people do not. So from now on, I will amend the term “ex-gay” with the letters “n.s.” to make it clear that whatever “ex-gays”(n.s.) are or what “background they may have come from”, they are NOT STRAIGHT.

  24. Pianoman:
    I worry about his motives but I don’t have anything to go on to judge them by. I realize that he was capable of pulling off some slimy stunts in the past and pray that this exposure really did lead him to a place of healthy brokenness…that he really does recognize that he has those desires but that, at the bottom line, his choice was to deny them for the sake of his faith and his marriage. I hope that awareness will keep him in check when he is again tempted and has opportunity.

  25. Eddy, I’m guessing that perhaps what Jayhuck liked about my statement was where I acknowledged that there are people who are in Christ who value monogamy and decency and keeping private things private whose goal is to be living in a long term even life long homosexual exclusive faithful relationship, even though I think God doesn’t endorse that, I could be wrong.
    Might not know for sure until we see Him face to face, for now we know in part. But I think (notice readers I said think, not know) God doesn’t endorse it because his image is both male / respect / authority and female / love / power; thus a homosexual relationship by definition is portraying God coming into Himself rather than God coming spiritually into the Church. I think everyone would agree that God’s love is focussed outward and not inward.

  26. Eddy, I’m struck by the fact that Mr. Haggard is grateful to the escort for bringing Haggard out of the darkness and into the light. I’m sure that Haggard knows there will be detractors and that his roots are growing in the foundation so that whether or not people make fun of him will become less and less relevant. What was that the Apostle said, “We are fools for Christ sake?”. I think it takes either a lot of guts or a calling from God to make the show so public. I know the detractors will say they’re just doing the interviews for the fame and the money…whatever. I’m confident that the Spirit will lead them when to be public and when to get out of the spot light, regardless of what any supporter or detractor says. Your thoughts?

  27. Jayhuck, it is indeed something to want to define oneself and not to accept the boxes. Perhaps he’s a minority within a minority within a minority. To me, every individual is a minority, at least, I do the best I can to treat individuals as individuals and not define the individual by the label of any group they may be a part of (other than the two groups I note in the next sentence), but I’m not any more perfect/complete at avoiding putting people in boxes than anyone else, much as I would like to be. Seriously, I think the only labels that matter are In Christ and Not Yet In Christ. I suppose it would be nice if the Scripture said “in Christ there is no male, female, slave, free, black, white, red, yellow, green, Jew, Gentile, gay, straight, bi, “80% gay 20 % straight living as a 100% straight 0% gay”, not aroused by sex at all ever, preferers of cats, preferers of dogs, melancholy, sanguine, introvert, extrovert, sensing, thinking, feeling, intuitive, judgemental, perceptive, preferers of numbers or preferers of words and language (i.e.sudoku or scrabble), preferers of history, preferers of theory, peacemakers, people who like to stir things up, conservatives in form and substance, liberals in form and substance, conservatives in form and liberal in substance, liberals in form but conservative in substance, animal preferers, plant preferers, dark solids, pastels, stripes, polka dots, randoms, sequentials, conretes, abstracts, morning people, evening people, etc etc etc etc but all who are In Christ Jesus are One.” Not to say there were not people of these characteristics, but that the characteristics all paled as labels in comparison to the two labels “In Christ in Life” or “Not Yet In Christ still in death”, or if you will, sheep and goats. The crucified life is a paradox by definition, but that’s not the subject of this thread so…..
    How about It’s OK to accept a box and it’s OK not to accept a box. Obviously there are many people who believe that other people are being dishonest with themselves or are just plain deceived. And then there’s the concept of denying yourself while acknowledging yourself, that is, not letting who you are be a limiting definer or restrictor of how you do and what you do. Which to many people, is just plain foolishness, but to others, is a way of life that is working for them.

  28. I’m sure that makes you feel like the bigger person Eddy – and if it does, well, more power to you 🙂 We don’t make light of his struggle, really, we don’t, but his deep seated desire for an odd, perhaps off-the-cuff label, well, that’s something else entirely

  29. So, your friends and you make sport of Ted’s spiritual/sexual dilemma? As his brother-in-Christ, I hope you’ve spent at least as much time praying for him. (It’s not too late to start.)

  30. And I’m pretty sure he won’t – My friends and I have been having a great deal of fun with the term hetero-flexible – LOL – he should get points for that one

  31. Oh, I have no trouble understanding this POV from you…what I couldn’t understand was your endorsement of Pianoman’s statement. I am very much in agreement with it as well. And yet you and I disagree in practice. I’m trying to understand how you can endorse the ideas Pianoman put forth and simultaneously be arguing that Ted Haggard needs to accept his bi-sexual label at least. LOL. And then speculate on why he doesn’t like them.

  32. Seriously though – I have labels I would like to start applying to myself before others get to chime in ;)!

  33. Sorry Eddy – the smiley face – at this point anyway, just means I’m enjoying myself 🙂 I’m not purposefully meaning to bare any teeth – I know we have deep and probably irreconcilable differences, but that doesn’t take away from the odd and problematic let’s-allow-everyone-to-define-themselves issue

  34. Jayhuck–
    This comments sounds flippant to me and my comment was quite serious. Also, please consider that when you use the smiley face thing when you aren’t actually telling a joke, it can come across as ‘baring your teeth’.
    Due to the fact that you and I are prone to misunderstandings, I simply don’t feel we have the luxury of posting things that are purposely ambiguous…especially when it dodges a very real question.

  35. Oh No Eddy – I’m actually becoming excited at the prospect at having everyone get to decide who and what they really are – I have some ideas for myself 🙂 LOL

  36. Jayhuck–
    I see that you were knocked out by Pianoman’s statement
    “Some Christians who believe God wants them not to express themselves in a homosexual relationship (even though a homosexual relationship still has some appeal to them at some deep levels) because they believe that such a homosexual natural physical relationship would be at odds with their Christian spiritual supernatural relationship with God?” I think that might just suffice, but it of course is way too long to be useful as a label.
    LOL. While discussing here, you also blog on the Ted Haggard topic where we actually have a Christian who fits the cumbersome definition that ‘is way too long to be useful as a label’. But you don’t follow the rest of Pianoman’s advice…’perhaps we should toss the labels’. You insist that Haggard must then be bi-sexual and marvel that he can’t accept his box.

  37. I agree with you Michael – and so does a vast majority of the world. Some exgays will fight to the death regarding what being gay means, but there is still, out there, in the ether, an idea that gay, simply means, being attracted to others of the same sex, and whether you act on those feelings or not, whether you try to change them with only a modicum of success or not, doesn’t change the fact you are gay. Others will fight to suggest that you cannot label them as such while the rest of the world goes on doing so – is that right? Sigh, I’m not sure anymore, but the term GAY is used VERY differently in Evangelical and other ex-gay circles than it is by the rest of the world – does this pose a multitude of problems – Oh yeah 🙂 Does this cause problems when it comes to discussing the issue – just look at the archives on this blog

  38. I see attraction to ones own sex as an appreciation of the gifts that another has been given and a desire to be in relationship with that person whom God created and to desire to have sex with that person or to look at them in a lustful way as an objectification of that persons gifts and lacking repect for the wonder of that creation. My own experience with my own SSA never brought me to a greater connectedness with that person and in fact made it much more difficult to connect with and feel comfortable with members of my own sex. I do not believe there is such a person who is either 100% homosexual or 100 % heterosexual. We all fall somewhere in between and therefore all experience the term “gay” as meaning something very different and I suppose in the same sense our interpretation of the word “ex-gay” means something different for people with differing levels of attraction. It is therefore, in my opinion, a judgement on the part of anyone who says that no one ever changes, however, ultimately the only one who can truly make that judgement is the person who experiences the change and only in the honesty of a deep relationship with their God. No on else.

  39. Michael said:
    My point is that if you still are only “tempted” by men and not “tempted” by women you are still gay — even if you don’t act on the feelings or like that term.
    I realize you believe this very strongly but it goes to the heart of our difference which I’ve addressed time after time. The Bible definition and the psychological one don’t line up. Once again, you state your opinion as if it trumps mine; I’m here to tell you it doesn’t.

  40. Michael,
    Your logic that a hetersexual man or woman who has sex with their spouse and does not enjoy it does not imply that they are not hetersexual. I never made that connection – at all.
    It may indicate to you that you are gay. But not to everyone. If I was having sex with a man and did not enjoy it I would be looking at other sources for the lack of enjoyment instead of assuming it must be his gender.
    You missed the opportunity that some people have a different motivation for seeking sex with the same gender – beyond being gay or bisexual. But this gets into a whole realm of ideas that you simply disagree with. You equate attraction to same gender as a sexual orientation that is inborn. I see attraction to others that gets sexualized for a variety of reasons. And it is not always enjoyable to the person who does not desire to express themselves this way. Therefore they would not define themselves as bisexual, gay or straight.

  41. How about “Some Christians who believe God wants them not to express themselves in a homosexual relationship (even though a homosexual relationship still has some appeal to them at some deep levels) because they believe that such a homosexual natural physical relationship would be at odds with their Christian spiritual supernatural relationship with God?” I think that might just suffice, but it of course is way too long to be useful as a label. I say Some Christians, because there definitely are Christians who believe God wants them to express themselves in a faithful monogamous relationship and their belief is that God doesn’t care about whether such a relationship is homosexual or heterosexual, only that it is faithful and monogamous and not one of violence or abuse of power or of prostitution. Perhaps we can all toss the labels and not define ourselves by our feelings or our sexual relationships or lack thereof. Yes, I admit I’m dreaming. I think we know what the Bible says, there is only disagreement about what it means. My own personal opinion is that the image of God is male/respect/authority and female/love/power and that His desire is for his image to be reflected in our sexual behavior. But I could be wrong or only be seeing part of the picture; I suppose only God sees the Whole Picture. Like I say, it’s just my personal opinion. I’m not going to say it’s Truth because it’s up to God to say what’s Truth and although I would like to think I could speak for God, of course He does a much better job of speaking for Himself. I’m not being facetious or awnry, I’m speaking as truthfully and as guileless as I believe I can.

  42. Eddy, you said: “The label ’straight’ or ‘heterosexual’ did not fit; ‘ex-gay’ did” When iut comes right down to it, “ex-gay” doesn’t fit either — and even Alan Chambers thinks so! You and I have had this discussion until I am quite certain we are all sick of it. I know you like the term and that, for you, it means “from gay” — as in coming from a gay background. But, it doesn’t mean “no longer gay” and is certainly does not mean “heterosexua”.
    My point is that if you still are only “tempted” by men and not “tempted” by women you are still gay — even if you don’t act on the feelings or like that term. Straight men do not struggle with gay fantasies. But men who are “from gay” DO.>
    Mary says that “bisexual” only applies to those who ENJOY it and that if those attractions are “bothersome” that somehow means the person is not bisexual. This is just plain silly!. By that definition, married couples who are not “enjoying” their sex life would not be heterosexual.
    Come on! Sexual orientation has NOTHING to do with whether or not you enjoy it — it only refers to whether you are attracted to only one gender or both. Mary may not like defining “bisexual” as simply having BOTH attractions, but that’s what the term means. Look it up.

  43. I really don’t think bi-sexual fits either.
    For those who ENJOY being with both genders I would say are bi-sexual. Those who are ex gay (for lack of a better word) don’t enjoy being with both sexes. It truly is bothersome for some ex gays to be attracted to their own gender – even if it is only from time to time. I would not call that bisexual.

  44. Michael-
    Agreed about the heterosexuality. It’s why we coined a new term. We knew what we weren’t but we didn’t know what we would become. The label ‘straight’ or ‘heterosexual’ did not fit; ‘ex-gay’ did.

  45. Mary, You said “If ex-gays are anything but straight – then explain that to me”. “OK. Here goes: “Ex-gays” are not heterosexual in the common sense of that term — as in “persistently and premionately attracted to members of the OPPOSITE sex.” That would be HETEROSEXUAL. A HOMOSEXUAL person is one who is “persistently and premionately attracted to members of the SAME sex.” BISEXUAL would be a person who is attracted to BOTH.
    Eddy once posted that the idea that “ex-gay” meant “straight” was preposterous — and that EXODUS never promised heterosexuality.. It’s not rocket science Mary. Any standard English dictionary contains similar definitions. Seems to me that only “ex-gays” are bent re-defining these terms — or making up new words. Bottom line. Ex-gays are not heterosexual

  46. My comments were meant globally and not toward anyone specifically. I do not envy the hurts and struggles and isolation that some on this blog have experienced in profound and damaging ways.
    I have found personally that when I don’t jump to conclusions or respond reactively, that I am happier as a person…and prouder of my behavior with those I love.

  47. p.s. – one does not have to agree with another perspective, however, respecting that another perspective exists is vital to any discussion

  48. I just have to wonder if any gay person here would tolerate the same treatment.
    Probably not – at least I have never experienced it here or anywhere else. It is not the differences in thought that shuts down coversation, it is the unwillingness to respect another perspective that does.

  49. Guys sorry if I seem snarky but I am tired of the sweeping comments made about ex gays going without challenge. I just have to wonder if any gay person here would tolerate the same treatment.

  50. Michael:

    They (EXODUS) just thought it would be fun to speculate, spread rumors and make nasty comments on a public blog.

    Is this referring to the same incident that we already touched on? I was under the impression that was Bob’s personal blog? Are you saying it was EXODUS? I thought it was just one speculative statement. So I’m wanting to hear more about the rumors and nasty comments. I’m wondering if those are your way of describing/embellishing that same incident?
    You cite that it was a public blog. I’ve got one of those for karaoke and have had less than 2 dozen visitors. And I’m friends with Bob. Myself and 3 others I know of who maintain friendship with him are not subscribed to his blog. I’m wondering who his readership is…how many there are?
    In short, I think the term ‘public blog’ can be just as misleading as ‘change’ and/or ‘freedom’, can you tell us if he has a readership in the thousands? or perhaps the hundreds? perhaps less? If not, that’s cool. I can check with Bob himself.
    I’m quite perplexed at how you can have such a sensitivity to the misleading word usages of EXODUS, but you can say ‘slut’, ‘rumors’, ‘nasty comments’ without clarification. If it was just that one statement you cited above, I already took exception to your use of the word ‘slut’. I’d take the same exception to ‘nasty comments’. It’s one statement–and speculation isn’t the same thing as a rumor. One is a question; the other a statement. But I do note that you’ve got a plural ending on ‘rumors’ and ‘nasty comments’, are you tipping us off that there is more to what Bob said? That three part sentence structure: speculation, rumors and nasty comments seems intended to inflate that one incident…you get the sense that there was more than just that one time.

  51. @David Blakeslee:
    Maybe there is a specialty in there somewhere. I could be a Certified Blog Rage Therapist (Coach).
    Seriously, I thank all who make it a respectful discussion and deal with the BR in constructive ways.

  52. My experience on this blog and others is that they tend to be snarky.
    It is the exception when a blog deals in a measured and respectful manner with the material.
    Exaggeration, reactivity, anecdotal evidence and “straw man” arguments rule the day.
    It is considered a triumph when a person’s words can be mildly twisted, moderately twisted to imply they are hateful, bigoted or ignorant.
    Blogging is sort of like commuting in your car…they smallest inconsiderate move by a fellow driver is prone to misinterpretation and a hostile response.
    Blog Rage.

  53. Neither are we gay. And I am offended at your comments that come without explanation. If ex gya is anything but straight – then explain that to me Don’t just throw it out there and expect no challenges. When you make an assertion – you have to explain yourself, too.
    BTW, you have not spoken to all ex gays and I doubt you have spoken to many ex gay women on the issue. WE do not all maturbate and fanstasize about our same gender. I also ask you to be honest with the public. I do not like the assertions and comments you are painting of people like myself without expalanation.
    BTW, do all ex gays leave the ex gay world to become gay and get sick? Do they all lose their lovers and friends to crime and disease? Would you want me to spread that rumor?

  54. Eddy said: “Michael, the disease had to come from somewhere–and you weren’t talking. No one asked. They (EXODUS) just thought it would be fun to speculate, spread rumors and make nasty comments on a public blog. When I discovered what Bob Davies was doing, I responded immediately and angrily. It was out of line.
    And regarding your comment that I “either paint your life as happy and fulfilled or tortured and abused” — that is because that is what life is — sometimes joyous, sometimes full of pain. Isn’t yours? Both of us have experienced the highs and lows of life — regardless of what we call ourselves or how our feelings may or may not have “changed”. Choosing to accept my gayness didn’t guarantee either pleasure or pain. Life is full of both, whether you accept yourself as gay or not. At least we seem to agree on that.
    All I know is that I was MISERABLE trying to pretend that I was “ex-gay”. My sexual feelings and orientation NEVER changed from gay to straight — as is the case for all of the “ex-gays” I have met. When I ask an “ex-gay” about ongoing homosexual fantasies or behavior, i am only asking them to be honest with themselves and the public. Whatever they may be, ex-gays are “anythi9ng but straight.

  55. Michael–
    You sure are hard to please! Bob Davies is out of line for questioning whether Gary was messing around. I’m out of line for thinking that one of you might have contracted the disease before you ever met. Dang, Michael, the disease had to come from somewhere–and you weren’t talking. Those (along with the possibility that you could have been the one having dalliances) are the most logical means of transmission. My sincere apologies for not considering transfusion…it is on the list of possible means of transmission but its way down there!
    Hmmmm. Both wives were and are HIV negative. Sounds like I’m not the only one who wanted to rule out that possibility. Were you outraged at whoever it was that suggested they take the tests? I mean, really, how dare they!!!!!
    I was far more forgiving when you, in an attempt to discredit me when I first started blogging, wondered if I still liked getting beat up. Confusing me with someone else and then feeling free to blog it. No, Michael, your victim card won’t play here.
    I figured the word ‘slut’ was your invention. It’s a vivid example of those words of tone that you like to use to make others appear more villainous than they actually are. The actual version which you now tell doesn’t sound even half as outrageous as the first telling.
    My comment re your bliss followed shortly after your long list detailing your happiness. Funny how you can take a suggestion that Gary may have fooled around and escalate it to ‘called him a slut’ but I can’t interchange ‘bliss’ for ‘happiness’. If my word choice is stupid, what do we call yours? I go for purposely ‘charged’ and ‘inflammatory’.
    Depending on the mood and what the argument of the day is you either paint your life as happy and fulfilled or tortured and abused. Truth is your life is a lot like everyone else–it’s got a mix of both. I too have been beaten and assaulted; I too have feared for my very life. No, I didn’t have a friend die in the same attack but I’ve lost at least two friends to murder…one was gay, strangled in his own home less than a block from me; the other was a free-spirited young hippie girl. We still don’t know the circumstances of her death; her body was dumped in one of California’s many vineyards. Both deaths still haunt me from time to time even though many years have passed.

  56. Mary: I never said that “gays don’t change” or that “”NO ONE changes”. I said they don’t change their basic sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.
    People can and do change all sorts of things: their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, self-concept, etc. They may experience change in a variety of dramatic ways, but I have seen NO evidence that they (ex-gays) actually become straight.
    Yes, I would “mellow” on EXODUS if EXODUS was more careful about its affiliations and quicker to renounce wackos, quacks and hate-mongers. I have never contradicted that.
    Eddy: Bob Davies did not use the word “slut” to describe Gary, but he strongly implied it — as in “how happy and committed could Gary have been if Gary got AIDS?” If Bob wanted to know, he could have asked, instead of making snarky jabs at Gary’s character on a public blog. I was silent about EXODUS for years after Gary’s death — until I read that comment — and it angered me no end.
    Fact is, we don’t know how he got it. He had a number of blood transfusions before we even knew what AIDS was. He might have contracted it that way, who knows? Maybe I gave it to him? What business is it of EXODUS or its leaders anyway? Why take the jab at a dead man? VERY LOW BLOW in my opinion. You are very right: “it’s intrusive and, on many levels, is simply none of their business.”
    And your assumption that “one of you carried the disease into your marriage–which would have also indicated that your wives may have also been put at risk” was incorrect — as many of your assumptions about my life have been. Maybe you should quit assuming! Both women were and are HIV negative.
    Also, Eddy, i have NEVER said that “accepting my homosexuality brought me bliss”. What a stupid thing to accuse me of saying! On the contrary, it has brought problems — like rejection by friends, church members and family. My openess about being gay made me the target of a violent assault and may have contributed to the death of my friend by homophobic gang-bangers.
    It has made me the target of not-so-loving “Christians” who have flatly stated that I am not a “real” Christian, never was, that “Satan” is my father and that I am going to Hell for my honesty. Accepting my homosexuality did not bring me bliss. It did, however, bring me a sense of integrity and self-respect. That’s what telling the truth does.

  57. Concerned,
    Your faith may deeper or more developed than mine. As far as reaching out to others in a tone of love…? Not always. I am tired of the gay rhetoric. I am tired of being called a fake, a liar (in so many words) ad infinitum…. I may be a christain by name but I am damn tired of the cat calling. The only advantage gays have over christians is that we are supposed to act in love… and personally, I am tired of that! If Michael comes here and scream un christian at me or others than what are we to do? Well, I guess I ‘ll apt to say – so be it!!
    – maybe I’m not christian enough but I am tired of living by my faith (whatever that myay be by gay standards ) and being called a liar.
    Enough! I have had it with people like him. All they do is rant and rave all day about the abuses they have suffered (at their own hands I might add) and how problematic christians are to society.
    I support gay right under this constitutional law, and I support the freedom of religion under this constitutional law …. but I do not support the raving lunatic who waits for my approval of their choices.

  58. PianoMan,
    Yep. We all change in a variety of ways. Many of the changes I have gone through were unexpected, challenging and yet life defining. None of them have taken away my past or rememberances or history. That goes for ex gay items as well as many other items on my list of who I used to be.
    Asking someone to define a whole group is not a good idea. Asking someone individually helps gain a broader perspectvie and understanding. Name calling and calling a whole segment of society – fakes and liars is just stupid. If gays want to equate themselves to the black population then they might add ex gays to that group. We were born to change! It’s in our genes and that’s the way it is.
    And change means ….. “Why don’t you ask me?” Just as the black american experience can not be defined or qualittatively defined in a one hour segment on PBS niether can an ex gay’s change be defined by one group, one man/woman or one generation. Social stats show us that we are evolving socially – that means gays are different today that they were 20 years ago. Exgays are different today than they were 20 or 10 years ago. Et cetera et cetera…..
    Whether we are agents of Satan….??? I dunno. I’ve got a fight with him everyday. As do we all.

  59. I like what was said about change and how it was said. I would like to add: Change could be changed behavior but not changed desires, or a lot of changes in behavior and a lesser change in desires, change could be how we deal with our desires, or a change in the patterns and frequency of a behavior or a change in the patterns and frequencies of the desires, etc etc etc. I think we can all agree that change usually doesn’t mean that desires never return or or somehow get supernaturally replaced by some other desire or no desire at all, since we are after all living beings and not machines or robots. I say usually because like all things, in a very few rare cases change could be radical and final. Whether it’s food or drink or sex or fun or diversion or entertainment or whatever. We who are in Christ are being conformed into the image of Christ, and for each person the pace and characteristics and order and degree and speed or lack of speed are different, for Christ is Infinite and we all mature at different rates and in different ways; God will judge all our actions and omitted actions. In the meantime, why not pray that we not limit the Power of God in our weaknesses any more than we already do by the unbelief that comes so natural to us, myself included. I hope and believe that He’s more concerned that we focus on loving more instead of focus on sinning less.

  60. Eddy,
    I agree with your analysis. One last point though, I think we are all pawns of Satan and our own ego, it is just a matter of whether we are going to be moved by this or whether we remain focused on a higher calling to reach out to others in love.

  61. concerned–
    One big difference, though, in the choice to leave homosexuality behind and the choice to have an abortion is that the choice re homosexuality is reversible. A person can make a new choice to become an ex-ex-gay. An abortion, however, is quite final.
    I think the bigger issue is with the term ‘homosexuality’ itself. Psychology sees it as a ‘condition’ and includes desires and attractions; the Bible understanding goes more to behavior than a condition-desires and attractions are meaningless unless they have dominion over you. It’s a genuine conundrum. If I say that I’m ‘a sinner saved by grace’, people understand immediately that I’m endeavoring not to sin but, if I were to say I was ‘a homosexual saved by grace’, it wouldn’t be clear whether I was embracing or resisting the homosexual desires. Until the time that psychology defined homosexuality as a condition and a normal one, the latter statement would have been clear as well. Much of the church has embraced psychology’s definition which further confuses the matter.
    I believe that Christians who recognize the distinctions between the two definitions should be more clear when they know that their audience largely holds to the psychological view…community talks, political forums, etc. But, if their words are directed to like-minded individuals, it should be assumed that they are speaking from the shared Biblical understanding. Psychologists, when speaking in their world, don’t take extra steps to accommodate this Christian mentality…I hear what they’re saying and I understand their definition. I don’t see why Christians, when speaking to fellow Christians who share their understanding, need to take extra steps to accommodate psychology’s definition.
    I cringe when I hear Christians say that “homosexuality is a sin”; it is far more true to their message to say “homosexual behavior is a sin”. Unless the term ‘homosexuality’ is already a part of the discussion, I try to shun it saying ‘homosexual behavior’ or ‘the homosexual lifestyle’. (The PC police have trouble with ‘homosexual lifestyle’ but I feel that its far more honest to say “I’ve left the homosexual lifestyle” than to say “I’ve left homosexuality behind”. Sure, we can debate that ‘the homosexual lifestyle’ means different things to different people but, at the bottom line, you do get the gist of what they’re saying.) I could say I’ve started a physical fitness program and that makes a clear statement. Yet it doesn’t say whether it’s diet, exercise, a combination of the two, how intensive, which diet plan, what exercise…it doesn’t even say whether I’m trying to gain, lose or maintain my current weight. Those details usually go to those with whom I’m more closely associated on a ‘need to know’ basis.
    Unfortunately, even though folks on both sides of the issue recognize the distinction in definitions, both sides seem to thrive on the misunderstandings–pointing fingers at each other for miscommunicating. I believe that some have a total disregard and disrespect for the other side and resist clear communication out of hostility. Others are in it with an agenda and purposely foster miscommunication. There is a huge resistance to any ‘coming together’ towards a shared understanding. While there is a vehement hatred towards ex-gays by many in the gay community (PC police again…I said ‘gay community’), there is also a wealth of negative feelings from Christians who view gays as hell-bound and ex-ex-gays as pawns of Satan.

  62. Eddy,
    Another word that I think we need to examine here is the word “choice” . When I say that I make a choice to leave homosexuality behind me and move on towards a hetersexual life that is denied as possible. I have often been cut down for making such a statement. It is said that is not possible. Who is to say if it is or is not possible? Is it so just because no one has stepped up to the plate and done a study that proves there is change from 100% homosexual to 100% heterosexual, even though there may be many instances of change from say 80% homo to 80% heterosexual. The biggest problem for me has been that some cannot accept that there are different levels of attraction and that there is fluidity and therefore different people change in differing ways and for differing reasons.
    Now let us look at this word in a completely different context, In the womans right to choose to have an abortion. Some would say the woman has every right to decide what she does with her own body. Others would argue that the infant inside her has rights also and that those are not being respected if she make a choice to end the pregnancy. And what about the rights of the father of a potential child? Does he have any say in what happens? In this case her choice is of primary importance. But in the case of the ex-gay it is unacceptable that they should choose to leave their old ways behind them or to even claim that they have left it behind.

  63. Michael–
    I have trouble with your claim of Exodus’ overpromises. You continue to focus on that word ‘change’. It’s the same word that charged the campaign of our current president yet, I’m quite sure, that we’ll still have 50 states when he’s done; we’ll still have a Senate and Congress; we’ll still have the same basic structure of government when his term is through. Hopefully, we’ll have solved a few problems and be on the road to recovery in some other areas. Hmmm. Funny how that word ‘change’ doesn’t mean a complete and total transformation…how it doesn’t obliterate the past…It seems that when we hear the word, we also take a realistic look at the entire situation, and we grasp what ‘change’ means. We know to look beyond the sound bite; we know that sometimes a little hype creeps in. We balance any exaggerated statements with the rest of what’s been said. (Consider that if Exodus were really promising complete change, there wouldn’t be a purpose for ex-gay support groups. I mean, if you’re completely changed, what would there be to talk about?) It really is a shame that we can’t employ that same brain mechanism when ex-gays use the word.
    I have trouble believing that Bob Davies or anyone in Exodus would use the word ‘slut’, especially in a written piece. It’s possible but unlikely. When I first heard that Gary had AIDS, my very first thought was concern for you and your health. But, after that, my brain engaged trying to embrace the ramifications of this riddle. I knew people who rationalized that if they could find a young partner among the ranks of the ‘ex-gays’, their chances of finding a ‘clean’ partner were improved. There are several problems with this logic which I won’t go into here but, since you and Gary met as young and heterosexually married ex-gays, I naturally wondered where the AIDS came from and how it spoke very clearly to the illogical presumptions of some that finding a partner amongst the ex-gay ranks was somehow safer. My own presumption was that one of you carried the disease into your marriage–which would have also indicated that your wives may have also been put at risk. The possibility that one of you had dalliances outside of your committed relationship didn’t occur to me until much later.
    Like it or not, you are a ‘poster child’ of sorts for the ex-ex-gays. The fact that your partner Gary had AIDS and eventually died of AIDS complications did and does raise some legitimate questions from those you disparage. I agree that it’s intrusive and, on many levels, is simply none of their business. But that’s what I feel about your inquiries into who’s got temptations, who masturbates and what triggers they may employ. If they don’t answer, they are accused of hedging and of obscuring the full truth. I personally feel that that works in reverse as well.
    That’s okay, though. I expect it in this polarized battle that’s going on. I only take exception to the fact that you feel you have the right to ask such questions and to make assumptions but that you’re so offended when they do the same back at you. Even in this thread, you tell of the happiness and fulfillment that accepting your homosexuality has brought you. But it doesn’t change the fact that you also had a lot of pain and heartache due to Gary’s battle with AIDS. That’s also a part of the whole truth. Couldn’t we accuse you of overstating the bliss that accepting your homosexuality has brought you?
    I don’t like the political involvement by Exodus either but I’m also not blind to the fact that there’s a very real effort not just to legitimize homosexuality but to take down the ex-gay movement. Contrary to what many now claim, the anti-ex-gay forces rallied long before Exodus ever got involved in politics.
    In your later post, you likened homosexuality to being short. My own shortness comes from genetics; that hasn’t yet been proven with homosexuality. I can also note that while my shortness is pure genetics, some people are short due to genetic abnormalities and others from glandular malfunctions. If a short person with a glandular malfunction asked me if they should seek help, I’d do them a disservice if I simply answered ‘there’s nothing wrong with being short.’ I know my situation; I don’t know theirs. (I believe it may have been earlier on this very thread when I once again reiterated my belief that searching for just one model of ‘where homosexuality comes from’ is foolish. I disagree with the ‘one cause fits all’ model from reparative therapy. And, on the other side, even if some are proven to be genetically gay, it does not necessarily speak to all.)

  64. So in other words Michael, if we lived and associated with people that you thought were apropriate you would mellow?
    C’mon. You are contradicting yourself all over the place and trying to move the points – as usual. Please stop back peddaling and get back to the point I first commented on with you – that gays don’t change.
    No one can be ex gay in your presence without the attacks, the assumptions, that crude remarks, etc…
    And as always when you make that assertion that NO ONE changes – I will step in and make a remark regarding your over generalization and assessment of those of us who have changed. You do not like our description of changed. Okay that’s fine. But it is ours. I don’t your like your descriptition of healthy sexuality. But I’m not beating you and gays up about it.
    Your lack of insight into my life or that of any other who continues to benefit from efforts to not live out their SSA as an expression of sexuality is apparent in every insult you throw. You have insight into your own experience decades ago. Period. Your expererience was a long time ago.
    To speak about others has just become gossip and mean and untruthful.
    Your are bitter and resentful against EXODUS (and I don’t blame you) but I am tired of you throwing people like myself under the bus – YOU DO RECALL THAT YOU STARTED IN YOUR RANT ABOUT EX GAYS – not EXODUS. Approaches, theories, challenges, insights, practitioners, clients, have ALL changed since your day – some several DECADES ago.
    Those of us who walk away from SSA as an active expression of our lives do believe that SSA is wrong in our lives. Our very existence will always be a comment about that. I am not going to apologize for that. Nor am I going to be shamed into silence because you (nor I) like EXODUS. Nor am I going to sit down when you blog or post about some of the outrageous things you say about ex gays in general and then as usual side step and start talking about EXODUS – again and trying to avoid that you were talking about ex gays to begin with.
    You move the point so many times – I’m not sure you know where you started.

  65. Eddy: You said “ It feels like you say we have the right to exist and believe as we do but that you’d be done with us if you could.”
    My goal is not to be “done with you”, but I would indeed be happy if all gay people accepted themselves as gay. I think it’s very sad that people view gayness as a sin, sickness or disorder — just as I would if a person believed that being short was.

  66. Mary: Again, you have me wrong. My negativity is not directed at “all ex-gays”, but at EXODUS specifically — the organization, its politics, its questionable affiliations, its false-adevertizing and its official spokespersons and its apparent lack of concern for those it may have harmed — not at the individuals who are unhappy being gay and want some sort of “change”.
    I find most ex-gays to be sincere, intelligent, caring, Christ-loving people. They are the same as most ex-gay survivors I have met.

  67. Regarding my “negativity in tone” regarding ex-gays, it is not directed at ex-gays themselves but at false advertising. I agree with Warren that EXODUS ought to shift in focus away from “change” — implying a change in sexual orientation — and stick to a “values/congruence” approach such as Warren advocates.
    Eddy asked why I bristled so about AIDS and my partner Gary. What I was originally responding to was a very snarky comment posted by an EXODUS leader (I believe it was Bob Davies) that suggested that Gary must have been an unfaithful slut to get AIDS — and that our relationship was a sham. It felt to me that the EXODUS leader was attacking a dead person who could not defend his own honor.
    The negativity in tone also comes from EXODUS’s involvement in right wing politics, its use of “hype” and “Christianese”, its “over promises” about change,, its suggestion that a gay person cannot be a “real” Christian, its involvement with quacks, hatemongers and weirdos, its continuing affiliation with NARTH, etc. If EXODUS made the changes that Wendy GRitter suggested, my tone would mellow considerably.

  68. Is there an emoticon for “Tone?”
    The older I get, the happier I am not interpreting tone…I end up only being right 60% of the time when I try to interpret ton, especially incongruous tone…I love relationships where people say what they mean, and have the grace to repeat it sincerely if I didn’t hear it right the first time.

  69. Re: Many or Most: I’m glad we’re all so unique that each of us fits into our own individual category of one. I think we all agree that none of us fits into any so-called category of “all these are like this” or “all those do that” etc.
    Re: Change: Only God can change anything about what appeals to any of us, and only if He wills. If not, God says: “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is completed in your weakness, so that I will get the glory instead of you”. Me: “Well why couldn’t I have had drugs to deal with instead of this?” God: “Because, drugs would have destroyed you. That’s why drugs have never been a temptation for you”. Me: “Wow”.

  70. Eddy,
    Regardless of how a person chooses to hear the tone – I do feel sorry for MIchael. He or you or whomever reads that message may decide depending on their mood or disposition that more was intonated than just a simple message.
    While I do not like Michael’s constant negativity with ex gays, I have to wonder why he feels he must. His pain is an open wound that no one seems to be able to help him heal. I do feel sorry for that person. Compassion and sorrow are not always inclusive. With some, though I truly feel for their losses, their pains, their unmet needs, …. I cannot always have the compassion that is Christlike. Admitted … no argument.
    I tire of the attacks and unfounded assumptions about ALL ex gays.

  71. I meant to post this one earlier but I couldn’t get at the comments.
    This is just my opinion but I find one statement posts like “I feel sorry for you” a bit off-putting. If you really felt compassion, you’d likely have used that word. In saying “I feel sorry for you” to Michael, it felt like you were saying “you’ve got big problems” without coming right out and saying it or supporting it. It also feels manipulative…how can a person NOT respond when you make a statement like that?
    Your points to Michael about his tone might be better received if you weren’t flashing a bit of tone yourself.
    Like I said this is from earlier, later posts were an improvement. But I couldn’t believe that, of all times to be cut off from commenting, this was the one of the few times that I could cross over the ‘my team/your team’ barrier.

  72. LOL. I’ve done that before myself…someone new slips into the conversation and I think I’m responding to the one I’ve been wrangling with.
    I think what Mary and concerned are responding to is a negativity in tone that seems to pervade your comments regarding ‘ex-gays’. On one hand, you have open admissions by Exodus people: Alan Chambers, me, Joe Dallas, Frank Worthen–all of us freely admitting that we still have temptations. But then, you seem to accuse us of misleading people about change? All of the above mentioned–plus quite a few others–admit that we’re still homosexually tempted–not just to you but in public forums. Yet you keep saying that we represent a ‘total and complete change into straightness’ and portray us as willful deceivers.
    You say things like “Even Eddy admits” like it’s something you had to drag out of me when my major influence within Exodus was teaching ‘Lessons for the Battlefield’ and ‘Reckoning with the Roots’…focussed on ongoing, sometimes daily struggles.
    My examples might not be the strongest but I’m trying to convey that its the tone of the words around what you say that conveys that negativity.
    I noticed something mildly amusing just today. More than once you’ve expressed outrage over the personal questions people have asked re your relationship with Gary.(Assuming they’re wondering where the AIDS came from.) And yet, by your own admission, you ask ex-gays questions re things like masturbation and fantasy. A rational defense might be: But it goes to their claims. Unfortunately, that does work in reverse. Your personal claims re happiness and personal fulfillment that came through accepting and embracing your homosexuality in your relationship to Gary: wouldn’t their questions go to those claims?
    I’m not asking any questions tonight though. I thought perhaps these examples might help you to see the kinds of things that carry that tone of negativity that Mary and concerned spoke of. It feels like you say we have the right to exist and believe as we do but that you’d be done with us if you could. (It would be okay with me if you honestly felt that way–as long as you knew it too.)
    Yikes. The phone. On a karaoke night! But don’t they know it’s 14 below windchill and heading downwards!!!! Later.

  73. Concerned and Mary: Sorry for confusing your post with Mary’s. They were similar in tone and both seemed to be asserting that I have said something that I HAVE NOT. I have never said, and never will say, that the only way to be happy is to copy me or that “embracing a gay identity” is the only way to happiness.
    Both of those assertions would be ridiculous! I never said them and it irritates me when you, Mary or anyone else puts words in my mouth. I have never “very much implied” that accepting one’s gayness is the sole avenue to personal satisfaction or spiritual fulfillment.
    I have always said that each person must live according to their own individual conscience before God. Warren knows this is true. Accuse me of being contentious, arrogant or rude, but don’t say I said things that I have not.
    I am not saying that some people’s feelings have not changed in some way or that they are all lying.. I have said that all of the “ex-gay” MEN I have talked to have admitted that solo activity to gay fantasies remains an issue. If they are honest, they will admit that they are not ” heterosexual” in the common sense of that word.
    My “bitterness” is very specific. It is not about MY childhood. It’s about ANY kid who is taught that being gay will send them to hell, for any kid who has been teased, rejected or assaulted for being gay, for any kid who has been taught that God will reject them if they don’t “change”, for any kid who has been told that being gay means they are sick, sinful or disordered — and, sadly, there are still countless numbers of them.

  74. Read the previous posts. I agree with what concerned wrote. And my later post was directed to your ongoing to comments to me – that had nothing to do with my feeling sorry for you.
    As usual, I do think that your protesting so much that you have forgotten what you have written so many times.
    Of course we all have stress – that’s why I mentioned to you your error. And that perhaps a friend could help you right now.
    At last, I am glad to read that you agree that your truth is not the only way to happiness. Also, Iam glad to read that you do not know the whole truth. And also, I am glad to read that you admit that others can live a better life than the one you have prescribed for “gay”.
    You have found your happiness at a great cost. That should be satisfying for you. Your number 9? is questionable – since it is your cause – to try and convince me and others that ex gay is a myth, lie, sham etc…. It isn’t . You may have felt that way as a person while you were ex gay – but not everyone.
    Unlike you while you were ex gay – it is between me and God and not anyone else. It’s not about what my family wants, what the church wants, what society says is acceptable etc…. It’s all about me and they way I feel. As your story is to you … others ( ex gays) have one that is equally as compelling and truthful and faithful.
    BTW, we don’t all sit around having fantasies and masturbating while proclaiming to be ex gay. Some people really do change just not in the false hope of children where everything will go away. We deal with it – but we do not painfully struggle against SSA everyday, every moment in the way you like to describe.
    You may not like the idea that as a young area of pyshology (in general terms) therapy for SSA has changed it’s approach, vocabulary, understandings etc… as well as have the clients who come from a different generation and have different interpretations of sexuality. It’s not black and white the way gays want it to be. There’s a lot of gray areas and gray language and gray feelings. You cannot make that anything else.

  75. Michael,
    I think what Mary is getting at is that she did not write the response you are referring to, I did. As far as you not implying that one cannot be happy unless you accept your gayness, maybe I am wrong that you have said that but I am sure if we all look back on this blog site over the past number of years that has been very much implied many times by a variety of people who have a hard time accepting that not everyone finds happiness in living out their SSA. I am relieved if you have not said this recently, but I do remember some very harsh judgements towards ex-gays over the years that I feel were extremely unfair.

  76. Mary: What are you talking about qhwn you say this: “You please check the posts again. Or have a friend review them with you. I know you have stress in your life and that can cause confusion. Take care.”
    You seem to be suggesting that I am having some sort of stress-related memory or comphension problem and might need someone to explain English to me. This is insulting. Of course I have stress in my life. Who doesn’t? Don’t you?
    I understood perfectly well what you said. You said that I insist that MY way is the ONLY way to happiness. You could not be more off the mark. I have NEVER insisted that all people must accept a “gay identity” (whatever that is) in order to be happy. On these two points you are wrong. I never said it. Re-read my posts.
    I know that “my truth belongs to me.” Of copurse it does.! This is the way I see it. You see it another way. We disagree on “truth”. That is only human. Neither of us possess absolute knowledge of the truth — and I have NEVR insisted that I do. We only have our perspectives.
    Contrary to what you assert, I have no “cause” to “remove your quest, happiness, and truth for living “ Again, you MUST live in accorance with your values and follow what makes you truly happy. I have NO desire — NONE — to deprive you or anyone else of their personal quest.

  77. Michael,
    I feel sorry for you because of your deep bitterness. It weeps from alomst every word you pen. And I truly mean – weeps. Trying to convince others of your happiness by accusing them of false lives or by making a list (methinks he doth protest too much) is sadly a poor veil to your own discontent.
    While you have many things to feel blessed for and happy about, you continue to recount some of the miserable events in your life (again and again) like a trance recording of repetitive beat, about being ex gay. Your truth belongs to you and your cause to remove my quest, happiness, and truth for living “to the beat of a my own drummer” smacks of the same old provincial christian “my way is the only way” that you grew up with, tried to escape and resent all at once.
    You pound the same drum of your childhood with new lyrics but the same old tune that others must believe your life and live accordingly – like you – not Jesus mind you – but you. I’m sorry but if living like you means exposing myself to AIDS, STD’s and having to live with the consequences thereof, then that is not better. That is a sad commentary on self proclamations and what your advice can do for me. I personally do feel sorry for you.
    And I am ashamed that I used your story for so long as proof that ex gays do not exist. After awhile, I discovered for myself that there is a life beyond having to be gay, express same sex attraction as you have defined etc… I tried your way … and I did not like it. You see your story harms others as well. It is a two edged sword that while exposing ex gay myths and treatments …. it was so over the top that it has caused others to not try another lifestyle or look at other choices. And they, like myself, lived years of discontent, believing your story .
    Your bitterness is so entrenched that you disavow that others can be happy and succesful living without SSA and expression.

  78. Michael,
    You please check the posts again. Or have a friend review them with you. I know you have stress in your life and that can cause confusion. Take care.

  79. Mary, you have me all wrong! For the record: I have never tried “to convince others that they will never find happiness in living their life differently” than I have. On the contrary, I have said many times (on this blog and elsewhere) that each person should live their life in accordance with his/her values.
    NEVER have I insisted that one must live as I do in order to be happy. Truth is, many of my choices have come with great pain to myself and others. I would never suggest that others must copy my life. Heavens no! There are many paths to hapiness..
    Nor have tried to “convince the general public that there is only one way of dealing with SSA and that is to embrace it as a good thing for all.” On the contrary, I have ackonowledged publicly that some find real benefit in their ex-gay experience. What I have tried to convince the public is that, contrary to the language they may use, “ex-gays” are not straight.
    Furthermore, I have NO doubt that “Some of us have found a much greater happiness by letting go of the idea that I will only by happy if I embrace these feelings as my sexuality.” Again, I have NEVER insisted that one can only be happy by embracing a gay identity.
    I personally think it’s the best way, but there are other ways to deal with homosuality — celibacy and ex-gayness, for example — but , again, you must live according to your conscience as I am bound to live by mine.

  80. Michael,
    I can accept that you have found happiness in the life you have come to accept for yourself and I am happy for you. I would only appreciate it if you would stop trying to convince others that they will never find happiness in living their life differently than you have or trying to convince the general public that there is only one way of dealing with SSA and that is to embrace it as a good thing for all. Some of us have not had that experience and have found a much greater happiness by letting go of the idea that I will only by happy if I embrace these feelings as my sexuality. My SSA is a part of who I am today and they are a much smaller part of who I once thought I was. Are they gone? No, but they mean something much different than what they once meant to me when I believed that I could only find happiness in the arms of someone of my own sex.
    I will not feel sorry for you as I believe you when you say you are happy, I would just ask that you can begin to show the same consideration for those who have found that embracing the gay identity is not for them.

  81. Mary: Here are a few reasons NOT to feel sorry for me. I feel richly blessed.
    (1) After many years of struggle, guilt, a deep sense of failure and confusion, I have come to accept myself as a gay man. That is neither bad nor good, sick nor healthy — but it is who I am — and like any person (gay, bi, straight) I can make that a source of joy, connection and happiness — or I can misuse my sexuality in hurtful and selfish ways. I choose the former.
    (2) I no longer have to pretend to be something I am not.
    (3) I have the love of family and friends.
    (4) I have a sharp mind, a big heart and a good, strong voice. All of these are gifts from God.
    (5) I live in the USA.
    (6) I can worship and serve openly at my church.
    (7) I am a father and a grandfather.
    (8) Though once nearly blind in both eyes, surgery (and God’s good care) has restored by sight! He DOES give sight to the blind!
    (9) I have a sense of pupose — not to “deny hope” as some in the ex-gay movement have accused me of doing — but to simply tell the truth about my experience — clearly, blunty, even rudely at times — instead of making up new words, redefining old ones and obscuring what “change” really means by using “hype” and “Christianese”
    (10) I have been saved by grace. He will never leave me or forsake me. He sends His comforter in times of trouble. I have etermal life.
    There are many more — so tell me, what makes you feel sorry for me?

  82. If the research on SSA is true, then some adolescent experience SSA as a part of the maturing process, but for them, they move to OSA.
    That implies change…change that is much stronger and more absolute than many more people experience.
    Not everyone has Alan Chamber’s kind of Change; or Michael Bussee’s coming to terms with what is;
    Apparently, some change completely (very small number, heavily influence by maturation).

  83. Mary said, above: “You see, many ex gays do not become totally straight ( they may aquire some hetersexual functioning) but they do not live a “straight life” in the way that most straight people live a “straight life” They will always have their past.”
    I appreciate Mary’s honesty about what “change” really means, but let’s be completely honest, OK? It’s not the “many ex-gays do not become totally straight” — it’s that NONE do. I have been asking to talk with someone who was “totally gay” in their orientation and behvior who became totally heterosexual for over THIRTY years now — and have not met ONE.
    At least when it comes to ‘ex-gay’ men, all admit that they still “struggle” with gay attractions, that masturbation to gay fantasy coninues, that they are not generally attractedf to women, etc. “Totally straight” men don’t have these problems. Ex-gays do.
    And it’s not just their “past”, Mary. It’s a very present battle. Ask EXODUS. Ask Alan Chambers, who told the LA Times he thought he had never met a totally “ex-gay” person and that he has to deny daily that which “come naturally” for him Ask Eddy who admits that Ex-gay only means “from gay” (in the sense that one has “come out” of a gay background) — and NOT that one is no longer same-sex attracted.

  84. Peterson Toscano is quoted as saying: “Similarly many ex-gays and former ex-gays I meet express that their ONLY reason for going ex-gay was their faith.”
    First, note that he says “many” not “all”. In my own case, I wanted to be straight as soon as a realized I wasn’t — while still in elementary school. I wanted to be “normal”, to “fit in” — to be like my peers. I did not want to be teased or bullied for being a “sissy” or beat up for being a “homo”.
    I did not become a Christian until my senior year of high school. By then, I had already been trying for years to change my feelings and attractions. Nothing seemed to work. Becoming a Christian gave me hope that God could do it. He didn’t.
    Since then, I have come to believe that God made me gay, that he loves me this way and that there is no need to “change” — whether the desire to do so comes from social, family or religious pressure.

  85. Hi Jayhuck,
    Thanks for sharing. It is certainly a challenging process to navigate through and make decisions about. And, of course, there are always many voice from all sides wanting to give their advice.
    I would enjoy hearing more about your process. If you want to dialogue in a less public venue, feel free to e-mail me at pursuinggod at aol dot com

  86. @ Pathia,
    I get you are not an athiest…that is a whole different set of decisions.
    It’s church, and the coercive power of people, yuk.
    Church mystifies me and makes me anxious, and I attend!
    Sometimes a wierd combination of expectations, hurt, superficiality and canned human experience…
    No wish to speak for all churches and am happy that others have found their places.

  87. Jayhuck,
    Its true, people come to view God in different ways. I am only speaking for myself and my own personal motivation for my decision. I sometimes feel ex-ex gays try to put folks like me in a box by discounting my story and my motivations–writing it off as social pressure etc. I imagine that there are those within ex-ex-gay circles who similarly feel pigeon-holed by conservatives. I agree we need to let people speak for themselves and respect where other people are at and their own individual stories.
    In regards to ex-ex gays and God, I know there are gay Christians. Those who still retain their faith. But, I have also noticed that it is not uncommon for there to be a rejection of faith or a complete re-interpretation of who Christ is. For example, the founders of Beyond Ex-gay, Christine Bakke says she no longer considers herself a Christian, and I believe that Peterson has a very different view of Christ now even though he is a Quaker. Its interesting to me that people’s views would change so drastically on the basic doctrine of Jesus. For example, there is a big disagreement in the church regarding the role of women–but you’ll find that most egalitarians still have a very orthodox view of Christ. Their views of Christ didn’t change even if their views regarding women have . . . Yet when it comes to homosexuality–its not uncommon for there to be very drastic doctrinal changes on Jesus himself, not just homosexuality. There are exceptions to this for sure–but its more common than not it seems.
    I also would be interested in hearing more of your story and where you are at . . .

    1. To be honest Karen, I am struggling right now. Ideas I used to have about God seem to be changing and it has become very difficult for me to know what to do. I’ve talked with all manner of people from believers to non-believers, with my priest and friends in the faith. I’d share more, but this is a very public blog and I don’t feel right about posting my personal problems here 🙂 If you’d ever like to take the discussion somewhere else though, I’d be up for that – I’m sure Warren could rig something up for us.
      BTW – I belong to a church that does not allow women to be priests. They are very Orthodox! 😉

  88. It is easier to adjust our view ogfGod than to adjust ourselves to God’s view. I suspect this is why ex ex gays say it was social pressure instead of relgious views and faith.

  89. Karen,
    I don’t think you are suggesting this at all, and while I differ with you on many issues, I respect and appreciate your struggle – to some degree anyway. I live in a liberal town that is friendly to gay people (but it exists in a state that is very UNFRIENDLY to gay people) and I have struggled to live a celibate life for many years now – although I find myself rethinking this decision. I just wanted to point out that those who are now Ex-Ex Gay didn’t necessarily leave God behind when they stopped being ex-gay, they just came to a different understanding of him than you or others have. I always feel that its important when we talk about God to make sure we realize not everyone understands him in the same way we do.

    1. Jayhuck.
      I hadn’t realised you were living a celibate life.
      Okay I am curious – is it for religious reasons ?

      1. Yes – it is for religious reasons Patrick! Theology though, and the way I view God, is beginning to change!

  90. I have to wonder though what Toscano “searching ex gay narratives” he is using. Are those ex ex gay and how does he qualify what is non-religious? Is is using only those people who are raised in strict religious environments, or from a broader base? Just where are these narratives coming from? He certainly has not used one from me.

  91. LOL. I can see how ‘confirmation bias’ could be so arbitrary.
    Let’s say a person doesn’t change (regardless of what we’re talking about changing), if your bias is towards ‘where they’re at’, they become an example of what it means to be solid or stable but, if you disagree with ‘where they’re at’, then your premise is that they’re rigid and inflexible. Both sides could employ ‘confirmation bias’ to attempt to bolster their position. The same holds if a person does change. One side sees them as an example of flexibility and adaptability; the other sees them as as an unstable flip-flopper.
    That’s one reason why it’s so harmful to judge by behavior only without knowing the heart and the motivation of the individual.

  92. and sometimes personal decisions we make about our lives that are different than how we lived and thought before do not require an explanation to anyone –

    1. I second that!! Geez – I’ve changed my mind and ways on things I never thought possible and have decided that I need not explain to the protesting crowd.

  93. @ Pathia,
    Sorry to hear that…but completely understand it.
    Religion can shape values and decisions prior to it being internalized and personalized…and there can be much good.
    But persisting in imposing it on a developing individual who is confused, angry or just becoming their own person leads to many being alienated…not just SSA folks.
    Honoring the transition from where a child is rightly indoctrinated to where a child chooses their faith is so important…
    Both parental control and childhood ambivalence (uncertainty) can painfully prolong the transition and lead to lots of wounds.

    1. It’s not as if I became an atheist though. I am just incredibly uncomfortable with organized religious now. My beliefs are private and I share them with almost no one. It is a quiet introspective thing.
      I would probably have to go through another huge round of expensive fruitless therapy just to stand in a church again. As it stands now, I have panic attacks in them to the point I break out in hives. Or…I can just not go into one anymore. Much simpler solution.

  94. Excellent observations, Karen!
    I think as society becomes more and more accepting of homosexuality, the argument that people choose to be ex-gay due to societal pressure will ring less true.
    This quote is the best thing I’ve read on this site in a long time:

    Its much harder to live a single, celibate life than to give in to strong desires. The ones who stick it out for the long haul can only do so because their motivation is based on a love for God. Not even religious duty will sustain a person. It really has to be a dynamic passionate love for God and belief that he is good and that his direction for our lives is for our best. I believe God when his Spirit tells me its better for me in the long run not to be involved in homosexuality. I make my decision based on trust in God’s goodness for me.

    Thank you!!!
    Interesting that when I’ve tried to discuss ‘peer pressure’ and how it might play into a pre-adolescent adopting a homosexual identity, the notion is often regarded as simplistic. However, when you relabel it as ‘societal pressure’, we can easily see how even a grown up, supposedly mature individual can cave to the pressure. Most interesting.

    1. Eddy,
      I believe now after having left SS behaviour behind me for more than 5 years that it was the societal pressure that kept me trapped in it for so long. The experience was never a rewarding one for me and today I am extremely grateful to all those who have helped me find the courage to leave it behind even though there has been much societal pressure in my country to accept it a normal and healthy. I can relate to what Karen said as well, because I work in an academic setting that is much more liberal and I often feel less acceptance towards the idea of giving SS up than simply embracing it. I try not to judge others for their belief, but at the same time I expect that they will not judge me on mine either. Ultimately, my relationship with God has become far more important to me than the acceptance of those who have such a narrow view of human sexuality.

      1. Concerned, Eddy, and Karen,
        I totally get what you guys are saying. I live in a liberal community as well. And the pressure to not leave being gay or not following those behaviors can be immense. I pretty much keep quiet about my opinions to keep the peace with my nieghbors and colleagues. Social pressure has been present in both sides of this issue but to stay focused on a faith or set of beliefs that go against the norm is also immense. Gyas can be pretty volatile and aggresive with you when you are face to face and you disagree with their interpretation of your own life.

  95. I can’t really honestly have an opinion on this matter. All of my ‘ex-gay/trans’ history was in my youth, underage when I had no say in the matter. I don’t know if I can compare or contrast or ever understand what it’s like to do it in my adult life. All the therapy did was pretty much deaden me to Christianity, I don’t think I could ever step foot in a church again for the rest of my life.

  96. I agree that some try to leave homosexuality due to social pressures. This is also why I suspect many return to homosexuality, because trying to resist homosexual relationships out of rote obligation doesn’t get a person very far. Our sexuality and desire for relationship is much, much more powerful than social pressures. It might cause some people to live their relationships in the closet, but social pressure is not likely to keep anyone from embracing homosexuality in the long run.
    I actually find it much harder to be “ex-gay” than to fully enter a gay life. Maybe its because I live in a liberal town with one of the highest per capita gay populations and work at a university that is listed in the top ten gay friendly campuses in the nation. There really aren’t any social pressures here that would compel me to try to be straight. The opposite is true. I experience a lot of influences and messages to accept homosexuality.
    Its much harder to live a single, celibate life than to give in to strong desires. The ones who stick it out for the long haul can only do so because their motivation is based on a love for God. Not even religious duty will sustain a person. It really has to be a dynamic passionate love for God and belief that he is good and that his direction for our lives is for our best. I believe God when his Spirit tells me its better for me in the long run not to be involved in homosexuality. I make my decision based on trust in God’s goodness for me.
    So, while Peterson’s views certainly reflect many people, it is not congruent with my personal decision on this issue.

  97. Sarah,
    Just wondering what your perspective for your own life is? Are you gay, straight, ex gay, ex ex gay …. or do you have family memebers, friends etc… who have had issues in these areas?
    The reason I ask is because many (at least women) that I know of, don’t start this journey by asking “what/why do I desire to change.” I do know that many stay on this journey because of God. I watched many question their interpretation of God, their value/understanding of God, their relationship to the world and God etc….
    It is not about being straight per se – but about following God. And that is the question people with faith should ask. What about God? We are continually giving ourselves up for God in one way or another. Sometimes it has to do with sex/sexuality and sometimes it has to do with our selfish desires of any sort etc…. “Ex Gays” and I only use that term in general application because so many on this journey have a wide variety of expereinces and defintions for thier old life … have as many struggles to follow God as any other individual. Although we do struggle against a society that is now saying that being gay is okay. Many of us who have gay friends etc… accept that others see the world and thier lives in a different light. And yes, some gays have changed their perspective of God and incorporate God into their theology and continue to live openly as gay individuals.
    It seems to me at the crux of the matter is not what would my life look like if I were straight ….but what does God desire for me to do.

    1. Mary writes:

      Just wondering what your perspective for your own life is? Are you gay, straight, ex gay, ex ex gay …. or do you have family memebers, friends etc… who have had issues in these areas?

      Hey Mary, sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I am a grad strudent and enjoying time reading for pleasure before the storm hits later this week.
      I am straight, always have been, didn’t even have an experimental stage in college. Dating a really nice guy.
      I don’t have family members who are gay, but lots of gay and lesbian friends.
      You wrote:

      It seems to me at the crux of the matter is not what would my life look like if I were straight ….but what does God desire for me to do.

      It seems you’ve asked this question of yourself already, perhaps many times, perhaps on a daily basis. It is a great question. But I think it is also an important experiment to ask, “How would my life be different if I were straight?” I know as a straight woman I have asked myself, “How would my life be different if I liked woman?” It would be very different.
      In Peterson’s original post, Why did I go ex-gay? in addition to his faith in Jesus and his desire to please God he references a list of many reasons why he went ex-gay. I can see how the primary reason for you is your faith and desire to please God as you understand God’s will for your life. I can see that in addition to that noble desire there can be other factors that encourage you to pursue a straight or at least a non-gay/lesbian identity.
      Peterson’s list includes:

      * Desire to marry and have children
      * Fear of loneliness as a grew old
      * AIDS and other STDs that I assumed I would get if I came out gay
      * Misinformation of what it meant to be gay
      * The desire to fit in with everyone, to feel “normal”
      * Pressure from society through virtually every film, TV show, pop song and commercial proclaiming that the heterosexual life was the idealized norm without showing any alternatives
      * Negative portrayals of LGBT people in the media
      * Fear of physical and verbal attack for being gay
      * Witnessing physical and verbal attacks of those who are gay or perceived to be gay
      * Desire to advance in the church hierarchy to become a missionary or pastor
      * Desire to please family and friends
      * Fear of losing family and friends
      * No positive gay role models
      * Having furtive sexual encounters causing me distress in a society that punishes sexual “deviance” (while an addiction to credit never seemed to bother me in a society that encouraged debt)
      * Unresolved sexual abuse issues that caused me to carry my abuser’s shame with me thus causing me to question my own gay orientation and self-worth
      * Low self-esteem
      * Self-hatred & internalized homophobia
      * Cowardice to stand against the tide and be myself
      * Living to please man and not God, bowing to man’s teachings while not actually seeking God about the matter

      Mary, it sounds like you and others here have been on a long and important journey, one that many do not understand. It sounds like you feel under fire by those around you. It sounds very similar to the feelings I hear gay and lesbian friends share with me in regards to their families and even on some of their jobs.
      I hope God blesses you on your journey and that in 2009 you will continue to hear God’s voice wooing you to worship and serve and live that abundant life Jesus promises and you desire.

      1. No, I’ve not asked the question many times.
        You see, many ex gays do not become totally straight ( they may aquire some hetersexual functioning) but they do not live a “straight life” in the way that most straight people live a “straight life” They will always have their past. That’s why I asked you. It did not sound like something you had been through. Most people don’t ask what will my life be like if I am straight – but rather – what will my life look like if I change. That change is so much more than just sexuality. That’s why asking that kind of question does not seem to fit.
        I do think gay people who don’t like the social implications of being gay ask themselves all the time – “What would my life look like if I were straight?” But I don’t know if ex gays started out with that question. For the most part, the motivation is about something much deeper.

        1. Clarification – Most ex gay men and women even though they consider themselves straight, have heterosexual functioning etc… This is not to say that they are pretending, repressing, or faking hetersexuality. It is to say that their expereince of heterosexuality will always be somewhat different. That to varying degrees an ex gay person may have same sex attraction thoughts, memories, dreams etc… but that this does not in any way mean that they are “still gay” The goal of trying to “change” ones sexuality is not about becoming straight but about understanding what motivates them and to stop at the very least acting out on same sex attractions. Depending on the individual, there is a continuum of expereinces of sexuality that will develop from that.

  98. When I worked in the ministry years ago, one of the first thing I’d do with a new client was screen for motives. If the primary motive was not a faith in God and the conviction that God was not in favor of homosexual behavior, I knew we had some serious sorting out to do.
    It wasn’t enough for someone to say ‘my parents think it’s wrong’ or ‘my church says it’s a sin’…the real issue was what they themselves believed. When we try to live outside of our personal beliefs, we invite emotional and psychological trauma. This is true for the individual who doesn’t share their parents’, church’s or society’s views as well. If they personally aren’t persuaded that it’s wrong, they may go through the motions and try to live an ex-gay life but it’s all for naught. Our own personal sense of righteousness, apart from a conviction that we feel comes from God to us individually, is ‘as filthy rags’. It may please our parents, our church and society, but misses the mark on pleasing God.
    Many might have multiple motives. But if a desire to be right with God isn’t at or near the top of the list, their journey will be extremely frustrating. We should also note that motivations are often in flux. Many an individual has started on the journey with the right motive only to lose sight of it along the way. They start with God as their focus but get sidetracked or derailed. I don’t agree with Peterson’s apparent assessment that most have a primary societal motivation but concede that some do. Counselors and therapists who deal with ex-gays and ex-ex-gays should take from his observations that which is valuable.
    Glad you chimed in. I was tempted to address Patrick’s post and then thought “No, Toscano’s piece cited Warren specifically. That’s enough of a reason for it to be a topic here. Making it a topic for discussion isn’t the same as ‘making a big deal out of it.’ And, it’s Warren’s place to make that statement.”

  99. I imagine this may be true for other people with similar experiences.

    I agree Sarah – I’m certain its not true for all, but I can’t imagine that Peter is the only one that uses/used faith as a cover for social desirability.

  100. In the video posted along with his e-mail comments at Box Turtle Bulletin, Peterson acknowledges that initially he assumed the primary reason he went ex-gay was because of his Christian faith, but once he began to explore this further, he realized that other often unseen factors influenced his actions. I imagine this may be true for other people with similar experiences.
    A good question for someone to ponder is “Why?” Why do I wish to change? To help get at the answer, it might help to ask, “If I were straight, how would my life be different?” The answers to this question may help reveal other factors that contribute to the desire to change

  101. @Patrick:
    Nicolosi has a hammer so everything looks like a nail. But Toscano did not invoke Nicolosi, he said I capitalize on what he is calling a mistaken impression by ex-gays and ex-ex-gays alike. I think he demeans them and me at once.

  102. I actually agree with you for the most part Mary. I think that most ex-gays probably seek out such a life due to, for lack of a better word, a religious desirability of sorts. 🙂

  103. Geez.
    Toscano is saying the social desireablity it the greater motivating factor. Not the only one. But his conclusion may be more about himself than about ex gays in general (those who stay ex gay.)
    And it has been apparent that from both Eddy and I that our motivation for continuing to pursue this course is not about social desirability and something other.
    For Toscano, he might fair better with making that statement about ex ex gays.

  104. Confirmation bias of confirmation bias – I think I’m beginning to get it Eddy 😉 One may very easily find confirmation bias where they want to find it.

  105. And confirmation bias, while problematic, doesn’t mean he’s wrong about the social desirability bias.

    No, but my experience and Mary’s experience does!!
    Do you really even comprehend ‘confirmation bias’? It’s very similar to ‘making generalizations’…only you then set out to prove your generalizations and squeeze everybody into your view. You ought to understand it…it’s been the tone of many of your posts.

  106. “…claiming that the struggle is an incongruence between faith and sexuality, when in reality for many it is primarily a conflict between society and sexuality.”
    Incongruence between faith and sexuality, gender and attraction, modelling and attraction, biological design and attraction….
    Society as “oppressive” is a reasonable concern. But in a free society, or a society that is freer than any other society that has ever existed, while at the same time pursuing human rights and victim rights, balming the incongruence on a conflict with “society” seems…I don’t know…
    Well, too simple…and not befitting the complexity of the struggle that Mr Tuscano and others have undertaken.
    Culture corrupts, corrects, guides and oppresses (and probably a dozen other things).
    We are freer than at any other time to resist corrupting and oppressing cultural mores and to create “mini cultures” that better suit our wishes.
    Has it occurred to others that prior to Christianity, society has values and morals that they prescribed?
    I am sure it has…so why simplify so the motives of SSA people as they attempt to use Exodus and Narth and other avenues to deal with SSA?
    Hurt and anger drive us to economize this complex debate.

  107. And confirmation bias, while problematic, doesn’t mean he’s wrong about the social desirability bias 🙂

    1. Confirmation bias does not mean error. I believe it is unhealthy to smoke. I would not take time to read an article that suggested smoking was benign. Now, I do not believe it would be wrong to read that article but I can’t read everything and so I develop biases that save me time, even it it means I don’t read something which may contain a kernel of accurate information.
      Peterson could be right but I think there are data to disconfirm what he says (e.g., studies of ex-gays find religion to be crucial to the decision to pursue it). Another tip is that he is taking a position at the extreme (it really isn’t religion, it is social pressure) whereas it seems a more reasonable position to believe people who say religion was crucial and those who discover it wasn’t at the core. DIgging for reasons, as Peterson writes, has him using the same methods as Nicolosi when he digs for the reasons he believes people are gay.

  108. Both! Toscano’s confirmation bias is that he presumes ex-gays choose that path for social desirability.

  109. Confirmation Bias or Social Desirability Bias – I wonder which one we are talking about here? 🙂

  110. I don’t see what is so controversial here.
    All he is saying is that for some ex-gays the motivating factor was not primarily religious belief or perhaps not religious belief at all.
    I dunno, from an exgay therapist’s POV is the reason why someone want’s to be exgay important?
    Supposing client A says well I hate being gay because the gay community is so shallow – I cannot find a good partner willing to be in a commited relationship with.
    Client B – says I want to be exgay because there is so much discrimination against gay people – I am tired of having to always defend myself.
    Client C – says I want to be exgay because my religion commands it of me.
    Would an exgay therapist approach client a,b&c differently – or not.
    I suppose it depends on the therapist. But I suspect for the Nicolosi’s of the world it wouldn’t matter one way or the other.

    1. Well,opf course a therapist would appraoch each client differently. MOtivation is where we find the intention for doing something. Without knowing that we stay stuck in the water.
      Suppose client D came in and said “Doc, I don’t want to be gay and I don’t know why.” Do you think the counselor would begin work with a question about how it came up or something??? There must be something to work with so -yes, it really does matter why a person comes into therapy.

    2. A reparative therapist might not care why the person is in the door. The assumption is that they are gay because they have a overly bonded mom and bad dad so the reason is just a part of the manifestation of the inner psychic conflict.
      However, a therapist which treats people as individuals would want to know as a means of screening for the suitability of pursuing change. In my opinion, it is crucial to assessing values.

  111. And please, please….see about moving that notify box up next to ‘submit comment’…my thoughts wandered to dinner and I forgot to check the box again. LOL!!!! Got it this time.

  112. I hate it when I forget to subscribe.
    Warren, I tried using that button next to the topic title ‘Subcribe to this blog’ but it didn’t work. How do we subscribe if we’ve forgotten to hit the notify button or if we’re only interested in following comments without joining the discussion?

    1. In my browser, the box is right below the submit comment. But anyway, it is a plug in which I don’t think the webmaster can modify.
      Sorry bout that…

  113. The old adage about finger pointing seems to apply…when you’re pointing your finger at someone, you’ve got four pointing back at yourself. Perhaps Toscano’s comments speak more about himself than about anyone else. Hasn’t he been both ex-gay and ex-ex-gay?
    As for me, my initial ex-gay choice came AFTER I’d moved away from my close minded community, when I lived in a gay friendly part of town, when I worked with a number of gays whose careers were not in jeopardy due to their sexual preference. I did not believe that I’d be granted a wife and family–those badges of normality and acceptance. I also didn’t believe that any church would welcome me with open arms due to my ‘tainted background’. I have absolutely no remembrance of making that choice to please anyone other than God.
    I received more grief and hassle for being a ‘born-again’–at least gays had intelligence, ‘born-agains’ and conservative Christians were (and are) viewed as dimwitted and mindless.

  114. In the video posted along with his e-mail comments at Box Turtle Bulletin, Peterson acknowledges that initially he assumed the primary reason he went ex-gay was because of his Christian faith, but once he began to explore this further, he realized that other often unseen factors influenced his actions. I imagine this may be true for other people with similar experiences.
    A good question for someone to ponder is “Why?” Why do I wish to change? To help get at the answer, it might help to ask, “If I were straight, how would my life be different?” The answers to this question may help reveal other factors that contribute to the desire to change.

    1. Peterson has in the past expressed doubt that religion is ever the reason behind going ex-gay. There is error in my opinion of assuming there is one set of reasons behind this choice for every person. Saying religion is always the primary reason, saying religion is never the primary reason are positions associated with advocacy. In fact, there is a spectrum of reasons with varying priorities. The approach Peterson calls “his own brand of ex-gay therapy” recognizes and respects that. Peterson knows it but it appears he wants to make his experience the norm for all others.

  115. I have to say, I find it a lot easier being straight than when I was ever gay. There isn’t that weird thing that your friends explain to their other friends before you get to a party, there isn’t that wierd thing your parents go through when someone asks them why you’re not married etc… And overall, there really is more social acceptance for those who are straight. But my motivation wasn’t acceptance (and anyone who knows my family can tell you this is so.) First is just began to happen – some people (mostly women) do really just start seeing things differently and begin changing. Secondly, it became a religious issue when I became a believer (not always a follower) of Christ.
    I won’t argue with anyone who says it is easier to be straight. That is absolutely true. But to put on pretense for one’s whole life just for social acceptance is a pretty hard bill to fill. People have enough of a time trying to live obediently to God – let alone other folks. I dunno …. seems like following God (or one’s interpretation of God) is a much bigger motivation than the social acceptance of others. But I guess many gays or ex ex gays will prefer and defer to work on the social acceptance issue because it’s is tangible. And it is the only thing most socially influencing people can effect.
    As well, the social accpetance side of the issue can be worked for many, many years to come and distract others away from thre God issue. To each his own, I suppose.

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