People Can Change Becomes Brothers on a Road Less Traveled

Several years after the collapse of Exodus International, now comes sexual orientation change group People Can Change to say they are changing focus from change of orientation to a focus on living congruently with traditional religious teaching on sexuality. My prior posts on People Can Change and their flagship program Journey into Manhood can be view by clicking the links.
I wasn’t a fan of the program when it was People Can Change. I doubt this will improve things much although I can say it gets closer to a more honest presentation of what is possible. In any case, if the procedures and processes haven’t changed, then I am still not a fan.

People Can Change‘ is Changing Its Name
International Fellowship for Men Who Put Faith and Values Before Homosexual Attractions  Takes on a New Identity as It Marks Its 100th ‘Journey Into Manhood’ Weekend Program
Contact: Rich Wyler, Founder and Executive Director, Brothers, Road, 434-227-9346,[email protected]
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Oct. 4, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — A high-profile non-profit organization that provides peer- support programs primarily for men who experience same-sex attractions – but who chose not to live gay lives or to identify as gay – is changing its name.
Known since its 2000 founding as People Can Change, the international non-profit is renaming and rebranding itself as an interfaith fellowship called Brothers on a Road Less Traveled – or Brothers Road for short. Its website is moving to Its new self-descriptor: “Men supporting each other in addressing our same-sex attractions in affirming ways that align with our faith, values, morals and life goals.”
This change also reflects an important acknowledgement of what has long been the reality of its mission and membership – that it is largely a religious community supporting members of a wide range of faith traditions, including Christians of all denominations, religious Jews, Muslims and others.
The group is best known for its experiential weekend intensives called Journey Into Manhood. In fact, this past weekend in Texas the organization concluded its 100th three-day Journey Into Manhood event. Since the first “JiM” weekend in Maryland in January 2002, the group has now presented Journey Into Manhood 100 times in 11 U.S. states and in England, Poland and Israel.
Some 2,500 men from 45 U.S. states and more than 40 countries have participated over the past 15 years. Participants range in age from 18 into their 60s, although the average age is about 36. About a third are already married to women. Participants attend primarily in an effort to make peace with themselves and their sexuality, to minimize their eroticization of other men to the extent possible, and to bring their sexual behavior and feelings more in line with their morals, values and life goals.
“Our new name, Brothers on a Road Less Traveled, better communicates who we are and what we’re really about,” explained Rich Wyler, founder and executive director.
“The word ‘Brothers’ emphasizes our vital need for authentic brotherhood, community and acceptance as we seek to meet our same-sex bonding needs through deep platonic friendships rather than sexual relationships,” Wyler said. “The phrase ‘on a Road’ emphasizes that this is a life journey-a new way of living, not a quick-fix. And the words ‘Less Traveled’ recognize and honor the reality that we are a minority within the larger gay minority.”
The reference to a road less traveled comes from the 1916 Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, in which the writer encounters two equally valid choices but concludes, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
“Experiencing deep internal conflict over same-sex attractions can feel for many of us like standing at that crossroads where two roads diverge,” Wyler said, “Do you follow society’s gay-affirming path, or do you take a more faith-affirming road that acknowledges the reality of same-sex attractions but addresses those needs through platonic brotherly love rather than sexual relationships?”
Wyler emphasizes that the newly renamed organization is not backing away from the personal, lived experience of so many of its participants who have, in fact, seen profoundly positive changes in their self-esteem, thought lives, relationships and behaviors. Many have seen their same-sex sexual attractions diminish over the years or have seen sexual or romantic interests in the opposite sex develop or increase. These kinds of shifts are not universal, Wyler says, but they’re not unusual either.
Based near Charlottesville, Virginia, Brothers on a Road Less Traveled is an interfaith fellowship serving members of numerous religions. It is run as a virtual organization with no physical offices and no full-time employees, but with volunteers, contractors, supporters, participants and donors across the world.
The Brothers Road community offers eight to 10 inner-healing and personal-growth weekend intensives a year in the U.S., Europe and Israel, as well as online groups and webinars and in-person support groups and reunion retreats in some locations. It also offers a weekend program for wives of men who experience same-sex attractions or sex addictions, called “A Wife’s Healing Journey”-including one coming up Dec. 2-4 in the Nashville, Tennessee area.

Evergreen Celebrates the Nobleman

In 2010, the Jewish ex-gay group Jonah began recommending the human potential group Celebration of Being to constituents as a step on the ex-gay journey. At the time, I wondered if CoB would become a “new way to ex-gay.” Now People Can Change and Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International are joining in.
A notice from Evergreen offers:

Breakthrough Healing with Women: The Noble Man Workshop
Celebration of the Noble Man: Healing Men’s Wounds With Women. An intensive experience for men from all walks of life who are ready to heal their issues with women. For more information, see

Celebration of Nobleman is one of CoB’s weekend retreats, and focuses on men gathering with female leaders to “heal old wounds with the women in your life.”  For about $800 you can discover your manhood with the empowering help of women. CoB is collaborating with People Can Change for these workshops.
Read the earlier post for more about this group. Suffice to say that this is a pan-spiritual approach to finding your inner, hidden potential for masculinity while in the presence of women. While the pictures on the website indicate that hugging and physical affirmation are a part of these workshops, I don’t know if womean substitute for men in holding therapy common at People Can Change workshops. In a 2010 conversation, I asked one of the CoB leaders about such techniques but she declined to say what they do on the weekends.
CoB says they are open to men of all sexual orientations:

Celebration of Being welcomes all men seeking healing with the feminine regardless of sexual orientation or partner gender preference. Our policy is to be completely inclusive and respectful of everyone’s choice.

Lots of irony here. CoB partners with groups not offering this same kind of inclusivity. And then those groups are sending men to an experience which claims to be just fine with gay affirmation, even as the men attending are trying to change something that research demonstrates is infrequently changed.
CoB is supposed to be about acceptance of self, whereas People Can Change is about change. The ex-gay groups seem to be so sure that attraction to the same sex is about mother and father wounds that they recommend groups which claim to heal these in hopes that such healing will reduce the gay.
Often ex-gay groups claim that they only want to help people live in accord with their religious beliefs. This is what People Can Change’s Rich Wyler told NPR recently. However, recommendations to groups like CoB (and the Mankind Project) in order to change orientation seem to contradict this claim. If anything, CoB is more aligned with Buddhist and Sufi teachings. Very little that is going on in these workshops is in congruence with religious teachings of a particular faith. The aim is change, not acceptance and congruence.
My purpose is not criticize other religions. My observation is that change groups put change above congruence, while articulating a congruence message. Whether it be the Exodus ministry that articulates acceptance and faith congruence while promoting reparative therapy materials, or the topic of today’s post, it seems that the rhetoric of congruence is more common than its application.

Journey into Manhood and New Warriors Training Adventure

Regular readers will know I have made several posts regarding the New Warriors Training Adventure. In discussions of NWTA, other groups come up in conversation. Specifically, Journey into Manhood, the weekend adventure sponsored by People Can Change. The founding of PCC is reported on their website:

People Can Change was founded in September 2000 by Richard Wyler, a man who had personally experienced enormous transformation from unwanted homosexual attractions. Originally, People Can Change was essentially a Web site containing personal success stories of men who had experienced change, plus online support groups for those who were struggling and seeking information and support.

Today, there are more than a half dozen online support groups of, collectively, hundreds of men from all over the world. There is also an online group for wives.

People Can Change grew further in 2002 when David Matheson, a therapist specializing in “gender affirming therapy,” joined Rich to co-create the first Journey Into Manhood experiential healing weekends.

Since that time, hundreds of men from more than a dozen countries have found tremendous healing and growth through the Journey Into Manhood weekend program. Dozens of these men have returned to serve as volunteer weekend staff. Many of them also contribute substantial time and talent to support the mission of People Can Change and support those who currently struggle.

In many ways, JIM and PCC appears to be modeled after Mankind Project and New Warriors which is understandable given that Wyler and Matheson have been involved in New Warriors as initiates and staffers. With the attention to New Warriors and the mention of JIM in the recent Southern Poverty Law Center article, I wanted to get some clarifications from PCC about JIM. I asked Rich Wyler several questions and followed up with a phone conversation. Here are his answers: 

1. What is the relationship, if any between New Warriors and JIM?

1) There is no relationship between Journey Into Manhood and the New Warrior Training Adventure or its parent, MKP. People Can Change (the organization that runs the Journey Into Manhood experiential weekend program) is an independent organization completely separate from and unaffiliated with MKP.

2. Are you or your partners still staffing NWTAs?

2) I have not staffed NWTA for several years, nor has David Matheson, my co-creator of the Journey Into Manhood program. I don’t know whether other senior staff volunteers have or not. We do not monitor the volunteer efforts of our staff.

3. Does JIM endorse MKP and NWTA?

3) We do not endorse MKP or NWTA, although we do make information about NWTA available, along with information on Christian- and Jewish-variations of New Warriors (Dare to Soar, Marked Men for Christ, Call of the Shofar, etc.) along with other programs, such as various 12-step programs. It’s an information list of resources, not an endorsement list.

4. Do you have a policy that does not allow staff to refer JIM participants to NWTA? Or instead are JIM encouraged to refer men to NWTA? Or is it up to individual JIM leaders?

4) PCC as an organization makes men aware of a variety of resources that have proven helpful to others in their process of growth. NWTA is one such resource. PCC does not have a policy governing what individual leaders and volunteers can and cannot suggest to participants.  Our volunteer staff are free to share with others what they have personally found helpful in their own experience.

5. If you do refer to NWTA, do you indicate to men that the experience might help reduce SSA?

5) Many past participants of NWTA have reported that as they grew in their sense of personal power and their own sense of masculinity, and as they felt more connected to the world of heterosexual men at large — factors that the NWTA experience can facilitate — they have experienced a diminished sense of SSA. Additionally, many men consider NWTA to be a significant part of their overall growth process. However, PCC does not have an official position on NWTA’s helpfulness in overcoming SSA specifically.

6. Are initiates into JIM allowed to talk about what occurs at a JIM weekend?

6) The Journey Into Manhood confidentiality agreement states:- I agree to forever keep confidential all names and identifying information of those participating in the “Journey Into Manhood” weekend. 

–        I agree to forever keep confidential any and all aspects of what others experience this weekend and anything they may choose to disclose about themselves, their lives and their feelings.

–        I also agree to keep confidential specifics about the actual processes and activities used in the course of the training.  This is to preserve the confidentiality of the training for others who may participate in the future, so that it may have the greatest possible impact on their lives.  

–        I am, however, free to share with others my own feelings about the training and what I experienced in the course of the weekend, if I choose, as long as I do so without violating my commitments to confidentiality as noted above.

I appreciate Rich’s candid reply which is more than I can say for the New Warriors leadership. I still await MKP Executive Director, Carl Greisser’s responses to my contacts weeks ago.

In my post about the Southern Poverty Law Center article, Rich said the JIM processes do not include memory recovery work. However, JIM does activities similar to NWTA which evokes strong feelings about past memories. On inquiry, Rich does not believe JIM processes elicit false memories of past events. We may disagree here that one can be sure. 

I also asked Rich why processes are kept confidential. He said he believed the methods work better if the man has his emotions engaged rather than intellectually going through a process. It is my contention that for something to be offered as a means of change, there should be something inherent in the process that is potent which cannot be eroded significantly by knowing it is coming. Otherwise, we are really talking about an attempt to attach strong emotion to a set of new perspectives which, if adopted, might explain life in a way that provides increased certainty or understanding. These processes offered by NWTA and JIM seem more like efforts at persuasion – persuading a person to adopt a different view of self or others. Strong emotion is the lubricant for such persuasion. One can argue that such means are good if the change is desired. This may be so.

Speaking of outcomes, Rich indicated that he has some new survey data coming out soon that looks favorable for PCC. When it comes out, I will be happy to post it for evaluation. I want to thank Rich for his openness to discuss this matter of great importance to him. 

Read my other posts on New Warriors and the Mankind Project here.