Instead, the people who came to us for help began to get even more troubled and depressed. Some dropped out. Some started to use drugs or alcohol to drown their despair. Some attempted suicide. One man in our “ex-gay” program repeatedly slashed his genitals with a razor and poured Drano on the wounds – to atone for the guilt he felt.
About this same time, my marriage began to come apart. I never developed straight feelings, even though we did have a child. I also realized that I was falling in love (for the very first time) with another man in the Exodus ministry named Gary. He was also married, had three kids and was hoping desperately for change that never came. We came out to each other, then to our wives and kids.
We decided that we could no longer pretend to be “ex-gay.” It wasn’t true.
In the almost 40 years since I started Exodus International, I can honestly say that I have never met a gay person who became heterosexual through conversion therapy or ex-gay programs. Yes, some stayed celibate for a time. Some even married and said they were happy. But most of those marriages ended with very painful divorces.
Gary and I divorced our wives, moved in together, held a commitment ceremony and lived happily as a gay couple until his death. Before he passed away, we told our story of the harm done by “ex-gay programs in the documentary film, “One Nation Under God.”
A year ago, I helped organize a meeting between several “ex-gay” survivors and Alan Chambers, who was then the leader of Exodus. This confrontation was filmed and became a special report by Lisa Ling, broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Splinter groups like Restored Hope Network (RHN) and pseudo-scientific organizations like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) continue to promote ineffective and harmful practices that promise change but deliver psychological and spiritual harm instead.
But many former leaders of Exodus have come out and are trying to educate the public about the damage these programs do to countless individuals and families. Today, I am retired and devote my time to undoing as much of the damage done by these unscientific and potentially deadly practices as I can.
It is my hope that one day, these false cures will be exposed for what they really are and that conversion therapy will be put to rest for good. The truth will eventually come to light.
Being gay is nothing more than a natural variation in human sexuality. And conversion therapy is nothing more than abuse. And the public, particularly young people, deserve to be protected from this abuse.
To learn more about the #BornPerfect campaign, visit www.NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.
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