Ex-gay minister Tom Cole remembers being gaybashed as a child.
I was called a fag, a queer, or a sissy. Although I did not fully understand the meaning of these terms, I began to identify with them. School became a dichotomy; wanting and loving to learn, yet fearing the daily harassment and violence. I was chased from school and beat up nearly everyday of my elementary school life.
Now the executive director of an ex-gay group in Michigan, he offers a religious ministry to individuals struggling with sexual addiction, fixation and compulsion.
Outspoken about his successful transformation from same-sex promiscuity to heterosexual attraction and marriage — he is a speaker for Exodus — Cole nevertheless offered, repeatedly, to help GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) lobby for antiharassment policies in the public schools.
Cole hasn’t forgotten how antigay bullying, violence and lies turned his life into a nightmare. Reacting to the murder of Matthew Shepard, he said:
The conservative Christian Church which is strident in its condemnation of homosexual behavior seems to be in denial about targeted attacks on gay and lesbian youth. We must reach out with a clarion call. We must stand up and voice our opposition to violence and hateful words. We must be clear that the lives of gay people are worthy of respect, dignity and honor as those created in the very image of God.
Ex-gay ministries looking for role models for honesty and respect toward spiritual counselees need look no further than Tom Cole.
Unfortunately, the exgay network Exodus International hasn’t been paying attention.