The place: Calvary Baptist Church, Hazel Park, Mich.
The source: Kirk Talley’s e-mail newsletter, Nov. 15, 2004:
I was standing backstage ready to sing when Victor (the promoter) came back to speak to me. He told me that he had fought lots of opposition to my being on the program. One Baptist Church had faxed him, saying they wouldn’t support any more of his concerts if he booked me on the program. Another Baptist preacher had told him that "God forgives everything but that." He had received some mail that was meant to deter him from having me there. But he said, "Sometimes you just do what you can and go on." I heard the announcer introduce me and I hit the stage. The audience seemed to listen but I could tell, they wanted to hear my story. So when I started giving my testimony, you could have heard a pin drop. Every night before I sing, I ask the Lord to show me exactly what I need to say and exactly what I don’t need to say. I never want to offend anyone or say more than what the Lord wants someone to hear. Saturday night, I felt like I rambled on and on and on and on. But I could sense the Lord was using my testimony for someone in that room.
Talley proceeds to recall numerous audience participants at two church events who responded to his testimony not by condemning Talley, but by confessing their own struggles.
In affirming positive audience reactions, Talley practices just the sort of role modeling that I wish were representative of the exgay movement. I applaud Talley’s focus.
modeling and large-group self-confessions were once characteristic of the ministries of exgay activists such as Randy Thomas. But no longer. Instead of aiding Christians in processing personal guilt and taking control over unwanted behaviors, the Exodus national office these days exemplifies and amplifies the political, religious, psychological,
and sexual stereotypes of Focus on the Family. Ironically, stereotypes fostered by Exodus may be responsible for some of the hostility that the nominally exgay Talley now faces.
Honestly, I have felt at times, that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing my testimony, sometimes I think that the audience expects to hear some miraculous story, sometimes I feel like my story doesn’t even have a point to it, but I suppose the honesty is what moves people to share with me after the concert is over. When I hear that promoters and pastors have to listen to mean spirited people rave and rant about them having me in their concert or church, I wonder if maybe I should be silent, but then when I see people like I saw this weekend on their knees at the altar, asking God for strength and courage to face the strongholds in their own life, I know anything that I have to put up with is certainly worth it.
It remains unclear exactly what message Talley is conveying to his audiences about his ongoing, inner sexual struggles.