I have scattered reports that ex-ex-gay Shawn O’Donnell was involved in Exodus’ group publicity photo a few years back and has since left the ex-gay lifestyle and is now demanding Exodus stop using his photo. [I repeat, this remains an unverified report.]
Most recently I found him mentioned in passing here. But once again, not enough information to base a post upon.
If anyone knows Mr. O’Donnell or has any good news stories about him please contact me.
Addendum by Mike A.:
Press release about Shawn O’Donnell by Wayne Besen:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tue., June 21, 2005
Contact: Wayne Besen
FORMER EX-GAY OUTRAGED THAT EX-GAY GROUP REFUSES TO REMOVE HIS PICTURE FROM WEBSITE
Exodus Presents Failures As Success Stories Out of Desperation, Says Author Wayne Besen
NEW YORK — Exodus International, a worldwide umbrella group for the ex-gay ministries, was accused today by former member Shawn O’Donnell of misrepresentation for continuing to post his picture on the front page of its web-site, even though he is now an out and proud gay man.
O’Donnell is included in a group photo at the top of their web site www.exodus-international.org – a photo that has also been used in the group’s ads to show that that homosexuality can be cured. Exodus Executive Director Alan Chambers was recently contacted by O’Donnell, who politely asked him to remove or airbrush his likeness from the website. Chambers refused the request and continues to have O’Donnell’s picture falsely representing the possibility of sexual orientation conversion.
“I am outraged and appalled that Exodus would mislead and deceive potential clients into believing that I have been healed,” said O’Donnell, who was a part of Exodus for five years, leaving the group in 2002. “Exodus’ arrogant refusal to remove my likeness has been a source of great anguish and pain, because I know it has surely led to further suffering by vulnerable people. I call on Exodus’ sense of decency and fairness to restore my dignity by immediately removing my picture from the front page of their web-site.”
Although O’Donnell is just one person in a group picture, he said that his inclusion still has an impact, because it gives people the impression that people can go from gay to straight, which is not what he experienced.
“I can honestly say that in five years, I did not meet one person that I believe had truly changed,” said O’Donnell. “What Exodus is doing is damaging lives. They give false hope and when people fail to change they consider killing themselves, as I once did. The harmful work of Exodus almost killed me and I don’t want others to suffer.”
Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, says Exodus has a moral responsibility to replace their group pictures each year.
“As a result of the astronomical number of defections in Exodus, any group picture representing those supposedly cured is outdated within a year,” said Besen. “I am willing to bet that a high number of the people in that 1998 photo are now out of the closet and live openly gay lives. O’Donnell’s experience speaks to the desperation of Exodus to find success stories where there are none to be found.”
O’Donnell, who currently lives in Chicago, says he will dedicate himself to helping people escape the dead end of ex-gay therapy. This month, he appeared in a documentary, “Fish Can’t Fly”, which focuses on the stories of people who suffered through the ex-gay experience.
“I am committed to educating people about the destructiveness and depravity of these groups that lie to people susceptible to their false message. From my experience, Exodus is a sham and I wish they would stop representing me as a success story.”