A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with local journalist Eve Tushnet, for her article on the ex-gay movement, for National Review Online. The article is up, and you can read more about Eve’s reaction to the recent DC-area Love Won Out conference over at her blog.
Now that I have a decade’s worth of emotional distance from my ex-gay experience, I can honestly say I am grateful for the years I spent trying to change my orientation–and for the things I learned about myself in the process. Mainly, it taught me that if I am going to choose my own path in life, I must take responsibility for my choices. I knew what coming Out would mean: losing contact with most of my family and friends, being excommunicated from my faith, cut off from my culture and support network, etc. All of that came true. Some losses were less painful than I thought they would be, and some were more…and that’s the breaks.
But it would be silly to feel sorry for myself, because I knew exactly what I was walking away from–and moving toward–when I made my decision.
I remember a clear, conscious moment when the decision was made: I could step through Door A, and have a tolerably happy existence in a heterosexual marriage (not an easy choice, but one that would enable me to keep my friends, my family and my faith, to have children, be “normal,” etc.); or I could open Door B, and follow a path leading to the unknown. A path fraught with uncertainty and loneliness, but one that also held the promise of passion (not necessarily sexual passion, although that too :), and risk, and a journey of exploration that would leave me feeling as though I had really lived my life. Above all (and this is the thing that made the choice clear) I chose to live honestly. That is a choice that comes with many costs–but they’re costs I will gladly pay!
As I look back, I must say I have few regrets. My friends who walked the ex-gay path have happy lives, in their own way, but they are not lives I envy. I get wistful sometimes over the realization that if I decided to be ex-gay, tomorrow, my parents would immediately welcome me back into their lives with open arms…but…as nice as that would be, it simply isn’t worth it. I am happy! My life is wonderful: the people I have remained close to are the ones who truly love me, and I deal with the world on my own terms. That, to me, is fulfillment.