According to Michael Bussee at Warren Throckmorton’s site, Alan Chambers seeks to do away with the term “Ex-Gay”.
Michael Bussee quoted Alan Chambers, Ex. Dir. of Exodus speaking about the term ex-gay as follows: “We need to do away with the term entirely and make sure it’s never used again.” Mr. Chambers confirmed this quote in an email.
While I agree with Bussee that “Ex-Gay” is a term that sets itself up for misunderstanding, I find the phrase used by Chambers, “former homosexual” to be even more deceptive. “Ex-gay” could legitimately be interpreted as no longer identifying as part of a community or identity. However, the much more clinical sounding “former homosexual” brings with it all of the connotations of the scientific and medical world. The only reasonable interpretation would be that the subject is no longer same sex attracted. As this is (by admission of a sizable portion of the ex-gay movement) simply not true, as a description it can at best be described as deceptive.
Personally, I don’t think that its deceptive nature has been overlooked in the selection of this term by some anti-gay activists.
In the first chapter of Tanya Erzen’s Straight to Jesus, she credits Bob Davies as coining the phrase “Ex-Gay” in a quote from Frank Worthen’s 1997 book, The Gay Theology
But I am a homosexual, really, even though I lay claim to my new life. The old hasn’t passed away. That’s man’s thinking, not God’s. God sees us as ex-gay, but He also sees us as struggling and dealing with the old nature with its spiritual warfare.
If the ex-gay movement were willing to be clear that they are homosexuals, really, whom God sees as ex-gay, there would be little issue with whichever phrase they used to self-identify. However, this clarity does not fit well with the political agenda of the current leadership of this movement.
Those unfamiliar with the above names can find descriptions below the jump:
Michael Bussee – one of the four (or maybe seven) founders of Exodus. Michael left the organization to be with Gary Cooper, an Exodus volunteer and leader. Michael has been critical of Exodus since and seems regretful for his earlier efforts in growing the organization.
Warren Throckmorton – a professor at Grove City College who is a leading proponent of ex-gay (or as he says, post-gay) efforts. Warren does not endorse reparative therapy because he is not convinced of either the practices or the “causes” RT groups use to explain the origens or orientation. Warren, while biased towards believing the claims of ex-gay testimonies, is less reactionary and is less likely to dismiss scientific studies offhand. Dr. Throckmorton recently disassociated himself from PFOX due to the extremely bizarre prime-time public behavior of its president, Richard Cohen.
Alan Chambers – President of Exodus International. Under Alan’s direction, Exodus has focused externally on an anti-gay political agenda and less on the spiritual guidance to those seeking to discard their gay identity. While Exodus does continue to refer same-sex attracted people to local ministries, the primary focus of the organization has become reaffirming anti-gay docrine in churches and lobbying legislative bodies. Even the national annual convention is focused more on pastors and parents than on actual ex-gay persons. In 1998 Alan referred to himself as God sees him: heterosexual, so perhaps this is the new term he wants to use for those in his organization that are attracted to the same sex.
Frank Worthen – the Father of the ex-gay movement. Frank founded Love In Action in San Rafael, CA in the early 1970’s after coming to believe that God required him to leave his “gay life”. Frank seems to fall more into the faith, devotion, and celibacy camp and less in the save-America-from-the-evil-homos camp.
Bob Davies – an early participant at Love In Action. He was President of Exodus International for several years. It is ironic that Bob coined the phrase “ex-gay” as Bob appears not to have “‘acted out’ his homosexual feelings with other men”. Although at the time that Bob was quoted he had little expectation of heterosexuality, he later married in the mid-80’s.