I’ve been encouraged to share personal narratives about what I’ve learned from ex-gay therapy/ministry. While I’ve never experienced being ex-gay personally, my unique perspective affords me a great deal of “inside” anecdotal information that could be valuable to folks on any side of the issues surrounding ex-gay therapy/ministry.
I hope that folks who read XGW will take this series as an opportunity to better understand the language and position of those in the ex-gay movement. I understand (not fully, of course) how offensive the very idea of ex-gay therapy/ministry is to so many of you who may read this. And yet, I know beyond all doubt that we ALL have things to learn from one another and that by at least attempting to understand a different perspective we are each able to more effectively communicate our own. The one and only path I’d like to steer all of us towards is that of love and understanding. I don’t mind adding that I personally believe the heavier burden of understanding lies with those on the ex-gay side of the issue.
If you’re reading this post, you’re on a computer. Your computer is loaded with an operating system. Most of the things that happen on your computer happen because of default settings. Default is the way computers are set up so that every amoeba and their pet parasite are able to browse the Internet.
In the world of ex-gay, heterosexuality is the default. God created and declared this setting, “good”. But, as fate, or possibly the fact that the creation had free will, would have it, the settings were tinkered with over the course of time. Homosexuality, according to ex-gay thinking, is a variant of the default. Furthermore, if gayness is a variation and straight is a default, then it can, and very likely should be, changed back to the default setting. This, as I perceive it, is the heart of ex-gay ministry and the aim of ex-gay therapy. This is also where my personal thinking diverges quite a bit from the typical party-line of the ex-gay camp. However, this series of posts is an explanation of what I learned from being involved with ex-gay therapy/ministry. It’s not necessarily a series detailing my personal beliefs.
Moving on with that line of thinking, the terms used among ex-gay folk are often used innocently. Yes, I understand the word “lifestyle” is fully loaded and biased toward negative thinking. And yes, it’s true, most folks who use the word “lifestyle” to describe gays have a negative connotation accompanying that description. “Gay lifestyle” in ex-gay speak is equal to: infidelity, promiscuous behavior, effeminate men, butch women, parades, promiscuous behavior, Internet hook-ups, dance club/electronica music, promiscuous behavior, fashion, artistic expression, promiscuous behavior, etc…
I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, gay lifestyle = promiscuous behavior. And, the ex-gay programs are not doing a great deal (nothing, actually) to educate parents of children who are same sex attracted (gay) in understanding the connotations or meanings of the language they are using to describe those they “serve”.
As a recently divorced heterosexual adult, I can tell you without hesitation that the “gay lifestyle” has not ONE thing on the “heterosexual lifestyle”. I’m not a sexually active heterosexual, and I certainly would not want to be judged as a person (heterosexual) based on the activities of most other heterosexuals who are in my particular circumstance. The results would be devastating for me. I thank God every day (because I see the gay analog) that I am viewed as an individual and not in relation to the orientation of heterosexuality when it comes to being a divorced individual in our culture.
I look forward to writing more in this series. My next article will detail some of the specific and bizarre happenings that took place within my own husband’s attempts to become completely free of same sex attractions.
Keep in mind, everything I say in these narratives is colored with a Christian world view. If you are not a Christian, you will likely want to take issue with a few things. However, since I’ve provided this disclaimer, I’m trusting that civility and good manners in general will reign supreme in the comments. I’m just telling my story.