In reaction to the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, Prof. Warren Throckmorton asks former ex-gays and their organizations:
What are you wanting to accomplish? Ok, a follow up question. Do you want to see your vision of reform at Exodus or do you want to see Exodus shut down?
In the comments to Throckmorton’s article, Exodus President Alan Chambers chimes in with four additional questions — and Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, who is no longer ex-gay, responds to both Throckmorton and Chambers.
Among Chambers’ questions:
Were these people truly hurt by Exodus or was there a theological disagreement? If the former, which I am open to, I hope to hear exactly what was harmful. If the latter, which I would imagine is the majority, then we simply agree to disagree.
If Chambers wishes to hear what was harmful, then why has he thus far declined dialogue and ignored the detailed testimonies that are published at beyondexgay.com?
I am not angry at the organizers or participants of the BXG counter conference. I wouldn’t ever, as the head of Exodus, organize an event that coincided with a gay event — especially in the same city. But, I am not angry that they are holding a conference—that is their right.
This seems to be untrue. In conjunction with Focus on the Family in 2004 and 2006, Exodus positioned “Love Won Out” ex-gay roadshows in states considering constitutional bans against marriage for same-sex-attracted persons. Exodus and Focus on the Family jointly proceeded to lobby for discrimination against same-sex-attracted couples in those states.
Several posts seem to indicate that this “Survivor’s” conference is all in response to Exodus’ involvement in policy matters. So, if we get out of policy issues then everyone will just be hunky dory with Exodus and love us again? Doubt it. The activist gay community has been trying to discredit us since day one — even when Exodus was just a nice little organization trying to help individuals.
Exodus has not been apolitical since the 1970s, if ever, and as Ex-Gay Watch regularly documents, Exodus’ so-called therapies help almost no one, even when freed from the burden of Chambers’ partisan politics.
Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee responds to Throckmorton’s original question:
I do not want to see EXODUS “shut down”. Nothing that coercive. Instead, I pray for the day when EXODUS will simply die of natural causes. A day when there will be no need for something like EXODUS. I know it’s a just a dream.
In the meantime, EXODUS has every right to exist. That being said, some reform would be nice. And, no, I do not want to see EXODUS “discredited”. In fact, it genuinely pains me each and every time EXODUS does something stupid to discredit ITSELF — like staying alligned with NARTH (while NARTH continues to be alligned with hate-mongers like Cameron) or putting out stupid radio ads (without, apparently, first reviewing them for content and message).
To his credit, Alan apologized for them, but the radio ads DID give the definite (false) impression that “change” was “radical, sudden and complete” — and that further hurt EXODUS’s credibility. “We” didn’t do that. They did that to themselves. It’s like watching EXODUS shoot itself in the foot over and OVER again.
As for the purpose of the conference, I saw it as part statement and part group therapy. People who had been harmed by their EXODUS experience were able to meet each other face-to face, pray together, share their stories and take real steps towards healing. It was grief work — and you kinda had to be there to understand.
Responding to Alan Chambers, Bussee writes:
I feel I need to respond to Alan’s earlier comment about my “double speak and lies.” Alan, that’s precisely why I left EXODUS. That’s why I issued the apology! For almost all of my EXODUS experience, I really believed that I was telling the truth about “freedom from homosexuality”. Eventually, I realized that I was only fooling myself and fooling others — but that was only at the very end of my involvement with EXODUS.
Since age 12, I had been trying desperately NOT to be gay. There were years of prayer, fasting, counseling and study — and the gay feelings only got stronger. My wife and I both strongly believed that God would change me. After nine years of trying to make marriage work, I still had no straight attractions.
After years of prayer and hard work, I saw our clients starting to fall apart, and I finally realized, like Alan, that I had never really met an “Ex-gay” — just a bunch of sincere Christian guys who would “rather not have those tendencies” and who were trying to “live a life of denial”. So, I finally got honest with myself and others and accepted that I was gay.
I am deeply sorry for spreading the lie that gays are somehow “broken” and need to be fixed — and that you will go to Hell if you don’t try. I am sorry for spreading the falsehood that you cannot be both gay and Christian. I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused my family — especially my wife and daughter. I simply could not keep lying. And if my eventual honesty hurt Alan in some way, I suppose I am sorry for that too.
Bussee later continues:
Warren: The more I ponder your comments, the more I am disturbed by their content and tone. “Old news” and therefore somehow irrelevant? Wanting to discredit EXODUS? Shut it down?
I can’t speak for others, but my intent was (and always HAS been) to simply tell the TRUTH about my experience, to bear witness to the harm that “change” ministries can do and to apologize to those I may have unintentionally harmed.
I wish you could have been at the Ex-gay Survivor’s conference — and could have just listened. I think you would have been profoundly moved (as I was) by the stories of deeply religious men and women who have struggled for years (and at great personal cost) to reconcile issues of sexuality and spirituality.
These are brothers and sisters in the faith who experienced real emotional and spritual harm in “ex-gay” programs. As a therapist, I think you have an ethical responsibility to seriously consider the HARM that certain forms of HELP can do. Your clients deserve that much.