In recent years the ex-gay movement has toned down its message of “change.” With occasional exceptions, gone are the days when one could hear Exodus spokespeople make direct and unambiguous claims that gay people who went through an ex-gay program could become straight.
It’s unsurprising, then, that Love Won Out has taken steps to tone down some of its own proclamations. In April, CitizenLink made an effort to clarify LWO’s position:
Love Won Out says it does not attempt to “fix” gays and lesbians, a charge heard often from its critics in the APA.
“Such glib characterizations ignore the complex series of factors that can lead to same-sex attractions,” according to the Web site. “They also mischaracterize our mission. We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It is not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women who have walked this difficult road successfully.”
As little as that statement actually says, it nonetheless would have been news to anyone who attended a LWO conference before Joseph Nicolosi disappeared from the roster. LWO may never have specifically used the world “fix,” but their website did at one time openly state that homosexuality was “preventable and treatable” – a message that hardly needs clarification.
Even given the current version of LWO’s official statement, it seems unlikely that the average layperson who reads it will see much if any distinction between “same-sex attractions can be overcome” and “if you’re gay, you can become straight.” And recent public statements by LWO spokespersons only reinforce such impressions.
Speaking in advance of its Orlando conference (which just happened to have been scheduled for the same week as Gay Days at Disney World), Love Won Out spokesman Jeff Johnson stated, “attendees will hear stories about people who had chosen a gay identity or struggled with same-sex attractions, but came out of it.”
Had Johnson merely spoken about those “who had chosen a gay identity,” it could be reasonably argued that the “former homosexuals” he was talking about had simply changed their behavior and how they viewed themselves. By adding in those who “struggled with same-sex attractions” and “came out of it,” however, the message explicitly becomes one of a change in orientation.
Further reinforcing that point, the Orlando Sentinel adds this quote:
“Same-sex attraction is the result of a number of influential factors, but, no, we don’t believe people are born gay,” said Melissa Fryrear, director of gender issues for Focus on the Family. “We believe homosexuals can be converted and same-sex attractions can change.”
If Love Won Out was merely employing the Christianese doublespeak we’ve come to expect from Exodus, it could perhaps be excused for wanting to correct the general public’s alleged misunderstanding of what it advocates. Under the circumstances, however, any effort LWO wants to make to correct “glib characterizations” of its message would need to start with its own spokespersons.