Faulkners Talk to Fox, Deny Son Forced into Ex-Gay Program
The parents of Bryce Faulkner have spoken to Fox News to deny allegations that their 23-year-old son is being coerced into attending an ex-gay program.
Friends of Bryce, a 23-year-old medical student who graduated this year, say he was happily gay and ready to move from Arkansas to Wisconsin to be with his boyfriend, Travis Swanson, 24. They believe he was browbeaten into therapy by his Baptist parents after they found out about his homosexuality.
But mother Debra Faulkner told Fox today that the stories were untrue. She confirmed that Bryce was undergoing “Christian counselling,” but said that he just wanted to “take some time and figure out what he wants to do with his life,” after he got “caught up with friends who were pulling him that way.”
A statement allegedly from Bryce was released through a representative of the family, saying:
Every decision that I’ve made has been based solely upon my beliefs and I have not been manipulated or coerced by anyone to do anything.
Swanson maintains that his boyfriend was manipulated under threat of being disowned by his family, both emotionally and financially. A campaign by Reverend Brett A Harris to help Bryce has been the subject of a website and two Facebook pages, both of which have now been removed, presumably due to legal threats.
From Alan’s comments, I think we can be relatively certain that Bryce is in an Exodus affiliated ministry. If the answer was no, I don’t think Alan would have hesitated to make that point.
Why can’t Bryce talk to Fox HIMSELF?!?!?!?!
Bryce is an adult and no one else can legally make decisions for him. Unless he was illegally detained in a straitjacket with duct tape over his mouth, he seems to have abdicated much of his responsibility to others.
Fox News, for its part, should not have accepted a third-party statement at face value, should have insisted upon disclosure of Bryce’s location, and should have insisted upon speaking with a representative for the “counseling” facility. Having abdicated its responsibility as a news agency, Fox News has rendered much of its story unverifiable. It’s just a pile of hearsay.
I think it’s unfortunate that religion has been abused to convince people to abdicate their responsibilities as adults and as journalists.
[…] Hat tip: XGW […]
Maybe he doesn’t want to? If any of this stuff is true, then he was probably browbeat and shamed into cooperating with the program. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have at least some readers who had a similar experience. That’s not illegal, it’s just really wrong in my opinion.
Again, if any of this is true, the fact that the mother of a 23 year old violated his privacy by intruding on his email is very telling. So is the statement that he “got caught up with friends who were pulling him toward homosexuality.”
The real point to take away from all of this is that, after all we have discovered about how people often end up in ex-gay programs. this story is such a shock. Wake up, this is how it works. Let’s just pray it doesn’t
end this way. Sorry, wrong movie — this is the one I was thinking of.
I’m sorry, but this is pretty simple. If Bryce would simply allow himself to be filmed for three seconds making that statement himself, or at LEAST speak to the report over the phone himself, then that would be that, right? But no, a “family representative”? Come on now. The entire allegation here is that the family is part of the problem. We just want to know that Bryce knows about all of this support he’s getting. If he knows and chooses to stay there, that’s that. He’s an adult. But I don’t think anyone is convinced yet.
David’s point that this is how folks end up in ex-gay programs is worth repeating.
The ex-gay movement and similar cult-like movements take away individual autonomy and replace that with strict authoritarianism — all with a smile and some sugary godtalk about exclusive access to grace and redemption and the Bible.
The Bible, however, opposes ex-gay ideology. If it says anything at all about certain types of homosexual behavior, the Bible offers the death penalty — nothing else. Nothing more lenient, and certainly not a pile of Freudian rubbish about homosexuality being caused by overbearing mommies and distant daddies. Nor does the Bible advocate the Exodus-FOTF solution of lipstick, football, or identity politics. The New Testament tells Jesus followers’ not to marry — it does not exalt the fairy tale of a four-person family living in suburban Orlando on hundreds of thousands of dollars in borrowed money.
John K., the family may well be part of the problem, but unless you are entertaining the idea that he was kidnapped, none of the other stuff really applies. Even Zach, who was a minor and who we know did not want to be in such a program, did not want to communicate with the press or anyone else during that period. Sure, it’s frustrating that this story is incomplete but we don’t have a right to intrude on his privacy any more than his mother did. And these places are not stupid enough to physically restrain an adult, so you can forget that.
There is no reason to believe, nor any evidence to suggest that Bryce is unable to contact anyone should he chose to do so. The obvious conclusion is that he doesn’t want to. That may make him a jerk or just an emotionally confused and hurt 23 year-old, but neither of those is illegal.
What is going on here? Why does Bryce need to explain anything to anyone??? Why are you all so invested in a person’s life that obviously doesn’t have comment for Fox or you??? I’m very confused by this whole issue.
passerby, some people here — and many people at beyondexgay.com and other websites — have been abused by similar parents and “ex-gay” programs. Other people are close friends to people who have been abused.
I, for one, am alarmed at the stubborn ignorance of the media regarding the prevalence of such abuse.
At the same time, I agree with David R. that it’s ultimately Bryce’s responsibility to free himself if he chooses — and he has chosen not to.
There certianly may be people who are being put into counseling beyond their will… for more issues than homosexuality, by the way, but Exgay watch is making a story out of something that you don’t even know what the real story is. Florida doesn’t have an residential camp and the area mentioned only has a church referral (not even a ministry). So there’s the big search for some guy that might be going to a counselor who’s boyfriend misses him??
Actually passerby, XGW has been very conservative with the amount of information it reports, going so far as to report the story days later than most other gay blogs who see the information. In fact, XGW is only reporting what others have already reported – and have clearly stated as such.
As for the “why” factor, well, if we don’t report it, nobody will. And we’re here to stand up for those who might not be able to themselves – this includes not only Bryce but anybody and everybody in a similar situation, regardless of their feelings about homosexuality
The thing I like most about you all is that you care about people who are hurting and forced to do things they don’t want to do. I care about them too. I don’t see a whole lot of care for those who are confused or made a choice to go a different route, but at least you care for gay and lesbians.
What I still don’t understand is why you put so much time talking about a grown up man who is obviously not in some exgay back room all tied up and forced to change. We know that Exodus doesn’t even have a ministry in that area – just a church. So, this attention to a grown man who is obviously working stuff out with his family and his own life is making you all look like witch hunters. Go after real story to protect the hurting.. no?
this statement might reveal 1) too much or 2) something you might not actually have meant. I’ve been suspecting you were on the “side” of #1.
If your point is to come here and accuse teh gheys of wanting to suck Bryce into a lifestyle “he might not want,” boy have you got the wrong website. As far as queer websites go, this one is fairly conservative, and extremely supportive of “alternative paths.” This includes celibate (but sexually honest) same-sex attracted religious, people who really do believe their orientation has shifted in one way or another (but do not subscribe/apply their life experiences to anyone else’s), and even an ex-gay that trolls through here every so often.
Actually, I’ve seen XGW welcome those running ministries that cater to Christians who loathe their same sex attractions, and ban gays who disrespect others on the board who take a different point of view from them.
Maybe you should stick around and observe or read the archives to get a better perspective. “Lurk moar” as they say on image boards.
I’m sorry but at 23 years old in American society of today, one may be an adult under the law, but a 23 year old, especially one in college, is very dependent on family, at least economically speaking. So while there may be “free will”involved in making decisions, it’s mostly a surrender of will in order to maintain one’s ability to survive.
What I have observed in our modern society is that kids are living longer with their parents (past the age of 18). It’s neither good nor bad, just what I have observed. And a main factor is college tution. Another factor is the economy. Even if a young adult doesn’t go to college, the jobs available make it virtually impossible for someone to make it on his or her own.
Most parents, I assume, don’t automatically change their perspectives about their role in their child’s life the minute the magical number 18 arrives. I’m 44 and my mom still treats me as if I am 12. Of course she expects me to act like I’m 44 but will still treat me like I’m 12 at her convenience. And I see that with a lot of my friends and their parents, gay or straight.
That Bryce Faulkner may be going to a gay camp or whatever it is he is involved with, and his parents are behind this “choice” is a legitimate concern for the LGBT community, and the Ex-Gay Watch community specifically, because we are dealing with something that our society is generating: young adults that are still being controlled by their parents. This is a very serious issue for LGBTs because young adults are being manipulated into ex-gay ministries and relationships are being sacrificed.
I agree with your first comment. The fact that Alan Chambers has “declined to confirm or deny whether Faulkner has attended Exodus’ programs” is very telling. If Bryce truly isn’t in an Exodus ministry, then Chambers should say so and clear up some of the speculation surrounding this story.
These situations seems to confirm again and again the real modus operandi of ex-gay ministries. Across the world, even here in Asia, ex-gay ministries have been targeting parents and friends of LGBTs. All the talk of LGBTs themselves wanting “change” is increasingly becoming a bold faced lie for the majority.
Perhaps instead of saying “thousands have changed”, Exodus should admit they are selling the package that “thousands of parents and friends are educated and trained to enrich the lives of their LGBT children and friends by presenting them a solution for their sexual brokeness”.
Of course, I am only using Exodus’s famous public relations speech again. The reality is actually more frightening. And shocking.
I am with Paserby on some points.
We do need to recognize that he is an adult. And an intelligent adult at that, he is graduated from a medical program. He has the ability to make his own decisions.
But I think the point of reporting on this is that, we need to recognize the abuse that the Conservative Church/Family projects on an gay individual.
Emily, I meant to say what I said. If those in the exgay movement are not at all ‘changed’, then they are still gay… if they are still gay, then they should be shown pitty. I understand if there are ‘hetrosexuals’ who are trying help ‘change the gay’, but if most people in Exodus are gay people confused, then shouldn’t you be showing pitty and care for them… rather than a negative attitude? This whole movement (exgay watch) is simply confusing to me at times. And there is no reason to attack people who don’t agree with you… I’ve seen that happen all too quick on this site from time to time… (as I pass by).
David: I find it very amusing that you think there’s no way this place would keep him cut off from the outside world. Do you not know how cults work? Guess what, even Zach got word out somehow. He posted blogs on myspace. The point is, we don’t know, and rather than presume it’s because Bryce has chosen not to speak, we should presume that it’s because he has not been allowed to (and by that I mean, this authoritarian cult to which he has submitted coerces him not to, not that they physically won’t let him. This makes no difference as far as I’m concerned because, again, this is how cults work), and we should be doing everything possible to locate him and find out if he’s ok.
Why can’t people get into their heads that 23 is a f*****g number! It means NOTHING. As Alan S. noted, LOTS of 23-year-olds today still live with and depend on their families. In this economy, how can we expect Bryce to make this type of decision, and WHY SHOULD HE HAVE TO MAKE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!? That is the point. This is about more than Bryce. This is about shutting down these camps so no more “adults” even have to make this decision.
Passerby, you wrote:
They are indeed to be pitied, but their attempts to mislead others by offering them false hope of “change” and their efforts to impede decent treatment of gay people in order to bully them into wanting that “change” in the first place should evoke only a negative attitude – certainly not “pitty”.
John K, please watch your language here. It isn’t necessary and we also don’t want to be blocked from work filters. You have made you position clear, anything else is just argument. We still know next to nothing about this. If you feel this strongly, create your own “Where is Bryce” site and see what you can do.
For the record, I believe Zach only blogged from home before he entered Love In Action. If someone has a reference to contradict this, I will stand corrected. I am pretty sure, however, that he said the attention he was getting at that time was only making things worse.
Until and unless more facts come to light, there is little else we can do but wait.
I apologize for my language, but this is all so outrageous. And you are right, we know next to nothing, which is exactly why we shouldn’t be assuming that Bryce doesn’t need/want help or attention. Until we know something, how can we assume anything but that he might (and likely does)?
I read something the other day that led me to believe Zach Stark was blogging from the camp, but I can’t find it now. One of the entries was something like, “another week of hell,” which could have just been him at home, but for some reason I thought it was from the camp. Maybe I’m wrong.
In any event, Bryce doesn’t have to talk to the media….he can talk to his friends! One friend maybe. SOMEONE among the thousands of people who want to know if he is ok, and someone that is not a member of the family that is accused of coercing him to go here. It’s that simple. He doesn’t have to fly out to see Travis. He can simply pick of the phone and tell Travis that all of this is a huge misunderstanding, and that he wants to be there. Doesn’t even have to be Travis, but someone credible that can let Travis know, i.e., not a “family spokesperson.” Again, it’s very simple.
Since it’s so simple, and since it has not happened, the only logical conclusion is that Bryce is not allowed to speak to anyone. And, again, even if he has willingly submitted to those rules, he has not done so with informed consent if he doesn’t know what’s going on out here. And we don’t know if he knows until he tells someone on Travis’ end first-hand.
While there may only be speculation and guessing as to what is happening with Bryce, I think the speculations and guessing are based more on knowledge and experience with ex-gay ministries rather than just guessing for guessing’s sake.
@passerby who said:
I have been watching and writing on this blog for quite some time now, and while there have been attacks waged on both sides of an issue, even attacks on persons, I think it is fair to say that that is how debates are sometimes conducted. The editors of this blog have done, in my opinion, a great job of monitoring such debates and have given people opportunities to curb direct attacks, back up their statements with solid evidence, and to remove those who do not conduct themselves according to proper debate edicit.
Because these debates are emotionally charged, sometimes what one says may come across as being an outright attack on someone else.
In this particular case, It appears that assumptions are being made about Bryce Faulkner and his family are based on prior knoweldge and experiences with ex-gay ministries.
My knowledge of Exodus and other ex-gay ministries is more than my actual experiences, so based on my knowledge alone, yes I would show pitty for them and would love for the opportunity to care for them just as I loved and cared for my cousins who were in gangs and my friends who joined cults. Why? Because my knowledge of cults and gangs and ex-gay ministries all show a common thread – the main thread is to break off as much (if not all) communication from others not in the cult, gang, or ex-gay ministry. This is done to create total dependence on these groups by the individual for the sole purpose of control. In all three of these groups mentioned, breaking away from them can mean spiritual suicide for the member wanted to break away.
If a person is confused about his or her sexual orientation, they should not be subjected to conditions that most current ex-gay ministries in the United States impose.
Well said, Alan — thank you.
All I can say is it’s times like this I wish that beautiful young man were MY son…
And Alan S…bang on, brother.
The Faulkners are disingenuous, they might as well say that choosing between a rock and a hard place is still a choice.
I have to say, I’ve had my doubts over the past few days reading about this, but when I hear there were over 10,000 cell phone minutes between Bryce and Travis in the month of May alone, and I forget how many hundreds of pages of chat text, and that Bryce had apparently already bought a plane ticket to Wisconsin when his parents hacked into his email account and found him out, I’ve got to again lean much more toward Bryce not really wanting to be there, and that means us finding a way to get to him and let him know that he doesn’t have to be there, literally or practically.
Of course, these pieces of info are coming from the guy who made the “Save Bryce” site and Travis, so it could simply be a flat out lie if this is all the delusion of a jilted lover in the first place. From everything I’ve read so far though, I’m leaning toward no. Of course, it would be nice if some of the chat were published on the site, but perhaps they don’t want to reveal intimate details of their relationship, or Bryce’s chat name or email address or whatever, and they figure posting it without that would simply be dismissed as possible electronic forgery anyway. Who knows. I’m just saying, one side or the other here is simply lying. This is not a matter of misunderstanding or shading the truth.
Fox – interesting choice of networks. Seems as if a short video from Bryce might clear up some of the confusion. Described previously as “totally financially dependent” on his parents, he may be playing along until he finishes his education.
I just pray that he is not being harmed by his “Christian” counseling. The parents have probably created a rift which will never be repaired unless they change. So sad.
Given how often the exgay “ministries” use lies and deceit, combined with emotional and spiritual abuse (especially to friends and family) to promote their anti-gay agenda, it’s important for XGW to keep a close eye on them and their activities. Bryce may have suddenly decided that Jesus doesn’t want him to be gay, and that’s his choice.
But until I hear it from his own lips, and until we have the full story, our experience tells us that keeping a close eye on this is in the best interest of everyone involved. Bryce’s story is one that too often ends in a suicide. That is the legacy of Exodus International.
Just to clarify my comment above, I was thinking about Prayers for Bobby, not Save Me. The conclusions are quite different, so the original didn’t make much sense.
Thanks David, I clicked on that link the other day and I was confused, lol.
But anyway, I’m so upset over this, it’s keeping me up at night (maybe that’s just a sign that there’s something not quite right with me, but I don’t know). If I had the means and opportunity right now, I would fly down to Florida and infiltrate the place he is thought to be staying.
Here are more details from Travis in a new interview:
OMG! Poor Travis….
Those poor guys.
I wish Bryce were MY son! Believe it that he and Travis would be supported, loved…given all the counsel to be and stay together I could muster.
Maybe I keep saying that because I lost my sweet boy last year and I’d do anything to get him back.
Then I see parents like this who commit such emotional blackmail, and threaten to do such damage to their own children.
How could they be SO misguided beyond knowing their own son?!
Not only that, but instead of finding successful families that HAVE accepted their gay children, they go against their own child in FAVOR of a church doctrine that doesn’t even know him!
They should see Bryce and Travis as TWO sons for one!
They GAIN two good young men in their lives. This way they LOSE two.
THEY are what is tangible in their lives. NOT God, not Jesus, not Heaven.
Faith that doesn’t give the benefit of the doubt to their own flesh and blood?!
That is not FEAR of the unknown. They KNOW their son!
It’s the financial blackmailing that tells you this isn’t about love for a son, but about CONTROLLING him beyond what’s healthy for any parent to do.
He’s not costing THEM in financial or any kind of tangible hardship but what their imaginations will, not what reality wills.
I’m so sad for Bryce and Travis. What a handsome couple, what heartbreak for both of them.
What selfish parents not to think of their son’s feelings in that regard.
Damn…I wish he were my son.