Experience: I tried to ‘cure’ gay people


The Guardian had a great article yesterday by a chap called Jeremy Marks. In it he describes how back in the 80’s he started a group called “Courage” with the primary aim of “Curing” gay folks. He himself was, and still is, gay. He writes …

…in 1986, I came across a group called the True Freedom Trustand went to one of their meetings, for lesbian and gay Christians who wanted to “overcome” their sexuality. This was the first time I’d met any gay Christians, and it was a huge relief. One evening there was a young man visiting from San Francisco who told how this “ex-gay” ministry called Love In Action had saved him from being a male prostitute. He talked about how God could change your life and how part of that positive change was you wouldn’t be gay any more. I went to train with them, and returned to England to set up Courage.

Only one tiny flaw in all this, while “belief” might indeed tell him it was both wrong and that he needed to be “cured”, reality simply did not want to fall into line with such beliefs … the universe can be more than a tad bloody annoying at times in that way …

A few years later, we had to close our live-in discipleship houses, but I kept in touch with people afterwards and was dismayed to see what happened. Once people were on their own again, their world collapsed. Family and friends would say, “So, when are we going to hear wedding bells?” It never occurred to them that maybe you are gay because that’s just the way you are.

So how did things pan out? Well it turns out that those who did well were the folks who came to terms with the way they were …

By the end of the 1990s, the only ones doing well were those who’d accepted they were gay and found a partner. It was as if a great burden had been shifted, that they thought, “Now at last I know who I am. I know I’m in love with somebody and they love me.” I thought, this is the kind of result we hoped they’d achieve living an upright Christian life, but they’re finding that contentment just being themselves. I began to think that perhaps we’d got it really wrong.

The good news is that Mr Marks has now also come to terms with the universe and has finally accepted that things are the way they are even if you choose not to believe it. He has managed to square the circle by retaining his beliefs, but ditched the “Being gay is wrong” part … and while I might disagree with him on the other stuff, I do say “good for him” for coming to terms with it all and salute him for having the courage to not only face reality, but to be public about this by sharing how wrong he had been. He finishes off by writing …

I still run Courage, but now it’s with a belief that you can be gay and Christian. We offer a chance to meet other gay Christians and support committed same-sex relationships. It’s been difficult for my wife, because she’s naturally very concerned that I might therefore decide, “That’s it, I want to go and find a man.” But we’re coming up to retirement age and I wouldn’t feel happy just to leave her – feeling abandoned after all we’ve been through together. Ours may not be the traditional heterosexual romance, but the care for one another’s wellbeing is just as real. I try not to look back, but I know I’ve missed out in a big way – and so has she. She should have been with some heterosexual guy who adored her, as she should be adored.

“Beliefs” do indeed consume an almost countless number of human lives in a furnace of utterly pointless rituals and pursuits by motivating them to deny reality, but human history is littered with folks such as Mr Marks who manage to pause, seriously consider the thought, “This can’t be right”, and slowly find a newer better way to come to terms with the way things really are. Personally, I find that very encouraging, because if some of the truly bat-shit crazy folks can indeed successfully think themselves into a better place, then while we are still breathing there is hope of all.

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