When several well-known individuals were asked to comment on specific issues today (on other topics I’ll not get into now), a response I heard several times was, “Well, I’m feeling very pessimistic about the current outlook for that” (or similar).
Upon hearing that, and the associated justification for the opinion, I did think to myself, “actually, it is not that bad, there are other things in play here”.
So what I am writing about is the promotion of the religious belief that being gay is wicked and evil, it is simply a lifestyle choice, and with the right dose of prayer and “faith” you can be cured with gay conversion therapy.
The problem with this line of thought is that it is all complete nonsense, the prevailing scientific consensus is that such conversion therapy’s not only do not work, but they also can do a considerable degree of harm.
- Believing such things that are simply not true has consequences, not only does it promote and enforce intolerance, but does result in lives being greatly disrupted.
There is some good news here
I’m getting to it, the above was all context – my point is that something has happened that points to an amazing U-turn.
Nine former ex-gay leaders, from organizations like Exodus International and ministries like Love in Action, have signed onto a letter in partnership with the National Center for Lesbian Rights calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy and saying that LGBT people should be celebrated and embraced for who they are.
Here is the full text of the letter along with the names of those that signed …
Former Ex-Gay Leaders Unite in Opposition to Conversion Therapy
Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy”, “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), professes to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to change or overcome their sexual orientation or gender identity. The majority of those who practice this “therapy” often do so with little or no formal psychological training, operating instead from a strict religious perspective, believing homosexuality to be a “sin.”
At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these “ex-gay” programs, we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters. Together we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy. We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBT youth.
We once believed that there was something morally wrong and psychologically “broken” about being LGBT. We know better now. We once believed that sexual orientation or gender identity were somehow chosen or could be changed. We know better now. We once thought it was impossible to embrace our sexual orientation or sexual identity as an intrinsic, healthy part of who we are and who we were created to be. We know better now.
Looking back, we were just believing (and sometimes teaching) what we had been taught— that our identity needed mending. We grew up being told that being LGBT was disordered, sick, mentally ill, sinful, and displeasing to God. We grew up being told that loving, same-sex relationships were shallow, lust-driven, deceived, disordered, and impossible.
We grew up with the repetitive message that LGBT people were not enough — not straight enough, not Christian enough, not manly or womanly enough, not faithful enough, not praying enough. Never, ever enough. “Toxic” probably sums it up best. That message is poison to the soul. Especially a child’s soul.
It can take a lifetime to get rid of that old programming and replace it with healthy, non-toxic views of yourself. Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually. Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure.
In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.
As former “ex-gay” leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well- adjusted lives. We fully support the aim of #BornPerfect to bring an end to conversion therapy.
Lay Leader Volunteer (2005–2007)
Church Network Coordinator (2007)
Exodus International Headquarters
Founder, Director, Counselor (1985–1992)
Project Coordinator (2000–2003)
Women’s Ministry Director (2005–2007)
Exodus Europe (1988–1989)
Founder, Executive Director (1986–1988)
Outreach Director (1991–1996)
Love in Action
Yvette Cantu Schneider
Executive Director (2001–2005)
Living in Victory Ministry
Director of Women’s Ministry (2008–2011)
John J Smid
Executive Director (1987–2008)
Love in Action
Exodus International Board of Directors (1990–1995; 2002–2008)
This is a truly fabulous step foreword, a very positive one – things really are getting better.