Category Archives: Ex-gay and Reparative Therapy

Thousands have been though ex-gay ministries or reparative therapy in order to “reverse” or “heal” their sexual orientation.

The End Of My Double Life

I grew up in Christianity… the same faith I still claim, just like many of you. Although the process of reconciling my faith and sexuality in the midst of a conservative Christian denomination was challenging and painful at times, I now consider it a blessing. For those of us who grew up within fundamentalist belief systems, we have the advantage of remembering what it was like to hold those beliefs. Therefore, we are fully present in the fight for equality, yet we have the ability to understand why some Christians are still fearful of dialogue about LGBT inclusion. If we look hard enough, it’s not difficult to see the reasons why.

Over half of Americans are now in favor of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. Couple that fact with the marijuana laws passed in the last election, and you’ve got a good ol’ fashioned recipe for end times disaster. Many religious-righters are trying to save as many homosexual souls as they can before our pride parades usher in the Rapture. But we must remember that most people who have this mindset are acting out of love. They are not bigots, narrow-minded, or shallow. They are clinging passionately to the fundamental beliefs they personally hold as Bible-believing Christians. The views they hold stem from love and compassion for their fellow man, not from intolerance and hate as many people tend to suggest.

However, the above approach is not working. It hasn’t worked for decades. “Ex-gay” ministries are being exposed as fraud, people are getting hurt, and LGBT folks are leaving the Church altogether. Something has to change. We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Culture is shifting. Science is teaching us things about human sexuality that we never knew before. More and more churchgoers are taking a healthy dose of reason and experience with their Scripture-reading. Society is changing. And if the Church doesn’t change as well, it will die.

So the battle lines are drawn, both sides refusing to budge. It’s going to take more than picket signs to change the world. The only answer? Conversation, plain and simple. We must be willing to have those intense discussions with people who disagree with us. We must be willing to be honest about who we are. We must be willing to tell our stories. It is only then that things will change.

This past week, as the Supreme Court held hearings regarding Prop 8 and DOMA, I had a choice to make. Would I continue to compartmentalize my life, or would I publicly declare my advocacy for the LGBT community? In the end, I learned that my silent days are over. I will publicly support equality because it is the right thing to do. Period. I will be honest about who I am because of the millions of young people out there who feel they’d rather die than admit they’re gay. And I will tell my story so that all those who share it will know they aren’t alone.

This is how we change the world.

If you want to tell your story, I hope you choose to do it here, so others can be encouraged. Have a great week, everyone!

Film Fun: Favorite Queer Movies

Hello, everyone! I hope this finds you doing well. I’m sure you’ve enjoyed reading Josha’s posts over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been taking some time away from the blogosphere to write another article for Curve magazine. This time, I did a profile piece on a local organization (and the founder) who is helping LGBTQI youth meet their various needs. (The publish date is still a few months away, so I’ll keep you posted.)

The Truth About JaneYesterday, after I polished up the semi-final draft, I decided it was time for a much-needed movie break! To my excitement, I re-discovered a coming-of-age lesbian movie I hadn’t seen in over a decade: The Truth About Jane. I vaguely recall seeing it on Lifetime years ago. This was—of course—a couple of years before I would finally admit to myself that I was gay (yes, even in the midst of a college lesbian fling). I deeply related to the story, and somehow felt repulsed by it at the same time. It was a case of good old-fashioned denial. (Heck, I was probably wearing my Indigo Girls t-shirt with my flannel button-up and Birkenstocks at that very instant! Ok… I know. Those are just stereotypes. But they became cliché for a reason. Am I right? It wouldn’t be until 5 or 6 years later when my fashion taste made perfect sense.)

I digress.

cinemaSo the point of this post? I’m going to list all of the queer-themed movies and documentaries that I’ve come to know and love. There will probably be quite a few that you guys have seen. But you know as well as I do that good gay and lesbian film is hard to find. So, if there are you’d like to add, post them in the comment section with a link. Maybe I will be able to expand the resource page on the blog so others can find encouragement and support through these films.

For your convenience, I’ve marked all of titles currently playing on Netflix with an (*).

Documentaries:

For The Bible Tells Me So*: a poignant look at several different Christian families who have gay children. This documentary explores the intersection of faith and sexuality, taking a look at the so-called “clobber passages” in the Bible.

One Nation Under God*: this documentary takes a look at “reparative therapy”, said by some fundamentalists to be the cure for homosexuality. Former “ex-gay” leaders make an appearance as they recount their journeys.

Fish Out Of Water*: this film takes an in-depth look at the handful of Bible verses misused to condemn LGBT individuals. It includes countless interviews with numerous ministers, pastors, professors, and theologians.

Mississippi Queen: a lesbian woman returns to her hometown to research faith and sexuality, where she interviews people on both sides of the issue.

This Is What Love In Action Looks Like*: a Memphis teen is forced into reparative therapy by his fundamentalist Christian parents.

Chely Wright: Wish Me Away*: One of my personal favorites, this documentary follows Chely Wright (recording artist) in the days leading up to her public “coming out”. A must-see in my book!

Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement*: this film follows a lesbian couple throughout the history of their relationship, all the way back to the early 1960’s. Together for over 40 years, they are finally able to marry.

Fagbug*: When Erin Davies’ car was vandalized for sporting a rainbow sticker, she became the victim of a hate crime. She decided to take her car on a tour across the U.S. and Canada to talk with other victims of more serious hate crimes. This documentary tells the tale of that cross-country trek.

Prodigal Sons*: Kimberly Reed, a trans woman, decides to visit her hometown and re-introduce herself as the person she always knew herself to be.

Red Without Blue*: One identical twin brother decides to transition from male to female. This documentary follows her story, and the challenges she and her brother face during this time.

For My Wife*: after the tragic loss of her partner, one woman becomes passionate about her activism for the equal rights of same-sex couples.

Drama:

The Truth About Jane: a teenage girl discovers her sexuality when a new friendship turns into something more. Her family, especially her mother (Stockard Channing), struggles to understand and embrace this reality.

Prayers for Bobby: This is a true story. Sigourney Weaver plays the role of Mary Griffith, the  fundamentalist-turned-gay rights’ activist whose son committed suicide due to her intolerance. (Have the Kleenex handy for this one.)

Boys Don’t Cry: the well-known, true story of Brandon Teena, a transgendered teenager who lives as a male until his biological gender is discovered. This is a true story. (Again, grab the tissues.)

The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love: two young girls from different social and economic backgrounds fall in love. This movie stars Laurel Holloman (a definite perk for me!) in one of her first films.

Comedy:

But I’m a Cheerleader: a high school cheerleader is sent to “gay rehab” camp when her peers and family suspect her of being a lesbian. Hands down, this is the funniest LGBT-themed movie I’ve seen to date. If all of the aforementioned dramas and docs put you in a depressing mood, then follow it up with this gem. It doesn’t disappoint.

So, let’s hear it. What are some of your favorite LGBT-themed movies or documentaries?

Anti-Gay Pastor Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Two Men

Everything that one tries to hide in darkness will eventually be brought to light. We know this all too well. Call it karma. Call it whatever you like. But whatever it is, it isn’t good news for Reverend Ryan J. Muehlhauser of Cambridge, Minnesota. He recently had his dirty laundry unwillingly displayed to everyone in his community and congregation. He was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting two young adult males over the period of two years. Want to know his self-proclaimed area of expertise? Why, of course, it was helping those with same-sex attraction overcome their homosexual desires!

Muehlhauser was also a counselor with a company called Outpost Ministries. Their website claims to help men and women “break away from gay life”. Innumerable atrocities have been drudged up in lieu of this tragedy. Most evidently, of course, are the emotional wounds inflicted on the two victims. These men were seeking help from someone they deemed as a trusted individual. I cannot imagine the confusion they must have felt when introduced to Muehlhauser’s “therapy” methods. Here is an excerpt from the criminal complaint, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

One of the men told investigators that Muehlhauser “blessed” him by cupping his genitals outside of his clothing several times and that Muehlhauser asked the man to masturbate in front of him for “spiritual strength.” Muehlhauser would also fondle the man at times. Their encounters occurred over a period of nearly two years.

Another man told investigators of similar encounters spanning most of this year, adding that Muehlhauser feared he would “lose everything” if anyone found out. At one encounter, Muehlhauser fondled the man and then the two joined the pastor’s wife for a dinner outing.

The assaults of the two men occurred at the church, its prayer cabin and at a home belonging to a relative of one of the victims. The criminal complaint made a point to note that “consent by the complainant is not a defense,” given Muehlhauser is a clergy member.

Muehlhauser was a senior pastor at Lakeside Christian Church. He was taken into custody on November 4th. If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison for each charge, and face a fine of $20,000.

Isanti County Assistant Attorney Stacy St. George adequately issued the following statement, as reported by The County Star:

“There is nothing more predatory than taking two individuals whose faith and whose trust is put into their minister and their spiritual leader and then abusing them in the name of the Lord. The very predatory nature is what makes Mr. Muehlhauser dangerous to the public. He preyed on the vulnerability of these men who are so confused and have turned to him in a time that they have been rejected by their family, their friends and by their religion. They asked him to assist them, they trusted him with their most deepest and vulnerable feelings, and he used that power to sexually abuse them for upwards of two years.”

Nothing depresses me more than cruelties like this. It saddens me because it is so unnecessary. If the two young men who were victimized were celebrated in their spiritual community rather than shunned, they would have no reason to seek counseling for the purpose of “curing” their sexuality. Reparative therapy is damaging; the research simply just doesn’t hold up. According to the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality. This has been the official and scientific stance since 1973 when they declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. Any licensed counselor who tells you otherwise is practicing far outside of their ethical boundaries. California governor Jerry Brown passed a bill just this past September which prohibits children and teenagers from participating in any type of conversion therapy. It is my desperate hope that this trend continues to be a reality for our remaining states.

What are your thoughts on this case? Is the lack of education within our churches an indirect cause of crimes such as these? What if those with same-sex attraction weren’t shamed into hiding? What if all Christians had opportunities to discuss homosexual issues from a loving, non-judgmental perspective? I think we’d have a lot less Ted Haggards, George Rekers, or well… any of the guys on this list.

Drunk Love?

A couple of years ago, although still almost completely closeted, I had reached the point where I was fully comfortable with my identity as a Christian lesbian. I had done my homework, and I knew where I stood. But I also knew that others may not be so quick to appreciate or understand my newfound liberation of self. There became a very gradual turning point in which I began to come out very slowly, on a person-by-person basis. I had a set of ground rules that were unintentional at first, but soon became my handy reference guide on coming out as a Christian lesbian in the buckle of the Bible belt. First off, I never directly brought up the subject of my sexuality. I decided that my orientation was part of who I was, but it was not—and still is not—my identity. So I decided to forge friendships as naturally as I possibly could, until the subject would inevitably come up in a sort of indirect way. Many times, this would be in the form of a question: Don’t you have a crush on anyone? What’s your idea of a perfect man? What’s the longest relationship you’ve ever had? Or the ones that never failed to make me wince: Don’t you ever have issues? What’s your past like? You don’t seem to carry any significant baggage.

Oh, if only you knew. 

So, when these opportunities would arise, I would move on to the next item on my mental checklist: If I come out to this person, will it strengthen my relationship with them, or will it destroy it? Sometimes, people make it easy to determine the benefits of being transparent and honest with them. For instance, if you know they already have friends who are gay and love them, you know you’ll be accepted. But oftentimes, there’s not a clear-cut answer to this question. In fact, people can (and will) possibly react in the exact opposite way you expected them to. And of course, there’s more at stake if you’ve been friends with someone for a very long time. You can get burned. Trust me, I know. And sometimes… well, sometimes you get a response like this:

I was out with some new friends one night when the inevitable conversations about our prospective love lives began. These were very open-minded, easy-going people. After deciding that I was in a safe zone, I came out to them. It went well. We talked a bit more… and eventually, two of these three girls confessed to me that they had “made out” with a woman before. Confused, I said, “But you guys are straight!”

One of them replied, “Well, I’d had a little too much to drink that night. I was just having fun. It was nice to try something different.” The other girl nodded in agreement. Apparently it was the same story with her, as well. As I was processing this new information, I said, “Well, I’m just so thankful that you guys are accepting of me.”

“Oh you know we love you! It’s just something you struggle with. I mean, I don’t think it’s right for people to actually be in a gay or lesbian relationship. But I think it’s super cool that you’re so honest about your issues.”

Ok… hit pause. What exactly was she saying? That it was ok for her to get drunk and make out with someone that she normally wouldn’t make out with? But it wasn’t ok for me—who is fundamentally attracted to women—to share a life with someone that I love? In her eyes, it would be better if I could just force myself into a relationship with a man, perhaps even getting wasted to do so. Because let me tell you… that’s what I would have to do in order to wear a heterosexual mask. It is simply not who I am.

Many people like to use the letters of Paul to condemn the LGBT community. I’m quite certain that every gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gender-queer, questioning person, and straight ally has heard Romans 1:26. This is where Paul speaks of those still engaging in pagan worship practices, and tells us that they’ve been given over to their sinful desires, to practice that which is unnatural as opposed to natural. Now, many of you know that I personally don’t believe this verse is speaking about monogamous, sexual relationships as we know them today. But for the sake of conversation, let’s say it is. Many Christians today are beginning to realize that sexuality is a product of genetics—that people truly are born with their respective orientation somewhere in their DNA. What is your natural orientation? How can you honor God with the sexual identity He has given you? Have you ever tried to change your natural sexual orientation? If so, what’s your story? How did it end up?

While there will be many different answers to these questions, one statement remains constant: You cannot be true to God without first being honest with yourself. Open up, be authentic, and let God take you where He will. I can promise you He doesn’t disappoint.

Man Goes Undercover to a Gay-to-Straight Conversion Camp

I found a particularly compelling article that I think you’ll find quite interesting. We’ve talked a little bit about reparative therapy—a technique used (generally by the Christian right) to “heal” and “correct” same-sex attraction. Organizations such as Exodus and Love Won Out make a ridiculous amount of cash each year with the promise of changing individuals, and bringing them out of homosexuality. Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, spoke on a panel at the GCN (Gay Christian Network) conference this past January. He admitted that 99.9% of homosexuals he knows have not changed their sexual orientation. Ironically, his organization still sells a $330 workbook and DVD set that states the following:

“Many people have bought into the lie that you cannot change. The reality is that people have been coming out of homosexuality since Biblical times.” -Exodus International

Fortunately, I believe the tides are turning as more and more people discover the truth about reparative therapy. These organizations are not changing sexual orientation. They can, at times, change behavior—and it is fairly easy to understand why: People can be shamed into doing anything, particularly when they believe that their loved ones will abandon them if they do not change.

We’ve heard a little bit about the questionable (at best) techniques used by these reparative therapists. However, many times the whole truth is not heard, due to the countless confidentiality waivers that a person must sign in order to go through this type of “therapy”. This article is the most comprehensive I’ve ever read. It is fascinating, to say the least. This undercover experiment was done by a former Mormon who is now an atheist. What he documents here is unbiased; it is simply his experience at a conversion camp. (Please be forewarned that there is some PG-13 language in this article.)

Without further adieu, here is Ted Cox and his article:

“What Happened When I Went Undercover at a Christian Gay-to-Straight Conversion Camp”

Homophobic Homosexuals: Do it for Them

People despise in others what they hate in themselves. This is especially true for Christians struggling with homosexuality. And although it’s certainly not true in every case, so many homophobic people end up being exposed as gay people themselves! Why is this? Why the secrecy? Why the double life and the double standards? It’s because as a whole, the Church has taught its people to loathe homosexuals. They make false claims about the “gay agenda” (if there is such a thing, let me know…because I’ve been missing out on the meetings). They also convince people that it is so perverted, so filthy, so unspeakable… that it is a subject unworthy of open discussion.

I’ve experienced this unbelievable phenomenon in my own life. The one who speaks anti-homosexual rhetoric in public is the one who sends me private text messages, telling me how hot they find someone (of the same sex). The one who preaches against the horrors of the gay lifestyle is caught the next week with their gay lover. The one who rants about how homosexuality is unnatural is the same girl who passionately kissed me 10 years ago. Can we see a pattern here?!

Confession time: It’s very difficult for me to not allow anger to consume me. However, I must remember that there was a time when I, myself, was so uncomfortable with my own sexuality that I would have done anything to deny it. Pointing out the sexuality of another takes the spotlight off of their own. If they quote enough Scripture and hold enough picket signs, then perhaps no one will notice that they are questioning their own sexuality.

And guess what? These people are hurting. They’ve been told what to believe, but their experiences teach them something else. They have questions. They have stories. They have a lot of self-hate… and they are silenced. They are silenced by the people they trust and by the church they love. So rather than confront their questions, they attempt to fit in by any means necessary. This could mean hypocrisy. This could mean judging others. But most significantly, it means a lot of hurting individuals.

It’s not just the out and proud LGBT community that is being hurt by the Church. It is the people just like the ones I’ve mentioned, who are sitting in congregations across the world every single week… and they hate themselves. They hate themselves because they’ve been told to.

I ask you… isn’t there a better way? Let’s encourage conversation and discussion within the Church walls.

Let’s do it for them.

Heterosexual Questionnaire: a Self-Assessment

Someone brought this questionnaire to bible study last night. I got a pretty good chuckle, so I just can’t help but share! Apparently it’s been around since 1977, but I had never seen it. So, I thought perhaps some of you lovelies may have missed out on it as well. Enjoy, and pass it on!

Heterosexual Questionnaire, by Martin Rochlin, PhD.

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

2. When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?

3. Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?

4. Is it possible your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?

5. Isn’t it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

6. Heterosexuals have histories of failures in gay relationships.  Do you think you may have turned to heterosexuality out of fear of rejection?

7. If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex, how do you know you wouldn’t prefer that?

8. If heterosexuality is normal, why are so many mental patients heterosexual?

9. To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendencies? How did they react?

10. Your heterosexuality doesn’t offend me as long as you don’t try to force it on me. Why do you people feel compelled to seduce others into your sexual orientation?

11. If you choose to nurture children, would you want them to be heterosexual, knowing the problems they would face?

12. The great majority of child molesters are heterosexuals. Do you really consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexual teachers?

13. Why do you insist on being so obvious, and making a public spectacle of your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?

14. How can you ever hope to become a whole person if you limit yourself to a compulsive, exclusive heterosexual object choice and remain unwilling to explore and develop your normal, natural, healthy, God-given homosexual potential?

15. Heterosexuals are noted for assigning themselves and each other to narrowly restricted, stereotyped sex-roles. Why do you cling to such unhealthy role-playing?

16. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?

17. With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling.  Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

18. How could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual, considering the menace of overpopulation?

19. There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed with which you might be able to change if you really want to. Have you considered aversion therapy?

20. Do heterosexuals hate and/or distrust others of their own sex? Is that what makes them heterosexual?