Ask-It Basket: How do you respond to those caught in the ex-gay whirlwind of what’s right and wrong?

In my last post, Being Gay Is A Core Strength, Not A Religious Curse, a commenter left a heartfelt set of questions as a comment. Because there are quite a few, I will quote in part and then answer each of the questions as we progress. “Confused by ‘leaders'” writes:

How do you respond to individuals who were led by exgay group leaders and it became an deeper battle for them and now the tide has turned, while those taught are caught in this whirlwind of is it right or wrong and will leaders keep flopping between exgay to pro-gay?

Regardless of the momentum of the whirlwind, please don’t let it rob you of your time and energy. My encouragement is to avoid all that manufactured pressure and take whatever time and resources you need to come to the conclusions that are life-giving to you. And, if you don’t know, it’s ok to not know. Our culture is insta-everything and expects instant opinions and conclusions. Even though I have definite and strong opinions :), I think it is really healthy to be ok with not knowing and needing time to think through issues.

I don’t know many people/leaders flopping between ex-gay and pro-gay. I know two (literally, two) who seemed to “switch teams” every other week. On the other hand, I have met people who reject who they are as LGBTQ+ people or much more who have found congruence with who they are and their faith (if they are people of faith.) A vast majority of individuals who leave the ex-gay/conversion ministry world never go back and, in my opinion, with good reason.

How should they deal with the PTSD?

As an individual who has been professionally diagnosed with PTSD, I take it personally and seriously. First, if it is legit PTSD, the guidance of a licensed professional counselor is the first priority. PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress *Disorder*. Emphasis on the disorder because it takes professional help to work through, manage and receive healing from PTSD. I say legitimate PTSD because that acronym gets thrown around a LOT by non-professionals and they need to slow their personal opinion (not an official diagnosis) roll. You can be incredibly hurt, wounded, negatively impacted and not have PTSD.

That said, if all the hullabaloo between former ex-gay leaders and current ex-gay/conversion ministry leaders is triggering you with inordinate negative feelings and/or PTSD leading to hurtful coping mechanisms…do what you need to do to remove that stimulus and talk to a professional counselor as soon as possible.

Will you rejoin the exgay movement and change sides again?

No. Never.

I had a exgay ‘therapist’ attempt to lead me, while having sex with men at the same time.

I am very sorry to hear that but am not surprised. In my position at Exodus, I would hear of that type of situation, and similar, happening often. If appropriate and you feel safe doing so, please notify the people that person reports to of what you have learned.

I know gay drag queens who have ‘found the light ‘ and turned away from their affections of same sex.

There is tremendous pressure from our communities and culture (at large) to conform to the religious stigma against the LGBTQ+ people. These ingrained cultural messages tell us we only have two options: “embrace God’s creative intent for your heterosexual potential” or “celibacy” options. It can often feel like a religious experience to give into religious indoctrination or even bullying in the name of Christ. However, that temporary relief and “bias affirming” feedback is an inauthentic type of “affirmation,” and very damaging. That is my opinion based on my 21 years of experience in the movement.

So, what do you say to those hurting by the confusion that exgay ‘ministries’ promote?

Walk away. Just walk away from them, take the time you need to find your way, and move toward truly life-giving messages and resources. Exodus International, and really the ex-gay “movement” as a whole, began in earnest in 1976. And in the way we do our calendar, that date is based on AD (after the death of Christ.) So for at least 1,976 years… Jesus never needed an “ex-gay” ministry to organize as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Exodus folded in 2013 and even though ex-gay conversion ministries still operate, I would offer that God never needed Exodus and doesn’t need “ex-gay” anything to help His LGBTQ+ children thrive and flourish. In other words, while respecting a person’s journey and timing, I would encourage them to not give ex-gay ministries room in their heads and hearts to sow dissension, strife, contention, and confusion.

It is possible to be a “saved”, healthy, whole, mature and responsible person who also happens to be LGBTQ+. There are all kinds of resources to help you. Furthermore, the faith I still hold onto teaches that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God. Be at peace.

And, in whatever way I can be of help, I will.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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