Two years ago it was the opening night of the last Exodus International Annual conference. It was then that Alan Chambers announced from the stage that Exodus International was shutting down.
It was one of the best decisions I have been a part of in my life. Being in the position I was in as the Executive Vice President, I helped evaluate/determine that it was the only decision we could make on a number of levels. Under Alan’s brave leadership and the Board’s unanimous agreement, we shut it down.
The night of Alan’s announcement, the emotions were running strong and I honestly don’t know how we survived the onslaught of media attention and criticism coming from *everywhere* in religious and legalistic circles from around the world.
Wait, I do know how we survived. We survived because we knew it was the right thing to do, and that God had led us to that moment all along.
Oh and adrenaline helped. Lots and lots of adrenaline. Yay Jesus for adrenaline! And Yay Jesus for coffee! Lots and lots of coffee. But the most energizing force complementing the conviction of following God’s direction was the love and support of good and true friends.
Closing down Exodus has been great for my health! I used to have migraines every 4 to six weeks. In the first picture in this post, I had already had two migraines during that conference. I was actually on Imitrex (migraine medication) while speaking when that photo was taken. I have now lost a net of 70 lbs. I work out 5 times a week and have had maybe two serious migraines in the past year.
Work-wise, I was self-employed until November of last year when I started working for a local PR company as an Online Content & Social Media Manager for our clients. I love what I do. Its not the easiest thing starting a new career at mid-life but… I have and it is good.
In the past two years I have apologized to the gay community twice 🙂 (here and here.) Came out in support of marriage equality last fall, and “came out” personally on January 12th of this year. I have done some work with the SPLC and interviews to end conversion therapy. I also have made some personal amends with regard to past activism by participating in the NO H8 campaign.
During my time at Exodus, I did develop a strong relationship with God. Jesus loves me as much today as He ever has, with an infinite love. I believe He rejoices with me, over me, that I have left the church closet and am finally living in the full freedom of who He created me to be. I am at rest, at peace, in Him and in the finished work of His Atonement. He was with me at *every* point of my life and now I believe He has shown me that the ex-gay ideology I had bought into was an oppressive addition to His gospel. An unnecessary burden that He never intended for me; that He never intended for anyone. During my time at Exodus, He did make me a better and more whole person. He did all this because He, Jesus, is good. He is merciful, loving, kind and gracious.
All the good that I experienced during my time at Exodus was not because of Exodus as an organization “overcoming homosexuality” and “standing up for ‘truth in love'”. In fact, the good I experienced was in spite of the underlying negative and hurtful messaging of Exodus. The good that I received were lessons and blessings I should have gotten directly from the church, the church that should embrace its LGBT siblings instead of disenfranchising and scapegoating us.
Gay people should be given access to all the same life-giving resources and opportunities in the church as anyone else. Minister to us as peers not with the constant undercurrent of objectified “issues” you can’t relate to. Let us minister to and serve *you* as the opportunity arises. Embrace us with true unconditional love that is not disclaimed by hurtful “you are broken” messaging and being relationally relegated to being “other than” for the rest of our natural lives. Let me be fully honest standing in worship, or sitting in the pew next to you, instead of being told I could only be fully “honest” on a Thursday night at 7pm at an Exodus affiliated support group.
Jesus is life-giving in a myriad of ways that have transformed me as a person. Even so, He did not change my sexuality. He didn’t change my desire to be in love with and devoted to another man. I now believe He didn’t change that because it doesn’t need to be changed. I am gay; He knows this and I believe He has guided me to where I am to finally embrace and be at peace with myself and His blessing of who I truly Am. Our Heavenly Father embraces me and everything He has put within me to live out.
I am His; nothing and no one can change that.
Because of God’s love and direction, today I’ve never been more transparent (didn’t say perfect; just transparent). I have never been more free.
Since embracing the truth that I am gay, and Christian and everything else that I am… I have started dating. In fact, today, I happen to be in love with a beautiful (in every way) man I have been referring to lately (online) as Mr. Boyfriend. In fact, he is texting me while I type this and my heart is truly full of joy. I am sure that I have the best boyfriend ever. 🙂
With tears in my eyes I remember how in pain I was two years ago in contrast to how fulfilled I feel today. Thank God for his loving grace and direction.
Exodus closing is and continues to be a good thing. While I terribly miss some of my friends who can’t seem to walk with me any longer, I don’t miss Exodus as an organization … at all.
I am here. I am in Christ. I am in our church … let me love and serve you.