It’s a bizarre feeling when hearing former friends and current ex-gay ministry leaders say that being gay is “wounded” “hurt” “deceived” and in need of “…Jesus’ true redemptive power!” It’s bizarre in that I used to say the same type of things in my ex-gay days. Today, I see how incredibly condescending and arrogant it is to think you know the condition of someone else’s hurts, heart, and soul better than they do.
I am healthier than I ever have been. I am not hurt except when I run without my ankle brace, and my eyes are wide open (not denying anything.) I haven’t developed amnesia or discarded any of my experience. Plus, my relationship with Christ is stronger today than it ever was while living in the ex-gay world.
I agreed with, defended, and promoted many many resources, speakers, and ministries the ex-gay movement has to offer. I even helped create quite a few of the resources myself. Several prominent ex-gay leaders/ministries still have strong online followings built from the foundations I laid for them in the ’90’s and 2000’s. I know all their talking points, beliefs, messaging, and most importantly, I know their God. I have journeyed with Him through many dark nights of the soul, and bright mornings of epiphanies, forgiveness, and real transformation.
Where they abandoned and cursed me, He did not.
I know Him. I have personally rejected the Gospel According to Ex-Gay/Conversion Ministry.
That said, there are real issues I overcame during the 21 years I was in the ex-gay world. Those are things like, emotional and co-dependency, illegitimate coping mechanisms (substance abuse), deep hatred toward my abusers, finding my place and calling as an equal among Christians (still have that), horrid self-image, PTSD, and quite a number of hurts and fears.
The false issue I tried to overcome that never happened because it isn’t meant to be overcome and yet somehow became the ultimate goal everything else was allegedly pointing to; trying to not be gay.
The ex-gay world teaches that dealing with all our hurts and dysfunctions will help us discover and embrace our “heterosexual potential.” Well, after 21 years dealing with issue after issue, I can say that’s a lie. How about we just overcome hurts and dysfunctions to …you know … overcome legitimate hurts and dysfunctions. Being gay is not being damaged and/or a dysfunction. It’s a core relational sense of being that God created to bring our kind, LGBTQ+ kind, of beauty into the world. Gay people can suffer hurts and be wounded but it’s not because we are gay, it’s because we are humans in relationship, just like everyone else.
One of the reasons people get “stuck” in the ex-gay world and thinking they are “changing” is that they do find relief or transformation in relational issues in and around what it means to be in healthy relationships. However, that healthiness is short-circuited from its full expression when we are asked to kill our core relational sense of being as an LGBTQ+ person. In the end the net result is much more harm than good unless you find your way out of the false contexts of a stigmatized ex-gay worldview.
Furthermore, it’s incredibly depressing to think this hard work in overcoming a myriad of true dysfunction and wounding is only successful if you find “true freedom from homosexuality”; an unattainable, unrealistic goal. In ex-gay ideology, if you continually struggle with “same sex attraction” you must still be dealing with issues that keep you needing “spiritual discipline/maturity.” That manufactured and highly consequential burden keeps many anchored right there in their chair and donating to ex-gay ministries. That belief robs true growth of its full manifestation in the name of a false idealized hope based on a legalistic religious view of what it means to be gay.
It may be difficult, and I realize how much courage what I am about to say would take, but I highly recommend leaving the ex-gay groups/world. If you are struggling with legitimate wounds/dysfunction please go find the myriads of faith-based or secular resources that are actually effective in helping your legitimate issues without placing unnecessary burdens on what success looks like.
Gay people, like all people, struggle with all the human frailties any other human does. Just like the rest of the world, we can find relief and healing outside of the ex-gay ministry snare.
Our core relational sense of being as LGBTQ+ people should be used as a gift of freedom and strength to utilize and enjoy. We can walk out our journey from a core sense of strength, not from a religiously stigmatized curse.
Finding peace and congruence with my faith and who I am as a gay man is a sign of health and a further progression of spiritual/emotional maturity. I hope others find their way out of the ex-gay world and into true healing communities and resources.
Let’s walk out this journey together, unencumbered by religious stigma.