Thursday, June 28, 2007

Three former ex-gay leaders apologize

It's been quite a day for news. Three former leaders of ex-gay ministries, Darlene Bogle, Michael Bussee and Jeremy Marks, held a Los Angeles press conference yesterday. They "publicly apologized . . . for the harm they said their efforts had caused many gays and lesbians who believed the group's message that sexual orientation could be changed through prayer" according to today's L.A. Times. Their complete signed statement can be found here.

But more important are the personal statements made by each former leader explaining the reasons they have abandoned ex-gay ministries.

Excerpt from Darlene Bogle's statement:
Before I met Des, I considered myself “ex-gay” because I had ceased sexual activity, and I spent my time promoting “change” in others. When these changes did not occur, the people in my care frequently asked how long it would take for desires to change. I lied and encouraged them to keep praying and reading their Bible. When they asked how long it took for me, I avoided the question. My heart was in the right place, but my message was not. I apologize to those individuals and families who believed my message that change was necessary to be acceptable to God.

Excerpt from Michael Bussee's statement:
Instead many of our clients began to fall apart – sinking deeper into patterns of guilt, anxiety and self-loathing. Why weren’t they “changing”? The answers from church leaders made the pain even worse: “You might not be a real Christian.” “You don’t have enough faith.” “You aren’t praying and reading the Bible enough.” “Maybe you have a demon.” The message always seemed to be: “You’re not enough. You’re not trying hard enough. You don’t have enough faith.”

Some simply dropped out and were never heard from again. I think they were the lucky ones. Others became very self-destructive. One young man got drunk and deliberately drove his car into a tree. Another (a fellow leader of the ex-gay movement) told me that he had left EXODUS and was now going to straight bars – looking for someone to beat him up. He said the beatings made him feel less guilty – atoning for his sin. One of my most dedicated clients, Mark, took a razor blade to his genitals, slashed himself repeatedly, and then poured drain-cleaner on the wounds—because after months of celibacy he had a “fall.”

Excerpt from Jeremy Marks' statement:
We continued to run weekly support groups, but over the next few years, I became increasingly aware that none of the people who had been through our live-in program had experienced any change whatsoever to their sexuality; indeed the profound sense of having wasted years of their lives in working and praying for change resulted in the majority becoming deeply depressed, cynical and in some cases even suicidal —many losing their Christian faith altogether.

"Many losing their Christian faith altogether." The quest for "change" and acceptance into the evangelical church is costing many people their faith, not to mention their sanity and their lives. Is it worth it?