Focus' editorial precedes Randy Thomas' statement below:
Just a mile down the road, gay activists, co-sponsored by the University of California - Irvine, have scheduled a counter-conference at which some people will claim they were hurt by ex-gay organizations.I think it's interesting the perspective that our personal stories deny people hope. Beside the fact that we cannot control anyone's feelings, I think our message is one of hope for many people who are despairing and suicidal because of having "failed" at an ex-gay life.
Thomas said the message of that counter-conference denies people hope.
"We live in a great country where people can have freedom of assembly," he said. Unfortunately, the organizers of the counter-conference will "try to project their experience onto all of us, when in fact thousands of people, myself included, have overcome homosexuality." [emphasis mine]
Our message that there is healing and wholeness for those who have felt alienated from their faith, from God, and from family because of a lack of change in orientation is a message of hope. We're saying that those who have suffered because of their ex-gay experiences are not alone, and a wonderful life and healthy relationships can be theirs, in contradiction to what many of us have heard from Focus on the Family and Exodus.
The kicker, though, is the statement that we are trying to project our experiences onto ex-gays. This coming from a group of people who have consistently projected their experiences of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and abuse histories onto the gay community at large. This coming from an organization that has time and time again mischaracterized and slandered a whole segment of the population.
It also shows that Randy has not taken the time to familiarize himself with the beyondexgay.com website, where we say (on the front page, no less),
We believe that ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good. Certain people who currently identify as ex-gay say they are content as such. We don’t seek to invalidate their experience. For us such a lifestyle was not possible or healthy.I'm pretty certain that the use of "us" makes it fairly clear that we are talking about...well...us.
Not that it was all bad: Some of us received positive help through our ex-gay experiences. We grew to understand our sexuality better and in some cases even overcame life-controlling problems.
But for most of us, these experiences brought us inner turmoil, confusion, and shame. We are still in a process of recovery from the damage. Through sharing our stories with each other, we find wholeness and healing.
While Exodus and Focus on the Family like to assert that the gay lifestyle is filled with hopelessness, despair, addiction, dependency and made up entirely of people who have all experienced sexual trauma, we are merely telling our stories. Peterson and I have been careful not to make blanket statements about ex-gays. I even get into hot water sometimes because I refuse to say that it is "impossible" for someone to experience a shift in orientation.
This seems to be a pretty clear-cut case for the introduction of a certain pot to the kettle.