Thursday, July 05, 2007

From pain and destruction grows new life

Peterson has posted about the "Chalk Talk" that began the first session of "The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference." He explains,
"As we gathered in front of that large sheet of paper with the two trails of paper on the ground, we settled into what felt to be a hushed sacred silence. So much pain, so many memories stirred up and appeared on the page. Bit by bit we built this wall, which some said felt like a memorial. Our prompt "Ex-Gay Experiences—The Good/Harm" drew out responses including drawings. Many people claimed the good they received from their ex-gay experiences as well as listing the deep deep harm they experienced."

Some writing from the wall:
"I believed I was cut off from God's love"
"My family can only love the mask they give me to wear"
"If it hadn't been for the music and hymns, my God would have died"
"I could finally talk about being gay and Christian for the first time"
"John got so depressed that he ran his car into a tree"
"Hard to get rid of the sense of being broken"
"20 years wasted"
"I opened up for the first time"
"Ending friendships to go...when it didn't work...having my church "family" disown and reject me"
"My best friend (my ex-wife) is single at the age of 48."
"My parents felt like failures"
"It left me with this wound separating my faith and my sexuality"
"Lost/sorry/afraid"
"Dale 1954-2000"
"I can survive anything"
"I thought I was changing; in reality I walled away my sexuality"
"Learned to deal with family issues"
"I was 16 when my small group leader molested me"
"Blaming my parents, I legally changed my name"
"Randy 1963-1980 sorry"
"Shame"
"I made some really great friends through my experience"
"My Dad didn't make me gay, he made me REAL. I love you Dad. Rest peacefully"
"Exchanged the truth about myself for a lie"
"I've come to hate religion"
"Ultimatum received: be ex-gay or go away"

So what happened to our wall of grief, pain, remembrance, memories, thoughts and feelings? Watch the following video where we turn the pain and suffering into fodder for new growth.

(p.s., the woman in the blue shirt who speaks in the video is Pat Walsh, Former Director of the UC Irvine LGBT resource center)

5 comments:

  1. *hug*

    I'm so glad you and Peterson could make this happen. Congratulations. May you all find the healing you need.

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  2. Hey, I'm curious to know what you think about Michael Glatze, former gay activist now turned ex-gay. http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2007/07/2531/

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  3. Wow. So amazing. Thanks for sharing your story and for inspiring others to speak up. I think it's so cool what you did, I only wish I could have afforded a plane ticket to be there...but I love the video!

    ~ Shelly

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  4. Thanks lilo, and Shelly.

    Hey Lyndsey,

    My thoughts on Michael Glatze...

    To me, what he's doing is less representative of the regular variety of ex-gays, and more representative of extreme fundamentalism (aka Don Wildmon, etc).

    In his writing I find a lot of projection about what every "homosexual" thinks and feels, and a lot of insight into how miserable his life must have been, by what he is saying our lives are like now.

    Unfortunately, he is one more voice that will be used by the religious right to further dehumanize us, and as proof of what a horrible "lifestyle" we lead, and the idea that we are just sitting around longing for people to tell us "the truth."

    His writings have been very bizarre, and seem to show an incredible lack of memory about the people he used to hang out with (or then it's even more horrifying if he did actually hang out with the kinds of people he thinks we are, and no wonder he's writing the nonsense he is). Either that, or he has spent two years reading everything he could get his hands on written by Stephen Bennett, Don Wildmon, Paul Cameron, etc.

    It seems like a real case of revisionist history, which many people do. I find there's a need to polarize everything (especially among fundamentalists) into extreme good (deifying) or extreme bad (villifying) and then trying to align all your memories and experiences along those lines. I've seen it with some ex-gays, and with some former ex-gays as well. And just with regular folks as they process events of the past.

    But I'm more concerned about what happens to him when the lights fade. When he's no longer the poster boy for the extreme fundamentalists. Or if he should happen to "fall" like Michael Johnston. It may be that it will not be a nice ride.

    On the other hand, I don't want to dismiss his story that he's experienced some kind of miraculous change, because I am not in his head, living his life (wow, that thought suddenly made me very thankful). I cannot say that some of the things he's written about were not true, because I just don't know. As someone who is having my story constantly dismissed, I don't wish to do that to him.

    If he's happy - great. I just wish he wouldn't project all of his miserable experiences and mental and emotional anguish onto the rest of us, or try to tell us all (and the rest of the fundamentalist world) what we "really" feel, want or think.

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  5. Christine,

    I wish I was there to support you guys. Keep up the good work,

    Jason Ingram

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