What if I had been like my friend Gary from Bible College, who spent his young life fighting severe depression and made several suicide attempts over his inner struggle with homosexuality? On the other hand, perhaps it was fortunate the pastor swept the issue under the carpet – for what if I had ended up like my friend Daniel, a Pentecostal elder pressured into marriage by a church and pastor who convinced him he could “change”? What if like him I had left a broken wife and children behind when it all fell apart years later?He goes on to give a brief history of the ex-gay movement, as well as some current day perspective on what the ex-gay movement is like in the UK. He explains,
“God make me straight,” I used to pray nightly. It’s what every dissatisfied gay Christian wants more than anything. I would wake up the next day and sometimes get as far as lunchtime thinking maybe that was the day I’d wake up healed. But always it would end in disillusionment, the same feelings coming back, and I knew I wasn’t changed inside.
Where Love in Action denies there is such a thing as “gay”, and Exodus admits some people are gay but promises “growth into heterosexuality”, TFT [True Freedom Trust, a ministry in the UK] appears to do neither. In fact, just last year TFT severed its affiliation with Exodus Global Alliance, disconcerted over the rhetoric coming from North America. The media soundbites promising a change of orientation were beginning to worry them.Indeed. I wish more ministries in North America would do this, since it seems some ministries contemplate it behind the scenes but are not able to terminate this relationship since they will lose their voice within Exodus (although it seems to not be heard by the current leaders), as well as the all-important referrals they get from the organization.
“We found it very difficult to identify with what was coming from over there, with what they’re saying publicly,” Hallett told me. “There’s a tendency to set people up for disillusionment. Exodus should have learned from that by now.”
On a side note, I could especially relate to this from a former ex-gay, Elizabeth:
Nevertheless, she remembers the hurt of being treated by fellow Christians as if her lesbianism were an ailment. “People I told treated it like a disease and wanted to pray over me to get rid of the illness.”
“When I found out who I was, it felt like a light had been switched on,” she says. “I was so much happier. It just felt like those people in church would have preferred if I had stayed as the person in intense physical and mental pain rather than being happy and in love. It felt so twisted.”
I recall attending a funeral last year with people from my old church. They kept coming up to me and saying, "Wow, God must have really healed you! You look so healed and happy!" to which I could only say, "Yes, I am healed, and I am happy, but I'm still gay." (I have to mention that I thought, but didn't say - wow, and I'm at a funeral - imagine how happy I must look when I'm at something remotely fun!)
Read all of Dave Rattigan's enlightening and sensitive article Out and Cowed? Ex-gays in the UK.