Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reason and art

(click to enlarge) ©2007. Christine Bakke.

If you're anything like me and find that art speaks to you on a level that words perhaps don't touch, check out some of the new art at Beyond Ex-Gay. We have photography by Gregg Moreland (who showed his work at the first ever Ex-Gay Survivor Art Show in Irvine this summer), as well as art by Michael Goll and David Christie, two other ex-gay survivors.

If you're an ex-gay survivor and artist, please shoot me an email at bxg [at] as we're organizing an upcoming art show and would love to consider your work for inclusion.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Remember Pearl Harbor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. While I do not want to minimize in any way the pain and suffering experienced in our nation on this day in 1941, I wanted to post this art I created a while back called "Remember Pearl Harbor." I thought today might be an appropriate day to post it. A part of my story intersects with this day and while I don't feel comfortable sharing all of the background, certain actions of mine in the past have been compared to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Hence, my emotional connection to this day, and the art that came from this.

Here are some other views. Click on any image to get a larger view.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Heaven and hell on I-35

Turns out I somehow missed yet another opportunity to get cured of my homosexuality (you'd think with all the effort, prayers, money, sweat, blood and tears I've put into this that it wouldn't be quite so elusive when others just walk right into their healing). Apparently I-35 (the highway that runs vertically through the center of the U.S.) has turned into something of a spiritual war zone. Groups of Christians have declared Purity Sieges along various sections of I-35. The "sieges" consist of youth “siege”[ing] sites of impurity in their city, by doing on-location prayer. They will be protesting the machinations of evil, such as pornography, injustice, abortion, and other strongholds. They will stand outside of spiritual strongholds and visually demonstrate their opposition thereof, while doing warfare in heavenly realm." Gay bars, not surprisingly, also are considered sites of impurity.

Anyway, this piqued my interest not only because I traveled over parts of I-35 while on Thanksgiving holiday, but also because CBN (Pat Robertson's "News" show) has a report of a homosexual being set free from his homosexuality.

I found this account online:
One of the most astounding encounters of the evening was that of James, a 19 year-old homosexual atheist, who called the police in an effort to stop the Siege. One of the men from the Siege struck up a conversation with him, and James stated that he had never accepted Christ nor felt the power of God. The young man told James he was about to experience something that would change his life, and that is exactly what happened. James was one of many who fell under the power of the Holy Spirit that night.

He then accepted Christ as his Savior, and was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. We serve a miraculous God!

Immediately, James packed his Jeep and moved in with five students who attend Heartland School of Ministry, a Bible college in Irving, TX. He left his family, his partner, everything he knew, and everything that identified him with his past. His plan is to attend Heartland School of Ministry. In an interview, James said, “I am willing to talk to any homosexual, drug addict or sex addict because I know what hell feels like, but now I know what heaven feels like and it is so much better.” [emphasis mine]
It made me so sad to read parts of that. I mean, I'm happy that he feels like he's in a better place. But in the interview he gave for the CBN piece, he talks casually about being headed to meet his fiance (when he had his God encounter), but he doesn't mention anything about that situation now.

These left behind ones many times end up also being ex-gay survivors. All I'll say about James' story is that so many of us have had huge emotional rides where we rode a wave of enthusiasm and thought we'd gotten "the cure" only to end up flat on our faces several weeks or months down the road (it's been less than three months for him since this encounter). But what about the fiance? What about the family?

I saw this all the time in ex-gay groups, and have now heard about it many times over from the ex-gay survivors I've come into contact with. People who had just cut everyone off. People who came in and got a lot of support and attention because they'd made the sacrifice to "leave it all behind" (I know I got some of that for my drastic decision to move four states away and cut off contact with 99% of the people I knew). But rarely are we encouraged to think about (or take responsibility) to what we do to loved ones, former partners, etc.

The other thing that struck a strong chord with me was the quote that he "knows what hell feels like." He may have known what hell feels like, but many people, when they have a chance to really sort it all out, find that it usually doesn't have anything to actually do with being gay. Many have issues with drugs and sexual addiction, and these are definitely valid issues that needed to be addressed. But those aren't the same as being gay. Being gay does not equal knowing hell. I've known lots of pieces of hell in my life, and in the end, most of it has had little to do directly with being gay in and of itself, but much to do with the messages I received from society, family, and church, poor decisions I made in my life, reactions to bad situations, and so on. I also have known and know bits of heaven, and they have to do with lots of things most often unrelated to my sexuality or my spiritual identity. I treasure those things, but they don't depend on whether I am gay or not (or identify as such).

I do wish James the best. Truly I do. But I also wish the best to his former fiance and his family, who might be feeling a bit of what hell feels like right now. May they find a bit of heaven again soon. And may they not have to leave themselves (or anyone else) behind on I-35 to get there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Untitled (on a chilly thursday evening)

So, as usual these days, it's been a while. I'm not even bothering to apologize anymore. How are you all out there in blog-land? Thank for all the encouraging and supportive comments on my last blog entry. For those who knew that I lost my cell phone a couple of months ago, I finally have a new one. Please e-mail me your digits, eh?

Here's some media updates....

Brian Murphy finished a 15 minute video of our Ex-Gay Survivor Conference at the end of June 2007. Check it out.

You can click the link here, or click above.

If you have a short attention span, or the 15 minute film won't load, or heaven-forbid (::shudder::) you have dial-up, there's a 3 minute version as well.

Direct link

Peterson and I were interviewed the other night in a very nice, relaxing 2-hour interview on the "Strictly Confidential" radio show. Peterson talks more about that interview in a recent post. You can hear the whole thing here. It starts out with some new stuff, but then we get on there within a few minutes. About a two-fifths of the way in, Peterson does some of his characters from the Homo No Mo Halfway house.

OK, I think that takes care of the recent media stuff.

I have tons of stuff I want to say, but still am not in a "words" mode I guess.

Here's some digital art I did the other day. (You can click to enlarge.)

the end for now.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Mesh

It's probably not surprising that I've been somewhat burnt out on ex- or ex-ex-gay stuff. So I've been a little distant from bXg and ex-ex-gay blogger friends. At the same time, I've been creating a lot of art. Peterson told me that perhaps I have things to express that don't have words. I'd have to agree. Still, I always attempt words, anyway.

A few days ago, Peterson posted maybe one of the most important blog posts I've seen in quite a long time. Called "Ex-Gay Harm--Let Me Count the Ways" it begins to catalog some of the harm that many of us have experienced from our ex-gay time. From relationship harm to financial harm, for some of us, the toll has been great. There have also been wonderful comments as people add their own stories and lists. It is turning into a powerful witness and catalog of experiences.

I recently posted my own comments, which I will copy and paste here, following a recent piece of art (click for larger image):

I have avoided reading this post and the comments here for a few days, because I was afraid of getting close to some still-fragile places.

While I have worked through a lot of the grief of what I lost, and the damaging messages I received and believed, it still hits like a ton of bricks to read this post and these comments.

I have finally starting creating art again, after eight years of creative slumber, a casualty of shutting off so much of myself. My art right now is still very much about my ex-gay time and the hopes, dreams, desires, and great loss.

The biggest problem I still face is fear of close relationships with others - especially women. Fear of "emotional dependency" or "enmeshment." Fear of needing someone. Fear of...I don't know. Just fear, and now just a consistent inability to wholly participate in friendships with others.

I know that it's not true - that while some relationships can be unhealthy, most are not. And closeness and yes, even at times emotional dependency should not be demonized. There are times when we all need others, and to be shamed for relationships that we had while ex-gay, those that others deemed unhealthy; relationships that may have been getting us through some of the tougher moments in our ex-gay is a great harm and a great disservice to us at a time when we were the most vulnerable, and the most laid bare, needing others around us.

I am 36 years old and beginning a new life. I am still trying to put some pieces together, and still trying to figure out relationships. Still trying to untie myself when it comes to closeness with others; needing others; being able to receive from others.

I have lost much, and I could talk about how much I have now gained, and all these things (many real) that we do to convince ourselves that "all things work together for good." I know that I now live with great authenticity, and that I have the strength to use my story to help others. But tonight, in the aftermath, it hurts, and I'm feeling it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Seen on E-bay:

Which reminds me, I haven't checked out (and the store) lately.

I'll be back to some serious blogging soon, for those of you into that sort of thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are into serious blogging.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Je m’habillais comme une bimbo

I dressed like a bimbo.

Yes, yes I did, for a while there, my senior year in high school. Sometimes. It's hard to dress like a bimbo in a Jack in the Box uniform.

This tidbit about me comes from the French version of Glamour magazine - their September issue. It was re-written in first person, so I talked to them for a while on the phone, reviewed a draft (had a friend translate it roughly from the French) and that was that. "I dressed like a bimbo." Not exactly how I would have put it, but never mind. Take note: I would love that on my grave stone.

Anyway, I'm alive. Yes, I am. I know it's been 85,000 years since I've updated my blog, or responded to e-mails. I've been exhausted, and just trying to recuperate and put my life back together after the last few months (6 months, I guess) of craziness. I needed to get back working again, as it turns out that activism doesn't pay. Who knew?

So I've been trying to have a regular life again, and I'm picking up any work I can take. It looks like I'm giving up some of my wild, freelancing ways though, because I took a job three days a week at an agency. But that's boring stuff. You don't want to read about my work.

I did go on a spectacular camping trip a few weeks back. My friends rented some kayaks and took me along with them to a little island off of a lake in Wyoming. Oddly enough, it's actually the first time I've been to Wyoming since I moved here in 98. It's only about two hours up the road.

I've never camped at a place where I had to ferry my gear over in a kayak. Tons of fun, wonderful weather, good conversation and friends. I also got to do something I've always wanted to do, but never felt safe enough doing. I camped by myself.

My friends had to leave on Sunday, and I didn't have to leave until Monday. So they left me and my kayak on the little island. I figured I would hear anyone coming, and really, who would want to? It was kind of in the middle of nowhere (in fact, the nearest town was 20 minutes away, with a population of 15). And not so easy to get to.

It was an amazing experience. The quiet. The moon. At one point, I was out kayaking when the moon was coming up in the sky. A beaver decided he needed to check me out, and kept swimming around my kayak, at times being only about four feet away, until I would do something crazy and threatening, like breathe, and he would slap his tail, go underwater and appear again in a totally different location. We played hide and seek for a while, with the moon rising on a piece of lake and land inhabited by no human but me.

Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed me, or commented on my last blog entry. I promise not to be gone so long in the future. I'll be back again soon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I think I am done with my traveling for a while (I hope anyway). My cats hope so, too. They miss me. I honestly don't know how Peterson does all the travel he does. Just a couple of trips through an airport in a month about does me in.

So I'm back from a recent trip to Kentucky and Tennessee. I did have a couple of days in there when I was able to get some much needed rest.

These last few months have been really busy and filled with a lot of wonderful things, and some incredibly stressful times as well. I remember this book I wrote when I was in the third grade. It started out "Fortunately, I..." and then the next line would be "Unfortunately,..." and they would alternate back and forth like that.

Fortunately, I got to see my cousins. Unfortunately, my cousin had oral surgery the day I arrived so was in pain most of the time. Fortunately, we're all pretty low-key folks and just go with the flow. Unfortunately, I messed up the back bumper of my rental car. (The second rental car I've damaged in the last five weeks. My insurance agent asked me to stop playing bumper cars.) Fortunately, I got to see some GCN friends. Unfortunately, I had a lot of problems with air travel and delayed flights and missed connections. Fortunately, I got to swim in the lake behind my cousin's house. Unfortunately, a rock dislodged while I was climbing down to the lake and I fell a few feet into a pile of huge rubble, and got bruised and scraped up. Fortunately, I was still able to swim across the lake and back.

Fortunately, I got to meet Disputed Mutability in person after talking to her online since 2003 (she's great). Fortunately, I had time to read two books. Fortunately, I got to caravan with Jamie from Soulforce (we had to drive from Lexington to Nashville), and share a hotel room with him. Fortunately, I got to spend a bit more time with Darlene Bogle. Fortunately, we held a press conference at the Baptist Convention headquarters that went well. Fortunately, my cousin's kids are a lot of fun to be around. Fortunately, I have friends who really care. Fortunately, I have more fortunate things in my life than unfortunate.

That's my last two weeks in a nutshell. Fortunate indeed.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The cat/dog kinsey scale

On my previous post, Kellie commented
I hear you sister! Do you identify as a cat lover? I myself am bi-animal- 2 cats, 4 dogs. You have some beautiful babies!
My response:
Yes, I do identify as a cat lover, although I've not always been able to admit it so readily in such a public forum.

On a dog-cat Kinsey scale (O=cat and 6=dog), I am probably a 2 (the reverse of you). Now, it should be noted that I had a very horrible experience with a dog as a young child, and so in this instance it may have been nurture over nature.

However, since identifying as being a cat vs. dog lover in this society is seen as morally neutral, I've not had therapy for this or spent a lot of time trying to change. I just have my kitties and we're a family. The dog owners of this country have so far not felt threatened in their dog ownership just because I have two cats.

Thankfully there have also been no legislative attempts thus far to deny me cat ownership just because it's possible I could change with enough prayer, faith, and therapy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

On a lighter note

I'm taking a break from all things ex- or ex-ex-gay today!
(oh, and I finally found my card reader so I could upload pics from my camera).

This is my Sophie girl who decided that the walk upstairs to the water bowl was apparently just too much to ask of her. (And once she did this, it became her water; mine no longer. Just in case you were wondering. I love my babies, but not that much!)

Here's what happens when you leave bird seed sitting outside. This industrious squirrel managed to make a large hole in order to climb in and eat. It was like TV for the cats...I don't think they left the window for hours.

It really is such hard work keeping up with the squirrel population.

This was a bit of my flower garden in early spring. Our heavy snowfall and wet spring gave me the most gorgeous columbines I've had since I planted these native flowers.

These pictures have been brought to you by the committee for a fair and balanced life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

When hate wears boots

I just got off the phone with a friend who was violently gay bashed this weekend. It hurt and scared me to hear some of the details, but the short story is that he was hanging out with some friends, having a quiet conversation at a bar. Apparently they mentioned being gay in the course of their conversation, and three men starting yelling that they were fags. The men got thrown out, but when my friend went outside the door a bit later, he was attacked.

He was on the ground, being kicked in the sides, while one of the men had their boot on his head, which was pressed into the sidewalk. Thankfully it appears they just wanted to scare him (into what? being straight? not leaving his house? butching up?) and weren't seeking seriously bodily injury. At least, this is what the police said when he reported the hate crime.

I wrote in a recent post: "When people think that we can choose our orientation, or we can "overcome" it and be healed (as in, made straight), they are less likely to be tolerant and loving and much more likely to be lacking in both respect and grace. Some even seem to be more likely to resort to violence. In their mind, if you don't like abuse, then you should just change."

This is the danger that I see in Exodus and others not being clear about what "change" really means. This is why I think Dr. Dobson's rhetoric about gays is so harmful, even beyond the obvious of how we hurt when we hear some of his words.

I've never been gay-bashed, thankfully, but I have experienced some mild discrimination and verbal abuse. It's ranged from being totally ignored at restaurants (to the point that other patrons notice it and sometimes say something), to outright harrassment.

I've had the stares and rude comments, and while in Santa Cruz I'd been yelled at by people driving past me (the word "dyke" was used, so I don't think they were taking issue with my driving). I spent a tense evening in a restaurant one night where my friend and I were under close observation by a table of young men. Apparently we were the subject of a lot of conversation and hilarity, but also some threatening looks. I remember trembling as I left the restaurant and ran to my truck, locking the door almost before it was closed. Another night, a friend and I were walking hand in hand downtown in Denver. We were surprised by a group of thuggish-looking young men who had suddenly turned the corner. They gave us hostile, silent looks as they split apart so we could walk between them. I think it took a while for my heart rate to return to normal. Of course, we dropped hands immediately and walked briskly to a secure location.

When I was ex-gay, I remember driving home from a counseling session one night. I flipped on the radio to the Christian station, and heard Dr. Dobson's daily radio address. He was on with John Paulk (who was still in good graces) and he was discussing gay issues (or rather, railing against homosexual activists who were trying to twist the law to get special rights). Dobson started a rant about hate crime legislation not being needed, but being part of a larger gay agenda that was trying to push our lifestyle on the general public. He said gay activists (wow, guess that would be me now?) made more of it than was really there, and in fact, during some period of time (this was 8 years ago, so I don't quite recollect) there had only been three deaths because of gay bashing.

I was thankful to hear John Paulk finally step in and say something like, "of course, three deaths is three too many." To which Dobson responded by mumbling, "oh, um, of course" and continuing on. Listening (in mounting anger) to this program, I got the distinct impression that John Paulk was being cowed into silence and was there merely to lend some legitimacy to the issue. I don't know if this is true, but it's what I remember thinking at the time. On the other hand, I had a bit of a love affair with the Paulks then, since their book and story were so important to me, so who knows.


Even though I was ex-gay in identity (not in orientation), I was so incensed at that radio show and at Dr. Dobson. Even though I was actively working to change my orientation, I still felt gay and looked gay, and I knew I could be discriminated against just as easily as someone who was not ex-gay. Even though I knew no one in my church would agree with me, I thought that sexual orientation should be included in hate crime legislation. Especially since it is not chosen, whereas even religion is something one can choose. I had come from Santa Cruz where we had anti-discrimination laws for employment and housing, and had moved to Colorado where I could be fired for being gay (and in fact, this was a concern for me in the truck parts place I worked. I did everything I could to be seen as straight there, short of running around singing, "I'm straight! I'm straight! Straight is what I am! Yippeeeee!")

Back to my friend.

The physical damage is scrapes and bruises, but the emotional and psychological damage is usually worse than anything that can happen to our bodies. Even for me, I felt horror when hearing his story, and a sense of terror that still lingers. I have been fighting off tears for him. He's someone I care about deeply. Someone I connected with in Orlando during a conference and have seen several times since, even though we live in different states. He's someone who cared enough about me and the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference to make the trek to the conference although he is not a survivor of any formal kind of ex-gay experiences.

A hate crime bill is going to be voted on soon by the Senate. Although there are differences of opinion about it even in gay circles, I am inclined to think it is needed. Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin has put together a lot more information about hate crime legislation. If you are opposed to such legislation, will you do me a favor and at least read his post? If you are ex-gay, I want you to know it is really OK for you to support hate crime legislation, even if you are in the minority in your circles. At least give a thought to your former (or current) friends who still identify as gay. I talked to an ex-gay friend a while back who said that he faces discrimination all the time because he comes across as gay. Nobody checks your identity card when they bash ("oh, you're ex-gay? Well, never mind then!")

A little-known fact: hate crime legislation does not just cover gays, or other minority groups. The FBI’s own hate crime statistics count 935 anti-White, 58 anti-Protestant, and 23 anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents in 2005 (thanks to Jim Burroway for those stats). Those are hate crimes just as much as what happened to my friend this weekend.

I am not sure what else to say. I'm so full of emotion right now. Please keep my friend in your thoughts and prayers (he also lost his job on Monday, although not because he was gay, and then yesterday a member of his furry family died - is it true that trouble comes in threes?)

Just hold him in your heart if you can. Thanks.

P.S. FYI I asked him if I could post about this, without giving his identity. I don't want to turn people in poster children for any cause, but I really wanted to blog about this because it affected me so deeply this evening. He gave me his permission.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Speaking of Tennessee

[Update: This conference has been moved to October 19 & 20, 2007]

No, I was, really, in the previous post!

The God and Gays Conference will also be in Tennessee just two weeks after the Love In Action Survivor's Initiative event (wow, that state gets around!)

#1 reason you should go: I'll be there, and co-leading a workshop with Darlene Bogle, she of the apology to those who have been harmed by our time in the ex-gay movement.

But really, it'd be a cool conference whether I was there or not. The speaker and workshop leader lineup is pretty amazing:

• Bishop John Shelby Spong: Ally champion, Episcopalian Bishop, author
• Rev. Dr. Mel White: Soulforce co-founder, author, rock star of reconciliation
• Peggy Campolo: Christian advocate for GLBTQ people
• Rev. Deborah L. Johnson: Mentored by Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith, author
• Darlene Bogle: ex-Exodus leader and author
• Mary Lou Wallner: Founder of T.E.A.C.H. Ministry, author, mother

And that's not a complete list of folks who will be there.

It's in Nashville, August 3rd-4th, and there's also going to be entertainment, comedy, etc. Register now, and let me know if I'll see you there!

(And I have no idea what this horse has in common with the conference, except maybe you should put on your rainbow shoes and join us)

The Survivor's Initiative

Sponsored by Soulforce, survivors are starting to tell their mostly unheard narratives.

Check out the Box Turtle Bulletin for news on a press conference at NARTH on July 2, 2007 (video here and here). 

Peterson, Dan Gonzales and I visited New Life Church in Colorado Springs Sunday, July 8, 2007 for a press conference (video here and here). Peterson explains the survivor's intiative. 

Barbara and Lester Leavitt spent July 10th in Salt Lake City, sharing their story at the office of Evergreen, the Mormon ex-gay ministry (Local Fox station video available).

A press conference at Love In Action in Memphis, TN is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17th at 10:30 am.

I've been pretty slow with the blogging lately so in the meantime, Peterson is usually blogging like mad and linking to all the cool photos and videos.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

God's grace and Alan Chambers next door

Note: the title is playing off of Alan Chamber's book "God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door."

I'm still a bit tender from all that went on at our conference, and I'm feeling kinda "mama bear"ish about our attendees, our family. I'm tired of people enduring the heaping on of shame around this issue and I feel very protective.

Some of you may know that Alan Chambers has been quite active lately online, and many of his comments have been snarky, dismissive, and attacking.

When Alan Chambers tells Darlene, Jeremy, and Michael (the three former leaders that issued the apology) to "Move on," and calls their apologies "hollow and self-serving" it's hurtful, and it's hard not to feel that, on behalf of the three courageous former leaders, and on behalf of regular former ex-gays who attended the conference. I don't want those who are in a fragile place to feel, yet again, like Exodus doesn't care what happens to them when they leave the programs. And that if they tell their stories, they will be dismissed and put down. I don't think we need any more messages that our stories are not worth listening to.

I saw that Alan just left a comment on Shawn O'Donnell's blog and stated, "Harm? Come on, Shawn. No one is being harmed by Exodus offering people a choice. You KNOW better."

It seems like another one of his word games (like the one about the word "change"). Some of us who are telling our stories are saying that more harm than good came from our ex-gay experiences (most of which involved Exodus-affiliated ministries). The "offer" of a choice (whatever that really means) is different from the actual methodologies, ideas, and practices which Exodus ministries use. All of us telling our stories have detailed specific ideas, beliefs, and actions that caused us harm.

Now, about the "choice" issue. What choice are they offering?

Is it the choice between being kicked out of your church, or being loved as "the struggler?"

Is it the choice between a relationships with parents who believe we can and should pursue change because others claim to have done it, or living a life being true to yourself but without a good relationship with family?

Is it the choice between which state to live in because Exodus has politically backed anti-marriage equality amendments that could negatively affect your children or yourself?

Is it the choice that many women have to make whether they will stay in a marriage with a man who is not able to love them well, or whether they will leave and break up a family?

Is it the choice of having to believe that you are broken and inferior, or the choice of finding your own wholeness in a world that is all too ready to believe what they are told about gay people?

Exodus is not a benign organization that is merely saying, "Hey folks, you have a choice!" (And I notice that they don't specify that the choice is having a homosexual orientation and living your life versus having a homosexual orientation but attempting to sublimate your desires and ward off homosexual drives and impulses for the rest of your life.) Those ideas always come much later into the discussion.

In addition to proclaiming that there is a choice, they also testify before lawmakers that gays should not have equal rights under the law because "change is possible."

They have an association of ministries with virtually no oversight, who are all employing different methods for promoting change, some much more harmful than others.

They make vague statements that are cleverly coined to mislead. They are not unaware that when they say "change is possible" that most folks will believe they mean we can choose not to be gay, or that we can change our orientation. If you dig a little deeper (which many don't) we find that they mean a change in behavior, but not necessarily orientation (and only that is being recently acknowledged).

When people think that we can choose our orientation, or we can "overcome" it and be healed (as in, made straight), they are less likely to be tolerant and loving and much more likely to be lacking in both respect and grace. Some even seem to be more likely to resort to violence. In their mind, if you don't like abuse, then you should just change.

They highlight ex-gays with families and children, when the majority of ex-gays seem to remain celibate.

They participated in a Love Won Out event (Seattle) that was scheduled at the same time as a local pride event. Then we are told that they would "never" do anything like that, and find it offensive that we held our conference at the same time and location.

This list could go on, but clearly this post is long enough.

So what does all of this have to do with the title of my post? I am one of Alan Chamber's cyber neighbors. And he certainly seems to lack grace for all of the homosexuals next door to him in in the online world. While he is attempting to be more truthful (witness his recent honesty about most people not actually being ex-gay), it is only just a start.

And if Alan and Exodus really cared about people who have gone through their ministries and left (which they estimate — on what statistics we don't know — is 70% of folks), Alan would not be saying these hurtful things online. He would not tell people to just "move on." He would not call their apologies a game, and mock the significance of this for many people who have experienced harm and damage. He would not try to dismiss the legitimate concerns that many people have, while issuing statements to the press that they are seeking dialogue.

I wish he could have heard some of what went on at the conference. I wish he could have heard that we don't wish to bash them, and that the folks at the Exodus conference are our brothers and sisters. I would love for him to have heard that we know and acknowledge that Exodus and other ministry leaders have wanted to do good, and not cause harm. I wish he could have seen the chalk talk, when many of us wrote good things that came out of our experience, but acknowledged the bad things as well (and sadly, they outweighed the good by far for most people). I wish he could have met the people whose lives have been devastated. I wish he could have met people whose marriages were destroyed. I wish he could have met all of us who became suicidal, or attempted suicide because of our feelings of shame and inadequacy when we could not live up to the promise of change.

I am trying very hard to find my own grace for Alan Chambers, my neighbor, and I hope he can find it in his heart to live out the title of his book.

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"
"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"
"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)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Apology Accepted

As former leaders of ex-gay ministries, we apologize to those individuals and families who believed our message that there is something inherently wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this message creates. We apologize for our part in the message of broken truth we spoke on behalf of Exodus and other organizations.

We call on other former ex-gay leaders to join the healing and reconciliation process by adding their names to this apology.

We encourage current leaders of ex-gay programs to have the courage to evaluate the fruit of their programs. We ask them to consider the long-term effects of their ministry.
— Darlene Bogle
— Michael Bussee
— Jeremy Marks

Today I witnessed and accepted this unprecedented apology from three former ex-gay leaders.

Darlene Bogle was the founder and director of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral in Hayward California. She was also the assisting pastor of the Foursquare church where the ministry was based. As an Exodus leader, she traveled the country, speaking and appearing on many national television shows.

Michael Bussee was one of the originators of the ex-gay movement. In the mid-1970s, he co-founded the Ex-gay Intervention Team (EXIT) and later hosted an unprecedented conference of ex-gay ministries at which a handful of ministry leaders, along with approximately 60 delegates, voted to form a loose coalition called EXODUS.

Jeremy Marks is a British evangelical Christian who founded an ex-gay ministry called Courage UK in 1988. He eventually became the President of Exodus International Europe and served on the board of Exodus International.

All three of them are now living out and proud, and all have concluded that while they always had the best interests of those who struggled with unwanted homosexuality at heart, they have never personally witnessed anyone change their orientation. Jeremy Marks took steps to transform his change ministry into one of support and love for GLBT Christians.

Today they made history by gathering in Los Angeles at the GLBT center for a press conference where they issued the above statement after telling their stories. It’s the first time that former leaders have publicly come together to apologize for their part in the ex-gay movement.

Peterson, Eric, Dan Gonzales and I received and accepted the apology on behalf of former ex-gays who feel that their ex-gay experiences caused more harm then good. As we stood next to the former leaders, we witnessed them each sign the apology. They turned and presented it to our group, and we accepted the letter.

What I didn’t count on was the emotion I felt when I reached out to accept the letter. Sometimes these kind of symbolic gestures can feel staged, but it made an emotional impact on me and I felt myself tearing up as we shook hands and hugged Darlene, Michael and Jeremy. It was moving and healing to hear an apology for the harm and damaging messages that I received. I hope the healing will continue as other former ex-gays read this apology. My hope is also that other former ex-gay leaders will start to step forward as well. Thank you, Darlene, Michael, and Jeremy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Exodus dinner invitation Q&A

Since I spent a bit of time answering some questions on Warren Throckmorton's blog about our dinner invitation to Exodus, I thought I'd post them here as well.

Eddy writes,
I have trouble with this meeting for several reasons.

1) I find it in bad taste, to say the least, to invite someone to an event when you already know they have a prior committment. (Friday dinner and evening meeting are usually important parts of Exodus conference schedule.)

2) If ‘no press’, ‘no cameras’ at this newsworthy and well-hyped event, just how will we find out what transpired? Any reports on this event are doomed to be slanted–whether by Beyond Ex-Gay or by someone from Exodus who attends.

3) How many delegates (including some of rank) would it take for Beyond Ex-Gay to feel (and report) that they’d ‘been heard’?
4) From the invite, it doesn’t sound like a dialogue forum. Sounds like “you sit there while we tell you how you hurt us”. That could make the dinner difficult to digest.

Under the circumstances, I’d be suprised if ANYONE from Exodus opted for this evening’s festivities over their own.
My response is as follows:

Hi Eddy. Perhaps I can attempt to answer some of your questions.

1. I checked with two Exodus folks and their conference schedule, to make sure there were no leadership meetings that were scheduled that night (of course, we weren’t able to ask Alan or Randy about the details of their schedules, but we did take care to try to confirm that there wasn’t any kind of special event or Ex-Gay Leader meetings planned). But of course we are not privy to any “off the record” events. In addition, since our conference is only over the weekend, we are not able to meet earlier in the week. We had no desire to plan something when the leaders can not attend.

2. Both Peterson and I have private conversations with a few folks involved in Exodus at different levels, and we don’t talk about these discussions publicly. Because of that, we have all (both sides) been able to discuss our lives and many of these matters in a respectful way. Our goal is not to make this “an event”, but to just tell our stories, so they can hear what they often miss by not conducting any aftercare or follow-up on participants.

3. We have conceived this dinner with the thought that we would like to share some of our stories, because they are so seldom heard by the ex-gay crowd, but it is not about us getting an emotional or psychological need met. If there are only a few people who attend, we would still like to have the dinner. It is not about the numbers, but about being seen as real people too, and not just “protesters,” and perhaps we will make some small difference. Even Alan is now becoming public with his thoughts on what change really means, and that is definitely a step in the right direction. We are wanting honesty and some thought about certain practices or prevailing theories, so as not to cause harm to the (by Exodus’ calculations) 70% of individuals who do not succeed to consider themselves or their behavior as ex-gay.

4. I think it will not be an easy thing for leaders to go to this dinner. I don’t imagine them saying “oh goody, this sounds like fun!” I instead imagine they are not looking for a good time in attending. In our letter we state that we believe they intended to do us good, and we acknowledge that they wanted to help. Peterson and I have also been clear about the fact that some good has come out of our experiences, even though we feel on the whole that we experienced more harm than good.

I think it will be a fruitful experience, and I hope that one of my friends will be in attendance. He’s someone I care about and we have a good relationship in spite of being on different sides on this issue. With that in mind, I do not wish for this to be a dinner that will bash folks or have an angry feel. While we have legitimate hurt and concern, I would not want to treat any leader differently than I treat my ex-gay friend. I think if folks spend even a little bit of time on our site they can see the specific tone that Peterson and I have set, and it is not one of projecting (contrary to what Randy Thomas has asserted), bashing, or denigrating ex-gays. While you are worried about potential “slants” on the issue, I think that there are many who are reading into our letter a lot that is not there.

I hope this helps answer some questions.

For those who have questioned our releasing the invitation publicly, here is a response I recently sent to someone:
One of the reasons we went public with the invitation (and we did have much discussion about this) is because we feared the information would not be passed along to the leaders invited (we do not have contact information for many of the leaders, and would have had to rely solely on Exodus for forwarding the information on). We wanted to try to get the invitation into the hands of the individual leaders. And, as you can see from the recent Focus on the Family Citizenlink article, they are already trying to discount our conference by calling it a protest, and Randy Thomas has publicly stated that we are denying people hope, and trying to project our experiences onto them, which is not the case. This has been the unfortunate history of some of these communications as they get presented in a slanted manner, and we were hoping that by open access to the letter folks would see for themselves our hearts and hear the tone we are trying to set without having to rely on someone else's interpretation.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Up-to-the-minute conference news

Quick Newsflash: We are continually updating our conference information and news page. Everything you wanted to know, and then some, including media coverage and blogtalk.

And it's your lucky day, because below you'll find a real post from me, with no pictures of half-naked straight men!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Projecting, hmmm?

I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled non-blogging programming to post about a Focus on the Family article that addresses the Exodus Conference and our conference.

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.

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]
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.

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 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.

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.
I'm pretty certain that the use of "us" makes it fairly clear that we are talking

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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Open Letter to Exodus

The upcoming Ex-Gay Survivor Conference is pulling together, and is now only a week and a half away. As most of you probably know, our conference is happening in the same city and at the same time as the "Exodus Freedom Conference."

As the media are getting wind of this, they are interested in the idea of whether change is possible. The Orange County Register says, "Dueling conferences this month in Irvine explore whether homosexuals can go straight."

But I agree with Peterson when he writes, "In regards to same sex attractions, the question has been debated over and over, Is Change Possible? but for many of us who attended Exodus programs, in some cases for years, the more important question is not about the possibility of change but the costs involved in pursuing that change. Change at what cost?"


Because of the opportunity we have being in close proximity to so many Exodus leaders, and because some of them have expressed an interest in hearing the stories, we have issued an open invitation for an evening to get together so they can hear some of our stories–stories that they may have never heard before.

We have sent an invitation letter to Alan Chambers and a few other leaders that we know personally, and we are trying to get the word out to other Exodus leaders of the opportunity they have to hear our stories. Please feel free to share this open letter to any Exodus leaders or ministry leaders who will be in Irvine for the Exodus conference.

An Open Invitation to Exodus International for Dinner and Dialogue

Dear Exodus Leaders,

It is no coincidence that we scheduled the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference at the same time and in the same city as Exodus’ Freedom Conference. Although we do not wish to interrupt your gathering, we do long for the opportunity to connect with you. Many of us have spent months and years under your care in your ministries. We turned to you for help and received some good from our time under your care. Sadly our ex-gay experiences caused more harm than good, and for many of us we have needed years to recover.

We understand that this was not your intent. From knowing quite a few of you personally, we know that you have a heart to help people and to serve God. You meant to bless us.

Too often once we leave your programs, you never hear about our lives and what happens to us. Most ministries do not have aftercare programs or any formal means to follow-up on participants. Some stories you do not get to hear. If you do, our stories can be simplified by the press or infused with anger or hurt. In hopes of giving you the opportunity to hear about our experiences and the harm that we felt came to us as a result of our pursuit of an ex-gay life, we would like to invite you to join us for a private dinner on Friday, June 29, 2007.

The purpose of the dinner is to give you an opportunity to hear our stories. We do not wish to bash you, attack you or shame you. We simply desire to share our stories with you. No members of the press will be allowed into the dinner and it will not be recorded or filmed. We are hoping for a small gathering with a few ex-gay leaders and some ex-gay survivors. At the dinner a few of us will tell you our stories.

If you are interested in attending this dinner, please RSVP to


Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke

Ex-gay survivors and co-founders of

Please feel free to download the jpg and send it on to other folks.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

No more naked cowboy!

Instead, I give you the ultimate Denver Bronco's fan; a superfan, the "Barrel Man." Rumors are that the suspenders are the only clothing item he used to wear (he just retired), but I can neither confirm nor deny this. Another casualty of that decadent "straight lifestyle."

So, in other news...ummmm....I was a guest Chellew's Whosoever Godcast where, upon listening just now, I realize I say the word "um" about mmm, 50 times (it's still weird for me to hear my voice, so I get really't mind me).

It was a lot of fun chatting with Candace, the founder of, the first online magazine for LGBT Christians. She started this ten years ago when there were hardly any resources online for Christians who were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (too bad I didn't pay attention to it before I moved out to Denver to start my ex-gay life, huh). She did a lot of ground-breaking work during a time where it was not OK to identify as Christian and gay, in almost any circle (thanks Candace!).

We talk about the conference, who it's for, what it'll be like; and a bit about my story. Toward the end, she shares some thoughts on tolerance, the ex-gay movement and Christians. Definitely worth a listen. Just promise you won't hold all those "ums" against me.

In other news, I got an e-mail from Kevin Moss that my story somehow made it onto a gay Russian site. Kevin is a professor of Russian studies (and gay studies and gay Russian studies) at Middlebury college in Vermont. Here's the translation:
A 35 year old American woman has challenged "Reparative therapy" which supposedly cures the homodemon.

35 year-old American Kristina Beykk wanted to escape from homosexuality with the aid of the program of the so-called ex-gays, who promise to cure the "misguided souls" through the word of the Lord, the lesbian journal "Pinx" reports.

After Beykk realized that all this is nonsense and charlatanism, she became one of the first women in the United States to openly challenge "Reparative therapy", which affirms that sexual orientation can be changed.

When she was 27, Christina decided to "put an end to vice" and to go to church.

There a preacher laid his hand on her head and began to fervently pray that "the demon of homosexuality leave this woman."

For five years Beykk desperately tried to "be cured", sincerely believing that salvation is just around the corner.

"The only person I fooled all of this time was myself," she says today.

That is why Christine has decided to tell her story to other doubters to convince them: You can be happy only if you are true to your own nature.

It's actually kind of amazing that Kevin was able to link me to the story, since my last name was spelled phonetically (although erroneously, as my last name rhymes with hockey) and I think they were trying to cover all the bases in the spelling of my first name. Thanks, Kevin!

That's about all I've got for right now. Well, no, that's not actually true. I have so many things to blog about, just not enough time for now. I'm doing a lot of work for our upcoming Ex-Gay Survivor Conference (it's not too late to register!) and so I'm having a hard time keeping up in blogland. I'll try to do better. If only so you don't have to see a picture of the Naked Cowboy at the top of my blog...

P.S., I'm not 35 anymore (thanks Eric!) :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

My NYC adventure (part 2)

This is the second installment of my NYC adventure posts (part one is here).

After Jed left, and I took some congratulatory phone calls, I got busy scraping off the GMA makeup (although I wasn't able to get all of it off—I wonder if the makeup folks were expecting me to cry because they used some heavy duty stuff that took a lot of work to remove).

On my way over to the Glamour offices (they graciously let me use a free computer in their offices for a bit so I could catch up on some online stuff), I stumbled across the Naked Cowboy...not that this is hardly a feat in Times Square, but still...

The megalomaniac Naked Cowboy can be found in all weather playing his guitar and posing for pictures with tourists in exchange for tips. His website contains chapters from his autobiography and he writes, "My love for life, my dedication and hard work for excellence, my compassion and open-mindedness will be world-renowned, recognized ,and sought after, if not emulated by all. [...] As the most celebrated entertainer of all time, naturally I feel a tremendous responsibility to inform the public what exactly went into the making of my legend and my legacy."

It's always summer in my world. There's just certain times throughout the year when it's harder to convince myself of that.
—Naked Cowboy

"I'm thirty years old, I sing and play guitar in my underwear for a living. What could be bad news next to that?"
—Naked Cowboy
Just goes to show that you always have to keep an eye on those living the straight lifestyle. His effort to convert me didn't work.

(The Condé Nast building where the Glamour offices are located)

When I got over to the Glamour offices, I met a lot of the people I'd only previously talked to on the phone, or met via e-mail. I'm pictured below with Jill Herzig, the Executive Editor at Glamour, following a great discussion we had about the difference between being a lesbian versus being a gay man in the ex-gay world.

All the people at the magazine were very kind to me (I don't know why, but I had this idea that I'd walk into the office and they'd take a picture of me and put it on their "Don't" page). Jill even gave me a great tip for removing the stubborn gobs of mascara (baby oil, just in case you ever find yourself in this predicament).

I wandered around Times Square the rest of the day, doing touristy stuff. Walking into the Swatch store reminded me that I'm a child of the 80s. I got my first (and only) swatch when I was sixteen, and really wanted to buy this "Sign of the Times" watch, but I was on a tight budget, so I just looked at it longingly. Although not nearly as longingly as I looked at the Naked Cowboy (ahem *coughsurecough*)

From Diane Sawyer to the Naked Cowboy to makeup removal tips from the folks in the know at Glamour. What a day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Edit me

I think it's pretty obvious by some of my recent posts that I am trying to process all the feedback I've gotten with the recent media attention (and the mail Peterson and I receive on bXg). I had a hunch that it would be difficult for me, who has grown up wanting to please, and spent much of my life aching to be understood (although both of these things have greatly improved as I've settled into myself the last few years). So while I'm actually dealing with this much better than I expected and developing a thicker skin in the process, there have been a few hiccups, and so my readers get a glimpse into the journey.

Within the first week of the Good Morning America interview, I had people questioning things I said, or telling me I should have said this or that, or not said this other thing, or if I really meant x instead of y. It was overwhelming (especially since it was my first time on TV, and I was unprepared for two of the questions, both things I said I hadn't wanted to talk about just yet). Some of it was actually good feedback that I am taking under advisement. It was still a bit much for me emotionally, though.

I finally talked to a friend of mine on about it, and he sent me the following:
All the expectations people have or want to push your way reminds me of a little plaque one of our editors had on his wall behind his desk. It had a simple statement and scrawled all over the rest of the space of the 5 X 7 page were edits and rewrites in various hands. The caption was attributed to Mark Twain: "Few things are more human or more powerful than the desire to edit someone else's writing."

Random reviews

Apropos of nothing...

I have collected a couple of my favorite oh-so-helpful reviews on Amazon.

Here are three of the best:
I ordered this book by accident. It is not a very helpful book. I had read reviews on this book previously that indicated it was not a good book to purchase, but somehow it ended up on my order. To much trouble to send it back, so I am stuck with it.
I didn't read this, but i'm on the phone with a friend who did and she thinks it's ok. She likes it and will probably finish it soon.

I would love to read it, if I had more free time. I just stopped working, and I'm probably watch a little TV and maybe go to bed. When I retire from work, I hope to read this book.

Finally, on Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe:
[cut a paragraph that is essentially a book report]

The book is not that interesting, as tales of desperation and survival are actually quite common.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In one eye and out the other

I understand people have a need to discount my story. For those currently pursuing or living an ex-gay life, I may bring their fears and doubts to the surface. For those who are everstraight (i.e, not ex-gay) Christians, it may challenge their faith and what they've been told by leaders, and what they believe the Bible says. Maybe it puts a little nagging question in their head about why many Church leaders think it is a "choice" that one can abandon, or why God would outlaw something that seems inherent and utterly unchangeable for almost all of us.

I have gotten some correspondence from those who consider themselves ex-gay, and there have only been one or two that have not criticized my journey or told me something they thought I should do, or what I didn't do. One organization even wrote that I was just a "disappointed lesbian." (Which, incidentally, I might use as a job description from now on: Homosexual Activist and Disappointed Avowed Lesbian.) And when they run out of those criticisms, then they'll often decide that while I did all the right things, I must not have had enough faith, or I didn't trust God fully with my healing.

I know all about this because this is exactly what I did while I was ex-gay. Before I moved to Denver to start my journey toward wholeness (funny how I thought wholeness would come hand-in-hand with straightness), I met an ex-gay online who had been in this process for something like two decades.

She admitted she hadn't experienced any real change, even though she was unwaveringly committed to the process and to being celibate. I read what she wrote, but partly it went in one eye and out the other (well, it was online) because I had so much hope and belief that I'd change, and partly because I found many creative ways to discount her story. Or perhaps not discount it, as much as find (or make up) what I perceived to be holes or gaps in her effort. I was determined to find out everything she'd not done, and wanted to be sure to do those things as well as anything else that was suggested to me.

Failure is not anything I've considered as an option in my life (well, maybe in a few things, and there is that one history class I withdrew from), but generally speaking, I will work hard if I have a particular goal. Even as I write that, though, I know when I used to hear people say this I would think, "ah, well, that's the problem. You didn't just let go and let God." I always managed to find a way to put the blame squarely back on the shoulders of ex-gay survivors. It certainly couldn't be a problem with God, or with the traditional teachings—it had to be a problem with them.

This reminds me of people who have cancer or a progressive disease and are told that with enough faith, positive thinking and creative visualization, they can be cured. And when they aren't, they will often lose some of their friends in the process. I saw this with my friend who has a debilitating disease. Folks were there for her in the beginning, when everyone thought that she would be healed (herself included), and then have a great testimony. But soon they all started pulling away.

Why? I think her illness and the progression of it caused some to question their faith, or God's healing power. They had trouble with belief in a God who could do anything, and then seeing her suffer. In the end, it was easier not to face the pain and the questions. It was easier to ignore the reality that very bad things happen to the best of people, and there is nothing one can do to change or prevent that. Perhaps it made them feel vulnerable or scared.

And that's exactly how I felt whenever I'd encounter the story of a former ex-gay. Sometimes I didn't even stick around long enough to hear or read it, much less really sit with it. I knew to stay away from Mel White, Ex-Gay Watch, Bridges Across the Divide, and anything with "Gay" and "Christian" in the same title. I could not go near anything that might threaten my carefully stacked house of cards (to be clear, I'm not saying that every ex-gay's life is a fragile house of cards, but I think many are).

I am trying to realize there is no way I can convince anyone that I didn't undertake the change process lightly. I had faith that I would change, and a commitment to do all the spiritual, emotional and psychological work. Even though some of the more bizarre things about my story have gotten some press, most of it was the usual, fairly boring ex-gay story of a lot of struggle. Trusting in God, therapy (and lots of it), exploring every inch of my past, having demonic influences cast out, theophostics, and the list just goes on. I don't think anyone who knew me during this time of my life believes I gave anything but my all to God and to this process.

But I can talk about this until the cats come home (which, as you know, is whenever they damn well please), and for some people, it will just go in one eye and out the other. And honestly? I can't blame them, because I had a lot of in and out traffic myself during those years. Now I'm working on letting the criticism go in and out just as quickly.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Seven Passages: Audition in Grand Rapids

Are you an actor in the Michigan area? This looks like a great project.

Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians
Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians will be a piece of devised ethnographic theatre.

Seven Passages is a stark and vital look at one of the deepest conflicts in contemporary culture – that of homosexuality and Christianity. Over 100 gay individuals have been interviewed about the interplay of these worlds throughout their life journey. These stories, along with passages of scripture and an exhaustive bibliography of scholarly sources are now ready to be structured and compiled into a play that will seek to address the question:

“How do we combine the scripture passages that deal with homosexual activity, the weighty tradition of the scriptures and the stories we’ve collected so that when they converge, they foster not oppression, but dialogue?”

The goal of this piece of theatre is to issue a call for reconciliation, to open the door and get the conversation rolling.

Actors have the exciting opportunity to be part of a creative devising process that will compile interview material, scripture, and other text into a full-length play. They will then go into a more traditional rehearsal process to find and bring to life the people and stories that are eventually selected for the devised script.

For more information about casting, audition date and performance dates, head on over to the Seven Passages blog.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

News from Colorado Springs

And it doesn't have anything to do with gays!
COLORADO SPRINGS – Police showed up at Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish after a man threw a pie in Father Donald Armstrong's face – during his sermon about loving enemies.

The man, who has been identified as Marcus Hyde, took off, but church members caught him.

Witnesses tell KOAA they think Hyde may be passing judgment on the minister. More...
I'm sure the pie was used instead of a gun since Colorado Springs has the bizarre law "It is permissible to wear a holstered six-gun within city limits, except on Sunday, Election Day, or holidays" on its books. I feel sorry for Seventh Day Adventist ministers in Colorado Springs though, who have to worry about congregants showing up with six-guns during their Saturday worship.

You can't make this stuff up.

[Update: Aaron commented and said: "Actually, Christine, this has everything to do with gays. We haven't yet gotten a complete statement from Marcus—he's waiting to talk to lawyer—but I suspect the pieing was in response to Armstrong's alliance with Bishop Akinola, whose Nigerian church advocates the jailing and execution of gays. Grace left the Episcopal diocese because of their pro-gay stance."]

Nope, it didn't lead to a baby

Peterson is in town for the weekend (picture coming soon), so we had a great time over dinner with two friends. After I dropped him off at his hotel, a friend texted and asked if I wanted to go to a local lesbian bar. I've been there a whole other two times in the last 7 years, and since I happened to be driving right by it, I went. Since I almost never go out, I think my friends about keeled over in shock.

The big news in all of this? I danced tonight for the first time in my life. I guess I'm going to have to change the "who we are" page on bXg to reflect this. I didn't quite make it onto the dance floor, but I'm almost there.

I'm still realizing the extent of the disconnect and fear of my body, and this was even before my time as an ex-gay.

But the times they are a-changin'

I love my new sense of freedom and accepting my body for what it is. I'm certainly still on a journey with that, but I'm moving forward, and that's the good news.

I still refused to get on the dance floor tonight (that's one of the problems with not's not always easy to lose inhibitions), and had about five people pulling me onto it. I was able to cleverly jump through a gap in a railing to get back on the sidelines (ha, I don't know what to call it). I promised that next week I will get out there.

I'm so excited about my future. This is just a small thing, but is part of a whole package of feeling good about who I am, and joy about whom I'm becoming.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My NYC adventure (part 1)

Here's a photo album of the Good Morning America part of my NYC adventure (click on any picture to see a larger version).

I arrived on Sunday, after a very early morning flight. Because I'd slept through two alarm clocks the day before, and had the local ABC film crew pounding on my door for for 15 minutes, the producer of the Good Morning America segment actually called me twice that Sunday morning, the second time to say "Your car is going to be there in 15 minutes. Are you ready?" (upon questioning, she said that yes, she was going back to bed).

This is with my friend Eduardo, who helped me figure out what to wear the next day. My wonderful friend Jed took this picture. We were heading back from a lovely Italian dinner (where apparently the words "early TV call tomorrow" got us a seat in the middle of the restaurant). I think that this was the first time it hit me, really, that I would be in that studio in the morning; the one behind me with all the lights and screens.

I'm such a tourist, and don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel that had so many floors. I was on the 33rd floor and I couldn't stop looking out the window. Yup, I'm just a small town girl from Denver, and easily impressed.

Here is Jed's story of the next morning (because I was too preoccupied and out of it to notice anything):
4:00am. Jumped out of bed. Let the dogs out, hit the shower. Then raced to the car. Miraculously hit very little traffic.

Arrived 6:00 am in New York. Parked the car. On my way to the Millenium, miracle upon miracle (and you have to know Christine to understand this one), she actually called me.

I raced up the elevator and landed in front of Christine's room. Soon she opened the door wrapped in a towel. Hugs and kisses. 20 minutes later, Christine was half the vision we saw two hours later. A few more phone calls (yes Miss Producer, No I'm not asleep this time, I'm awake and ready...), another hug, and holding hands, almost like a sweet straight couple, we headed to the elevator bank, and met the GMA intern who escorted us across the street and into the stage entrance door.

Filming was already in session. We sneaked past the absurdly squeaking stage door, and tiptoed behind the sets towards the green room.

A few minutes went by and our intern led us to the make-up room. Christine had her own personal hair stylist and her own make-up person. So very ChiChi.*
Soon Christine and I were whisked back to the Green room, the room where you wait forever. But this time not for long.

Someone came out, made introductions and talked to Christine. She asked a few questions, and then, "Tell me about your therapy. What did you do?” Christine ran down the list, including the deliverance (demon exorcism).

Next we saw the producer, dressed in a bright red suit (her daughter said to her that morning she looked like Satan), who introduced herself to Christine. A quick two second run through of what to expect followed. Then, “do you want to do a quick interview on XM radio? It'll be a great run through for you, they'll ask pretty much the same questions that Diane will”...

Christine was barely out of the room, when the make-up lady of another guest wanted to know: “Does she channel people?” “What?” I was totally rattled. “Your friend, does she channel people? What was that about the exorcism?” “Oh, no,” I explained hastily, “Christine is no Sylvia Brown. No, no. She is ex-ex-gay.” Yadi dah. I explained it all. "Oh, oh!" They claimed to understand, yet they all looked so confused.

Red Satan lady (who was actually very un-Satan-like) walked back into the room. The phone rang. It was for her. Someone could be heard over the phone. “Where's Christine? The segments have been switched. She can not be late. This is a LIVE SHOW.” We all heard that one. Satan lady replied, "she'll be there. Stop worrying." She turned around, smiled a warm smile. "Oh, another day at the office."
Seconds later, Christine arrived. She beamed at everyone. One guest wanted to know more about the exorcism. The tech guy began to adjust the microphone, taping it to the inside of Christine's lapel.

“Is Christine ready? We're ready to roll.” Satan is back. We went back through the squeaky door, and tiptoed once again behind the set. Christine settled into her seat while around her was chaos. Camera men chatting quietly, a producer or other running around frantically. I was off to the side.

Suddenly there was a little rush and mad whispers of ”Diane” floated through the air. And there she was, tall, graceful and entirely professional. She walked up the stage and sat across from Christine, leaned forward, whispered an introduction. Then she turned her attention to the questions she would be asking Christine.

Things were getting noisier. Christine sat calm as a rock and I couldn’t see her face. Someone stood next to one of the cameras. Hands lifted high, she yelled five, four, three, two,...
Then the interview was over. People rushed from everywhere. Cameras were changed to new angles, Diane Sawyer hugged Christine. I was pushed up front. “Take a pic” someone said. And so I did, Diane Sawyer hugging my Christine.

Then we were back in the green room. Lots of thumbs up and gentle applause. Quite a few staff members had read the article, and they all seemed to manage to squeeze in a thanks to Christine.

Minutes later we were back outside. A one-second goodbye, and the big iron stage door slammed shut.

Christine dragged me to the front of the studio where there was a crowd eagerly awaiting the anchors to come outside for another segment. Christine was just too much of a tourist not to want to see what goes on. We snuck up behind them, and before you know it, some people in the audience had recognized her. They turned around and started speaking to Christine. Quite a few minutes later, we finally broke away. We crossed the street and turned around for a final goodbye. It was 9:00am, and with the show over, the crowd started to disperse.
We saw a couple carrying a sign saying "Celebrating our 50th Anniversary." Christine squealed: "That's so awesome. I'd love to get a picture of them." We got their attention. They immediately recognized Christine and congratulated her. Very moving they said. I snapped the shot of the couple, Christine and the woman who I assumed is their daughter. A warm wave goodbye and we were finally off back to the hotel. All twenty steps of the way. It was a turbulent morning, but one of the best to be had.

Commentary provided by my dear friend, Jedidjah Oldenburg, pictured above (thank God for friends).

*Other meanings of chichi in other languages:
chichi, a French word meaning false curly hair or fig. humbug
Chichi, an English word meaning fussily affected or ostentatiously stylish, used to describe clothes, interior décor, etc
Chichi, a term used by the British in India and ethnic Indians to refer to people suspected of being mixed race
Chi-Chi, Jamaican slang for an undesirable person, frequently a homosexual
Chichi (pl. chichis), Mexican Spanish slang for "tit" or "breast"
Chi-Chi, Spanish (Castilian) slang for "cunt." It is possible the term is not used in this context in South America.
Chichi, a prison snack consisting of cheese-flavored junk food, noodles, and meat cooked with hot water in a plastic bag
Chi Chi, a slang term used by Indian toddlers to refer to feces

I think if I have to be anything, I'd like to be cheese-flavored junk food, noodles, and meat cooked with hot water in a plastic bag, and not the feces. Just in case you were curious.