Many people have survived ex-gay experiences. Some attended ex-gay ministries or received treatment through a counselor. Others created their own programs imposing a regime of activities and practices designed to change or diminish same-sex attraction and sexual behaviors. Here are a few stories of some of these survivors. We also would like to hear yours.
"The more I avoided intimacy, the more I hungered for intimacy. [...] I was hungering to be loved, but not allowing myself to experience love."
"I was at last living my dream – singing for Jesus and sharing God’s love – but somehow I was still quietly hurting and lonely. I had been so preoccupied with creating an image of a “Perfect Christian,” that I had ignored who I knew I truly was."
"My narcissistic, introspective way of being came fully to bear during 2002 and I rapidly moved up to leadership in Living Waters, found a lady on a conference with whom I fell in love – or so I thought - and I ministered against homosexuality. This lasted until I was asked to present the lecture in the living Waters week on “Narcissism”!"
"One night at dinner an Exodus leader announced that she was engaged to marry a man she had no sexual feeling for. She said that she trusted God to provide those feelings on her wedding night. I applauded like everyone else but shuddered on the inside."
"When Lester came out gay two and a half years ago, I became aware of the need for me to become self-sufficient, self-reliant, and to accept that I alone am responsible for my own destiny.
"I realized, and continue to realize, that I need to be me, to be myself as he is, so that I fulfill the destiny of why I am here."
"One day my father asked me to go for a ride with him, during which he played a promotional cassette tape filled with what I can only describe as anti-gay propaganda and religious theory describing homosexuality in terms of 'unnatural attractions' and 'sexual brokenness'. The speaker advertised special religious institutions where one could send their 'confused' loved one to get them 'treatment' for unwanted same-sex attractions."
Paolo in Malta
Accepting the fact that you are different from others, and sometimes accepting yourself for who you are may seem like a social struggle. However being told that you are possessed by the spirit of perversion, that’s just psychological madness. This is my story…
I discovered places where I could get anonymous sex and began to frequent those places. I continued to fight my desires, begging God to help me resist my feelings, I even ‘succeeded’ much more than I failed. For every time I failed, I resisted my desires several times first. But honestly, my “success” was just a delaying of the inevitable. I never got past my feelings, they never lessened.
"I was able to minimize my thoughts of attraction to other men. I did it by shutting down emotionally. I discovered that I had a switch that could shut down all of my emotional needs.
"The effect on my marriage was devastating. To this day, Barbara has a vivid memory of how I changed on our wedding day. Overnight I changed from being this spontaneous and alive young adult to a dead and lifeless shell of a man."
"I had all this training on how to be the best husband, the best boyfriend, the best father, and an all around “ideal” godly man. If I had only known that all that training would prove useless to me in the future it would be interesting to see how I would have turned out. Because the sad day came when I realized just why I wasn’t dating girls like the other guys… I was attracted to men!"
"I am not a mistake. I know now I am wonderfully made by a loving God, special in my design. No one will ever take that from me again."
"I KNEW I was ex-gay because I any longer felt attraction for women. Of course, I had no attraction for men either, and in fact, I was pretty much a non-feeling person. I knew that sexual behavior could be changed, because I had changed my own behavior for several years. I preached that sexual orientation was a choice also, and for that, I NOW APOLOGIZE!
"I preached the Exodus message of change for God’s approval until 1990. I was speaking at a Western States conference of Foursquare women when my life and my message was turned upside down."
"In part, I had then predicated my faith upon the desire to rid myself of homosexuality; this desire had turned into a fear-based, all-consuming idolatry in and of itself. Yet God never failed or abandoned me as I released my expectation of change the way I thought it would happen."
"To say that I wanted to be straight is an understatement. I knew that I was gay since I was 9 years old. Even at that early age, I knew how socially unacceptable it was for me to like other boys my age. It was never anything I had to figure out. I simply knew that I was gay and no one could know.
"By the time I reached my freshman year in high school, I tried to kill myself. I was a teenager and the message that I received for so many years by my friends, my family, my classmates and myself, was that I was not acceptable because I was gay. I looked in the mirror and I hated that guy. So I wanted to die."
"My story is similar to many others I've heard. A childhood centered in church and family. A growing awareness that I was attracted to guys, not girls, coupled with systems of massive denial. My identity was centered in being a good boy, an obedient son, a committed Christian. Inner nudgings toward ministry set me on a path that included a Christian college and seminary – places where being gay was just not an option. I couldn't imagine a life that didn't include a wife, children, and the respect of others for being a Christian role model."
"I live frugally, probably a habit learned from my hard-working, white to blue collar parents, who immigrated here over 18 years ago. When we first got here, the Chinese evangelical Christian community opened its arms and welcomed my family into its folds. I grew up feeling loved, cared for, and have a lot of respect for the men and women who gave up literally everything, so that their kids could grow up in Canada. To my people, Canada is freedom from political oppression and post-secondary education opportunities for future generations."
"It was his former best friend, and best man at our wedding, who forced the issue of his "coming out" to me. This married friend had been in a three-year love affair with my husband prior to our getting married. My husband married me believing he could once and for all overcome his then unwanted attractions and have a successful marriage with me. In his estimation, I was the perfect woman for him. He was probably right about that. However, he was wrong about pretty much every other assumption he had made about marrying me."
"I began another wave of participating in ex-gay ministry and attended a 40-week Living Waters Program twice, the 2nd time as an assistant leader. Again, I was succeeding in ministry, but my same-sex attraction was very much alive and well. I guess I really believed that if I stuck with it, cooperated with caregivers and with God, I would eventually be free from homosexuality or free to live a celibate lifestyle. I was wrong."
"I grew up in a very small village in Sweden at the same latitude as Alaska. My family was Pentecostal Christian and the rest of the village was “heathen”. They saw my family as very strange, and I was the weird one in my family. By then I had no words to express what was wrong with me, all I knew was that I wasn't ok.
"I saw my childhood as a waiting room with uncomfortable chairs where you don’t know if they will call your name in the next minute or in a couple of years, and that my life was not going to start until they called my name."
"Ironically, although I formally came out to my parents at the age of seventeen, I remained spiritually, socially and emotionally deeply closeted.
Although I did not actively seek to change my sexual orientation, I did seek to actively repress it. I used my studies (at this time I was a university student), to completely avoid and deny my sexuality."
"Desperate to be rid of my same-sex attractions, I joined another local Exodus-affiliated ministry. This one was different, with no formal curriculum and less emphasis on orientation change, but I decided to give it a try anyway. Working in that atmosphere I was forced to confront all of the anger I’d been harboring toward God (both for my failure to change and for the friends that he’d so abruptly ripped out of my life), which in turn enabled me to be completely honest with him (and with myself) for the first time in my life."
"Fifty years ago when I was beginning my struggle to come to terms with my homosexuality there were no Christian ex-gay programs, at least none that I was aware of. Nor was there any gay rights movement, and books treating the subject were few and hard to find. Christian churches were unanimous in condemning homosexuality as a sin."
"I was born in the mid nineteen fifties, so my story is very common for gays and lesbians of my generation. My father was Jewish and my mother was Catholic. They believed in God, but were not religious zealots."
"My story is probably a little different, in that I'm not gay. Nevertheless, I grew up in a conservative Christian church in Northern Ireland. Being Catholic was bad enough, being gay was quite simply not mentioned!!"
"I spent many, many months thinking....about my marriage of 22 years....about God.....about the lives of my sons.... It was all too much for me to digest. I found that I could not pray, anymore. So, I remember telling God I was taking some time off from prayer and I trusted He knew why.
"I could have gone the "hate" route....hate all gay men....hate all gays. I was so profoundly devastated by what my husband did to me and our family."
How about you? Would you like to share your ex-gay survivor narrative?
As you write your narrative, you may wish to consider:
- What sort of ex-gay experiences have you had? We have all had many different types of experiences, some self-imposed and others through organized programs. Take some time and calculate the time, money, books, efforts involved in your ex-gay experiences.
- Why did you do it? What led you to pursue these ex-gay experiences? So often we find multiple layers as we explore our ex-gay pasts.
- What good, if any, came of your ex-gay experiences?
- What harm did you experience? How did your ex-gay experiences affect your relationships, your faith, your sense of self?
- What have you done/are doing to recover from your ex-gay experiences?
- What now? What is happening in your life today?
Contact us and send us your narrative. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to post your narrative, but we will review your submission and one of us will get back to you within a week.
The views expressed in individual narratives are those of the authors' and do not necessarily reflect the views of beyondexgay.com, although they probably are pretty darn close or else we would not have featured them.