Your Reflections on the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference
Did you attend the Ex-Gay Survivor Confrence? What was it like for you? Let us know about your blog entries or e-mails us at bxg @ beyondexgay.com
One attendee writes,
There was just so many amazing parts to the weekend. The most emotional part of the weekend was a chalk talk we did... where people shared their emotions about their ex-gay experiences on this huge sheet of paper. The entire ceremony was done in silence. It gave me the chills. I don't believe there was a dry eye. I felt like I was at the Veteran Memorial or the Holocaust museum. I have never participated in any thing like that before. It was amazing.
Blogger Sappho on the blog Noli Irritare Leones (which provides amazing links to what happens on the continent of Africa) attended the conference in spite of a very busy rehearsal schedule in preparation for an audition for Godspell,
The conference was a mix of people who had actually been through ex-gay groups trying to change their homosexuality, and gay and lesbian people who had never actually been in the ex-gay movement (though usually having had private struggles of faith), and the occasional sympathetic straight person. And, of course, the media. In this particular knot of people, I met a Mormon who had been married and tried to live what his faith demanded, but was unable to make heterosexuality work for him, a Catholic who had an eighteen year, till death did them part, entirely sexless marriage to a woman who knew about his homosexuality (and that the marriage would be sexless) when they married, because he was sure his faith would never let him act on his sexual desires anyway, and a woman who was putting together a set of videos about the position of science in the US at this time.
Eric Leocadio not only attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, but was also on hand when the three former Exodus leaders issued their public apology. Eric shares his ex-gay survivor story here. He has been sharing about his experience on his blog and has been interviewed for the LA Blade and the Advocate.
Ex-gay survivor Eric Leocadio was on hand to witness the official apology in Los Angeles. As a high school freshman Leocadio ingested two fistfuls of pills, hoping to kill himself so that he would not have to struggle with his sexual orientation. “When I survived,” said Leocadio, now 31, “I realized that God wasn’t done with me. There was so much more that God had planned for me.”
But his journey of self-acceptance was arduous. After his suicide attempt Leocadio became a devoted Christian and used his spirituality to stifle his same-sex attractions. At 26 he ended up at the Desert Stream Ministries in Anaheim, Calif., where he underwent an intensive ex-gay program to heal his “brokenness” (along with masturbators, prostitutes, and fellow gays), yearning to live a straight and “normal” life.
Eric writes about learning to tell his story.
Jacob attended Love in Action in 2005, the summer of the big protests. He found the Ex-Gay Survivor to be very moving, especially when we screened an extended trailer Morgan Fox's film This is What Love in Action Looks Like, where it was announced that Love in Action's youth program, Refuge, has been discontinued.
I recently attended the Ex-Gay Survivors Conference in Irvine, California. The best word to describe my experience there is 'Phenomenal.' I met so many wonderful people, and the environment was so affirming and full of love.
In the past year, I have grown greatly. My goal for renewing this blog is simple...I want people who are considering ex-gay 'ministries', reparative therapy to know that there are other options.
You can read more here. And I have a feeling we are going to hear a lot more from Jacob.
Over at Gay Christian Network (GCN) several folks who attened the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference shared their thoughts. One GCNer from San Franciso wrote,
What did it mean to you? Meant getting more reconnected with my faith and sexuality.
Why was it important? Taking a step to bridge both
What did you get out of it? Met some like minded people and got linked to this site.
What are your next steps? Right now mainly just connecting with others.
Gregg Moreland, who displayed 10 of his photos in the art gallery that Christine organized, wrote on his blog about connecting with other at the conference and his next steps.
This conference was a way for me to begin processing the emotions and personal history that I have not accessed in nearly 20 years.
I will admit that I attended the conference with some of the same suppressed emotions, and in a way, I was only distantly present. That is until the very end--I finally started sharing during a sprituality session on Sunday (after many people had already returned home). I only wish that I had connected to the other survivors and allies much more.
I am certain, however, that as time goes on, I will connect with many of those people, as I do more to access my emotions and tell my story.
You can see Gregg's photos from the conference here.
Misty came to the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference and listened deeply to the stories she heard. She writes,
Hearing these stories, what I came to see was the crushing pain of people being forced to come out of a second closet, and experience a second, more devastating rejection. It was bad enough the first time to have to admit to themselves, and perhaps to others, that they were homosexual. But then after they were deep into the ex-gay ministry, where they were supposed to find hope and work toward a "cure," they had to go through another hellish maze of self-examination where they were at last forced to admit that reparative therapy had not made them straight. And in the ex-gay, support-group atmosphere where everyone is so emotionally invested in the hope of their own orientation change, such a disturbing admission often led to swift and severe repercussions.
Much has already been said by others about the Ex-Gay Survivors Conference. I may have a few more thoughts to add to that volume later, but at the moment I'm more focused on what was, for me, the most important part of the weekend: connecting with people. In addition to meeting up with fellow bloggers like Christine, Eric, Peterson and the incomparable Misty Irons, I got to spend time with online friends from GCN and Ex-Gay Watch, as well as a few new acquaintances. The weekend wasn't long enough to spend time with everyone I wanted to talk to, but it was well worth the trip all the same.
The biggest surprise of the weekend, however, was running into two guys I'd known in college.