The ex-gay movement consists of individuals and organizations that encourage people to refrain from entering or pursuing same-sex relationships, eliminate homosexual desires and to develop heterosexual desires, or to enter into a heterosexual relationship.
It relies on the involvement of individuals who formerly identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual but no longer do; these individuals may either claim that they have eliminated their attraction to the same sex altogether or simply that they abstain from acting on such attraction.
There have been various scandals related to this movement, including some self-claimed ex-gays having been found in same-sex relationships despite having denied this, as well as controversies over gay minors being forced to go to ex-gay camps against their will, and overt admissions by organizations related to the movement that conversion therapy does not work.
A large body of research and global scientific consensus indicates that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment. Because of this, major mental health professional organizations discourage and caution individuals against attempting to change their sexual orientation to heterosexual, and warn that attempting to do so can be harmful.
- 1 Definition of change
- 2 Objectives
- 3 Motivation of participants
- 4 Ex-gay organizations
- 5 People
- 6 Controversy
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
- 10 Further reading
Definition of change
Various ex-gay organizations have working definitions of change. Prior to disbanding and renouncing the idea of a cure, Exodus International described change as, "attaining abstinence from homosexual behaviors, lessening of homosexual temptations, strengthening their sense of masculine or feminine identity, correcting distorted styles of relating with members of the same and opposite gender." People Can Change defines change as, "any degree of change toward greater peace, satisfaction and fulfillment, and less shame, depression and darkness", and emphasizes that for most people, heterosexuality is not the ultimate goal. When the term ex-gay was introduced to professional literature in 1980, E. Mansell Pattison defined it as describing a person who had "experienced a basic change in sexual orientation". Some ex-gays advocate entering (or remaining) in a heterosexual marriage as part of the process. Some in mixed-orientation marriages acknowledge that their sexual attractions remain primarily homosexual, but seek to make their marriages work anyway.
Aside from achieving a degree of change in sexual orientation, the ex-gay movement pursues several broad goals and these include:
- coordination with individuals and organizations, particularly opponents of gay and lesbian civil equality to influence public perception and public policy;
- offering vulnerable gays and lesbians a procedure that is claimed to solve many of their problems by making them heterosexual;
- promotion of ex-gay movement leaders as legitimate representatives in gay cultural/political discourse;
- the destigmatization of therapeutic attempts to change sexual orientation to undermine the American Psychological Association's long-standing position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.
Motivation of participants
The American Psychological Association reported that some ex-gay groups may help counteract and buffer minority stress, marginalization, and isolation in ways similar to other support groups, such as offering social support, fellowship, role models, and new ways to view a problem through unique philosophies or ideologies. Additionally, the same researchers also found that people joined ex-gay groups due to: a lack of other sources of social support; a desire for active coping, including both cognitive and emotional coping; and access to methods of sexual orientation identity exploration and reconstruction. The same report found that some have described the ex-gay groups as, "a refuge for those who were excluded both from conservative churches and from their families, because of their same-sex sexual attractions, and from gay organizations and social networks, because of their conservative religious beliefs." According to the APA report, "Ex-gay groups appear to relieve the distress caused by conflicts between religious values and sexual orientation and help participants change their sexual orientation identity, but not their sexual orientation." The APA goes on to report that some believed that by, "taking on 'ex-gay' cultural norms and language and finding a community that enabled and reinforced their primary religious beliefs, values, and concerns", they could resolve identity conflicts by:
- Adopting a new discourse or worldview.
- Engaging in a biographical reconstruction.
- Embracing a new explanatory model.
- Forming strong interpersonal ties.
One of the APA's sources for the report found that, "ex-gay groups recast homosexuality as an ordinary sin, and thus salvation was still achievable." Another one of their sources is summarized as having observed that, "such groups built hope, recovery, and relapse into an ex-gay identity, thus expecting same-sex sexual behaviors and conceiving them as opportunities for repentance and forgiveness." The APA report warns however that, "some [ex-gay] groups may reinforce prejudice and stigma by providing inaccurate or stereotyped information about homosexuality."
The first contemporary ex-gay ministry, Love in Action, was formed in 1973. Three years later, with other ex-gay organizations, it formed Exodus International, the largest ex-gay organization and the largest organization under the Exodus Global Alliance. In June 2013, the Exodus board decided to cease operations, with president Alan Chambers apologizing for the pain and hurt the group had caused and saying that he no longer believed sexual orientation could be changed. Chambers apologized for what he identified as regrettable techniques, and the narrow message of a cure and marriage rather than a relationship with Christ for all. Shortly after, Chambers and his wife started Speak.Love., an organisation for promoting conversations on sexual orientation for all. In September 2014, Speak.Love. was merged into Chambers' personal website. Exodus Global Alliance, however, no longer affiliated with Exodus International, has continued operations.
Other ex-gay organizations cater to a specific religious groups, such as Courage International for Catholics, North Star for the LDS Church, JONAH for Jews, Joel 2:25 International for Catholic and Protestant Christians and OneByOne for Presbyterians.
Some groups follow a specific technique, such as Homosexuals Anonymous, modeled after the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step program. Other ex-gay organizations include Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
People associated with the ex-gay movement
- Joe Dallas is the program director of Genesis Counseling. He has written six books on human sexuality.
- Donnie McClurkin wrote about his experience with homosexuality in his book, Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor. He describes himself as going through a process by which he became "saved and sanctified." McClurkin has been criticized for stating homosexuality is a curse. He speaks openly about sexual issues since becoming the biological father of a child with a woman to whom he was not married. He uses these experiences in his concerts and speaking engagements. In 2004, he sang at the Republican National Convention. The appearance generated criticism for the event organizers and McClurkin for his statements on homosexuality.[dead link]
- Joseph Nicolosi was an American clinical psychologist, founder and director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California, and a founder and former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
- Jeffrey Satinover is an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and physicist. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of NARTH.
- Charles Socarides was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physician, educator, and author. He helped found NARTH in 1992.
People who no longer support the ex-gay movement
- Günter Baum founded an ex-gay ministry in Germany. Later he formed Zwischenraum, which helps gay Christians to accept their sexuality and to reconcile it with their beliefs.
- John Paulk, then leader of Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference and chairman of the board for Exodus International North America, was spotted visiting a Washington, D.C. gay bar in September 2000. He was photographed outside of the bar from behind by Wayne Besen, and later stepped down from the two organizations. In 2013, he formally apologized for his involvement in promoting the ex-gay concept and for the harm his work had done.
- Anthony Venn-Brown is a former Australian evangelist in the Assemblies of God and an author whose book describes his experience in Australia's first ex-gay program. Venn-Brown co-founded "Freedom 2 be" which offers support to GLBT people from church backgrounds and who have been displaced from the ex-gay movement. In 2007 he co-ordinated the release of a statement from five Australian ex-gay leaders who publicly apologized for their past actions.
- John Smid was the leader of Love In Action in Memphis. He resigned that position in 2008, and in 2010 apologized for any harm that he'd caused, noting that his teen program "further wounded teens that were already in a very delicate place in life." He has announced that he is still homosexual and admitted never seeing a man successfully converting to heterosexuality in his group.
- Warren Throckmorton is a past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He wrote and produced the documentary I Do Exist about ex-gay people, but subsequently came to "believe that categorical change in sexual attractions, especially for men, is rare" and repudiated some of the claims he made in the film.
Sexual orientation change efforts
Prior to disbanding, Exodus International recommended to their members that they undertake sexual orientation change efforts, such as conversion therapy. Exodus warned against going to counselors who tell a patient that they "can definitely eliminate all attractions to your same gender, or that you can definitely acquire heteroerotic attractions." Evergreen International did not advocate any particular form of therapy, and warns that "therapy will likely not be a cure in the sense of erasing all homosexual feelings."
Sexual orientation change efforts are controversial and the American Psychological Association reported that, "the available evidence, from both early and recent studies, suggests that although sexual orientation is unlikely to change, some individuals modified their sexual orientation identity (i.e., individual or group membership and affiliation, self-labeling) and other aspects of sexuality (i.e. values and behavior)." Virtually all major mental health organizations have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public against treatments that purport to change sexual orientation.
In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization (the North and South American branch of the World Health Organization) released a statement cautioning against services that purport to "cure" people with non-heterosexual orientations as they lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people, and noted that the global scientific and professional consensus is that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation of human sexuality and cannot be regarded as a pathological condition. The Pan American Health Organization further called on governments, academic institutions, professional associations and the media to expose these practices and to promote respect for diversity. The World Health Organization affiliate further noted that gay minors have sometimes been forced to attend these "therapies" involuntarily, being deprived of their liberty and sometimes kept in isolation for several months, and that these findings were reported by several United Nations bodies. Additionally, the Pan American Health Organization recommended that such malpractices be denounced and subject to sanctions and penalties under national legislation, as they constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.
Controversy over teenagers
A controversial aspect of the ex-gay movement has been the focus of some ex-gay organizations on gay teenagers, including occasions where teenagers have been forced to attend ex-gay camps by their parents. A 2006 report by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce outlined evidence that ex-gay and conversion therapy groups were at the time increasingly focusing on children. Several legal researchers have responded to these events by arguing that parents who force their children into aggressive conversion therapy programs are committing child abuse under various state statutes.
One case of emancipation involved Lyn Duff. Duff was admitted to Rivendell Psychiatric Center in West Jordan, Utah on December 19, 1991, at age 15, after being involuntarily transported there at her mother's behest. Duff was subjected to a regimen of conversion therapy, including aversion therapy, hypnosis, psychotropic drugs, solitary confinement, therapeutic messages linking lesbian sex with "the pits of hell", behavior modification techniques, unreasonable forms of punishment for small infractions, and "positive peer pressure" group sessions in which patients demeaned and belittled each other for both real and perceived inadequacies. On May 19, 1992, after 168 days of incarceration, Duff escaped from Rivendell and traveled to San Francisco, where she lived on the streets and in safe houses. In 1992, Duff initiated legal action against the facility and her mother.
The ex-gay organization Love in Action was involved in a controversy surrounding a teenager. In July 2005, The New York Times ran a feature story about 16-year-old Zachary Stark, whose parents forced him to attend an ex-gay camp run by the group. In July 2005, Stark was released from the camp. An investigation of the camp by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services did not uncover signs of child abuse. In September 2005, Tennessee authorities discovered that unlicensed staff had been administering prescription drugs. A settlement was reached shortly thereafter. LIA closed the camp in 2007.
- American Family Association v. City and County of San Francisco
- Ego-dystonic sexual orientation
- Environment and sexual orientation
- National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality
- Restored Hope Network
- Sexaholics Anonymous
- Ex-Ex-Gay Pride, Newsweek
- "Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation & Youth". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
- "Bachmann Silent on Allegations Her Clinic Offers Gay Conversion Therapy". ABC News. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Mullany, Gerry (20 June 2013). "Group That Promoted 'Curing' Gays Ceases Operations". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- "What's your "success rate" in changing gays into straights?". Archived from the original on June 28, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
- What Do We Mean by Change Archived June 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Throckmorton, Warren; Pattison, M. L. (June 2002). "Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change process for ex-gays". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. American Psychological Association. 33 (3): 242–248. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.33.3.242. Archived from the original on May 4, 2008.
- "No easy victory". Christianitytoday.com. March 11, 2002. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Drescher, Jack; Zucker, Kenneth (2006). Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture. New York: Harrington Park Press. ISBN 9781560235569.
- APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. (2009). "Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation." Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Accessed August 2, 2011
- Levine, M., Perkins, D. D., & Perkins, D. V. (2004). Principles of community psychology: Perspectives and applications (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1980). An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21, 219–239.
- Ponticelli, C. M. (1999). Crafting stories of sexual identity reconstruction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 62, 157–172.
- Wolkomir, M. (2001). Emotion work, commitment, and the authentication of the self: The case of gay and ex-gay Christian support groups. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 30, 305–334.
- Erzen, T. (2006). Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian conversions in the ex-gay movement. Los Angeles:University of California Press.
- . Retrieved August 12, 2014.
- "Alan Chambers". Relevant Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
- "UPDATE: Speak. Love., The Chambers, and ZONDERVAN!". AlanChambers.org.
- "Exodus International". Exodusglobalalliance.org. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- "Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services – Home". Ha-fs.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Kwon, Lillian (June 25, 2007). "Exodus Freedom Speaker Warns of 'The Gay Gospel'". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
- "Joe Dallas l Genesis Counseling l Sexual Addiction Recovery". Joedallas.com. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- DL Foster. "Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor: Making the Case for Victory". ISBN 1-56229-162-9.
- Richard Leiby (August 29, 2004). "Donnie McClurkin, Ready to Sing Out Against Gay 'Curse'". The Washington Post.
- Lawton, Kim (May 6, 2005). "PROFILE: Donnie McClurkin (Interview)". PBS Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
- "The Donnie McClurkin Story:From Darkness to Light". Donnie McClurkin. November 23, 2004.
- "News :: LGBT". EDGE Boston. October 24, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "NARTH". Archived from the original on August 3, 2004. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- "Dr. Jeffrey Satinover Testifies Before Massachusetts Senate Committee Studying Gay Marriage". April 28, 2003. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- "A Tribute to Charles W. Socarides". Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- Evangelical Press with additional reporting by Jody Veenker (October 1, 2000). "Ex-Gay Leader Disciplined for Gay Bar Visit". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
- Besen, Wayne (2003). Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. Harrington Park Press. ISBN 1-56023-445-8.
- Brydum, Sunnivie (2013-04-24). "John Paulk Formally Renounces, Apologizes for Harmful 'Ex-Gay' Movement". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- "Anthony Venn-Brown: Book".
- Knight, Chris. "freedom2b - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex from Christian backgrounds".
- "Former "Ex-Gay" Leaders in Australia Apologize, Claim That Ex-Gay Conversion Does More Harm Than Good". Soulforce.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Branston, John. "Fly on the Wall | The Fly-By". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Jason says: (March 30, 2010). "Ex-gay leader apologises | Star Online". Starobserver.com.au. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Where is the repentance?". Grace Rivers. October 7, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "I Do Exist FAQs". 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- "A new test of orthodoxy". Wthrockmorton.com. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Exodus International Policy Statements Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., Exodus International. Retrieved July 4, 2007.
- "How to Find the Right Counselor for You – Exodus International". Exodusinternational.org. January 11, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Myths", EvergreenInternational.org, Evergreen International, archived from the original on 2012-07-24,
Evergreen does not advocate any particular form of therapy.
- Park, Jason (2007), "Therapy", EvergreenInternational.org, Evergreen International, archived from the original on 2012-07-24
- "Expert affidavit of Gregory M. Herek, PhD" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 16, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists: Royal College of Psychiatrists' Position Statement on Sexual Orientation
- Letter from the Attorney General of the United States to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, RE: DOMA, February 23, 2011,"Second, while sexual orientation carries no visible badge, a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable"
- ""Therapies" to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health". Pan American Health Organization. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012. archived here .
- Queer.de: EU-Parlament stärkt LGBTI-Grundrechte (german)
- Schwulissimo.de: Europäisches Parlament verurteilt die „Heilung“ von Homosexuellen (german)
- Pinknews.cok.uk: European Parliament condemns gay ‘cure’ therapy and tells EU member states to ban it
- Cianciotto, J.; Cahill, S. (2006). "Youth in the crosshairs: the third wave of ex-gay activism" (PDF). National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
- Hicks, A (1999) Reparative Therapy: Whether Parental Attempts to Change a Child's Sexual Orientation Can Legally Constitute Child Abuse; Retrieved January 29, 2011
- Talbot, T. Reparative therapy for homosexual teens: the choice of the teen should be the only choice discussed, 27 J. Juv. L. 33. 2006.
- Cohan, J. Parental Duties and the Right of Homosexual Minors to Refuse "Reparative" Therapy, 11 Buff. Women's L.J. 67, 2002.
- Mirken, Bruce (June 1994). "Setting Them Straight". San Francisco: 10 Percent. pp. 54–60.
- PRESS CLIPSVillage Voice (New York, NY), October 06, 1998, 1595 words, by Andy Hsiao
- Chris Holmlund; Justin Wyatt (2005). Contemporary American Independent Film: From the Margins to the Mainstream. Routledge. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-415-25486-1.
- "Gender identity problems; Gays angered about doctors forcing issue" The Houston Chronicle, August 2, 1995, Wednesday, 2 STAR Edition, HOUSTON; Pg. 3, 1310 words, CAROLE RAFFERTY; Knight-Ridder Tribune News
- Pela, Robert L. (November 11, 1997). "Boys in the dollhouse, girls with toy trucks". The Advocate. pp. 55–59.
- "Lambda Update". The Lambda Update. Fall 1993. p. 4.
- David B. Cruz (1999) "Controlling Desires: Sexual Conversion and the Limits of Law" Southern California Law Review 72:1297. http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~usclrev/pdf/072502.pdf PMID 12731502
- CHURCHER, Sharon (1998) "GOING STRAIGHT." Sunday Mail (Queensland, Australia), September 6, 1998, Sunday, NEWS; Pg. 40, 1274 words
- Ladie Terry. (1994) 'ORPHANS' SPEAK OUT. San Jose Mercury News (California) Tuesday MORNING FINAL EDITION. December 13, 1994. EDITORIAL; p. 7B
- Family Law, Public Policy and New Federalism by Steven K. Wisensale. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
- Williams, Alex (July 17, 2005). "Gay Teenager Stirs a Storm". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- Palazzolo, Rose (June 28, 2005). "Ex-Gay Camp Investigation Called Off". ABC News. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Ex-GayTruth.com, presents issues related to the ex-gay movement from a conservative Christian perspective
- Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality and Bisexuality at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Views Opposing Homosexuality and Bisexuality at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Cure for Love, a National Film Board of Canada documentary