Human Rights, World

A Look Into the Ex-Ex-Gay Movement

Besides sounding like the next issue of an X-Men comic book, this crusade has gained traction as a result of the Ex-Gay movement, which, as the name implies, involves people believing that changing gay sexual orientation is possible.

Individuals who have been participating in this movement encouraged people to refrain from homosexual desires or thoughts. This included organizations that specialize in conversion therapy and straight camps. Much of the movement also relied on representatives who were proof of their success. These people would claim they once identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual and believed they no longer were due to the movement’s intervention.

However, many of these reps would later leave and explain the deceit, methods, and misinformation they may have spread. Thus, supporters of the Ex-Ex-Gay movement look to right their own wrongs and help those still involved with the opposing ideals.

A History of Lies and Confessions

One notable figurehead in the history of the Ex-Gay movement is Exodus International. Founded in 1976, this non-profit, interdenominational Christian organization supported and believed that reorientation of same-sex attraction was possible. With research and investments by their ministries, management consisted of former gays or lesbians. However, this would not be the case for many members.

John Paulk, for example, was a chairman of Exodus for more than five years, until he was voted out by the board in Oct. 3, 2000.

Considering himself a former drag queen and homosexual prostitute, his removal came after evidence and photos placed Paulk at a local gay bar. In 2013, Paulk renounced his former cause and stated that he never truly changed.

“I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation,” Paulk said. “In fact, it does great harm to many people.”

Michael Busse was one of the founders of Exodus, but would later be romantically involved with one of the organization’s ministry leaders, Gary Cooper. Leaving the group together in 1979, they divorced their wives and exchanged rings and vows in a commitment ceremony in 1982.

Cooper would eventually die of an AID’s-related illness, while his partner Bussee continued being a major critic of Exodus’ message.

“I never saw one of our members, or other Exodus leaders, or other Exodus members become heterosexual, so deep down I knew that it wasn’t true,” stated Bussee in 2010.

Exodus would eventually close down their cause in 2013, and attempt to restructure themselves into an Ex-Ex-gay movement.

Although several other ministries and independent affiliates continue to operate, one of its longest contributors has changed its ways.

“Our goals are to reduce fear and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities,” stated Exodus International President Alan Chambers.

Pain Endured

The APA (American Psychological Association) in its 1973 position argued that homosexuality is not considered a diagnosable mental disorder. They also reached the consensus that any pressure to conform to heterosexual desires could be even more damaging to a person.

Harassment, shock therapy, and even physical abuse are just some of the things that Ex-Ex-Gay associates may have suffered as a result of these types of treatments. As one survivor would describe it, “they deconstruct us as a person.” Another survivor recounted how he was instructed to hit a pillow, representing his mother, with a tennis racket. One of the most notable and infamous psychologists of conversion cures was Joseph Nicolosi.

Nicolosi founded the National Organization for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992. He was considered a pioneer of reparative practices, having written four books on the subject matter. Even with NARTH and other major operations having been banned in several states, 41 states in the U.S. still have no laws that prohibit them. Much of the practices that continue have gone unregulated, and lack scientific merit. Some of the latest ideals that have come along even include gay celibacy.

As the Ex-Ex-Gay movement has shown, survivors and other victims have become the advocates to keep children and teens from dealing with the trauma they may continue to suffer.

Continuing to Grow

Amidst their inception and continual growth, the Ex-Ex-Gay movements show how acceptance could come from past regrets. As an integral part of the LGBTQ community, their message is one to provide support for those who are suffering or unable to speak for themselves.

“I won’t be a weapon anymore,” said Christian Shcizzel, a former symbol of the Ex-Gay movement.

About Jarek Martinez

Born in Chicago, Illinois, a journalism major with plenty of hope for his future and career. Reporting and photography are improving every day, but writing is the passion. The drive. Avid movie watcher and media guy. Also minoring in legal studies and applying for paralegal certification. A big dog person as well.

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