Ex-gay ministry

Ex-gay no more

For years I called myself an ex-gay.

I described my attraction to men, my same-sex, as sexual brokenness. I spent hours in support groups with other ex-gay men, wishing we were straight. I spoke to church leaders. Hid my desires in the dark. I spent countless hours praying to be changed. And I spent as many being prayed for by others who believed God would change me, prophesying about my victory and the wife who would soon be ministering by my side.

I called myself ex-gay.

I was a youth pastor, telling people every day about a God who could perform miracles, but went home every day not sure that the God who performed these miracles saw fit to perform one in me. I prayed for sick people believing they would be healed, yet never saw healing in my life

I still called myself ex-gay.

I joined an organisation in Johannesburg affiliated to the international organisation called Exodus. Here other ex-gay men, some married with children, walked victorious in their heterosexuality, ministering to us, telling us we could be healed from our sexual brokenness.

We were all ex-gay.

There came a point when I realised that I would never be straight. And I walked away from the Church, the people I had loved while there, and the God I had believed would save me. I was broken. Not just sexually, but emotionally. After 10 years of desperately trying to please the God who said my sexual orientation was a sin and worthy of death, I walked away.

I am gay.

I’ve written often about my ex-gay journey. Part of it was illuminating – I discovered a lot about myself by admitting things I had always hidden. Yet other aspects were soul-destroying – I repressed all the things I had admitted to walk victoriously. I hurt people, and people hurt me. I was shunned by some members of the Church, while as many have embraced me.

I will always be gay.

Some believe God created me as I am, others believe He can still change me. I no longer believe. And losing my faith was heart-breaking yet incredibly freeing. I write all this because I feel a freedom now I’ve never really experienced before. I rushed to write this because my emotions needed to be expressed. A catharsis.

They were always gay.

Exodus International is closing down. They have released an apology to all those who have been hurt by their ministry. And the president has come out, admitting that he is still gay, and never acknowledged this while in the ministry. I have heard of leaders in Exodus leaving and apologising before, but this move, and the move to close this once highly politicised and vocal organisation, has affirmed that I did the right thing.

I was not bad.

God didn’t heal me because of me. For so many years I felt excluded from the Christian community because I knew I was gay. I then felt excluded from the ex-gay ministry because I was never not gay. I now know that I was just honest.

Religion’s view of homosexuality does not just hurt gay men. It hurts women. I have seen so many hurt by men who have repressed their sexuality to please their God and His followers. I have seen relationships implode and children’s lives shattered by the revelation that the father was gay, or still gay. Exodus needs to apologise to those women. Not just those men.

I walk victorious, because I am, well, who I am.

I am not sexually broken. I never was.

I am not ex-gay. I never was.

I am gay. And free. And hopefully through the closure of organisations like Exodus others will be too.

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Gay and Godly

I recently stumbled onto a website which is a resource for those who have survived the ex-gay ministry. The word “survived” is their word; I see it as a necessary time in my life and one that I grew from. I believe in a God who uses everything for good – and no, I don’t believe everything happens for a reason happens for a reason, it just gets used for good…

Anyway, the man who started the site is in contact with me and is currently in SA. He mailed me after the article in The Times and suggested we meet. We’re hoping to meet tomorrow evening before he flies back to the States. So long story short, I read on his blog that well-known christian singer, Ray Boltz, has recently divorced his wife and come out of the closet – shocking most of his fans and christians around the world. I remember listening to his music many years ago.

So what’s this all about?

Well, I found his wife’s blog.

I haven’t made contact with her, but she’s really open about their relationship and what happened to them. In one post she says this in response to a vicious comment about acceptance of his homosexuality leading other men to think the same is acceptable:

“2- Ray did what the church taught him to do, which was to “find the right girl…get married.” (And I might add, he found a good one!)
3- After 30+ years, the solution was to be honest with me. I came to accept him, support him, and we divorced.
4- I implore young people: Don’t marry someone of the opposite sex if you are gay!”

The last sentence really struck me. I was heading towards marriage, because it was the right thing to do, and because I had met an amazing woman. Fortunately I met a guy who, like me, tried to do what was considered Godly. He was going through a painful divorce with shattered children and a faith in God that was crumbling.I saw so much of myself in him and saw the pain I could cause, and walked away from it.

You see, while there is a section of the church which tells us that being gay is not an option exists, there will always be oppression. And while there are those who say God can do the impossible and tell people that they can be straight because they say God says so, there will be hurt men and women who loved gay men and women. I won’t say that God can’t change someone’s sexual orientation. To be honest though, I’ve never seen it convincingly. But I don’t believe that is God’s plan. I think His plan is to take us back to the grass roots teaching of Jesus – that the kingdom of God is at hand for anyone. That nothing can separate us from the love of God.

John 4 tells the story of the woman at the well. Jesus is walking through Sychar, a Samaritan village, all part of his attempt to flee the religious people who were looking to find fault with him. He meets a Samaritan woman at the well and speaks to her, which was unheard of in Jewish tradition. He asks for a drink of water and she is immediately skeptical – unsure of his intentions. He offers her living water and then tells her to go call her husband and come back.

She says:”I have no husband”. Jesus responds: “That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.” (from The Message)

He then goes on to use this to reveal himself as the messiah. So why do I tell you this story. Well, the woman got caught out. Jesus spotted that she was a sinner and excluded her, banishing her from relationship with him. He lambasted her and told her she had to change her ways and organised his followers to stand outside her house shouting “God hates fags… I mean… adulterers”.

Nope, he didn’t.

All he said to her in that moment, was – “I KNOW!”. I know you and I meet you where you’re at and I say it’s okay. I’m the messiah. He never told her to repent. To change. He never even passed a sarcastic comment. He just told her that she was speaking the truth and said “I know”, but still you can have living water.

And she went and told all she knew that the messiah had come…

That’s where God wants us to go back to. Stop debating our acceptance. Stop telling us we have to change. Accept it… we’re here and we’re queer. Like Wesley said, lets look at what we agree on, before excluding us because of what we disagree on…

Too many people are getting hurt, especially the women who love gay men, and men who love gay women. While exclusion is the church’s ideology, people are getting hurt and walking away from a God whose ideology is inclusion.

Rambler over and out…

2009 day 2

Welcome to 2009 everybody!

In an attempt to start the new year well, I decided to do a detox (all thanks to Patrick Holford). I have a splitting headache and am shouting at everybody… and all I can think about is coffee. So I’ve been banished from human contact until I’ve got over this addiction. I think I may never. Coffee was my friend. I miss him…

Okay, onto less pressing stuff. I mentioned the article, so here it is… I wasn’t that pleased with some of the way they used my quotes – I don’t think I ever said the Church is filled with people with flawed beliefs. I remember saying that the church was full of humans who have flaws and respond as humans – imperfectly. And I was never taught how to cross my legs in a more masculine way, but I know that did happen in some of the support networks. Well let me know what you think…

Okay, back to thinking about coffee… I’d even take old granules left in the filter right now…