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.