Exodus International: 2 Years Later… Can Survivors Rest in Peace?

bxg_Losing_Religion* Re-sharing June 2015 as TWO years later… same sentiment from last year still holds true*

If you are familiar with my writing or my blog in general, you know that I am a survivor. If you’ve read Enlightened-ish, then you know that my status as “survivor” extends beyond surviving religious fundamentalism and damage from conversion therapy efforts which organizations like Exodus International lied to the public about for decades. I am also a survivor of… life’s darker components such as bullying and sexual abuse. I speak about these things openly not because it is comfortable or even preferred, but because I believe that there is entirely too much fear of authenticity in our cultures of hashtags and half-assed spirituality. Thus, this post, 2 year laters reflects not only on the 2-year anniversary of Exodus International’s closing, but on the collective survivor movement that most of humanity is in, as we all go through an injustice, inequity, abuse, grief, or obstacle that lands us in the awareness of what it takes to thrive in a world that is often not always fair.

When I participated in the Our America piece in 2013, I had a feeling it would transform my understanding of activism and abuse. Recruiting survivors to be taped in front of their accuser: That’s “good TV” and appears at first, to be a motion of activism, but was it abusive as well? A group of survivors is invited to witness a respected journalist (with a net worth of $8.5 million) as she tries to remain neutral in the face of a man claiming to be apologetic about making a living selling lies about homosexuality’s “cure” through prayer and specialized suppression techniques. Are you familiar with the piece which aired a year ago? Here you go: Watch it again. Is it activism? Or is it abuse?

I personally can’t watch it anymore. Why? Because even in her “review” of her time with Our America, Lisa Ling continued to exalt Alan as a man who she believes was truly trying to attempt something good out of his efforts to apologize – Efforts which led to inequality, genocide, depression, death, and a mental health crisis among gay people, in addition to a spiritually divisive movement within Christianity. (See her respect for him in minute 4:25 of the link) This is tragic when I know from more than one source that Alan pitched yet another publicity stunt to Lisa, after the Our America piece aired. He continued to attempt to latch on the teat of her innocent assumption that behind it all, he was a good guy trying to do good things…

I don’t believe there are any segments at CNN planned, for her to take him on a trip to Africa where she can cover the story of his apology to the people of Uganda, but like I said… I know from more than one source, this guy has an ego the size of Africa – Or a guilt complex equally as large. Either way, any publicity on his face, or those like him, remains to their benefit because it actually reinforces the belief that ex-gay therapy does work. As long as anyone is still asking if the world is flat, there will be yahoos who believe it. Thus, to truly debunk a myth, perhaps we have to let the ignorant move down their paths of baseless beliefs and hopefully they die off like the plague that they are to the collective awakening to science, spirituality and common good.

But we can’t do that, can we?

I couldn’t.

In January of this 2014, when asked to participate in a hearing in Virginia, where lawmakers were given the power to prevent abuses to minors, they tabled the decision… but I went, I testified and I thought I was doing the “activist” thing. Here is the link to that drama/trauma and the consequent interview that I participated in for SkyNews.

Do I look like an activist?” I ask myself.

Or do I look like I am being abused by a system of journalism that continues to cater to the aggressor, rather than the survivor?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could stay involved with the survivor movement several times before in my experience… but after these incidents, I did step back a bit and begin to ask important questions about who “wins” when survivors speak up.

Ratings for the TV networks.

Listeners on the radio shows.

Blog hits for those who discuss us.

Opportunities to spread the lies, for those who actually still believe this stuff.

As I continued to evaluate my role, what I saw from all of this attention was how it perpetuated itself in online survivor communities. Suddenly I was being re-traumatized on a daily basis through my Facebook notifications and emails. Survivors have accused one another of not being “real” activists. Those who continue to teach/preach suppression accused fellow Christians of not being “real” Christians. Allies who are compassionate to the cause of equality are accused of not being “real” advocates. Trust levels were lowered and meanwhile, the actual story of surviving these injustices is lost in debate and stats like the following, ignored:

Q10Chart_Harm_Info

And so, for me… I have had to redefine what activism really is in my world. I can’t judge those who are making a career of chasing after evil and simultaneously trying to convince themselves it is not evil. I cannot discern the motives of anyone but me…

My motive has always been to make sure survivor stories are told… in all areas of our survival. In fact, that is why my career shift, towards early childhood education made so much sense in 2010… because if you truly want to stop victims from being victims, we have to empower our children not to become aggressors and to stand up for themselves when there are so many words and beliefs that can offend the soul.

An ounce of prevention, is all I can offer.

That is my activism now.

I look back at Christianity and how it is arguing with itself and it is sad to watch. I hear stories of progressives who don’t feel “progressive enough” and I see how the image of Jesus is crucified in blog posts and newsfeeds… I hear survivors who don’t feel “active enough” and pastors who can’t find churches that are “involved enough” in actual justice-seeking, mercy-leading communities and lives…

But I have to wonder about this meme that passed across my eyes not too long ago: exodus_year_later_1When I wrote my coming out memoir years ago, I recognize that there is “A Time to Yell…”

But what if there are activists who move within a very different world of advocacy?

What if we are quietly making a difference by creating positive change in the future, by investing in young lives today?

I’m not saying that the adult survivors don’t matter because, of course, I am one! We need community, compassion and environments where we can freely discuss our healing process. And the world needs justice-seekers, but doesn’t it also need peacemakers?

Do we need to continually share our stories in places that are designed to inflate egos or publicity?

Do we need to make ourselves vulnerable in order to increase ratings and if we do, how does that affect our own quality of life?

For me… I cannot engage in what former leaders are doing now, like it’s some VH-1 pop-up video of apologies, stats and E-True Hollywood banter. I’m over it.

Not over what they did and not over how much attention they still get for doing it…

But for me, being an activist now means being whole in my home, my heart, my health, and in my work.

My fiancee (2015 update: wife 😉 )  dreads this post because she knows that most of the time, when I post about this topic, the attention it brings literally causes me physical pain. But I have assured her, this “years later” post represents the highest intentions of doing what we all wish cult leaders and abusers would do after they have disbanded.

Rest. In. Peace.

Can survivors rest in peace too? Can they look at the places where hurtful words and beliefs left wounds and say, “I learned something and I am going to be okay?” Can they remember their trauma without shuddering? Can they learn to rebuild trust?

Can we… be at peace?

The answer is yes.

But the path to “yes” is different for each of us.

So today, on an anniversary of Exodus International’s shutting down, though it began a shit storm of rebuilding efforts by its leader and continues to be discussed in blog posts from people on both sides of the aisle, creating even deeper division within Christianity and families, I can say…

Happy Anniversary, Survivors.

To all survivors… for every year we make it to the next level, OUR next level, we can celebrate.

Let the media culture do what it needs to do to make a living… but let’s not contribute if it interferes with our own desires to make a life for ourselves.

You have survived much, my friends. I am honored to know your stories and be inspired by the tenacity of them… Thank you, for being… you.

Namaste.

~~

DSC_0821Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose new book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News,SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

Ex-Gay Survivor Translates Exodus Cult Speak

Many of you know that Exodus International continues to operate an annual conferencelight_trees and while the attendance has dwindled over the last few years, as a survivor of these shaming, inaccurate and harmful messages, I often feel the need to speak the truth about what goes on behind closed doors. A few of my colleagues at Beyond Ex Gay and other survivors in various online communities also find themselves reading about conferences, blogs from current leaders and other affiliates and smacking their heads. We know from experience that what they are selling is still a storyline that involves suppressing sexual behaviors in order to “please” a heterosexually-obsessed god-figure and manipulative church leadership. In an effort to debunk the myth that these conferences/teachings offer the LGBTQ person a healthy or safe atmosphere for coming to terms with sexuality and faith, I offer this year’s Exodus Conference listing along with a translation, from a survivor’s perspective.

This note goes out to all survivors, of any fundamentalist teaching that draws you to divorce yourself from the body and creates inequities in your faith experience and communities. Namaste, my friends. Let the light shine…

2013 Workshop Listings:

“From Rejected to Accepted” – Survivor Translation: Co-dependency is cooler than you think. Try it. We will make sure you like it.

“Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places” – Survivor Translation: Your broken heart is a direct result of being gay, duh.

“If We Had to Do it Over” – Survivor Translation: Sugar-coating 101: How Exodus Got Away with Lies about Change Orientation

“The Power in the Telling” – Survivor Translation: You Can’t Pray Away the Gay, but you too can talk about it endlessly because misery and company are the match we believe is made in heaven.

“Pursuing Sexual Purity” – Survivor Translation: Have sex only if it is work. Natural sexuality isn’t pure. Ever. Sorry.

“Let’s Talk: Masculinity” – Survivor Translation: Gurl, you look great in those pants. I mean, dude, nice top. I mean… Be a Breadwinner. Done and Done.

“The Facts vs The Truth” – Survivor Translation: No, not facts about sexuality, gender or psychologically-sound facts. That’s just the Gay Agenda. We will give you the truth according to the Gospel of Exodus. Please avoid all psychological resources prior to this workshop. The only pre-reads required are books by our Savior, Paul the Apostle.

“Let’s Talk: Femininity” – Survivor Translation: Dude, let’s grab a beer. I mean, brother, I think you’re cute… I mean… I’ll have your babies. Done and Done.

“The Bible, Gender, and Personal Identity” – Survivor Translation: @$(@)&%)&!!!

“A Well- Connected Woman” – Survivor Translation: ??? lol

“Why I Don’t Give Up” – Survivor Translation: Those activists are a real pain. Don’t be a quitter. It’s bad for business

“Celibacy and The Christian Life” – Survivor Translation: Safe sex means making out with Jesus. Got it? Unless you’re male. You should make out with Mother Mary. Wait a minute…

“Making Your Marriage Work” – Survivor Translation: Five reasons to have sex even when it doesn’t feel good.

“What I Wished My Parents Would Have Done For Me” – Survivor Translation: We still blame parents. Sorry if that totally isolates you from them but hey, more time for cult activity and isolation. Perfect.

“Help…Someone In My Church is Gay” – Survivor Translation: I have a crush on a girl in the pew next to me and she smells good. HELP! 

“So, What’s Our Story” – Survivor Translation: After almost four decades of these lies, we still don’t really know and we don’t expect you to know either. Thanks for paying the conference fee. ‘Preciate it.

“Life After Your Son or Daughter Says “I’m Gay”” – Survivor Translation: Life after death? Yes that’s what it feels like as a child tells you they are gay. So sorry they did this to you after everything you did for them. Try not to mention hell though cuz that will throw them on to your scent. P.S. They may go to heaven, but here’s 3 Steps to Making their Life Hell on Earth.

“How Should the Church Respond?: A Christ-like Response” – Survivor Translation: Because the Golden Rule is too complicated.

“Improving the Relationship with Your Gay Child” – Survivor Translation: !@$(@%!
Alternate Translation: We can’t reconcile ourselves to our own sexual orientation and relationships with our friends and families but we are an excellent source for educating you on how to do it. Go figure.

“Discovering Our True Identity” – Survivor Translation: Cuz those gay couples out there are totally not real. False identities. It’s like they don’t even exist. In fact, they aren’t happy either. Don’t fall for it.

~~

 I dedicate this post also, to Michael Bussee, an original founder of Exodus International, whose commitment to seeing it disbanded inspires many survivors on their healing journey. In response to this current list of workshop titles, Michael said, “his could easily have been a list of workshops from 10 or 20 years ago.  The same focus on homosexuality as some sort of addiction to overcome, a “false identity” to be denied… And Exodus claims to be changing?”

Looks like same ingredients, different label, if you ask this survivor.

Cheers, Exodus. Survivors raise their glasses to what we expect will be your last conference. Your reign of social genocide ends in 2013.

Ex-Gay Activism: An Identity Crisis

Forgiving Exodus International for their soul-raping ways has left me with a mild case of identity crisis.

First of all, when you exist solely to fight your oppressor, your oppressor becomes a part of your identity.

Secondly, when you receive praise for fighting your oppressor, your oppressor’s existence also becomes latched into your self-esteem.

Finally, when you stop believing that your oppressor is your enemy, you’re left with the question…

Why am I doing any of this?

As most of you know, I published my first book 7 years ago, (http://rescuejesus.wordpress.com/lesbian-coming-out-book)  but then a series of wounds prevented me from moving forward in the “activist” scene. When I made this “triumphant return” 5 months ago, I thought for sure that my main objective would be to focus on the words, actions and energies that would create the best weapon for overcoming fundamentalism. (Ending Fundamentalism… the New F Bomb?) I thought I would craft powerful narratives that would light a fire under even the most complacent reader and we would all begin to see that Fundamentalism is a violent force against the very nature of the Divine and work towards its destruction.

I thought my calling was to shine the light on the darkness of my oppressors.

I thought that being right was the more important work that I was to be engaged in as a writer.

After all, what’s so wrong with being right?

Well, as I discussed in my forgiveness post to Exodus, focusing on being right maintains the same pattern of thought as what the fundamentalists teach. The need to be right is a vehicle that doesn’t have to lead to hate but it is one that knows the way… so forgiveness, for me, was getting out of that vehicle and learning to walk a different path.

What I’ve learned in the last 5 months is that this work is about relationships… and being whole is more important than being right.

Restoring a sense of personal power and a trustworthy community is more important than making sure Alan Chambers hears me call him a soul-molester.  (The truth: He is a soul-molester but he is also oppressing his own self and that must be a far greater pain than I can understand anymore).

So I will continue to call Exodus International what it is but let me be clear…

I exist not to shine the light on the dark world of Christian Fundamentalism.

I exist to be a light in the rainbow-colored world of those recovering from any kind of oppression, be it religious or otherwise.

I’m here to shine not for those in darkness…

But for those in dim, gray places where hope was almost lost.

I’m here… for survivors.

That is why For Gail So Loved the World exists…

I’ve never felt more whole than I do right now.

Thank you all for being here, where all are welcome… no exceptions.

I love you so much I could burst into a thousand rainbows.

~~

This post is dedicated to the fine healing work being done through New Wings. Please feel free to check out their website (www.new-wings.org) to learn more about how to be a part of healing from fundamentalism… we’re in this together.

As always, if you are a survivor of the ex-gay movement specifically, please reach out to our community at Beyond Ex-Gay. You are not alone. www.beyondexgay.com

Oh and no worries… I’ll still find a way to be a snarky satirist from time-to-time. I mean, I forgave the fundies but I didn’t have a lobotomy!

Exodus International, I Forgive You

When you see the end of an era coming upon your soul, resistance is futile… wholeness is the only option.Forgiveness

Exodus International, I forgive you for teaching me that there is a God who is intolerant of me.

Exodus International, I forgive you for pulling me away from my body.

Exodus International, I forgive you for pulling me away from my family.

Exodus International, I forgive you for dividing me from my own mind.

Exodus International, I forgive you for dividing me from my own spirit.

Exodus International, I forgive you for raping my soul.

Exodus International, I forgive you for molesting my identity.

Exodus International, I forgive you…

Not because you have stopped hurting others with your cult tactics.

Not because you aren’t guilty of attempting to control others with ideas about heterosexual supremacy.

But because you taught me how to hate…

And it’s time I surrender that tactic entirely.

Forgiveness is my act of self-love and an act of refusing to hold any space for hate, even hatred for your ways.

I will not have space for hate anymore.

I will not hate myself for being human.

I will not hate God for making me homosexual.

I will not hate people for not understanding how spirituality and sexuality beautifully converge.

I will not hate churches for refusing to honor my commitment to love.

I will not hate this world for being a place where choices are taken away from us.

I will be a person of love.

So, in short…

Exodus International, love really did win out for me.

Because I forgive you for teaching me to hate.

~~

For anyone who has been damaged by the ex-gay movement’s attempt at genocide, know that there is hope and you will move BEYOND being “ex-gay.” www.beyondexgay.com And for anyone who has ever held on too long to an injury to your soul, know that in just wanting to let go, a change will come, the earth will tremble and eventually, forgiveness will find you…

In the News: Exodus shuts down its residential soul-raping facility. http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2011/09/love-in-action-suspends-residential-program/

To read more about my most recent transformation regarding ex-gay survival, follow the “ex-gay lie” category on my blog or view this category from my old site.

Ex-Gay Cult Tactics

Do I go onto Exodus International’s site or ex-gay pages and tell them that I believe that if there was a hell, they would be some of the first people through the fiery gates because they are soul-raping innocent victims?

No! I do not! (Granted, I do blog publicly and say such things but the point is…)

Cult members chase after those who find freedom.

Since the radio interview Monday night, I have felt chased. 

There haven’t been any direct attacks (yet) but there have been several posts and comments that I’ve banned from my author page because they were geared at spreading the lie that homosexuals can or should be changed into some mutant heterosexual expression sanctified by a gender-obsessed god.

I reject these tactics and state that while I feel chased by the ex-gay cult and by the memory of the person you wanted me to become, the truth is…

I am chaste… undefiled, free from obscenity, pure and full of virtue not because of anything I’ve done but…

Because of the Divine who purifies my intention and reminds me that the reason I’m telling this story again is because love matters.

Love.

Matters.

To the victims of ex-gay therapy who serve in leadership roles and recruit others into the cult, I want you to know that healthy, happy, whole sexuality is available to you… and you don’t have to crucify yourself to get it.

There is a relationship that is greater than the need to be right.

There is a love that is greater than the need to be right.

There is the right to love and be loved just as you are.

I have that right.

And from the deepest parts of who I am, I do this work so that you too will know, you have that right too.

Don’t let them molest your identity any longer.

You are born beautiful, your expressions are Divine and your thirst for truth will be met when you realize that it’s already inside of you.

Beloved.

As you are.

Right now…

Oh and… um…

P.S.

If you keep posting lies on my page, you will be banned because not only is my page/blog a no-hate zone, genocide is wrong and I won’t let anyone know how they can find out more about supporting you in killing off the LGBTQ community.

~~

To my blog and Facebook Family, I want you to know that I need to go offline for a few days to recover from this “coming out” again. Going inward is a journey towards god but also fuels the security that I need to nourish and keep going. Keep sharing your insights and stories with one another and feel free to share the interview!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Listen to internet radio with Scott Lindquist on Blog Talk Radio

If the above link doesn’t work, this will also get you to my interview on Open Minds Open Hearts:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/openmindsopenhearts/2011/08/02/open-minds-open-hearts–radio-with-a-purpose

Keep the emails coming and more than anything else, keep trusting that whether we can prove if there is a God or not, we most certainly know that something Divine would welcome, bless and celebrate all people just as they are, no exceptions.

Top 10 Ex-Gay Slogans

Who is the oppressor?I need some dark humor before my Reiki session. As some of you know from my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/homospirituality), I’m having fun with what I’m calling “creative activism.” (uh, a.k.a. satire). I’m meeting with “famous” people (who would never really meet with me) and we are discussing some of the most important issues in politics and religion. This weekend, I’ve been hanging out with Alan Chambers of Exodus International. Today we decided that Exodus needs a marketing make-over (You should have seen his reaction to the word make-over. Wow!)

So energetically, I’m sitting at a coffee shop with Alan and we are brainstorming slogans and taglines.

This is what we came up with:

10. Exodus International: Services include Assisted Sexual Suicides.

9.    Exodus International: Captivating since 1976.

8.    Exodus International: Where Worshipping the Heterosexual never Felt so Gay.

7.   Exodus International: As Close to Hell as You Can Get

6.   Exodus International: Pay Now, Gay Later

5.   Exodus International: The Softer Side of Genocide

4.   Exodus International: Where Men Lie about Men and Women Lie about Women

3.   Exodus International: I Survived Self-mutilation and all I got was this F*cking T-shirt

2.   Exodus International: Now Hiring Psychologists and Counselors. No Degree or Training Required

1.   Exodus International: Celebrating 35 Years of Christian-Funded Soul-Raping

Be sure to check the brochure stand at Faux Community Megachurch near you for these new marketing materials. We are very proud of them. The Lord really spoke through us and people will be moved to change who they are and become their whole heterosexual selves, just like us…

~

Thus concludes my snarkiest post ever!

I’ll publish, right or wrong; Fools are my theme, let satire by my song.” – Lord Byron

~

Dedicating this post to Michael Bussee, a co-founder of Exodus International who has publically denounced the practices and beliefs of Exodus International. Thank you for trying to make it right. http://www.beyondexgay.com/article/busseeapology

Reshared Spring 2013, in honor of an upcoming meeting involving Alan Chambers… only a few years in the making 😉

Update: A spoken word piece on the topic…