"Ex-Gays" | Michael Bussee

Nine Former Ex-Gay Leaders Collectively Condemn Conversion Therapy

BusseIt's amazing that anyone puts any credit behind conversion therapy. Success stories are virtually non-existent; the few that do exist typically are cases of repression, not conversion; credible psychological institutions condemn the practice as harmful; and multiple states are banning the practice for minors. Now another block has been pulled out of the teetering Jenga tower as nine former ex-gay leaders have come out explicitly condemning the practice.

Writing in an open letter posted online, Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee (pictured), along with eight other prominent ex-gay leaders wrote the following (bolding mine):

We grew up with the repetitive message that LGBT people were not enough — not straight enough, not Christian enough, not manly or womanly enough, not faithful enough, not praying enough. Never, ever enough. “Toxic” probably sums it up best. That message is poison to the soul. Especially a child’s soul. It can take a lifetime to get rid of that old programming and replace it with healthy, non-toxic views of yourself. Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually.Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure. In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.

The other men and women who signed the letter are: Brad Allen, Exodus International Headquarters; Darlene Bogle, Paraklete Ministries; Catherine Chapman, Portland Fellowship; Jeremy Marks, Exodus Europe; Bill Prickett, Coming Back; Tim Rymel, Love in Action; Yvette Cantu Schneider, Exodus International; John J. Smid, Exodus International Board of Directors.

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  1. Nice, I suppose. But how do they undo all those who chose suicide? How do they ever hope to repair those who suffered? How do they rebuild the spirit of those they themselves have destroyed? This letter is a start. But considering the number of deaths and the depth of the pain these people have caused, their complicity cannot just be forgotten or forgiven with the words of this letter.
    They must learn to live with the consequences of their actions. THAT is their just punishment.

    Posted by: reggie777 | Aug 3, 2014 9:37:26 AM

  2. This story is what I call the "sleeper" story of the decade or more......9 so called "ex gays" that were at the top of their food chain have all banded together to denounce the "ex gay" movement.....this is powerful! In the past, as some "ex gays" that would renounce one by one, they would be criticized and minimized by "ex gays" still in the movement as not praying hard enough, they have fallen off the wagon, they didn't read their bible enough....now with 9 giving a unified message, there is less chance for them to be
    minimized, etc.....even though they will be scorned by the ex gay movement.....and, this will help the bigger picture and giving more ammunition of helping states to decide whether to ban the harmful reparative therapy for minors......I am of the belief that it should be banned for adults as well..........

    Posted by: Bernie | Aug 3, 2014 10:09:15 AM

  3. I've seen few documents over this issue, where gay teenagers are going through this "therapy". The one thing I wanted to say to those young guys was, you're okay, it's okay to be you, gay, you don't have to change.

    I think they did it for their parents, for whom the pressure from concervative community was too much to handle. Sadly those "therapies" blamed fathers. Insult to all of us, whose fathers love us no matter what.

    What happens to kids, who cannot be what their parents want to be, I'll recommend to everyone to watch this good documentary "American Vagabond" about teenagers living in the parks of SFO.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Aug 3, 2014 10:33:26 AM

  4. It takes courage and compassion to step up and admit you were wrong and strive to make things right. Every LGBT person I know fought a personal and often lonely struggle towards self acceptance, daring to make a happy life for themselves. I commend the former ex-gay leaders here for their words, actions, and visibility.

    Posted by: Larry | Aug 3, 2014 11:12:32 AM

  5. more, please.

    the reality ignored by all the ex-gays is so obvious: the press from family and community to "not be gay". and what we see in the adamance of the liars who continue to claim to be "ex-gay" is nothing more than some sad sad sad person saying "stop telling everyone i'm lying!"

    they want their lie reinforced. and that just cannot be.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 3, 2014 11:16:22 AM

  6. They doing it for money...The Suicides still exist though...

    Posted by: rochon | Aug 3, 2014 11:25:22 AM

  7. It occurred to me yesterday how wrong it is to encourage gay men to date women. Could you imagine if straight male boys were encouraged to date each other, just to make sure that they are really straight? It's offensive. Right when you're trying to understand who you are, everyone around you is encouraging you to be someone else.

    Posted by: jimstoic | Aug 3, 2014 11:31:06 AM

  8. The statement doesn't explicitly call for it to be outlawed. However, it does seem to srt that general proposition.

    Posted by: Gay Guy | Aug 3, 2014 12:37:39 PM

  9. I participated in several ex-gay groups across the country for about 15 years. My story of getting involved with them is long and complicated thus I won't elaborate here. Suffice it to say I entered voluntarily and left voluntarily. My mom introduced me to the program here in Seattle back in 1985. I again because I believed it was right for me at the time and continued hoping that I could change. But I did not. And in February of 2001 I believe God told me directly to quit the program and to stop fighting against his love for me.

    A long time after that I was unharmed by what I learned in Exodus, and I had no animosity or bad feelings towards anyone in any of the groups I had attended. That was, until I met Michael Bussee on Facebook and joined his ex ex-gay-group. There some of the members helped me realize that I was indeed harmed by what I learned from those other groups. Even after accepting that I am gay, I still harbored doubts as to whether I had done the right thing. I was still hearing from conservative Christian friends who wanted me to go back to fighting against what they believed was & is sin. Even though I'm mostly believed I was doing the right thing I still had a nagging fog in the back of my mind telling me to go back to Exodus. And I still question if God really love me as a gay man.

    Now that this is all out in the open with these leaders renouncing their past decisions and practices, I know I made the right choice. I still have an emotional baggage to work through, and I still refuse to blame anybody else for my choice is to join and participate in Exodus. And I'm glad to have met others who have been on the same journey as me.

    Posted by: Tim P. | Aug 7, 2014 1:34:14 AM

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