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Saturday, July 29, 2006

 

Ex-Ex-gay?

There may be a new meaning to the term ex-ex-gay soon. In the comments section of the post just prior to this one, Michael Bussee quoted Alan Chambers, Ex. Dir. of Exodus speaking about the term ex-gay as follows: "We need to do away with the term entirely and make sure it's never used again." Mr. Chambers confirmed this quote in an email.

And then later in the comments section, Mr. Bussee says: "I am pleased to announce that Alan Chambers has asked me to join him for a joint press conference to officially RETIRE the misleading term "Ex-gay."' No word as yet if or when this might occur but from my vantage point, this would be a fine development. I have used the term "post-gay" before in discussing what change means, but I am not sure that it is an improvement. Probably some people who like the term ex-gay as a designation of identity might be bothered by this. I suspect Mr. Bussee and Mr. Chambers dislike the term ex-gay for different reasons. How ironic. My understanding is that Mr. Bussee originally favored the term ex-gay. Now 30 years later, he may be aided by the current Exodus leader in order to discourage its use.

I wonder if exgaywatch will also retire?

Comments:
It should be VERY interesting to see what happens next. Yes, I am sure that Alan and I have different reasons for disliking the term, but I know we agree that it has been more confusing than enlightening. I

have been bugging EXODUS to drop it for over 20 years. Up until now, they have stubbornly refused.

Instead of "ex-gay", how about:

"people who really WISH they were not homosexual but still are" or

"guys who contiinue to masturbate to gay fantasies but who TRY not to have sex with actual human beings" or

"people who really dislike themselves for being gay"?

I could go on...
 
michael your sarcasm is duly noted. that really ain't fair. as if you know whats going on inside the head of every person who walks that path. how do you know whether or not any degree of change occured?

just because YOU failed doesn't mean everyone else is like you.
 
I can see where this could go. One side says no one changes and the other side says how do you know what is my heart, etc. I am fine to have that discussion but it needs to be respectful and evidence based. Just saying I don't know anyone who has changed is not basis for saying no one has changed, nor is I changed basis for asserting that anyone can.

It would be more enlightening for people to talk about their own experience and not make their experience normative for others.
 
From all that I have seen, read, and experienced, there are few if any true homosexuals. Most so-called gays have enough heterosexual leanings to live a somewhat normal straight life. And if that is in keeping with their religion and morality and makes them happy then why should this concern the homosexual extremists?
 
I do like the idea of "post-gay" as it suggests a vector rather than "ex-gay" which suggests an ontological change (which isn't really what we're saying).

Yup - "post-gay". Nice. It could make a good book title....
 
Peter - that is what I had in mind. It may be insulting to gay folk; although I am not sure on that point, I can't remember any comments to that effect.
 
anonymous- then it is a shame the radical right has wasted so much time and money crusading against something that doesn't exist.
 
When I was participanting in a Exodus-affiliated ministry, I described myself as a-person-struggling-with-my-sexuality (I couldn't bring myself to say "homosexual" or "gay"). I didn't like the "ex-gay" label because I never identified as "gay" prior to participating in the ministry when I was 19 years old. Also, since I still had same-sex attractions and it appeared to be a life-long struggle, it felt inaccurate to say I was somehow done and no longer gay.

I think "post-gay" and "former homosexual" have the same problems as "ex-gay". "Post-gay" sounds somewhat demeaning since it implies a person who has surpassed homosexuality. And all three terms are misleading in that they imply the person no longer has same-sex attractions. I think "people struggling with their SSA" is a more accurate term.

For now, "ex-gay" will probably continue to serve as a convenient term to quickly identify those who are struggling against their same-sex attractions. I tend to use it with quotes as a reminder that it is a controversial term.
 
Gay as a word did not originally mean homosexual. So perhaps ex-gay should give way to or adopt a term without gay in it at all.
 
I am not saying that I KNOW what is going on inside anyone's head. I am just saying that in 53 years of living I have never met a person who once had ONLY homosexual attractions and who now has only heterosexual attractions. Never. Would love to meet one face-to-face.

Sure, people change their BEHAVIOR all the time. I never claimed that they don't. That doesn't mean that are no longer homosexual. Ask around. Even EXODUS leaders admit that they are not exclusively straight in their sexual attractions. They still struggle with what they call SSA -- Same Sex Attractions.
 
Also, Dr. Throckmorton, I am not saying that "no one has changed". I am saying that it is tragic that society and the church has convinced them that they SHOULD.

I think we need to be very specific about what this "change" involves. EXODUS leaders seem to acknowledge that the change they are talking about is not a change from homosexual to heterosexual in attraction. Joe Dallas of EXODUS defined "Ex-gay" this way: "A Christian with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies. It just rolls off the tongue a little easier."

I agree with Joe's definition. He also added that "ex-gay does not mean ex-homosexual". My point exactly! Thanks, Joe.

"Post-gay" is worse that "ex-gay" -- even less clear to the general public. It sounds like a gay guy who delivers mail.

Why make up new words? Why not use already existing terms that everyone can readily understand?
 
I think the desire for words is both practical (so we can talk in shorthand) and personal (people want something that describes them and their situation). Ministries are now called "ex-gay ministries." This may give way to "FGI ministries" (formerly gay-identified) or "SSA ministeries" (same sex attracted ministries). "Same-sex attracted" is a term preferred by Ritch Savin-Williams and I think has the advantage of being value neutral. You could be SSA and gay identified or not.
 
The point is -- no matter what you call it, they are still "same sex attracted." That's my point.

What you call yourself doesn't change that basic fact. Labels, behavior and self-concept change.

Sexual orientation, however, seems to be VERY persistent throughout one's lifetime. It does not seem to reverse itself. Perhaps homosexuality IS a "phase" -- just a very LONG phase.

(By the way, by "orientation", I mean the direction of the person's attraction, not their "identity".)
 
"Post-Gay" has been in use for some time.

It's a very accepting term that speaks to the idea that being gay isn't an issue any more. Trying to equate it with the shame Exodus advocates isn't really going to work.
 
My concern with "post-gay" is twofold:

1. Like "ex-gay" and Alan's very deceptive term "former homosexual", "post-gay" suggests to the lay man that the person so identified no longer has same sex attractions. When Alan talks about "thousands of former homosexuals like me" the media thinks this means thousands of people who are no longer homosexual in orientation. It's not honest and unfortunately I suspect that is intentional.

2. Using "post-gay" sounds a little like psychobabble. Like "post-modern", it leaves the listener a little confused about exactly what you're talking about.

It's unfortunate that there isn't a good shorthand term for "same sex attracted but not happy with that and trying hoping and praying to change". I wonder if the ancient phrase of "non-practicing homosexual" would be worth reviving. I seem to recall that it also wasn't much liked.

Timothy Kincaid
 
There already IS a short-hand term for "same sex attracted but not happy with that and hoping and praying to change". It's "Ex-gay".

It's the term we're doing away with. Joe Dallas of EXODUS explained that's what "Ex-gay" really means: "A Christian with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies".

Trouble is, "rather not having" something does not make one "ex" anything. A wish does not make something true.
 
My observation here is that this can sound like an all or nothing conversation. Change happens but it may not be 100%. I have clients that describe their attractions as memories or fleeting. But they are not bothered by them in the sense that they white-knuckle it through life. They have satisfying sex lives with their wives and probably deal with SSA as many men do attractions to other women. I am not sure that this means their orientation has changed from gay to bisexual or mostly gay to mostly straight but change for many FGI people is not all or nothing, in my observations and research, and therefore my opinion.
 
And my opinion is that the orientation (the direction of the sexual attractions) does not change -- even if the strength of those attractions may increase or decrease over time -- with age, health status, availability of a partner, religious pressure, etc.

It is OK with me if gay men marry and I am glad some of them are happy. But getting married does not make one heterosexual. I should know.
 
The proper term is "Recloseted Homosexual."

This is hardly impressive. For centuries, gay people married those they did not love or had sex with people they were not attracted to. They did this for religous reasons or to escape persecution.

The fact that today there are closet assistance programs to help these people does not make this new or impressive. It just means they have lobbyists and get paid to offer false testimony for political gain.

I am very excited that Chambers is admitting that Exodus is not about change. Now, if he just drops his alliance with the extreme right, we might actually agree.
 
"Recloseted homosexual" works for me. Simple. Descriptive. And it makes it clear that the person continues to have homosexual attractions -- and is not heterosexual.

Besides, to use Joe Dallas of EXODUS' words: "It rolls off the tongue a little easier" than a "Christian with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies."

Now, if we could do away with the phrase "the gay lifestyle" -- as in "Mike Bussee returned to the gay life-style." WHICH gay lifestyle? There are MANY. Closeted. Affirming... etc.
 
In all the ruckus, I failed to say congrats to Peter O. and bride on their wedding. Blessings on you, mate!
 
First, the serious:

Warren, what to make of Michael Bussee's observation that he saw NOBODY in the exgay movement had actually changed their sexual orientation -- regardless of what they otherwise said to outsiders?

Given you rely on self-report, how would you suggest that basic issue be addressed. If it is not addressed, all else is nonsense -- is it not?

(As in, who cares how many decimal places you calculate the fabrications of a liar to be...)

On a not unrelated tangent:

Have you interviewed any openly (and happily) gay men or women and asked them how easy it it to lie for a brief period of time about our sexuality?

You do acknowledge most of us are past masters at that, yes? And also acknowledge why most of us don't continue with the lying?

---------------

Less seriously:

The behaviour Wayne Besen described has been the standard operating procedures for royal families for eons.

... legally marry someone you don't wish to, perhaps am even repulsed by, to satisfy the ambitions of others. If all else fails, as it often did, pester a patriotic soul to do what is required to produce a legal heir.

But "Regally Gay" sounds bit silly.

"Post-Gay" sounds like a boring (lesbian-identified) art movement, or a horrid business from Japan involving underwear and vending machines. So that's not gunna work.

Why not just:

"Gay-And-Rather-Be-Otherwise"?

And there is a joke in there people. Straight people... ask your gay friends :)

[Also... never let mother-outlaws do a "Can I download my email while I'm here?" from your PC. Ever. Even if you are trying to be nice (which I'm not, BTW) And especially if they willingly click on very obvious virus spam while you are not looking.... sigh. Big sigh. Count to 10... slowly. Jeepers, even the 11 year old niece doesn't do anything that IT-stupid!!!]
 
GARBO - I get it.

We all rely on self-report. Not much social science research would get done if we didn't. I am not the one who disregards self-report. People on the other side of this issue do that.

As I have said a zillion times (grantdale, you probably know where they all are), change is a continuum and if a person seeks an adjustment that facilitates valued behavior and lives it, that to me is change. I have met people who I believe have changed substantially. If it makes one feel better to say no one changes then I guess that is what one will do. Assuming what is possible based on your experience is a form of bias that we all are subject to. It doesn't change the fact that some people change their ways for the better as a result of participation in ______ ministries. I believe the guidelines I talk about often could help that make that more likely if applied.
 
Warren,

I don't think "people on the other side" are disregarding exgay self-reports.

What they are saying is that these self-reports are not to be believed. At least at face value. Big difference.

Given the fact that the highest and mightest presented by the exgay groups have (often) proven to be cracked and flawed, if not purely dishonest, this SHOULD raise questions about how reliable the foot soldiers are.

That you should believe them says more about you than do the facts of the matter, does it not? Your belief in them is ALSO a form of bias, no?

Also remain unconvinced that a therapist working with a wilful liar -- established or not -- is a proper outcome. That would seem like a weak defense against fraud, in any number of "therapy" examples you could name. You need more.

i.e. as a therapist; is is good to agree with someone's hopes, always? Is is good -- for the client -- to go on to provide the means to deny the truth? Like sematic nonsense such as "If you don!t want to be gay, that means you are not "Gay" -- dadah!"?

And please don't tell me "the client wants it." We all know we should NOT respond to unreasonable demands.

(Yeah, and I would like to be 6'2" and blonde (and still with my 32" waist). While I'm sure the "research" contains stories of people showing growth spurts in their mature adulthood, and while I know I could dye my hair or were a wig...)

You also know, though we cannot promise to have said it a zillion times, that we DO NOT CARE if people make what they want of their own lives.

If they think "acting" gay is a no-no, then they are as much entitled to not "act gay" as is a Hindu entitled to not eat beef. We have as much inclination to force someone to have gay sex as we are as inclined to force a slice of bacon down a Muslim. In other words... not at all. Never.

But...

Imagine telling a Hindu that unless they ate beef they could never eat at all? Imagine if their goodness depended on their willingness to eat beef? Imagine if, unless they ate beef, they would otherwise be excluded from full and equal participation in public life -- by law?

We'll leave all that you you, as a therapist, But you're fine with GARBO then? OK, good :)

Cultural Note: (nothing to do with yougurt)

BTW, that's also Strine for "person who picks up the garbage". It being Tuesday night and all, we have put our bins out and the "garbos" will be driving past at about 5am. Making a heck of a lot of noise. As they do.

And being rather old-fashioned Aussies... we also still leave bottles of beer (the 750ml ones) out on Xmas to say "thanks garbos". Apparently all garbos love beer. As does Father Christmas (ie Dad). Not so common these days, but in our childhood they actually had to have a flat truck following the garbos at 5am just to carry back all the bottles of beer that people left out for them!

Happy days :)
 
Add-on, and this is a different "me", would be interested in hearing about this:

Warren, you've talked about feeling better.

Is this different to being better?

Do you think the distinction matters?

Also assume we've got past the whole debate about society determining what is "better" etc. We assume you will also incorporate the research that shows "out gays" are healthier than "closeted gays" etc.

And in the light of that, please also predict what your public pronouncements about the (apparently) 3 in 100 exgays do to the other 97% -- speaking as a therapist concerned about the mental health of 100% of SSA people, of course.
 
Good grief!!

This is craziness.

Some folks get less attracted (much less, as in it's not an issue anymore) to the same sex and become exclusively attracted to their wives. Some don't. Some get more and more attracted to the same sex the more they try and be less attracted to the same sex. Some get less attracted to the same sex but never really get attracted to the opposite sex. Some are attracted to both sexes at varying rates over time depending on who knows what.

Call it whatever the heck you want.

It's just LIFE. Sex is a part of it....a peice of it....a factor of it...that's all. There are many things that influence it, many things that cause one to want to identify (or not) with one aspect of it or another. Live and let LIVE. For goodness sake!


grace
 
Re: Live and let LIVE. For goodness sake!

Grace, I couldn't agree more. Of all the statements posted on this thread, this one earns my greatest AMEN.

Having said that, I'd venture that many of us who are "acknowledged homosexuals" would be willing to go along with that sentiment. Unfortunately, I can look at NARTH and Exodus and see that Live and Let Live is farthest from their minds.

If Live and Let Live were really operative, then why the anti-gay agitation against marriage and adoption? If they really are intersted in change therapies only for those who want it, it seems that that should be their focus. The fact that they argue instead that those who don't want to change are a menace to everyone else belies the whole Live and Let Live philosophy.

That's the real rub. Without that backdrop, I don't think we'd be too wrapped up in the accuracy of self-reports, definitions of change, etc. The arguments aren't in these concepts themselves. Instead, we're seeing an expression of fear and anger at the way these concepts are used as weapons against Live-and-Let-Live.

I'd really like to see NARTH and Exodus truly embrace the APA's position on sexual reorientattion/identity therapy (or whatever terminology one prefers to use). Which is it's okay for those who want it and it's not okay for those who don't; in a nutshell. But while they mouth those words, I really don't see it in action at all.
 
Yep. I agree. I think they should become two seperate entities...a political one and then one that actually just focused on helping those who wanted help. But, what do I know?

grace
 
Grace - Don't sell yourself short. I think Jim's position is actually very close to the founders of ex-gay ministries. They did not want the ministry aspect entangled in public policy.
 
As someone who got connected to Exodus way back in 1977 I can reaffirm what Warren has said. A number of us were adamant about not being drawn into the political arena. Principally, the reason is that it clouds the message. But, in another vein, all ex-gay ministers may not hold the same political views on all gay-related issues.

So, I was distressed to see that Exodus, as an entity, is now making political comments and statements. I was also distressed to see that OUTPOST, the ministry that I was once affiliated with, has also gotten caught up in political debate.

In my humble opinion, the ex-gay ministries ought to go back to the simple message that they are there for those who, based on their religious beliefs, desire to gain control over their homosexual impulses. Heck, in my day, if someone was coerced into coming to OUTPOST by their church or a family member, I'd first explore what the individual's theology was. If it was more in line with a "pro-gay Christian group", I'd steer them in that direction. Radical, I know, but I felt called to be a counselor not a conscience.
 
And just for the heck of it -- we'll also add "don't sell yourself short Grace".

(Sorry Grace, about to start talking about you. Cringe now.)

Grace, for those who don't know, has often added a good perspective over at ExGayWatch. Least of all to remind some people that not all "of them" want to holiday with James Dobson in Colorodo Springs or ship gay people to some lonely island :)

Grace has also been very open about her hopes, and her concerns. I think that alone makes an instant connection with a lot of gay people. It is also very plain from Grace that she and [name withheld] want their relationship to work at EVERY level, are dedicated to achieving that, even if things seems a bit kooky or wonky at times.

In any case, I cannot think of any regular over at ExGayWatch who honestly doesn't wish all the best for Grace and [name withheld].

But, speaking of kooky and wonky -- hey, she's got teenage/young adult kids. Grace already knows what kooky and wonky really means!!!

Warren, you have much to look forward to...

They get worse as they get older. But, Warren, Grace, according to our Mums, then the kids WILL improve. Either that, or senility kicks in and you fail to notice how bad they still are :)
 
Grantdale,

No way would I EVER ship all the gays to a lonely island! What a horrid world this would be with no expertise in home interiors, fashion, theatre...heck, not to mention my highlights that must be done every six weeks! ;) Peterson was also quick to point out at my blog recently that with all the seraphim, cherabim, candles, and glittering gold stuff in heaven, it sounds like you guys have already had a pretty significant impact on the afterlife.
hee hee!

Thanks for your kind words and recognition. You crack me up...even when you write things I totally don't agree with, you're still funny! :)

Oh...for the ignorant bliss of the toddlerhood parenting years! *shakes head forlornly* Is there some drug I can give a 19 yr.old to speed the development of that frontal lobe thing that supposedly doesn't kick in until like 24????

ugh.

grace
 
"I think Jim's position is actually very close to the founders of ex-gay ministries. They did not want the ministry aspect entangled in public policy."

I'm currently reading Tanya Erzen's "Straight to Jesus". The first chapter discusses the history of the ex-gay movement and Erzen's book is based on her experiences with Frank Worthen, who was there at the very beginning. The impression I received from the book is very similar to your statement.

Timothy
 
It is true. We (those who started EXODUS in 1976)absolutely did not want EXODUS entangled with public policy -- or to take positions on political matters as it does today -- for example, EXODUS now wanting to abolish all Hate Crime laws.

We wanted EXODUS to steer clear of such matters, like A.A. does with their 10th Tradition. Oh well, times change, and not necessarily for the better.

As a victim of a hate crime myself, (I was stabbed and my best friend was killed for being gay)it is very disturbing for me to see how far EXODUS has strayed from its original mission and intent.
 
What they really need to retire is "SSA" and leave exgay alone. I was gay, now I'm exgay. Doesn't get any simpler than that and it holds true for me. On the other hand everyone has SSA, just not SSSA - sexualized same sex attraction.
 
"Ex-gay" SHOULD mean "no longer attracted to the same sex" or "attracted to the opposite sex instead." But it doesn't mean that.

Even most "Ex-gays" admit that much. Joe Dallas admits it. Frank Worthen admits it. They STILL are attracted to the same sex -- even though they may have changed their behavior.

The biggest problem with "ex-gay" is that it means whatever the person using it WANTS it to mean -- and therefore is very confusing, potentially misleading and, in short, not very useful.

AS for "SSA". I reject it because it sounds like shorthand for some sort of mental or physical disorder -- like PTSD or ED... And I flatly reject that homosexuality (OR heterosexuality for that matters) are "disorders".

Can't we just use language that is already in the English dictionary, and quit using what I call "EXODUS NEW SPEAK"?

Words can conceal as much as they reveal -- and even the current president of EXODUS calls "ex-gay" "more negative than anything."
 
Abandoning the term "ex-gay" would be a terrible mistake. This one term totally refutes the homosexuals' BIG LIE that homosexuals cannot change, because so many have. Change is not easy, since plesurable homosexual experiences in the past are never forgotten. Neverthless, the longer an ex-gay lives a moral, married, heterosexual life, the less he will be bothered by homosexual drives out of his past - even though he may never get completely rid of them. Which is OK - forbidden sexual wishes are something we all have.

N.S. Lehrman, M.D., a psychiatrist since 1947
 
I'm glad the subject is back on track. I feel that Throckmorton is too liberal in his toleration of his opponents.

The conversation is about what the term Ex-gay means and whether it should be used or not. While Wayne Besen had some interesting comments to say on this topic, much of what he said was the same old rhetoric. I felt the conversation was getting out of hand.

I really like Timothy Kincaid's comment. If a person does not mean a change in orientation they should simply use the traditional term "non-practicing homosexual." It is very clear and it allows for an identity.

I have often been confused about Exodus. Do they change orientation or just make it easier or what?

I abhor the use of "ex-gay" when there is no intention of changing a person's orientation. Why? Because it is confusing not only to the public but to people who actually want to CHANGE! It is frustrating when there is not differientation between reorientation and simply non-practicing.

I ESPECIALLY wish that all the Exgay ministries who DON"T BELIEVE CHANGE IS POSSIBLE would drop the the term! It is misleading. There was a group of people calling themselves exgay and they didn't even believe in change and were discouraging people from pursuing change. They only believed in God. When a person who actually wants to change or believes in change meets a group such as this, it is confusing and horrifying. These people may be misled into believing that change is not possible! Or cause them not to pursue what could be extremely rewarding. I have had much frustration with people who want to ally themselves with the exgay moment but then belie the cause of the exgay movement. Many of these groups don't even want to educate people about reorientation therapy! They don't even give their members the option--directing them to where they can get help. I find this irresponsible!

Michael Bussee had some good points, but as an EX-GAY myself, i'm highly insulted by some of the things he says. I have always felt GAY not Bisexual. And I've almost experienced a complete shift in my sexual "orientation." People can and DO change their orientation and i'm tired of people who don't know and don't BELIEVE trying to speak up for us! Speak for YOURSELF!

I also appreciate Introfeel and N.S. Lehrman, M.D. comments! They speak meaningful things that i can understand!

I identify as EX-GAY!!!!! meaning "one who has CHANGED his sexual orientation." Any other definition is misleading. Please don't use it if you don't mean what you say. People who want real help and real solutions should be able to find it.

Thanks guys!
 
If "Anonymous" has truly changed his orientation -- meaning that he once had only attractions to the same sex -- and now has only attractions to the opposite sex -- I would love to meet him or talk to him. He would be the very FIRST person I have encountered in 53 years who has done this. For now, he would still be "bisexual" since he admits having BOTH attractions.
 
Throckmorton says: "I have clients that describe their attractions as memories or fleeting. But they are not bothered by them in the sense that they white-knuckle it through life. They have satisfying sex lives with their wives and probably deal with SSA as many men do attractions to other women."

Can I speak up as someone who once fit that description perfectly? I've told my story a number of times, most recently at Wayne Besen's press conference for the launch of Truth Wins Out, so I won't go into all the details. Enough to say that I came out when I was 18, renounced homosexual activity when I was 20 due to a religious conversion, and was married for 26 years.

For most of my marriage, I was faithful to my wife and very happy in the relationship. Especially during the years when our children were small and family life was extremely engrossing and rewarding, I would have said (and often did) that my attractions to men were present but fleeting and easy to deal with.

But let me tell you something--"happily ever after" is a long, long time. As the years went by, the conflict between the heterosexual life I was living and the homosexual person I knew myself to be grew more painful and harder to live with. It wasn't just sexual temptation, although that was certainly an issue, but a strong sense of denial and disconnection to myself. I felt my whole life became focused on NOT being something/someone I really was.

I finally had to tell my wife I could not NOT be gay any longer, and we ended our marriage. The fact that for so long we had enjoyed a happy, close marriage just made the pain of that eventual breakup much worse.

Does that mean that absolutely every single person who tries to do what I did--live as heterosexual despite SSA--will eventually reach the same conclusion I did? No. But I do think it's time for "ex-gay" or "post-gay" or "former homosexual" ministries to be honest with their adherents: No matter how much therapy they do or how they try to live, they will almost certainly remain homosexual in orientation their entire lives.

If people want to focus their lives on NOT being who they are, that's their choice. But having done that for 30 years, I can tell you it is a pathetic way to live.
 
Thanks, Nick, for your story. It parallels my own. I loved my wife deeply and had a daughter (who I also love deeply). The problem is, I never developed heteroexual feelings toward my wife. Never. Just could not get turned on by female anatomy.

God knows, I tried. I prayed. I fasted. I read the Bible, from cover to cover, MANY times. I looked at Playboy magazines. I went for therapy. I tried to picture women when I masturbated. I had people try to pray the "demon of homosexuality" out of me.

No matter what I did, vaginas and breasts NEVER turned me on. I believe my wife deserved a man who found her sexually attractive. She would cry herself to sleep thinking there was something wrong with HER. I couldn't hurt her like that any longer.

My outward behavior changed (I was married with a child and not acting on my gay feelings) but I was still homosexual, not straight.

If some people develop some straight feelings, fine. I have no problem with that. I am glad they are happier.

But I agree that "change" ministries have a responsibility,as Christians, to be HONEST and transparent and TELL their clients (and the public) that for 99% of them, gay feelings will not go away. They may lessen or increase, but they are still there.

That is why I agree with Alan Chambers that we need to do away with a term I made up: "Ex-gay" -- because we are still homosexual regardless of the label.
 
I am writing a book on this very subject now. I have found there are couples who make their marriage work when there are mixed attractions and some who don't. The book will summarize principles that are relevant for those couples who want to make it work.
 
I am always one to belabor a point, so I'll say it again, in reference to the book Warren says he is writing:

My marriage looked very successful for more than 20 years. Our sexual relationship was good; we always enjoyed each other's company; we had (and still have) great relationships with our kids. In many ways, we had one of the best marriages of any couple we knew. My mother-in-law (who did not know about my gay past) once told my wife's sister that I was "the only mature man she'd ever met"! My wife and I had a good laugh over that one.

Despite all those positives, OUR MARRIAGE STILL DIDN'T LAST! Because ultimately it was built on denial of a central reality--that I was and remained a homosexual.

Please, Warren, do NOT encourage ex, former, recovering, or whatever-you-want-to-call-them homosexuals to get married. Even if like Anonymous, the person says "I've ALMOST experienced a complete shift in my sexual 'orientation.'" (My emphasis.)

Hate to tell you, Anonymous, but "almost" isn't good enough for a lifetime commitment like marriage.

My concern about ex-gays who marry isn't so much for them as for their spouses. Imagine what it's like to know, even when things are going well, that deep down the person you love most always longs for something you can never be. Imagine what it's like to live with a constant gnawing fear that maybe someday he/she will give up the struggle and leave you. Imagine what it's like when that day finally happens, and you're left alone.

So please, Warren, don't say anything in your book that would encourage "mixed attraction" couples to get married. There are very simple physical tests that can measure if someone has really changed orientation--for example, do his pupils widen for male porn or female porn? If an "ex-gay" can't pass those tests, then he/she should not get married.
 
Nick, the tests you refer to are not scientifically validated. They are not reliable measures of sexual orientation in the present and they certainly cannot predict what people will do in the future. I understand you feel very strongly in your position; you made big life choices around it. However, this cannot be a guide for all others, just as there experience is not of necessity a guide for yours.
 
That some "mixed attracted couples" make their marriages "work" is not surprising to me. Some don't have sex at all. Many gay men marry women with little or no sex drive. Some gay men marry women who are primarily lesbian.

Some men are bisexual enough to pull it off -- Joe Dallas is an example. Some may develop "enough" straight feelings to make it work. Some gay men fantasize about men while making love to their wives. Some women "allow" their (primarily gay) husbands to wander a bit. Some men didn't have very strong gay feelings to begin with, etc., etc.

There are many posssible variations. This really proves nothing. Gay and bisexual men have done this for centuries. Nothing really new here. Certainly doesn't prove a 180 degree shift from gay to straight.
 
Michael - I do agree that the mixed attraction marriage does not prove sexual orientation change. People who love each other in a romantic way, or who have an attachment can organize their marriages around other aspects beyond the sexual incapatibilities.
 
Dr. T. My wife and I HAD romantic attraction and deep emotional bonding. (I think we still do, but that was not enough for us.) She deserved someone who wanted to have SEX with her.

I am happy tht she has found such a person who can give her the "whole package" so to speak. I wish her well on her upcoming marriage to a HETEROSEXUAL man.

And I am happy that I now have my partner, Richard, and that we love each other emotionally, spiritually AND sexually. Every person should be fortunate enough to experience ALL those dimensions of "marriage".

I am glad that you agree that marriage does not prove anything. For too long, "change ministries" have held up gay men who married (like me, for example) as "proof".
 
Warren-

I wasn't really too serious about the pupil test. My point is that only people who are truly heterosexual should enter heterosexual marriages. If someone who once had a homosexual orientation truly changed to heterosexual, no problem. But I'd want some tangible proof that they really have changed.

It's clear from your response that you do think it valid to encourage "mixed attraction" marriages. There I think you are seriously mistaken. Some of these marriages may work and may indeed last a lifetime. But the risks that they will not last are simply too great to be acceptable.

I keep going back to my own experience simply to emphasize that a marriage lasts (or should last) a long, long time. A couple may find a way to cope with one partner's homosexuality that works for some time, maybe years. But what happens as they and their circumstances change? I know that the way my marriage ended is far from unique.

It is tough for any marriage to endure all the changes and traumas of a lifetime. To knowingly add the difficulty of a lifetime struggle over one partner's basic sexual orientation is simply irresponsible.

I don't really blame those who choose to get married. The emotion of meeting someone they care about and the intense desire for a "normal" life can overwhelm their reservations. But I have no patience for any counselor, therapist, and pastor who actively encourage such marriages, ignoring the pain that so often waits in the future.
 
It looks like someone breathed some life into this thread. I've read all of the new posts and would like to add a few comments.

As I recall, early Exodus opted to go with the term "ex-gay" BECAUSE it didn't say too much. In my dictionary, 'ex' means 'out of' or 'from'. That's it! That's all! It was an accurate term for anyone who was separating from the gay identity no matter what level of 'change' they aspired to or arrived at. Over the years, the term got loaded with additional meaning as various theological spins worked the phrase but, in essence, it simply says "out of gay" or "from gay". It does not say that no connection continues to exist.

Two of the posters were married. They have "ex-wives". Yet, from their words, I can tell that they are still connected on some levels. We are humans; we have spirits, emotions and drives. Anything that we were ever connected to still impacts us to some degree. Being 'out of' something does not imply amnesia.

For the Christian, the simple reality is that they WILL be tempted by sin. I haven't met one Christian yet who has risen above temptation. If something was once pleasureable or rewarding on some level, we will likely be tempted by it again. Since sex provides memorable rewards and because it is also coupled with basic human drives i.e. companionship, it will likely be a stronger and more recurrent temptation than, let's say, lying. (With sex we're more likely to remember only the pleasure while with lying we might remember the complications of getting caught.) Selective memory at work. So, the Bible says we will continue to be tempted but 'that sin will not have dominion over you'. As long as psychiatry tries to define the situation differently, we will always be talking apples and oranges.

Regarding marriage: I believe that some should pursue that option and others should not. If your 'intended' is aware of your background and willing to assume the risk, I have no problem with that. Marriages between heterosexuals fail too.

Mike, I found it ironic that you finished your last post with the illustration that ex-gay minstries were inappropriately using your marriage as 'proof'. Aren't you now using the failure of your marriage as 'proof' for the opposite point of view? The reality is that we are all human. We are all on a journey...learning different lessons...at different times. Failing a time or two (or three) along the way. But WE are not the measure. WE are not the standard. We do harm to ourselves and others when we lose sight of this.
 
Ed: I don't think my marriage "failed" -- we loved (and STILL love) each other and our daughter. It didn't "fail". I ended it. I wanted my wife to have the experience of being loved emotionally, spiritually and SEXUALLY. She deserves it. I could not provide it.

I am not offering my marriage as "proof" of anything -- except that homosexual men should think VERY long and VERY hard before they involve women and children in their "struggle".

I was young, in love, hopeful -- and misinformed. I was assured by my curch elders and advisors that the straight feeling would "come in time" as I trusted God.

I believed it. It didn't happen. Not even a little bit. As a result, three people (me, my wife and daughter) suffered greatly. We are still suffering.

When my daughter was 6 or 7, church leaders told her that "if your Daddy loved YOU enough and Jesus enough, he wouldn't have left you." What a cruel thing to say to a child!

I am concerned that Dr. T does seem to be endorsing "mixed attraction" marriages. I hope I am mistaken.
 
I don't mean for this comment to come out wrong, but what do we do about people who identify as post-gay and then go back to leading a gay lifestyle? - post-post gay????
 
I'm not worried about Dr. T "endorsing" these marriages. Surely he will not be endorsing each and every one of them, encourageing ALL such couples to marry and follow the advice he comes up with.

Then, it must ultimately come down to the individuals, their evaluation of their relationship in light of hopefully honest communication and the best information they can come by.

Happiness, as an individual or as a couple, is dependent on many different factors, and different factors for different folks, and, from what some writers have said, factors that may change over time. Personally, I do not see a "mis-match" of sexual orientations as necessarily, eventually detrimental to a relationship. People have many different conceptions of sexuality, spirituality, relationships, and, yes, happiness.

Does the man or woman who is primarily attracted to the same sex (yes, sexually) have a fighting chance within the context of his/her marriage and social circumstances to continue to grow as an integrated, whole person, especially including in terms of sexual orientation, personal identity and meaning, and self-esteem?

Part of the answer may also lie in the past social circumstances of childhood and adolescence, in which the psyche and self-esteem of the gay individual is in formation. (My preference for terminology is revealed: I'm gay, to me we're all gay who have shared a particular internal experience -- which varies amongst individuals, no doubt -- as we were growing up, WITHIN a social environment that supported things like shame, denial, repression... in those who did not fit THE MOLD.

Admittedly, I am only 13 yrs. and two children into a "mixed orientation marriage". Ironically, since having children and going back to work full-time when I took over as Mr. Mom 7 yrs ago, it is my wife who is less interested in sex than I am. I will add that I never set out to become any less gay than I was during the six years in my twenties when I was Out, and socially and politically active. I kept my gay friends, the ones who kept me anyway, and my gayness has continued to be an open topic of discussion with my wife, my parents, good friends, etc. More recently, I've been making some new gay friends through support groups.

What I did do was change my behavior, and some mental habits that tended to focus my mind on the importance of bodies, sexual attractions, and satisfying my "needs". For me (so far) spiritual needs, relationships, identity, transcend the physical and psychological. (The primary stimulus for my motivation and spiritual development has been the Baha'i Faith.) While I did not set out to change my sexual orientation, I have found that it's evolved somewhat over the years of being married, say from 95%/5% toward other men/women, to about 85%/15%. But, more importantly, if it's not about my wife, my mind doesn't linger too long, or attach too much importance to it.

I wouldn't deny that this issue is an added source of stress for me and my wife and our marriage. But we share a strong commitment to faith and marriage and family, we work through issues and toward greater emotional intimacy like any couple that's trying to make things work for the best.

These are my views at the moment, but I can certainly understand how others would see things differently and appreciate the perspectives that have been shared here.
 
The last anon poster: Thanks for that post. I think this is a valuable perspective to include here. Could you contact me via email? ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu.
 
Dr. T,
Bless you in the work that you do. This all sounds like the more general debate of God exists vs. God's a delusion. People like Mr. Bussee are stuck on saying that gay people can never change and are deluding themselves while others, who have tasted and experienced the possibility and satisfaction of changing are certain that change is possible and a reality.
Who can "proof" God exists, eh? I guess it's not surprising for radical people like Michael Bussee to take such intolerant views on the possibility for change since nowadays, many Christians are prosecuted for their "self-deluding" faith too. Maybe Mr. Bussee would get a wider view if he considers how 'crazy' it sounds for some people that he believes in some kind of transparent God who became man--just as he thinks people are 'crazy' for thinking change is possible.
 
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