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A Young Man Fights Back Against The Christian Counselor He’s Sent To By His Parents

Parents Had Found Counselor Through 'Focus On The Family' Referral

Daniel Gonzales

March 24th, 2008

When Jeff Williamson of Denver came out to his parents a year ago they sent him to see Christian counselor [name removed] whom they had been referred to through Focus On The Family. Jeff, who knew there’s nothing wrong with being gay, researched the ex-gay movement and pro-gay theology before his appointment, during which he ceded no ground to his counselor’s agenda. Jeff’s story is presented as a triumphant model for all too many youth who are sent, by their parents, against their will to ex-gay programs.

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Update 03/26/08: After realizing the ramifications of having certain aspects of his story in the public domain Jeff has requested I pull his video with the intent of re-shooting a more focused version of his story this weekend. My editorial concerns with pulling content are far outweighed by my desire to respect Jeff’s right to control the way in which his own story is told.

Update 03/31/08: As promised Jeff and I re-shot the video this weekend. This new video appears above in place of the old one. Per Jeff’s request I have removed the name of the counselor he saw from the post.

Comments

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homer
March 24th, 2008 | LINK

Thanks for posting this. Jeff is a vert articulate and brave young man. He is a great role model.

Wayne
March 24th, 2008 | LINK

Jeff’s ability to accept himself and to be honest and respectful of those around him – his family, his “therapist”, and so on, is a great example for all of us. Thanks

mark
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

I think its sad that this kid has been misled into believing that a homosexual(ity)is what your are, rather than what you do. I used to think that, but realized that my convictions casue me to reconsider this and allowed me to change my behavior, and thus my indentity. I am no longer practicing homosexual behavior. Considering the bias of this site, lets just see how tolerant they are of opposing points of view – shall we?

BJohnM
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

Mark, you may be no longer sleeping with guys, but that doesn’t mean you’re not homosexual. If you feel you have to change, that’s all you. The problem people on this site have is that people of your ilk tend to think that changing is a requirement because there is something wrong with being gay, when there’s not. As the young man above notes, there are several recorded homosexual relations in the Bible, so why did you feel you had to change? You of all people know that you are not really any different in how you feel.

There is also this desire by people like you can’t accept themselves to demand that everyone else change also, or forego full inclusion in society.

I’ve found the people that read this site to be fair and intelligent, not biased. You are the one with the bias, because you have developed a belief that you are somehow broken as a homosexual.

Timothy Kincaid
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

Mark,

Homosexuality is neither what you are or what you do. It’s an aspect of a person, in the same way that handedness or skin color are.

Homosexuality is same-sex attraction, and how you decide to respond to that is entirely up to you.

“Homosexual”, however, is a clinical term for someone who experiences homosexuality. You can decide that this doesn’t include you – just as you can decide that you are really a dolphin – but if you still experience same-sex attraction then you are homosexual.

“Gay” is the term used to describe a homosexual person that is willing and able to recognize their same-sex attraction.

“Ex-Gay” is the term used to describe persons like yourself that seek to live according to a worldview that disallows them to find happiness in a same-sex relationship. While it is possible that some ex-gays no longer experience same-sex attraction (studies find these persons to be very very rare if they exist), too often ex-gays use terms like “identity” and “behavior” to mask the fact that they are homosexual.

I completely support your right to live in accordance with the dictates of your conscience. I wish you peace and hope that you find a way to reconcile your faith with your attactions in a way that does not result in the bitterness and unhappiness that seems to be rife in the ex-gay movement.

I hope you support my right to live in accordance with the dictates of MY conscience and will shun political efforts to deny me equality.

Jason D
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

“I think its sad that this kid has been misled into believing that a homosexual(ity)is what your are, rather than what you do.”

Mark, you’re certainly well within your rights to believe that, and practice that belief.

But science just doesn’t bear that out. There is no study that shows someone has changed from 100% gay to unambiguously straight in mind and body. The most successful “success cases” still admit to same sex thoughts and desires.
If homosexuality is simply what one does, and not part of what someone is why on earth would those feelings linger for decades?

I was a smoker, and a drinker, I gave that up both 3 years ago. It’s been close to 2 years since i’ve had anything resembling a craving.

“I used to think that, but realized that my convictions casue me to reconsider this and allowed me to change my behavior, and thus my indentity.”

And you have every right to have those convictions and to change your behavior. Even change how you personally identify yourself.

So have you actually changed from gay to straight, or have you just made yourself into a celibate homosexual who no longer identifies himself as gay, and who has stretched the definition of straight to include a man such as yourself?
Only you yourself know whether or not you still have thoughts or feelings for men. I won’t bother debating you on that, as it would be rude, and it doesn’t really matter to me. You have to live with your decisions and perspective: I don’t.

And at the end of the day, that’s all we care about. If it’s okay for you to choose ex-gay (or whatever label you have for yourself) then there should be no problem with me being gay and happy with it.

“I am no longer practicing homosexual behavior. Considering the bias of this site, lets just see how tolerant they are of opposing points of view – shall we?”

I, along with most gay people, don’t define my homosexuality by my behavior. In fact, there were many years in my 20s where I didn’t have sex at all. I knew I was gay long before I ever had sex with a man. Just as straight people know they are straight long before they have sex with the opposite sex.

I’m not a straight house covered in gay paint. I’m gay, removing that, would remove my sexuality altogether. And why would I want to remove such a precious gift from God?

As long as you follow the comments policy, you shouldn’t run into problems.

Loki
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

Mark,

I grew up in a church that also told me that being gay was wrong and not God’s plan for me. I knew I was gay from a very young age and did my best to hide it and live the way I was expected to. I guess you might say I was not gay, because I was married and had never had a homosexual encounter. However, I still knew I was gay and my marriage was a sham in that I was never able to be sexual with my wife regardless of how much counseling and therapy my church sent me too and in spite of the scripture study, prayers and fasting I did to rid myself of those feelings.
I agree that you can choose not to act on it, but that does not make you less gay, it just makes you celibate, and in my case, very unhappy and at one point suicidal. I am happy for you and your choice if it makes you happy, but do not assume that because you chose to remain celibate, that is the right answer for everyone or that means somehow that you can change your attractions. If changing your behavior to feel better about your life is what you needed to do, I applaud your decision. At 38, I chose to get a divorce and come out to my family, and I am much happier. Of course there is a cost to being gay even in today’s world, but my hope is that my family can accept my decision even if I know they will never be happy about it. I grew tired of living my life by the expectations of others at the cost of my happiness and progress as a person.
In the end I realized that the emotional and psychological drain of hiding a part of who I was took a toll on my spirit and energy. Now I am complete as a person, and being gay is a rather small part of who I am, but it was the missing piece for me.

Good luck to you!

Todd

Bill Ware
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

Jeff mentions to Bob Hudson three incidences of homosexuality in the Bible.

Does anyone know off hand, exactly where these can be found? My curiosity is gettting the best of me.

Bill

Timothy Kincaid
March 25th, 2008 | LINK

Bill,

I’m going to guess that it is:

the Roman Centurian who’s pais was healed by Jesus,

Ruth who left her country and her family to be with Naomi, and

David who found Jonathan’s love to be greater than the love of a woman.

I’m not particularly convinced about the Ruth story.

But those who know the language and the culture are pretty convincing about the Roman Centurian. (However, Robert Gagnan makes the argument that he was neither Roman nor Centurian… the gospel writer got it wrong)

And for amusement sake I’d love to see someone make a picture book of David and Jonathan using only the words of Scripture… and see how quickly they’d scream to have it banned. It read like a gay love story.

Bill Ware
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Thanks,

About Ruth & Naomi:

Women have several psychological advantages over men.

1) They are freer to cry openly, which is a great way to reduce emotional tensions.

2) They are freer to touch each other as a sign of affection, there being nothing at all sexual about it.

If people were free to hug each other more in this way, it sure would be a wonderful thing.

Bill

Alex
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

An excellent video, with excellent comments to go with it!

Am I the only one who has a hard time believing ex-gays? I know my life would be much easier if I accepted my Christian parents’ offer for “help” and lived according to what’s safe and comforting, but that goes against every instinct I have. I hate to assume these people are lying (or at least in deep denial), but that’s the only conclusion I reach. Anyone else?

Jason D
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Alex, I’m inclined to believe you, but at the end of the day, it’s their life.

A friend of mine once told me “We are the product of the stories we tell ourselves, and sometimes those stories are fiction.”

If an Ex gay truly just wishes to live their life, and not offer themselves up as ammunition in a culture war, I’m fine with that.

If they wish to be accepted as a valid life choice, then they should be willing to offer gays and lesbians the same courtesy by not presenting themselves as the reason why gays do not deserve equality.

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Alex,

We believe that persons should be free to determine the direction that they want to take their lives. Thus we support those who wish to strive to be ex-gay.

That being said, the Jones and Yarhouse study (performed by advocates of ex-gay ministries) showed that there is no statistically measurable change in sexual orientation over a three year period (looking only at the prospective and not the recollective studies). And those individuals that reported that they were now “heterosexual” also reported that they continued to have attraction to the same sex (roaming eyes, sex dreams, etc.).

Further, we are aware of the many many ex-gays who eventually accept the orientation that God gave them.

So while we support the right of individuals to seek to change their orientation, we also know that there is on average almost no chance of long-term stable change in sexual attraction.

Alex
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Jason,

I agree with you, it just really really sucks. I read about how ex-gay leaders say essentially, “This is what worked for ME. I don’t force this on anyone and I respect other people’s right to embrace homosexuality.” But how likely would Alan Chambers be to start an Exodus-led movement for marriage equality?

In a perfect world, eh? :-P

Alex
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

I can’t believe I haven’t heard of that study! It sounds very interesting. Is it online?

Alex

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Alex,

They released a book, Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation.

The authors argue that they observed change. However to do so they mix results of a proseptive sample (starting at one point and measuring change) with a retrospective sample (asking people to recall if they had change).

I looked at their results without mixing the samples and observed that the only “change” they were measuring was change in recollection about attractions (“Oh yes, before I joined Exodus I was more gay than I am now”).

But even if we accepted their mixed studies, their results were abysmal. Only 11% of their participants reported becoming “heterosexual” and those were not heterosexual in the way as Mom and Dad.

Be careful not to take press releases about the report as honest. For example, they reported 33 people moved in a “positive direction” (ie closer towards heterosexuality). However, once you look into the study you find that this movement was ONLY in identity and that this exact same measure found that there was ZERO net movement in attraction.

Our initial observations are here but we may yet discuss the study further.

Joel
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

“sex dreams”… i have a problem with that. Exgaysurvivors put up a video on youtube about an ex-gay and said that while he was undergoin the posessions and the ex-gay program in general he HAD demonic figures going at him in his sleep. As if he was really possessed. What do dreams really signify? What one believes in or whats true? In other words.. just because he had dreams doesnt mean he is really gay, so the point of an ‘ex-gay’ having gay dreams does not mean he/she is really gay.

Jason D
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

“so the point of an ‘ex-gay’ having gay dreams does not mean he/she is really gay.”

Joel, a straight person might have one or two homoerotic thoughts over the course of their lifetime. They might even have one or two dreams of that nature.

However, an ex-gay who admits to having a continued pattern of homoerotic dreams has NOT changed his orientation, merely his perspective on it.

Emily K
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Joel, I’d say that I’d be more convinced if said “sex dreams” consisted of hetero-erotic situations rather than homo-erotic ones. I agree that a homo-erotic dream doesn’t necessarily mean someone is gay. But if they’re continuous, night after night, all of them “gay,” maybe that’s symbolizing something. Maybe it doesn’t symbolize strictly homosexuality – as many sex dreams are not about sex at all – maybe it symbolizes repression of something natural and innate.

Ben in Oakland
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Mark:

I don’t know if you are still reading this blog, but I notice that you have not responded to the several postings addressed to you. I think they were polite and respectful.

So, my question to you is, where to YOU fit into this? As Jason asked:

“So have you actually changed from gay to straight, or have you just made yourself into a celibate homosexual who no longer identifies himself as gay, and who has stretched the definition of straight to include a man such as yourself? Only you yourself know whether or not you still have thoughts or feelings for men.”

Since we have responded to you, I hope you will respond to us.

notreligiousbutmw
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Parts deleted by editor

It’s not my intent to do another discussion on a topic which has been rerun so many times. But there are 1/2 true comments being rerun surrounding parents sending youths to see repair therapists. The reason it’s 1/2 true is that while parents have forced youths to see repair therapists, they can’t force them into it, if the youths are not interested. This will offend you, but parents also force drug using youths to see repair therapists. In order for repair therapy (r.t.) to be successful, the youths have to want it. If some1 doesn’t want repair therapy, it won’t be successful. What is almost never discussed are the youths who see repair therapists because they disagreed with the affirm therapists. In justness to the parents, they see something wrong with same sex activities for the same reason that they see something wrong with drug use. Parents have a right even a duty to tell their youths that they can’t have sex, they should @least get their youths to listen to the repair therapist, besides the same rehahsed views that the affirm therapists give where politics have trumped science.

This comment was truncated by the editor to delete a paragraph that was off topic and claims made without substantiation.

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

notreligious,

Reparative Therapy is based on the notion that homosexuality is the result of a broken relationship with the subject’s father. It seeks to “repair” that broken relationship.

This form of therapy is not relevant to drug abuse so your claims that r.t. is used for drug treatment seem to me to be highly unlikely.

Please provide substantiation.

Incidentally, substantiation does not consist of repeating your opinion and such behavior will get your comments deleted. Substantiation consists of a link to a credible source that provides proof that what you are claiming is, in fact, truth.

Jeff Williamson
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Good Evening All…

As you may see if you try to play my video, it is no longer available. (as of 3/26/08) After seeing the ramifications of having parts of my story in the public domain, I have personally requested that it be take off-line and re-shot to allow a closer focus on what I would like to say. I have no animosity towards my family, or the counselor I saw for one session. I knew that nothing was wrong with me, and that I would not enter a reparative therapy program. I certainly did not mean that my counselor had ANY malicious intent or agenda in mind during our one-hour session. This story was to inspire those people who face the possibility of being forced into therapy at their resistance that there are other options, and to understand that acceptance of their sexuality is healthy and good.

This is MY story to tell, and as such I have every right to make sure it focuses on the right things and does not vilify those in the counseling or psychological profession. This does NOT help those who would face reparative therapy programs. We must endure to focus on them; to strengthen and educate those who need our help.

I would like to ask that everyone please understand why I asked for this action to take place. I do not wish my story become a lightning rod for action against my counselor who I do respect for his work with couples. I may not agree with his therapy in other areas, but his name did not need to be published and his website forced off-line.

When this video becomes active again, it will show a focused energy towards encouraging people who may be forced to go to reparative therapy programs against their will that they have it within themselves to reject such therapy if they so choose (as was my choice to reject starting reparative therapy). It will tell MY story the way I believe I should have been more careful to tell. It will speak about the incredible relationship that I now have with my family, and acceptance that my family has come to, and ultimately their support of me as a gay man.

If you would like to contact me, my email if jeff.t.williamson@gmail.com.

Thank you,

Jeff Williamson

A Reparative Therapy Session With Counselor Bob Hudson | Ex-Gay Watch
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

[...] 3-26-2008: The video is no longer available. According to Daniel, the subject of the video, Jeff, was concerned over “the ramifications of having certain [...]

David Roberts
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

“They released a book, Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation.”

I don’t mean to advertise, but we had a long series of critique and rebuttal between Dr. Patrick Chapman and the authors of the study. I’ve not seen a more thorough treatment of it anywhere, so if you are interested in the study, check it out and follow the links to each part.

Peterson Toscano
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

Daniel, thanks for being sensitive to Jeff’s need to retell his story. This is hard stuff and the ramifications can be serious. It’s critical that folks being to have as much control over their stories as possible.

Emily K
March 27th, 2008 | LINK

Can someone please explain what “ramifications” occur from a positive testimony?

David
March 27th, 2008 | LINK

After watching the video I e-mailed Jeff to congratulate him on how well he handled the session with Hudson and to ask about those 3 gay relationships.

He replied and told me that the relationships he had in mind are:

1. Ruth & Naomi

2. Daniel & Ashpenaz

3. David & Jonathan

He also stated that from the Bible’s text it is “difficult if not impossible to truly determine if they were actual homosexual relationships.” He simply noted that they are described in ways that “seem to indicate an unusual closeness and intimacy, words that are often associated with heterosexual couples recorded in the Bible.”

Timothy Kincaid
March 27th, 2008 | LINK

Ah yes, Daniel and Ashpenaz. I forgot them.

While they may well have not had what we would consider a consumated gay relationship (both were eunichs), they were definitely both outside the heterosexual norm.

Funny how often the heros of the Bible didn’t conform to the norm, isn’t it?

notreligiousbutmw
March 27th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid, you again write as if I was born in 1999 by repeating what I’ve heard before from the Amercian Medical Association (AMA), a group whom I have contempt for. I know the AMA’s arrogance (they think they know the answers because they’re Drs.)on a topic which the experts comprehend so little about & where politics have dominated the topic. Yes, the repair therapists (r.t.)have their own biases such as religious, but they’re upfront about where they stand. But Dr. Spitzer who is an atheist has said that while people shouldn’t be forced into repair therapy (which doesn’t happen anyhow in the U.S.), that for pyschologists to not offer r.t. to those who want to be straight is professional hubris. Repair therapists are also required to tell parents as they did to Jeff Williamson’s, that in order to offer repair therapy, the youths have to want it for themselves & that it’s ultimately the youth’s call.

Jeff Williamson’s parents did the right thing by asking their son to see a repair therapist & @least hear a different view. Jeff Williamson didn’t want r.t., but that doesn’t mean that later in life he won’t change his mind. For every Jeff Williamson you write about, there are youths who see repair therapists because they want to be straight & differed with their 1st therapists who pompously told them that affirmation is the only option. Incidentally, I don’t think affirmation therapy is needed for homosexuality, just as I don’t believe affirmation is needed for obesity or drug use. If some1 wants to be a homosexual or lesbian behaviorally, whether or not orientation changes all they have to do is behaviorally engage in it. Your thoughts are again welcome, but keep in mind that you won’t raise anything significantly new which I haven’t heard before. Of course, this topic has been discussed so many times, that it’s hard to think of new ideas other than doing reruns.

Jason D
March 27th, 2008 | LINK

notreligiousbutmw,

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t take your posts seriously because your writing is full of spelling errors, word usage errors, lack of punctuation, run-on sentences, neverending paragraphs that wander aimlessly, and text-message-style shorthand.

Emily K
March 27th, 2008 | LINK

Yeah, Jason D, you are right on. Please everybody, DO NOT FEED THE TROLL!

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