May 11th, 2008
Noé Gutierrez has experienced quite a few twists and turns in his young life. He originally appeared in the gay-affirming video “It’s Elementary,” which teaches school children the importance of respecting diversity. Later, he entered the ex-gay movement and was featured in Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s 2004 video “I Do Exist.” In early 2007, he issued a statement regretting that his story became a part of the “divisive message of the ex-gay movement.” Now he talks about how quickly the ex-gay movement has disowned him, an experience that has an eerily familiar ring among other ex-gay survivors I’ve talked to.
In a long but fascinating statement posted on his web site last month, Gutierrez describes his first-hand account of his involvement in the ex-gay movement. He recounts that while the ex-gay movement preaches about love and compassion toward the ex-gay movement, he found little evidence of it:
Forgiveness and reconciliation were a promise held at the far end of a road filled with sacrifice, self-discipline, and a commitment to never practice anything related to homosexuality. The amount of mental/emotional stress these ministries place on their members is insurmountable. Everyone seemed to manage the stress through various coping strategies. The most successful coping strategy seemed to be for someone to remain immersed in ex-gay ideology. You could accomplish this by becoming a member of a weekly support group or joining a ministry team as a volunteer or staff. The more active you were in a ministry the less likely you were to doubt your ability to achieve change. In short, you would have to eat, live and breathe ex-gay ministry.
Other coping mechanisms that Gutierrez observed included same-sex “couples” who were in ex-gay ministry together doing “God’s work,” and others who married an opposite sex partner in relationships which tended to remind him of the “‘best girl friend’ dynamic of the gay community.”
And of course, there was Noé’s own coping mechanism: his big splash as a spokesperson for the ex-gay movement through Dr. Throckmorton’s 2004 video. But as he grew more famous as a result of the documentary, he began to have doubts about what he had done. That’s when he got the full flavor of how quickly the ex-gay movement can turn on its own:
As I began to sever ties to ex-gay ministry I was shocked to see how quickly people turned away their friendship and camaraderie. It was as if overnight my name had been erased from the hearts and minds of all those who supported and “cared” for me. There was no outreach and no attempts at reconciliation. I was for all intents and purposes “disowned”. Since no outreach was made in my direction, I reached out to Exodus International. I signed up to attend their annual conference because a part of me still held the hope that what they believed could be real. After registering for the conference I got word that the leadership of Exodus had serious concerns that my attendance would do “harm” to the progress of other attendees. I could not believe how my change of heart was treated as though it were leprosy with others around me shouting “Unclean!! Unclean!!”
Following his being cast out, Noé struggled with a very serious depression as a result of the isolation and rejection he experienced from those who were his friends. This, too, is a common experience according to other ex-gay survivors I’ve talked with:
…[T]heir acceptance had in my mind been associated with my own sense of being loved and accepted by God. Therefore I not only felt like a failure in the eyes of Exodus but also in the eyes of God. The weight of this burden is one that I do not wish on anybody, but also one I am glad to have experienced because now I know what harm can come from setting people up for this type of failure. If we instill in men and women that their only way to heaven is to repent and commit to a lifelong pursuit of heterosexuality cloaked under terms of “purity” and “holiness”, what will these men and women do when they find the pursuit is never ending? Is it fair to make such an unattainable goal the key to personal and relational success in love and faith? Will they ever truly feel forgiven by God? Can they then ever experience the freedom in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or are we committing them to a life of shame and chains for which there is no end?
Noé concludes his statement with a beautiful testimony of a faith that was strengthened, not shattered. In many ways he describes a faith that is similar to my own, although I would never have been able to put it into words as beautifully as his. It is a very inspiring statement for everyone who has ever had to face the seemingly impossible task of reconciling their faith and their sexuality. It’s difficult, but not impossible. What’s more, it’s definitely worth it. After all, “we do exist” also.
Meanwhile — and despite all this — “I Do Exist” remains available for sale on Dr. Throckmorton’s web site.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.