Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Former Ex-Gay Spokesperson: “I Was Disowned”

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2008

Noe GutierrezNoé 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.”

Noe Gutierrez in “I Do Exist”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.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0 | TRACKBACK URL

L. Junius Brutus
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

Remember people of stories like this when they make the claim that gays “can and do change”. Just how many people have successfully gone through these programs anyway? I have heard of very few ‘ex-gays’ indeed, who don’t work for these organizations.

It seems that it’s more for PR. Never mind the human cost.

Ex-Ex-Gay Blasts Movts. Attitude / Queerty
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

[…] Via Box Turtle Bulletin: As I began to sever ties to ex-gay ministry I was shocked to see how quickly people turned away their friendship and camaraderie. […]

B. John
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

Of course they have to shun him. These people are only living an illusion that is too fragile to have an “unbeliever” in their midst.

Anyone who “questions” their beliefs can’t be a member of the club.

Timothy Kincaid
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

Noe’s message led me to consider: I hope we as a gay community are more loving and forgiving to those who pursue their ex-gay identity than the ex-gay ministry is to those who become disillusioned.

Scott
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, I believe the gay community as a whole has no problem with somebody pursuing whatever path they want.

The ex-gays that complain about being villified are generally the ones who dirty their hands in politics.

wendy
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

I am deeply saddened, and repent on behalf of ex-gay leaders, to hear Noe’s story of feeling cast aside.

I celebrate the resiliancy of his faith and even more the faithfulness of Christ to reveal a deeper and more profound sense of grace to Noe.

I’m reading again Henri Nouwen’s book, “Lifesigns” in which he speaks of how profoundly people of faith can be driven by fear …. and the great necessity to move from the ‘house of fear’ to the ‘house of love’. Noe seems to have moved toward the ‘house of love’ and for this I rejoice.

In the freedom of love, we do not need to be threatened by the questioning of those with whom we have relationship. There can be room and spaciousness to generously and authentically explore questions of identity and faith – with our eyes fixed on Christ.

I pray that Noe’s words will “cut ex-gay ministry leaders to the quick” to work towards creating such spaciousness within Christian ministry for those questioning, struggling or embracing alternative sexual identities.

Jim Burroway
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

Thank you very much, Wendy. I hope that Noe will be able to receive your message.

Zeke
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

Frankly, I prefer snake oil salespeople to be mean and bitter.

No matter how seemingly kind, loving and compassionate the salesperson may be, at the end of the day the product they’re peddling is still, ineffective at best and dangerous/deadly at worst, SNAKE OIL.

Those who sell it with a smile on their faces are able sell more of it and therefore they are more dangerous than those whose negative and angry demeanor make them less effective peddlers.

I would much rather deal with the Sally Kern that was secretly taped spewing hatred, anger and wildly over the top misinformation than the sweet, kind, compassionate, grandmother-like repackaged version of her that gave a news conference where she looked reasonable and harmless.

Wendy here seems like a genuinely kind person but frankly I fear her more than I do LaBarbara and some of the other vein popping homophobes. If her desire to let people be who they are without trying to change them or trying to create a world where they will be sure to be miserable is genuine then I say kudos to her, however her use of “alternative sexual identities” makes me very nervous. The buzz words are there. We all know them. We know who uses them and we know why.

Wendy, perhaps you are just not familiar with generally accepted terminology for GLBT people and GLBT orientation so I’ll give you a break. “Alternative” “lifestyle/sexual identity” etc. is inaccurate, outdated and generally considered an inappropriate way to refer to GLBT orientation/expression/identity since it is not an “alternative” to people who are GLBT. By using the word “alternative sexual identity” to refer to homosexuality you infer that homosexuality is an alternative for straight people. That, along with the avoidance of the term or the concept of “sexual orientation” falls right into the misinformation that anti-gay activists and the ex-gay industry peddles, that gay people are just straight people who are misbehaving and choosing an alternate sexual identity; a sexual identity that they can choose to turn their back on a RETURN to their natural heterosexuality. That is simply not the case and is why your use of the term makes me suspicious of where you’re coming from.

Forgive me if my suspicions are inaccurate but gay people tend to be very sensitive to these things and we tend to become suspicious when we hear certain buzz words; especially when they come from people in the faith community. I think there’s a very good reason for our sensitivity and suspicion however I am aware of the fact that we sometimes misdirect doubt and suspicion at people who are genuinely kind and supportive. I hope you are one of these people and that you’ll continue contributing to the conversations here. .

Al Batross
May 12th, 2008 | LINK

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.

As if people who quit the gay subculture and the gay lifestyle don’t experience analogous treatment? Puh-leez….

Being a part of any community is fruitless – you’ll end up being somebody’s tool – without a clear, personal concept of right and wrong, clear understandings of one’s motivations and morals.

wendy
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

Zeke,

I did not mean to infer that homosexuality is an alternative for straight people. Perhaps naively, my intention behind the word ‘alternative’ was to be more inclusive than just gay or straight – but to recognize the many diverse identities people are exploring or adopting for themselves (along the lines of the never ending acronym…).

I come from what would be considered a ‘side b’ perspective … however, I have often said to the conservative Christian community (my regular ‘audience’), that I believe part of my ‘job’ is to normalize the experience of same-gender attraction. This experience is simply a reality for some people. It is not, in my understanding, something that MUST be eradicated in order to be accepted, loved or pleasing to God. Nor do I think anyone can in good conscience claim that they have the secret formula to influence (let alone completely change) anyone’s orientation. In my experience, however, there are some people of faith with whom I’ve engaged relationally who are genuinely unsure, confused, questioning what exactly their orientation is…. they may end up owning for themselves a gay identity, a bi-sexual identity, a straight identity …. but at that point in their life they really are uncertain. By talking about identities rather than orientation, I attempt to articulate a spaciousness needed for those folks to wrestle it out, journey for as long as they need, to own for themselves the identity that seems most consistent with their persistent experience.

My focus, as a follower of Jesus, is to encourage a person – gay, straight, bi, transgendered – or anything in between – to encounter and engage on a relational level with Christ. At the end of the day, I have zero control over what they do with that encouragement. And that is the way it should be. It isn’t within the realm of human capacity to change another’s heart …. that is between the individual and their Maker (if that is the belief system you hold).

What I rejoice about in Noe’s story is that he seems to have emerged from a striving, fear-based, shame-based focus on his sexual orientation to a freer relationship with Christ focused on who Christ is – not so much on who he is. My heart’s desire is that no one, regardless of orientation or experience of confusion about their sexuality, would feel stuck in a place of such fear, anxiety and oppression. That is not reflective, in my understanding, of the person or ministry of Jesus Christ. What I see in Christ is that perfect love casts out fear.

What an individual does about their sexual behaviour, in my understanding, needs to flow out of the freedom of experiencing the intimacy of that perfect love. Therefore, whether someone who has a homosexual orientation lands on a side a or a side b perspective (terms from bridges across and gcn) is secondary to me – what is primary is where they are at in their spiritual journey – and in my case, where they are at in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Anyway…. give a preacher an inch and they rattle on for a mile :)
I appreciate your insights Zeke – it will give me more to chew on and ponder. I would be the first to say, I have a lot to learn – and come from a whole different world than many of you – so I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and will take them into careful consideration as I continue to wrestle with the best use of language.

Zeke
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response Wendy.

For the record I am a devout and very active Christian (from the Buddhist branch of the Christian faith) and very active member of the United Church of Christ. I have found exactly the peace and understanding in my faith, and in my relationship with Christ, that you speak so eloquently of. In my case, and I suspect in the case of many, if not most, GLBT people of faith, that relationship wasn’t possible until I came to a place in my life where I was able to have a loving and honest relationship with myself; my REAL self; my gay self.

Again, thanks for your kind and thoughtful contributions to this discussion.

Mike Airhart
May 25th, 2008 | LINK

It was Warren Throckmorton who most exploited Noe Gutierrez, and who offered highly conditional “love” and “support.”

Has Throckmorton now disowned Gutierrez?

What does that mean, if Throckmorton has disowned Gutierrez even as he continues to sell the “I Do Exist” video which not only distorted Gutierrez’s journey, but also promoted the work of an ex-gay demon-obsessed exorcist?

Frank
June 5th, 2008 | LINK

I’m sorry you went through that Noe. I’m ex-gay, and I actually greeted you one year in marion Indiana. I hope you’re happy(and i dont mean that sarcastically, I hope you are) I still dont believe I would be happy as a homosexual but I’m glad you reconciled your sexuality with your faith. I have much admiration for gay christians. they blaze a brave path.

I have to disagree with you though on some points. Im not involved in any ex-gay ministries but i find myself over all more happy than I have been in the past. I have realistic expectations and I’m ok with what the future holds. perhaps there is a problem when people come in thinking that they’re gonna be chasing skirt in a year or two. I wish it was that simple, but its not. I dont want to be a skirt chaser, but I think one day, I can be happily married with a woman. even now, I already experience attractions to women, though they arent the “rip their clothes off, sexually charged passion” of my other guy friends. but then again, I wouldnt want to be like that, just like I wouldnt want to chase guys like that.

much love, and luck in future endeavours. and I must appologize that you faced such rejection. I am so sorry.

David Foreman
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

I still have three unopened “give-away” copies of “I Do Exist.” I used to hand them out as part of my ex-gay ministry. I used to consider myself ex-gay. Now, I have no idea what that term means. More and more, I am dissatisfied with labels in general. The whole “Ex” anything is not the best way to go. Let me make it personal. I am a man who has chosen to live in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship with the woman I love. That’s it. It doesn’t mean that I am not attracted to others. Those who deny such attractions are often the first to act on them. Also, it is not hypocritical, or denying my true self to not act on those attractions. My attractions do not define me. Again, labels and “catch-phrases” oversimplify the vast complexity of our humanity, and, to be sure, the vast complexity of sexuality.
I no longer promote “ex-gay” ministries, BUT I am equally against the hate-filled venom spewed by many “gay-activists” towards those who are not happy with their homosexuality, and pursue other options. He may disagree, but I don’t believe Mr. Gutierrez would have been where he is had he not at least explored the possibility of “change,” whatever that means. We all, straight, gay, bisexual, ex-gay, whatever, need to be loving and supportive of the choices of others. The hate, manipulation, and control from ALL SIDES needs to stop.

David Foreman
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

One more thing.
There are those who say they have reconciled their Christian faith with their homosexuality, and are completely happy with that. There are others who claim they have “come out of homosexuality” and are completely happy with that. I certainly have no right to label either of them as “liar.”

Timothy Kincaid
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

David,

Here at BTB we support the decisions of individuals to live their live in accordance with their values and dreams. We do not, however, support the campaign of falsehood that has for far too long been a hallmark of the ex-gay movement.

I think that if you look closer, you’ll see that the “hate filled vemom” to which you object is not directed at those who “pursue other options”. Rather, it is directed towards those who testify before legislators that “I have changed, change is possible, so you should vote for discrimination and against equality”. It is directed to those who tell denominations the same.

If that’s not you, then we have no conflict.

I support your choice to live with your wife and to love her. I genuinely hope that this will be a long, full, and satisfying relationship. May God bless and keep you.

Priya Lynn
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

David, those who claim they have “come out of homosexuality” are almost certainly lying – you know yourself those attractions don’t go away.

If you put any criterion ahead of “who am I the most attracted to” in your choice of a marriage partner you’ve cheated yourself and your partner.

David Foreman
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, thanks for your comments. Again, I assure you, I’ve seen both side more than you can imagine. There certainly is hate on both sides, just as their are bigots both black and white. I think, should we know each other better, we would indeed have no (or little) conflict.
Priya, I appreciate your input, but I do disagree with you. The “B” in “GLBT,” as you know, is for bisexual. Some people may to attracted equally to both sexes. To say they can’t choose someone, either sex, and decide to have a monogamous relationship, even though other attractions exist, is, in my opinion, absurd. Most “straight” guys are still attracted to other women. Does that mean they’re “Cheating” themselves or their partner? I think not. My wife and I have been together a total of 30 years. We are both free to admit other attractions. That’s not cheating or shortchanging each other. That’s sharing our lives. Again, I neither deny, nor am I defined by, my sexual attractions. I’m simply a man with choices to make.
I hope my reply has not sounded harsh, as that is not my intention. I’m just explaining where I’m coming from.
God bless you in your journey.

Priya Lynn
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

David said “Priya, I appreciate your input, but I do disagree with you. The “B” in “GLBT,” as you know, is for bisexual. Some people may to attracted equally to both sexes. To say they can’t choose someone, either sex, and decide to have a monogamous relationship, even though other attractions exist, is, in my opinion, absurd.”.

I never made such a claim David. I am bisexual myself and I’ve had relationships with women, and now a man. My point was that in each relationship I chose the person I was most attracted to, I never let some idea of what I “should” be doing override that. If that’s what you’ve done you have indeed cheated yourself and cheated your partner. This has nothing to do with the fact that regardless of who we are with we may still have attractions for other people, its all about whether or not you compromised in your choice of partner.

David Foreman
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, thanks for clarifying. Rest assured, my love for, and marriage to, my wife is not at all based on what I thought I “should” be doing. I believe, with no doubt, our being together is a “God thing.” Believe me, I more than explored my options. I can’t believe anyone, male or female, could be a better match for me than the one I’m with.

But that’s part of my big problem with labels. I guess, if I had to wear one, it would be bisexual. But that’s another attempt to pigeon-hole all that I really am. I just think humans are much to complex for all that reductionism.

Again, I wish you all the best in your life and your relationships.

Priya Lynn
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

David, I’m skeptical that anyone who was part of an “ex-gay” “ministry” never let thoughts of what gender he “should” be with override a choice based on who he was most attracted to. That combined with your claim that you have no reason to doubt the honesty of anyone who claims to have “come out of homosexuality” leads me to believe you’re not being honest with yourself, let alone others.

Timothy Kincaid
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

David,

There’s a term that’s been floating about a bit; I think Dr. Throckmorton coined it.

Spousosexual: when a person is primarily attracted to persons of the same sex but have found that affection and love for their opposite-sex spouse engenders sexual attraction to that one person of the opposite sex.

This seems to me to be the case with many if not most of the married ex-gays I’ve encountered. I don’t know if this is accurate for you and I know that you don’t like labels, but this is a kinda amusing one that is quite accurate for some folks.

(And, by the way, I personally think “who am I the most attracted to” is a particularly poor criterion for selecting a mate. I think many many people of all orientations have regretted putting “attracted to” too highly on the list.)

David Foreman
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, I’ve read some of Dr. Throckmorton’s material, but I’ve never heard that term. Wow. If I use any label, I may have to claim that one. I kinda like it. By the way, thank you so very much for having what I believe to be conversation with me. Far too often, these things end up as just self-serving mutually exclusive monologues. Truly, God bless you.

Priya Lynn
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “(And, by the way, I personally think “who am I the most attracted to” is a particularly poor criterion for selecting a mate. I think many many people of all orientations have regretted putting “attracted to” too highly on the list.)”.

By “most attracted to”, I don’t just mean in the physical sense, I mean emotionally, and mentally as well. Tell us Timothy, what do you think the criteria should be for attracting a mate, if not that?

Priya Lynn
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

I meant to say “Tell us Timothy, what do you think the criteria should be for choosing a mate, if not that?

Spousosexual « LifeWalk
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

[…] http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2008/05/11/1990   Leave a Comment […]

Tribbles Aren’t The Trouble. Labels Are. « LifeWalk
July 17th, 2011 | LINK

[…] at Gay Christian Network Nathan Albert’s entire article The Myth of a Christian Nation Box Turtle Bulletin A New Kind Of Christianity The Marin Foundation For The Bible Tells Me So [Photo from Star […]

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.