Exodus Co-Founder: The Inherent Harm In Ex-Gay Programs

A multi-part video interview series with Michael Bussee, co-founder of Exodus International turned critic.

Daniel Gonzales

April 15th, 2010

Dawson McAllister

Last Sunday gay blogger Greg Kimball pretended to be a questioning 16 year old teen and called the syndicated radio talk show  “Dawson McAllister Live” and was directed to Exodus International for “help.”  This is little surprise as McAllister’s “partners” page includes a link to Exous’ website.  A support operator at McAllister’s program told Kimball’s fictitious 16 year old “They [Exodus] will talk to you, they will counsel you, they will not condemn you, they will not make you feel little or anything.”

Convincing supporters of exgay programs that said programs can cause harm is one of the greatest hurdles ex-gay survivor activists like myself face.  Like McAllister’s operator, supporters believe they are truly doing their God’s work and the idea that exgay programs are inherently harmful is often too much to comprehend.

When survivors of exgay programs like myself and Michael Bussee tell our stories of harm we’re often met with the response that no, exgay programs aren’t harmful, our individual program was just in need of a minor correction.

In the first of my video series, Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee addresses that common misconception:

(Video transcript after the jump)

I’m Michael Bussee, I’m one of the original co-founders of Exodus International. I left the program in 1979 and have since reconciled my spirituality and my sexuality and now I’m a vocal critic of reparative therapy programs and of Exodus International.

[music begins]

[title: “The Inherent Harm In Ex-Gay Programs”]

[voice of interviewer] Me as a survivor, often times when I tell my story and the harm I experienced, people from the exgay side say, “oh it’s not the nature of the exgay movement that causes harm, it was just the specific program you went to, there’s something small wrong with that that we need to fix.” How do you respond to that?

I get that all the time, when I say that I was harmed by the program they’ll say “oh that was just your particular experience.”

And then when I point out that many many people have been harmed by these programs.

And they respond “well that was just their experience, that was the particular program that they went to and it’s sad, and it’s unfortunate that they had that experience, but that it certainly isn’t characteristic of Exodus as a whole.”

I think it’s hogwash. I think it is characteristic of Exodus as a whole because they’re based on that idea that if you’re gay you’re broken, you’re sick, you’re damaged, you’re in need of repair, you’re engaged in something that will eternally separate you from God.

It’s the message that’s destructive, it’s the overall message.

As that message sinks in to your sense of self that you’re damaged, you’re broken, you’re in need of repair… that’s the damage.

There are people that don’t become aware of that damage until years later.

John Smid of Love In Action recently issued an apology where he says that he realizes that his basic feelings haven’t changed, he’s still basically gay in his orientation and he realizes he harmed a lot of people.

So for some people it takes a while for them to realize that it’s not just this specific experience of the individual survivor… it’s the message that there’s something wrong with you, that there’s something intrinsically damaged about you and your sexuality and you need to renounce it.  That’s the harmful part.

[end credits]

Sal Ignab

April 15th, 2010

Michael hit it right on the head – the message that gay = broken/disfunctional/bad is horrible, and it’s not just limited to Exodus. It prevades society from marriage, to blood donation, to taxes and even the forms you fill out at the doctors office. It really wears people down. Makes them suicidal. It’s evil. And it’s institutionalized.

Joe Allen Doty

April 15th, 2010

Several years ago, I got a personal phone chat with Michael Bussee.

I started reading about Exodus when articles appeared in the General Council of the Assemblies of God denomination’s “The Pentecostal Evangel, a weekly magazine you could pick up at church.

I had originally thought that church were he started it was an AG but, it was an independent Charismatic.

I feel special because Michael is a hero type to us who tried to deny our sexuality. I didn’t go do the ex-gay route but I experienced it. The Lord found a way to get me out of Tulsa for a while to get me out of the closet. that was a miracle in itself and how he did it.

Brian

April 16th, 2010

Yes, exactly, that IS the damage. Personally, though, I would take it one step further and assert that any form of Christianity that promotes the doctrines of salvation, heaven and hell do similar damage. Is it any wonder that so many of us LGBT find that to preserve our own sanity that we have to walk away from the anti-gay message that we are sick, broken, damaged AND the anti-human message that we are sick, broken, damaged. Salvation, in my humble opinion, is one of the most evil teachings out there.

Quo

April 17th, 2010

Those sceptical of the idea that ex-gay groups like Exodus cause harm won’t be convinced by this, as they might believe that convincing gay people that there is something wrong with them and that they are damaged is good, since that message is true.

Timothy Kincaid

April 19th, 2010

Quo,

Rather than generalize, why don’t you just say that there is something wrong with you and that you are damaged. Perhaps we can find agreement on that.

Quo

April 23rd, 2010

Timothy,

Yeah, there are all kinds of things wrong with me. That’s pretty obvious, and I’m not interested in denying it. It doesn’t affect my point, though.

John

April 23rd, 2010

Quo has become increasingly aggressive, lashing out now in multiple posts, since his beat down in the Ted Cox’s Journey into Manhood post comments section. I wonder if he is bucking to be banned in order to explain away how his posts in that thread were so completely ripped apart.

Quo

April 23rd, 2010

John,

I’m as calm as I’ve ever been, thank you. It’s not really a good idea to try to divert this thread into a discussion of something else that happened on a different thread.

Since you mention it, though, I’ll say that Grantdale’s and Tommy’s criticisms of what I argued there were actually helpful, despite being very unclear, and despite being mixed up with a lot of insults and personal abuse. I tried hard to avoid responding to the abuse, and I think I succeeded, so I’m not worried about being banned.

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.

 

Latest Posts

Jubal

Another Temporary Hiatus

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1971: Minnesota Couple Stake Claim To First American Same-Sex Marriage

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1954: "Perverts Vanish" From Miami

Born On This Day, 1907: Evelyn Hooker

Born On This Day, 1925: Fr. John J. McNeill

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

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.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

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.

Paul Cameron’s World

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.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

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"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

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.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

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.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

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.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

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.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe 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.