Yesterday Michael talked about how he perceived what it meant to be gay, which was based largely on his own experiences with being closeted.
Today Michael talks about Exodus’ early interaction with gay activists who not long after the group’s founding became a concern. Surprisingly at the speaking event where Michael announced he was leaving Exodus there happened to be a group of gay activists in the back of the audience. I’ll let Michael take it from here and tell the rest of the story.
On Monday we’ll look at what happened in Michael’s life when he finally renounced his attempts to change and came out as a gay man to his family, friends and fellow ministry leaders.
(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.
[title: "We Were Both Fascinated And Scared By Gay Activists"]
[voice of interviewer:] So in the early days of Exodus did you guys ever have to deal with pesky gay activists bugging you like I do to Exodus now?
[Michael laughing] Yes those nasty gay activists
We were fascinated by them and scared of them at the same time. Initially when we started giving our testimonies there were no protesters, we didn’t encounter any gay activists. But as word got out we started getting more and more frightened we might become targets of violence, we were so worried that gays were mad at us.
I remember at the second Exodus conference which was held up in the [San Francisco] Bay Area we actually had security guards and we had name badges that had secret codes on them with secret colors that changed every day because we were worried we’d be infiltrated by gay activists and that some sort of terrorism might happen. There were protesters out front and we wanted to make sure none of them sneaked in to the conference. We were pretty paranoid about those gay activists.
At the conference where Gary and I finally sort of admitted that we hadn’t changed and weren’t going to be presenting ourselves as ex-gays anymore there were actual gay protesters in the back of the room and they looked really angry because they expected that we were going to say that gayness was a sin and that you could change and when we didn’t say that their reaction was something I’d never experienced before, they broke into smiles they were clapping, they came up afterwards and thanked us.
That was my first recognition that gay activists weren’t all angry Satan worshippers but actual supportive community that was available to me.