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“Beyond Ex-Gay” Seeking Ex-Gay Survivors For Online Survey

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2011

I’m on travel today, so I won’t be able to blog much (unless my flight happens to have WiFi). But I wanted to be sure to pass along this message from Dr. Jallen Rix, author of Ex-Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse, with an important invitation.

Dr. Jallen Rix of BeyondExGay.com seeks participants in a new survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who endured therapies designed to change their orientation and gender differences.

“In order to gather details about the often harmful effects of reparative therapy, ex-gay theories, and the plight of thousands of people who received these treatments, we want to hear directly from them.” says Rix, a sexologist who earlier in his life submitted to programs and religious counselors that promised to change him from gay to straight. The survey will be available through www.BeyondExGay.com, a web support group for “Ex-Gay Survivors.”

“While every major medical association has denounced the treatments as ineffectual and potentially harmful, providers of the treatments persist in their practices,” says Peterson Toscano, co-founder of BeyondExGay.com who spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents attempting to suppress and change his sexual orientation and gender differences. ”News that Michelle Bachman’s husband runs a client that offers gay-to-straight therapy got reporters talking about ‘those wacky treatments,’ but the many people who have survived the psychological and religious torture provide firsthand testimony of the harm they experienced and the work needed to reclaim their lives.”

Christine Bakke-O’Neil, a lesbian who received 5 years of ex-gay treatment and co-founder of Beyond Ex-Gay, says, “Along with this survey we are introducing creative new ways for Ex-Gay Survivors to receive peer support and share resources to help recover from all types of conversion therapy.”

In the past ten years leaders of the ex-gay movement have repeatedly asserted that ‘thousands’ of people have been cured of their homosexuality yet never provide any statistical evidence to back their assertions. “We know from experience that the vast majority of people who receive these treatments ultimately realize these leaders offer false promises and misleading information. Survivors can now go on record to state that ‘change’ was not possible or necessary and pursuing it caused damage.” say Rix, who notes that the anonymous participants of the survey will have the opportunity to share details about the type of treatments they received, why they desired change, the outcomes they experienced, and methods they discovered to undo the damage.

All those who attempted to alter their orientation or gender differences through the aid of one of these programs, a religious counselor, or on their own are urged to take the survey and tell others about it. Go to: BeyondExGay.com

Comments

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Joe
October 29th, 2011 | LINK

“In order to gather details about the often harmful effects of reparative therapy, ex-gay theories, and the plight of thousands of people who received these treatments, we want to hear directly from them.”

Wow – there aren’t going to be any biases in that survey!

William
October 29th, 2011 | LINK

Joe, the results of the survey will give information about the harm done by reparative therapy and ex-gay theories.

It just won’t tell us HOW OFTEN the harm is done.

Joe
October 30th, 2011 | LINK

Except this is from the team who say

“We believe that ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good.”

but have never attempted to find out how representative those harmful experiences are.

William
October 30th, 2011 | LINK

“We believe that ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good.”

They undoubtedly do, since they invariably fail to effect a genuine change in anyone’s sexual orientation. So precious time – sometimes years, and even in some cases decades – is stolen out of their lives to no purpose – quite apart from any waste of money. That, even if no other harm is done, is sufficient condemnation.

A reader
October 30th, 2011 | LINK

“More harm than good” is a subjective summation and reportedly contrary to oft-cited religious dogma. Thus, I have little doubt that it can also be spun the other direction as well, just as convincingly to those so inclined, no matter what evidence this clearly biased survey might produce. However, the survey might help to reveal risks and areas for future development/improvement both of these “therapies” and on the part of participants, along with ways in which some participants did not wholly participate in what was offered. In short, the knife cuts both ways, and every cloud has a silver lining, etc.

William
October 31st, 2011 | LINK

Even if bogus therapies for something that doesn’t need changing can be “developed”/“improved” so that they do less psychological, emotional and spiritual damage to those who dabble in them, the harm in terms of wasted time, money and nervous energy will still remain.

A reader
October 31st, 2011 | LINK

William, in the eyes of an army of religious, what you call “wasted time, money and nervous energy” are not wasted, for they hold that “ALL is ordained for the salvation of man” and “in EVERYTHING, God works for good for those who love him,” even when men do evil to other men. Indeed, “Every… suffering… can become the matter for thanksgiving” as a participation in the redemption of mankind. Even if the “therapies” are never improved, even if they cause untold agony, it remains, in the words expressed by Blessed Cardinal Newman, for example, that “[The Church] regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul… She holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single [homosexual act, for example]. She considers the action of this world and the action of the soul simply incommensurate, viewed in their respective spheres… Such is the Church, O ye men of the world, and now you know her. Such she is, such she will be; and, though she aims at your good, it is in her own way, —and if you oppose her, she defies you.” That is her “love” for you.

Back to these “therapies”, many religious firmly hold that belief regarding the possibility of change of a person’s sexual orientation is tantamount with faith itself, as stated in the reported words of Jesus, “Everything is possible for one who has faith.” Nevertheless, even without a change in a person’s sexual orientation, it remains that a reduction in homosexual acts is considered a serious “improvement”, and generally a matter of the person’s choice. Many consider the so-called “homosexual lifestyle”, as objectionable and overly simplistic as such reductionist term may be, to be comparable to that of an alcoholic or drug addict (which are also objectionable terms themselves), not fixed but improvable with therapy, prayer, etc. And there are in fact persons who have so-called changed their lifestyle, i.e. experienced a changed in their lifestyle and are now “ex-gay” in that regard, i.e. no longer engaging in homosexual acts, even if he/she might still be called “gay” on the basis of his/her alleged sexual orientation / “same-sex attraction”. It is thus invalid to reduce all so-called “ex-gay” therapy programs to whether or not there is a change in the person’s sexual orientation, for just as therapy may help an amputee to walk, the therapy is not considered “bogus” just because the man’s amputated leg remains amputated. This is not to say that there are no bogus claims in the “ex-gay therapy” world or that they should not be exposed through studies, even clearly biased studies, or that the religious should not strongly support the exposing of bogus claims and the end of harm, to include the end of homosexual acts if they be spiritually or physically harmful, for “love does no harm”.

William
November 1st, 2011 | LINK

“A reader”: If Newman seriously believed that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony etc. etc. than that one soul should commit one single homosexual act – what he actually said, if my memory serves me correctly, was “commit one single venial sin” – then so much the worse for him.

As for the rest of your post, I think it’s brilliant. You’re apparently trying to condone the peddling of a useless “therapy” for something that doesn’t need changing on the grounds that, even if it doesn’t do what it says it will, it might nonetheless just conceivably do something a little bit like it, and that any waste of time, money and nervous energy, not to speak of any other damage done, can be justified on the ground that “ALL is ordained for the salvation of man” and “in EVERYTHING, God works for good for those who love him.” I highly recommend this defence to anyone who finds himself in court to answer a charge of fraud.

Priya Lynn
November 1st, 2011 | LINK

“a reader” said “It is thus invalid to reduce all so-called “ex-gay” therapy programs to whether or not there is a change in the person’s sexual orientation, for just as therapy may help an amputee to walk, the therapy is not considered “bogus” just because the man’s amputated leg remains amputated.”.

No, its perfectly valid to say “ex-gay” programs are bogus because they don’t produce a change in orientation. They are advertised and sold to people as doing just that and used as a justification for denying gays equal rights. Claiming that “ex-gay” “therapy” is helpful and therefore not bogus is like a person amputating their leg because they believe that is where the demons reside that have been tormenting them. Just as the problem is not in the leg, the problem is not in the gayness, its in a bigoted society that encourages people to amputate their happiness in order to pretend to be something they aren’t.

A reader
November 1st, 2011 | LINK

William, if Cardinal Newman spoke the truth, then perhaps it is “so much the worse” for those who deny it. Similarly, according to Catholic Church teaching that describes homosexual acts as “acts of grave depravity”, homosexual acts may be “so much the worse” than a venial sin.

And rather than “apparently trying to condone” evil or that “any damage done can be justified”, the religious teachings that “all is ordained for the salvation of mankind” and that “in everything God works for good for those who love him” express that “Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil.” In other words, that we can make lemonade from lemons doesn’t mean that we or a court will “justify” fraudulent sales of lemons. Or, put simply, “The end does not justify the means.”

And when it comes to “therapies”, the “means” cover the gamut. The religious teach that to the extent that people may endeavor through moral means to not engage in immoral sexual acts and/or to resolve an “objectively disordered” inclination, that may be “justified”, even if perhaps it involves what you call a “waste of time, money and nervous energy” or even, at times, unintended collateral “damage”. But that does not mean “anything goes”, that all is “justified”.

A reader
November 1st, 2011 | LINK

Priya, not everyone uses the term “ex-gay” to mean a change in so-called “sexual orientation”. For example, the term is also used in reference to people who “leave the gay lifestyle”, even if the person still experiences some level of same-sex attraction. Similarly, in general usage, “ex-gay therapy” is neither a well-defined term nor a well-defined set of therapeutic practices. It means different things to different people. Thus, it is not “perfectly valid” to think that everyone should think and believe as you do, if you want to understand and appreciate what anyone but yourself thinks.

Likewise, not everyone believes that giving up homosexual acts is “amputating happiness”. To the contrary, many believe that giving up homosexual acts to be a big and necessary step toward true happiness, and there are people who attest it to be their experience, that “change is possible”.

William
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Dear reader:

It was Newman who wrote that that he became convinced at the age of fifteen “that it would be the will of God that I should live a single life.” Years later a Protestant writer (I can’t now remember which one) very sensibly commented that perhaps, on the contrary, it was the will of God that he should spend more time in the fresh air and sunshine.

As a Roman Catholic myself, although now a pretty nominal one, I am familiar with the Vatican’s teaching on homosexuality. I consider it both wrong and harmful, and I have long ceased to pay any attention to it.

If anyone, for whatever reason, wishes to reduce the number of their homosexual acts or of their heterosexual acts, that is entirely their affair, and whether or not I agree with or even understand their reasons is neither here nor there. But organizations which aim to help them to do this should not deceitfully pretend or imply that people can deliberately change their sexual orientation. They should be absolutely honest and admit that the likelihood of such a change is somewhere in the range between minuscule and zero, and that attempts to contrive a change of this kind can be psychologically and spiritually damaging.

A reader
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Dear William:

Would it really be “absolutely honest” for an organization to claim that “the likelihood of such a change is somewhere in the range between minuscule and zero” if the organization doesn’t believe such claim to be true? Perhaps you believe what you claim, but your claim is a vague, flawed and unproven subjective opinion. Not even the APA insists upon it, saying instead that “psychologists cannot predict the impact of these treatments” and that “There are no studies of adequate scientific rigor to conclude whether or not recent SOCE do or do not work to change a person’s sexual orientation.” Of course, you’re not required to agree with the APA’s opinions, no one is required to, and even the APA can change its tune, as can you, as can anyone. Change is possible.

Similarly, your claim “that attempts to contrive a change of this kind can be psychologically and spiritually damaging” is also vague, flawed and subjective. Perhaps since you claim to reject Vatican teaching, maybe you think yourself to be the authority on “spiritual damage”. The APA doesn’t define or measure it. Even “psychological damage” is subjective. Just about everything from parenting to going to the mall “can be psychologically and spiritually damaging” to some degree, in some way, according to someone. Indeed, you apparently include even “Vatican teaching” in that category.

Meanwhile, for example, Courage International, a “Roman Catholic apostolate ministering to people with same-sex attraction” says “Courage members are under NO OBLIGATION TO TRY to develop heterosexual attractions, because there is NO GUARANTEE that a person will always succeed in such an endeavour… SOME of our members have found VARYING levels of heterosexual development to be a BY-PRODUCT of living a chaste life for a period of time.”

Similarly, Exodus International says that “spiritual growth and obedience [to God's will?]” is the “measuring stick”, and that “Measuring change in sexual orientation, on the other hand, is complex and problematic”.

Even the “BeyondExGay.com” website opines, among other views, that “it is impossible to know if people who claim to have experienced a change in orientation have or not”. If so, perhaps it is “impossible to know” or quantify the “likelihood” of such a change, and thus impossible to substantiate your claim that “the likelihood of such a change is somewhere in the range between minuscule and zero”. Indeed, there is no universally accepted definition or measurement of “sexual orientation”, and many people consider labels/identities such as “gay” and things such as “sexual orientation” to be contrivances.

Timothy Kincaid
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

A reader,

I am not a big supporter of the “ex-gay ministries do more harm than good” mantra.

I don’t know that the harm would have not occurred outside of the ministries, and I believe that there is too quick of a dismissal of the positive introspection that occurs in the process.

In other words, I see that some people go into ex-gay therapy and as a result of the process come to understand that their orientation is and always will be gay, and leave ex-gay therapy a happy resolved and unconflicted gay man or woman.

Perhaps this effort will add to the sum total of information on the subject and someday we will have a definitive study that can determine whether such ministries do more harm than good.

But it should also be noted that passing the “more harm than good” test is hardly a glowing reference.

I hope that my endeavors never are at a place where people ponder the idea that I might actually be causing more harm than good. It really should never be a question.

A reader
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Unless and until “ex-gay ministries” (quasi-psychospiritual endeavors) can be “definitively” defined and measured, the “someday we will have a definitive study that can determine whether such ministries do more harm than good” is akin to the proverbial Judgment Day, always leaving it open that “change is possible”.

William
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Reader: I agree that it hasn’t been proved that “ex-gay” programs never work, nor do I see how it ever could be. But the evidence for their efficacy is no better than the evidence for the efficacy of Christian Science healing or of “spirit” healing, if indeed it is even as good as that.

I don’t claim to be an expert on psychological damage caused by conversion therapies, but I am ready to accept the testimony of clinicians who have dealt with survivors of these therapies (e.g. Douglas Haldeman, Ariel Shidlo, Michael Schroeder) that psychological damage is done. We just don’t know how often it is done. Similarly, we know that the sexual abuse of children causes lasting damage, but we don’t know exactly how often.

Priya Lynn
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

“A reader” said “Priya, not everyone uses the term “ex-gay” to mean a change in so-called “sexual orientation”.

Getting the general public to believe people can change sexual orientation is far and away the primary goal of all “exgay” activities, and the “exgay” industry intentional uses this phraseology to deceive so yes it it is perfectly valid to say “exgay” therapy is bogus.

“A reader said “Likewise, not everyone believes that giving up homosexual acts is “amputating happiness”. To the contrary, many believe that giving up homosexual acts to be a big and necessary step toward true happiness, and there are people who attest it to be their experience, that “change is possible”.”.

In one “exgay” program up to 30% of participants committed suicide. The Shidloe and Schraeder study showed that “exgay” “therapy” on the whole is harmful. Alan chambers claims he is happy but admits every day he struggles to deny what come naturally to him – that’s not what a person whose happiness has been increased by this bogus therapy says. The vast majority of people who go into these bogus programs will find their happiness amputated and a lonely life of desperation awaiting them.

A reader
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, “getting the general public to believe people can change sexual orientation” is NOT the “primary goal of ALL ‘ex-gay’ activities”. There is NO list of “ALL ex-gay activities”, and there are many “ex-gay activities” that have nothing to do with “getting the public to believe people can change sexual orientation”, particularly since “ex-gay activities” has NO agreed upon meaning among the people and organizations who use the term.

You then proceeded to make silly claims. For example, “In one exgay program up to 30% of participants committed suicide.” Here are some more such claims:

– In one study of homosexual persons who had not participated in an ex-gay program, less than 2% survived to retirement age.

– In one ex-gay program, up to 82% of participants successfully completed the program, assessed as ex-gay by multiple independent researchers using objective criteria.

You then go on to say, “The Shidloe and Schraeder study showed that ‘exgay’ “therapy” on the whole is harmful.” In other words, Shidlo and Schroeder advertised on the Internet and other places specifically looking for people who felt harmed by ex-gay programs decades ago. One can also advertise on the Internet and other places specifically looking for people who feel harmed by “the gay agenda”, and produce hefty reports “showing” that gay people “are harmful”. I’ve seen many such reports.

And if Alan Chambers is “happy but everyday he struggles”, the same can be said of millions of other people too, ex-gay or not.

You can even put all your studies together as the APA has done, and state as the APA has stated that “there are NO studies of adequate scientific rigor to conclude whether or not recent SOCE do or do not work to change a person’s sexual orientation” — no studies “that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not [it] is safe or harmful and for whom.”

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

“A reader” said “You then proceeded to make silly claims. For example, “In one exgay program up to 30% of participants committed suicide.”

http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2011/07/17561/#comments

“A reader” said “Here are some more such claims:”.

Yes, I agree, your claims about succsessful and happy “exgays” are silly and outright lies which have been thoroughly debunked here:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2011/09/28/37482

“A reader” said “One can also advertise on the Internet and other places specifically looking for people who feel harmed by “the gay agenda”, and produce hefty reports “showing” that gay people “are harmful”. I’ve seen many such reports.”.

No you haven’t – you’re just a liar. Giving gays the same rights heterosexuals have harms no one.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

“a reader” said “And if Alan Chambers is “happy but everyday he struggles”, the same can be said of millions of other people too, ex-gay or not.”.

I’ve struggle and I’ve been happy, but the two have never gone together. No, no one who struggles is really happy.

A reader
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, if you don’t like lying, why do you post? In one gay (not exgay) group, it’s a fact that up to 100% committed suicide. 100%!!! Meanwhile, in one ex-gay group, up to 100% are happy with their lives! It’s true! Not a lie.

And yes, I have indeed read many, many, many reports “showing” that gay people “are harmful”. There are people who even say that your posts are harmful. They might be right, even if you insist they’re not.

And as I said, if Alan Chambers is “happy but everyday he struggles”, the same can be said of millions of other people too, ex-gay or not — including you.

People have wondered, “Why do people claim to be gay if they’re not happy?”

Timothy Kincaid
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

No you haven’t – you’re just a liar.

Priya, if you don’t like lying, why do you post?

Both of these comments are not allowed by our comments policy.

– In one study of homosexual persons who had not participated in an ex-gay program, less than 2% survived to retirement age.

– In one ex-gay program, up to 82% of participants successfully completed the program, assessed as ex-gay by multiple independent researchers using objective criteria.

If you wish to make assertions, provide a link to your source. This is not optional.

In one gay (not exgay) group, it’s a fact that up to 100% committed suicide. 100%!!! Meanwhile, in one ex-gay group, up to 100% are happy with their lives! It’s true! Not a lie.

When we write at BTB, we attempt to use examples that inform rather than obfuscate.

Until you provide a source for these bizarre assertions, or retract them, I will disallow your comments.

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