Former ex-gay leaders issue letter opposing change therapy

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2014

Buzzfeed has a copy of a letter issued by nine former ex-gay leaders expressing their opposition to therapy designed to change, reduce, or impact sexual orientation:

Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually. Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure.

In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.

Those signing are:

Brad Allen
Darlene Bogle
Michael Bussee
Catherine Chapman
Jeremy Marks
Bill Prickett
Tim Rymel
Yvette Cantu Schneider
John J Smid

In addition to the names above, many more former ex-gay leaders have – to varying degrees – left the movement and disavowed their previous beliefs or efforts.

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2014

I’m very happy this letter came out. I saw the announcement this morning from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which coordinated and released the letter. I wanted to post about it, but time constraints prevented me from doing so. Thank you Timothy for getting to this.

I am however all kinds of annoyed at Buzzfeed’s so-called “Exclusive.” Yes, they got a few direct quotes independent of the letter, but the letter was by no means a Buzzfeed “Exclusive” as the headline says.

I’ve been a longtime fan (and stalker; don’t tell anyone!) of Chris Geidner, and J. Lester Feder’s international reporting for Buzzfeed is unmatched anywhere. But there are other practices, not the least of which is their acceptance of sponsored content — which we will never do even though my inbox is flooded with offers — has me relying far more on the individual bylines I feel I can trust than the Buzzfeed brand as a whole, which I feel I cannot.


July 31st, 2014

“Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best.”

That is such a haunting statement, isn’t it? Reminds me of shock treatment from an earlier barbaric age.

Joseph Singer

July 31st, 2014

This should not make any difference to big wigs in Texas.


August 1st, 2014

It is unfortunate so many had to suffer while these individual “leaders of the ex-gay movement” worked through their own personal issues at everyone else expense. They collectively contributed to untold suffering. Contrary to Smid’s belief that “…it’s time to produce a statement that is not a statement of apology, but a statement on our beliefs on how conversion therapy harms people” IMHO every statement they make on this subject until they draw their last breath in this world should contain an apology for their part in this madness. Nonetheless I do a appreciate their effort and candor. Perhaps it will help somebody. But in all likelihood the people who need most to read it will never lay eyes upon it. Pro-gay anything from this world seldom makes it over to the other side of the Looking Glass.


August 1st, 2014

Victor stated in his very well written post, …..”worked through their own personal issues at everyone else expense.” I would like to add, “….and now only want to reap the rewards of our community brought about by the hard work of those they tried to destroy for their own personal gain.” IM(not so)HO they are spineless worms that should crawl back in the ground never to be heard from again. Obviously I am not as restrained or tactful as some. Perhaps living an open gay lifestyle for the last 37 years has made me skeptical and cautious.

enough already

August 2nd, 2014

Victor nailed it. They don’t want to apologize, they don’t care about the untold thousands of young men tortured by psychologists and driven to suicide.
They see their reign of terror coming to an end and want to get out while the getting is good.
No pardon from me. I wish everyone of them to be subjected to the same electro-shock torture as they inflicted upon all those young men.

Michael Bussee

August 2nd, 2014

For clafification: All of the signers of this statement have apologized for their previous involvement in ex-gay program and they harm they caused. And we will continue to apologize, but this is something more. The statement is intended as a next step — supporting NCLR’s #bornperfect campaign to end conversion therapy once and for all.

And for the record, Exodus never used electro-shock therapy. Their programs used prayer, counseling and Bible study. But of course these approaches also did harm — only reinforcing the feelings of shame and failure with the faith “miracle” didn’t happen. All of the signers are committed to educating the public about the harm that sexual orientation efforts have cause.

Eric Payne

August 3rd, 2014

Therapy was/is torture. Period.


August 3rd, 2014

I was forced to go to meetings at Exodus when I was 19. I must have been there approx. for a year – give or take. that’s like 35 years ago. I can’t ever remember it being called therapy. I’m guessing Exodus must have been fairly new at the time. Although finding cures for homos have existed for what – over 150 years? Every time I read about electric shock, my mind always goes into “dirty” mode; imagining hot and hunky doctors fiddling around with my balls and nipples while attaching electrodes. of course in real life it’s not funny. I have to say my experience with this exodus group and desert stream which I also went to for a short while on my own free will – searching for answers, didn’t really harm me so much as it may have for others. I think it is because I never really ever believed that it was wrong to be homo. I never believed that group prayer would change any thing. And now we all know better. But these groups did have a devastating effect on my family and it still lingers on 30+ years later. I’m a proud out man today and legally married for 24 years. What does piss me off is that the church is so damn backwards, the government is so damn backwards and the school system is likewise backwards. As long as people are stupid enough to look for answers among backward clergymen and not be educated enough to know they are looking in the wrong place, you will continually have individuals and organizations like Perkins and AFA selling their shit. So I am glad these X -xgays are coming out against what they once were pushing. I do believe they are sorry – much more than we can ever know. I’m glad they are speaking out and not hiding from their damage. They too were a product of the shit that was passed onto them. But unfortunately many of the people who need to hear the message, never will, and many of those who will hear the message wont believe it or could care less especially if there is money to be made by it. And as long as the general public continues to live in the dark, this century long history of homo cures will continue to live at the expensive of dumb and gullible people.

Eric Payne

August 4th, 2014

There was nothing “hunky” about the people who attached electrodes to me — and they weren’t doctors. They were orderlies. The “doctors” read the graph results, gave the orders as to when to change slides, and twisted the dials to apply the shock.

Such brave people they were, to stand behind me and determine whether I was more aroused by the photo of a fully clothed man walking his dog than I was of a semi-naked woman stroking her cat, or of Mark Spitz in his Speedo or Nadia Komanich in her leotard. When we got to the “tasteful” nudes,, I hope the doctors didn’t hurt their wrists with all that dialing they had to do.

The whole thing sometimes seems a little bit A Clockwork Orange-sequel when thinking back on it, but just under 40 years later, there’s still that raised, round scar tissue on the underside of my penis, and just the faintest round depression in the skin from where there wasn’t enough gel on the pad attached at that spot (just above my scrotum), it over-heated and burned me.

enough already

August 5th, 2014

Michael Bussee,
I had close relations back home in Germany who maintained to the day of their death that their membership in the Nazi party was purely on paper and they had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with all those torture and death camps.
You are just as complicit, just as guilty and just as thoroughly to blame for what you ‘ex-gay’ psychologists and ‘Christian witnesses’ did as the ‘good Christains’ who actually applied the electrodes.
Your ‘apologies’ are those of a con-man who sees a once-fertile field drying up and has moved on to the next mark.
I don’t forgive you, I condemn you. The torture and deaths of all those young men are the direct result of your and your other ‘good Christian’ ex-gay leaders.
You disgust me.

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