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Posts for December, 2010

Civil unions campaign announced in Colorado

Daniel Gonzales

December 16th, 2010

Sen. Pat Steadman

Well this announcement came sooner than I was expecting, I crack open my Denver Post app this morning and see “Colorado lawmaker plans to introduce civil-unions bill.” Here’s some excerpts:

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said he believes the majority of Coloradans support civil unions and oppose gays being treated unfairly.

Steadman, who is gay, said he expects his proposal to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, but he’s not sure what kind of reception the idea will get in the Republican-controlled House.

True on both counts, but One Colorado (our new statewide equality group) surveyed the state earlier this year and found a dramatic shift in Coloradans’ opinions on civil unions:

The [2010] poll results show that 72 percent of Coloradans support legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. This compares to 2006, when 48 percent of Colorado voters supported domestic partnership legislation for gay and lesbian couples.

But Steadman and One Coloardo have their work cut out for them since Republicans hold a slim majority in the House (we have a bicameral assembly). 

For strictly pragmatic reasons I’m hoping Steadman (who’s openly gay and represents the district I live in) will include a “religious protections” clause in our legislation as was recently used in Illinois.  Yes I know the First Amendment already provides these protections but from a publicity standpoint having the wording in the bill really helps diffuse religious hysteria and objection.   Here’s that section from the Illinois bill:

Section 102. Religious Freedom. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to interfere with or regulate religious practice of the many faiths in Illinois that grant the status, sacrament, and blessing of marriage under wholly separate religious rules, practices, or traditions of such faiths. Additionally, nothing in this Act shall be construed as to require any religious body, Indian Nation, Indian Tribe, Native Group, or officiant thereof to solemnize or officiate a civil union or to prohibit any religious body, Indian Nation, Indian Tribe, Native Group, or officiant thereof from solemnizing or officiating a civil union. Any religious body, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group or officiant thereof is free to choose whether or not to solemnize and whether or not to officiate civil unions.

I’ve already contacted Steadman to thank him and let him know the Illinois bill is a great model for bipartisanship,  his office contact info can be found here.

Happenings in Colorado – family album project

Daniel Gonzales

December 7th, 2010

One Colorado is our newly formed state equality group, with startup money from the Gill Foundation and headed by Brad Clark fresh from his success at One Iowa.  As a politically active Coloradan (some people prefer Coloradoan) and BTB contributor, in the coming months I’m going to be covering the Colorado beat in an attempt to bring national attention to work being done here.

A week ago One Colorado and a coalition of other orgs called on governor elect Hickenlooper to form a safe schools task force.

This week One Colorado announced their Family Album Project to collect images and stories from LGBT Coloradans.  Of course this album will be used as an important tool when meeting with legislators, especially to show that LGBT people don’t just live in Denver but are all across the state in every electoral district.

One Colorado hasn’t yet formally announced their legislative and policy agenda for 2011 but plan on the album project being a key part in working towards those goals as well.

If you’re interested in helping out, start by emailing your photo to One Colorado’s communications manager Jess Woodrum at jessicaw@one-colorado.org.  She’ll probably be in touch with some follow up questions to gather your story and help tell it.

Photo by Mark Manger as published in One Colorado's 2010 statewide LGBT survey results book.

Ex-gay survivor and former Living Waters client Christine Bakke engaged

Daniel Gonzales

November 15th, 2010

Engagement photo by Dan Gonzales

In September I was thrilled to announce the engagement of ex-gay survivor Jacob Wilson but now we’ve got another high profile ex-gay survivor engagement, Christine Bakke!

Christine (a graphic designer) and Theresa (a medical grant writer) met on Facebook through a mutual friend who was a member of Gay Christian Network (GCN) and came to be good friends over the course of several months.  Theresa was living in Portland at the time and when she came to Denver for a concert met Christine face to face for the first time.

In February Theresa orchestrated an elaborate proposal treasure hunt where friends as far away as Canada participated by giving Christine clues to travel to various places around Denver all having meaning to Christine.

The ceremony will be held on Sunday January 9th 2011, the same weekend as GCN’s conference in Denver so Christine and Theresa’s friends from the organization can attend more easily.  Long time Evangelicals Concerned member Joe Quillan will MC the secular ceremony.  With Joe as MC three selected couples will take turns leading the ceremony.

As Colorado does not issue same-sex civil marriage licenses Christine and Theresa will be taking advantage of the state’s designated beneficiaries law.  Also both Christine and Theresa were born in California and have considered applying for a civil marriage license once equality is restored there.

‘Love In Action’ Graduate Jacob Wilson Gets Engaged

Daniel Gonzales

September 10th, 2010

Jacob Wilson has come a long ways in a short time.  In 2005 Jacob was coerced into attending Love In Action’s “Source” program (a residential ex-gay program) after his church discovered he was involved in a same-sex relationship with a minister from another local church.  Jacob was 19 and attended Love In Action at the same time as the Zach Stark controversy.  Since then Jacob has publicly spoken out about the harm he experienced in ex-gay programs though events such at Beyond Ex-Gay’s weekend of activism in Memphis in 2008.

Jacob and his fiancée Ben met through their fraternity at Iowa State, Delta Lambda Phi, an LGBT and progressive interest fraternity, and have dated for two years.

Jacob is currently a senior double majoring in political science and women’s and gender studies.  Ben completed his undergrad degree in computer engineering and is now a masters student in the same subject.

After Jacob graduates he plans to attend grad school and has yet to finalize what city they will be moving to.

Jacob proposed to Ben at a picnic over Labor Day earlier this week.

The fully legally recognized wedding ceremony will likely be held in Ames the summer of 2010 2012.  Ben is adamant there will be no drag performances at the reception.

Our congratulations to Jacob and Ben.

Major Gay Porn Actor Discloses He Is HIV+

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Daniel Gonzales

August 24th, 2010

Due to the subject matter of this post assume all outgoing links are not work-safe unless noted otherwise.

Mason Wyler is one of the more prolific gay porn actors currently producing material; in addition to having a considerable formal filmography (IMDB) he maintains personal and commercial websites.  Last Thursday on his personal blog Wyler disclosed that he is HIV+.  His brief post in it’s entirety:

I have something to say. I spent the last few months waiting for the right time to tell you but it turns out that there is no right time… I wish I could put this off for a little while longer but information like this usually finds a way of coming out sooner than later. In fact, people have already begun to talk so I might as well just tell you now. I tested positive. I have only myself to blame. I have HIV and it kind of sucks.

Porn news site TheSword.com reports Great Atlantic Media’s (a porn conglomerate) webmaster Mark Wilson originally outed Mason with a trashy post on GayPornGossip.com.  Wyler’s admission on his own site appears to have been posted later that same day.

Sometimes it boggles the mind the number of people who think it’s acceptable to disclose someone else’s status, including as I’d previously posted Michael Alvear, Manhunt.net’s in-house advise columnist (Safe for work).

I admit I’m fond of Mason’s work and part of the purpose of this post is to speculate on how this might affect his career.  In the mainstream (condom-less) straight  porn industry contracting HIV is a career ender (gee talk about stigmatizing).

Contrast this to the gay porn industry where an anonymous survey conducted by TheSword.com revealed a full 30% of actors were either poz or unsure of their status and 52% of survey respondents either never or rarely discussed their status with scene partners.

But my question is, how many of those people are public with their status and how does that affect their cast-ability in films?

Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of any mainstream (non-bareback) openly poz gay pornstars.  If you happen to know of any please post a comment below and include a source link.

Fortunately TheSword.com is already reporting the Raging Stallion network of porn sites has issued a common sense statement:

Raging Stallion practices safe sex on all of its video shoots–indeed we enjoy filming hot safe sex and showing other gay men how to have hot safe sex. HIV status should not be an issue when shooting porn if the actors are using condoms and using common sense. Raging Stallion would love to shoot Mason Wyler in an upcoming movie. He is a great actor and I have always wanted to work with him. Nothing has changed from my perspective.

God now if only the rest of the porn industry would adopt such a rational view.

Cross posted on The Denver ELEMENT

Exodus Co-Founder: “There Were No Real Standards For Training Or Methodology”

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

Daniel Gonzales

June 29th, 2010

Even today Exodus ministries are somewhat of a free-for-all.  Operating under the guise of “pastoral counseling” lay ministry leaders at Exodus programs are free to engage in pseudo-therapy as well as a slew of religious exercises from distributing testimonials at gay bars to exorcisms.

In today’s video Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee explains that at the time of Exodus’ founding he had the most formal mental health training of anyone in the organization… he was in a masters program.  Bussee admits his program at Exodus was successful at creating a safe, confidential, therapeutic environment but he never successfully found the secret to making people straight.

Lastly, Bussee details what he believed went on at Exodus’ various other member ministries across the country.

[full transcript after the jump]

Read the rest of this entry »

Exodus Co-Founder: We Were Abandoned When We Left Exodus

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 25th, 2010

Leading up to now we’ve had videos discussing Michael’s fear of the gay community and fears about what would happen if he left Exodus.

Today Michael talks about what actually happened when he finally did renounce Exodus and came out as a gay man.  What did Michael’s church do? What did his relatives do? What did his wife do? What did his fellow leaders at Exodus do?

One person in Michael’s life even graphically warned him of the flames of hell that await him.

Lastly Michael closes with a warning that even today people still fear the consequences and rejection when they try to leave Exodus.

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: We Were Both Fascinated And Scared By Gay Activists

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 24th, 2010

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)

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“Michael Bussee, You Have Blood On Your Hands”

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 21st, 2010

I expected my interview series with Michael to generate a lot of emotion, but in recent days the reader comments have taken a dramatic shift to questioning why Michael did not come out publicly against or make amends for his involvement in Exodus sooner.  One expression that’s particularly common in YouTube comments is that Michael somehow has “blood on his hands,” hence the title for this post.

In today’s video Michael explains his delay in speaking out against Exodus.  Of all the things Michael wanted to address on the day I interviewed him, this was foremost on his mind.

But before we get to the video let me personally address all the work I believe Michael has done for the ex-gay survivor community:

  • Whenever the activist community has called upon Michael, he has been happy to volunteer himself.  This includes a Love Won Out counter protest in Palm Springs (near his home) and the public apology of former Exodus leaders organized by Beyond Ex-Gay in 2007.
  • As one of the most visible ex-gay survivors myself, I am constantly contacted by media and documentary filmmakers.  When appropriate, I refer these people to Michael who is happy to speak with them One Nation Under God, filmed prior to Gary’s death (Michael’s partner), only marked the beginning of his speaking out.  Since the film’s release in 1993 Michael has continued to fight the ex-gay myth for 17 years now.
  • How many other former leaders from the early days of Exodus have since dropped out and said nothing? Remember, Michael was just a co-founder, there are plenty of other lapsed Exodus leaders out there.
  • If you believe Michael needs to do more to speak out or atone for his past transgressions then why don’t you contact him about a project he can take part in.  That’s exactly what I did. I was home in LA for a week and picked up the phone to see if Michael wanted to spend a day in front of the camera.  Michael answered every single question I put to him, even when things got painful, as you’ve seen in previous videos in this series.

But enough of my opinion.  Here’s Michael on the delay in speaking out against Exodus:

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: We Didn’t Know There Was An Alternative For Gay Christians

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 20th, 2010

One of the most common reasons people go ex-gay is because they don’t believe a meaningful community exists in the gay world and fear losing their current church community.  In today’s video I ask Michael how he viewed “the gay community” while he was still at Exodus.

Don’t miss the part where Michael talks about how Exodus viewed the Metropolitan Community Church.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing when he surprised me with that during filming.

(transcript after the jump)

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Ex-Gays Celebrating Misery And Tragedy In Lives Of Gay People Is Hardly New

Daniel Gonzales

May 19th, 2010

Alan Chambers, thanking God for the end of a 22 year relationship.

Earlier today Ex-Gay Watch posted on a statement made by Exodus president Alan Chambers on his Facebook fan page:

Heard from a couple this morning who have been praying for their daughter and her partner to come to Christ for 22 years. Both accepted Jesus, broke off their relationship and are pursuing a life in Christ. God is faithful and answers prayers. Be encouraged no matter your circumstances!

Unfortunately celebrating misery and tragedy in the lives of gay and lesbian people is nothing new for leaders in the ex-gay movement.  A while back I found, but didn’t post about, a passage from Mike Haley’s 2004 book “101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality.” Appearing on pages 46 & 47:

[Question #] 12. My son just told me he’s gay.  He says he’s finally accepted who he is and that he’s never been happier.  Can this really be true?

Mike Haley starts off his response with explaining how gay people often feel elated at coming out so let’s jump to the end of his response where he issues actual advise:

The key for your son in the weeks and months to come is for him to realize it’s not too late to turn back.  This is where the church and loved ones like you come in.  If he hears that change is possible, that he was not “made” this way, and that he is loved within godly boudaries even if his lifestyle choices don’t change immediately, there is hope that when the feeling of relief wears off and the emptiness sets in, he will try to live his life in line with God’s will.

In the meantime, I advise you to pray that he becomes as miserable as possible, as soon as possible, and that God will protect him through it. [emphasis added]

Mike Haley of Focus On The Family, advising you to pray God will make your gay child miserable.

As I said before, I discovered that passage years ago when I first read the book and in all that time have been unable to formulate a response to something so wicked and ugly.  However with Ex-Gay Watch bringing light to Alan’s celebration I realized this sadly is not a unique case and that attention needed to be brought to it.

I should add the first page of Haley’s book is filled with endorsements by Alan Chambers, Jeff Konrad, Joe Dallas, and Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.  I’m curious if they too wish for misery and tragedy to fall upon the lives of gay and lesbian people.

Exodus Co-Founder: I Regret Teaching That Gayness Is The Result Of Bad Parenting

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 18th, 2010

Yesterday we looked at Michael’s regret for teaching the idea that if you worked hard enough in an ex-gay program you would be changed.

Today Michael shares his other regret, teaching that bad parenting causes a person to be gay.  Michael talks about the division in families that can cause and his own process of later reclaiming the belief his father was actually loving, giving, encouraging and self-sacrificial.

(transcript below the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: I Regret Teaching If You Had Enough Faith You Would Be Changed

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 17th, 2010

My question to Michael, is there anything specific you regret teaching, produced an answer with two separate and distinct parts.  (We’ll have a video up tomorrow of the other half of his answer.)

First we look at the idea that if you worked hard enough in an ex-gay program you would be changed.  Michael now believes the only thing being a loyal Christian guarantees in life is sharing in Christ’s sufferings.  To teach otherwise Michael says is heresy.

Yes, heresy, you don’t hear that word thrown around on this blog very often.

(transcript below jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: When People Left Our Program They Just Disappeared

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 13th, 2010

As notable ex-gay survivor Peterson Toscano wrote in 2007, ex-gay programs and Exodus have absolutely no sort of after-care or follow-up when a participant leaves a program:

Never once has an ex-gay program I attended ever done any sort of follow-up. I mean I can’t buy a soy latte these days without having to fill out a survey about my coffee experience. Yet folks can spend tens of thousands of dollars on reparative therapy and nothing–no aftercare, no reflections on what worked and what didn’t work.

I’m admittedly curious about what goes through the mind of an ex-gay leader when a participant stops coming.  Do they assume the person is cured?  Have they gone back in the closet? Are they living the dreaded homosexual lifestyle?

It’s not an easy thing to confront as you can tell by Michael’s body language in this segment and that I had to ask the question three times before we got into the meat of the issue.

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: Inequality Under The Law Is OK As Long As It Persuades People To Go Ex-Gay

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 11th, 2010

Modern day Exodus and president Alan Chambers provide a near non-stop supply of illogical and bizarre statements that keep watchdog sites like Truth Wins Out, Ex-Gay Watch, and BoxTurtleBulletin busy documenting and analyzing them.  My personal favorite is Alan’s claim that he might never have come to Jesus and become straight if gay marriage had been available to him when he was young and gay.

I thought I’d ask Michael Bussee what he thought of Alan’s statement.

Hat tip to Ex-Gay Watch for capturing video of Alan’s appearance at the Prop 8 rally.

(transcript below the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: Celibacy And Admitting You’re Not Changing

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

Daniel Gonzales

May 10th, 2010

One of my favorite questions to ask former ex-gays is how in their own minds they came to the realization change isn’t possible.  In today’s video Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee talks about the convergence of factors that lead him to abandon his attempts to change.

Even today when someone in the ex-gay movement finds their sexual orientation is not changing they are told that a lifetime of celibacy is the best they can hope for.  Michael concludes the video by discussing celibacy and why it wasn’t a viable path for his life.

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: I Never Saw One Of Our Members Become Heterosexual

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

Daniel Gonzales

April 27th, 2010

Today’s video is short and concise.  I asked Michael point blank if he believed anyone in his program at Exodus ever changed.

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: Getting Married As A Leap Of Faith

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

Daniel Gonzales

April 26th, 2010

Ex-gay Mike Haley showing off pictures of his wife and family while speaking at the Love Won Out ex-gay conference. Love Won Out is primarily attended by Christians who are unable to accept a gay friend of family member and wishes they would enter an ex-gay program. The message Mike's photos send is, "there's still hope for your gay loved one to turn straight and get married."

Some people in the ex-gay movement become so deeply involved they make the drastic step of getting married.  Michael Bussee took that step and talks today about his inner conflict in doing so.  Michael recognized he wasn’t a heterosexual when he got married but chose to anyway because he believed God would reward him with heterosexuality if he truly committed himself to God and took his vows as a leap of faith.

Once married Michael found himself in an uncomfortable position as a role model at Exodus and privately tried to discourage his own clients from marrying.

Lastly Michael talks about the damage caused by using marriage as proof of change and the collateral damage that occurs when mixed orientation (ex-gay) marriages come to an end.

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: We Were All Still Struggling Silently As We Promised Change

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

Daniel Gonzales

April 21st, 2010

In today’s video Michael talks about an evening in New York City with another ex-gay leader that caused him to begin to question if anyone in the ex-gay movement was really changing. After talking to other Exodus leaders Michael finally came to the conclusion:

“[T]here were very few of us, if any, who were completely celibate, and we were all still silently struggling with out own sexuality, at the very same time we were promising change.  And that lack of integrity, that psychological and spiritual split just got wider and wider and wider until I couldn’t take it any more.”

(transcript after the jump)

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Exodus Co-Founder: Gay Kids Ending Up On Our Doorstep

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

Daniel Gonzales

April 19th, 2010

As we learned earlier this month the thinly veiled  ex-gay front group “American College of Pediatricians” issued a letter to school officials across the country advocating ex-gay therapy for teens questioning their sexual orientation.

Prior to the 2005 controversy where 16 year old Zach Stark was sent to the Love In Action residential ex-gay program against his will few people were aware that children are forced and coerced into exgay programs against their will.

However as this video interview with Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee shows, children have been victims of the ex-gay movement since it first began.  The details are in many ways even more upsetting than Zach’s experience:

(transcript after the jump)

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