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Posts for July, 2014

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.

Exodus Co-Founder: “The initial excitement of starting an exgay program”

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

Daniel Gonzales

February 9th, 2011

One of my favorite ex-gay topics to talk about is how people fool themselves into believing that their sexual orientation and attractions are actually changing (I spoke about my own experience here).  In ex-gay speak it’s often called the “honeymoon period.”

In today’s video Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee talks about his own honeymoon period and how he wasn’t simply experiencing it as participant but ministry leader.  Michael explains how he mistook that initial excitement for actual change.  For Michael and many ex-gays he lead, such an intense focus on spirituality begins to take precedence over one’s own sexuality and he explains how he mistook that diminished libido for change and not simply repression (his word).  And as with many ex-gays, meeting other struggling gay Christians for the first time is the first step in their greater coming out process.

YouTube Preview Image
[full transcript after the jump]

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Exodus Co-Founder: “It was a terrible mistake for Exodus to get involved in politics”

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

Daniel Gonzales

February 7th, 2011

Exodus turns 35 this year and Focus On The Family has a brief but glowing article that totally glosses over all the tragedies Exodus, it’s leaders, and followers have experienced during that time.

In today’s video Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee explains how Exodus has changed over time — in his view Exodus’ foray into anti-gay political activism has been it’s biggest mistake.

YouTube Preview Image

[full transcript after the jump]

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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]

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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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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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