Ex-Gay Group Threatens Legal Action To Keep Secrets Hidden

Jim Burroway

August 27th, 2009

Perennially straight writer Ted Cox has taken up an interest in ex-gay groups, and decided to go undercover for a weekend “Journey Into Manhood” seminar by the group People Can Change. Journey Into Manhood is one of those weekend manhood warrier-in-the-woods exercise that is supposed to put participants in touch with their masculine side and, thus, reduce their same-sex attractions. People Can Change claim an astounding 79% success rate, in which they define success as a decrease in same-sex attractions. People Can Change’s claims, like those of other snake-oil sale pitches, have not been subjected to peer review or outside scrutiny.

But when Cox was ready to submit his story for publication in the (Salt Lake) City Weekly, JiM founder and life coach Rich Wyler quickly intervened, urging City Weekly not to run Cox\’s story because Cox signed a confidentiality agreement barring him from speaking about the weekend,” according to the paper. Instead, the City Weekly published a two-question almost non-informative interview with Cox in which the reader learns almost nothing and must wonder why the paper chose to publish the interview in the first place — except that People Can Change has things they want to hide, and the only way to discover what their doing with their clients is to go undercover:

And the reason you have to go undercover is because there is no other way to find out what\’s going on. These organizations cloud themselves with secrecy; everything is hidden—it\’s blocked; it\’s behind confidentiality agreements. How do we know if what Wyler is doing is ethical unless someone can take a look at it and critique it?

Cox discovered Journey Into Manhood when he learned that Richard Cohen endorsed it. Journey Into Manhood is based on similar to the New Warriors Training Adventure put on by the gay-affirming Mankind Project. According to reports, the Mankind Project has decided this year to move toward transparency following the suicide of a NWTA participant in 2007.

Christopher Waldrop

August 27th, 2009

The confidentiality agreement is interesting and, understandably, is focused at least in part on protecting the confidentiality of others also participating, as well as protecting methods used. But there is this:

I am, however, free to share with others in my life my own feelings about the training and what I experience in the course of the weekend, if I choose, as long as I do so without violating my commitments to confidentiality as noted above.

Unfortunately the preceding clauses mean that anything Cox publishes would have to be extremely vague and easily denied by the organizers.


August 27th, 2009

Someone with some guts needs to infiltrate these snake-oil conferences that take advantage of confused, emotionally vulnerable young men, and bring it out into the light of day. What are trying to hide?

Ben in Oakland

August 27th, 2009

What are they trying to hide?


Kel Munger

August 27th, 2009

I suspect that the lawyers are at work on that piece-of-tissue-paper confidentiality agreement as we speak. Cox has been working on this for quite some time, and I expect, when he finally gets to publish his piece, it will be very, very interesting.


August 27th, 2009

LOL I hate to say it but really, a bunch of guys hanging out in the woods to get in touch with their masculinity, alone, together, “bonding”, yeah that sounds pretty gay to me. (to quote Bart Simpson on a similar camping trip). Hahahaha. Apparently their only view of gay men is “Jack” from “Will and Grace” and every other effeminate “gay stereo type” portrayed on TV.


August 27th, 2009

@ Mortanius: Yeah, clearly they missed “Brokeback Mountain”!

Very suspicious that they wouldn’t let any of it be shared with pseudonyms for other participants.


August 27th, 2009

Despite being led by a Mormon (who was also a keynote speaker at the Mormon Evergreen Conference), and marketed heavily to gay Mormons, Journey into Manhood formerly used a remote campsite owned by the Methodist Church for it’s Utah de-gaying weekends. Which begs the question why weren’t they using one of the dozens of LDS Churches scout campsites or retreat centers in Utah? Or does even the LDS Church want to keep these hacks at arms length?

The Methodists are super-inclusive and rent their campsite to anyone. They only charge $8 a night per person. JiM charges participants $600 for the two night weekend so do the math. Someone is making a killing off these guilt-fests).

They probably would have been there last year but the local gay paper Q Salt Lake wrote an article about JiM, and the Methodists also found out that JiM was operating without insurance.

Not surprisingly Journey into Manhood had a new super secret Utah site this year. No idea if they had insurance but their waivers look pretty spiffy!

PS. SPEAKING OF PARANOIA, During the JiM weekends, the camp caretakers (a lovely retired Methodist couple from Texas) were forbidden to leave their RV or talk to the participants. AND the camps gates were locked from the inside, not to keep people out, but to keep people in.

Discuss among yourselves….


August 27th, 2009

If I were locked in with a bunch of depressing, self hating guys and forced to do cheesy over the top “manly” stuff my same-sex attractions would go down, too.

Regan DuCasse

August 27th, 2009

Oh boy…
Reminds me of when I asked the Living Waters folks if I could be among them and listen and observe what they did, their method and process. That way, I could understand exactly how it’s supposed to go.
No go, NOPE, no observers, no one would talk about their methods, no one would make the sessions available for audit.
Right. A complete 360 from a more transparent and highly successful SUPPORT organization such as oh, PFLAG. It’s not like I don’t understand about confidentiality and about respecting the privacy of the participants. No one has to name names.
It would be nice to talk to a participant directly BEFORE the process and AFTER to get a read on how profound the change, ya know?


PFLAG, has rap sessions where people are given opportunities to talk about their backgrounds and motives for being there and so on. You can’t name names outside of the meetings or indulge anyone’s personal information or what you heard about their families.

However, ALL are welcome, it’s free and no one is locked in the room, nor forced to SIGN anything, and especially, don’t use any psychological counseling or make any claims contrary to simple personal education and support.

THAT’S why I found that when I said that considering the LOFTY claims that Living Waters are so strongly successful and all, what’s the big secret about their secret?
And since they are so PROUD of their success stories and advertise and recruit aggressively, then aren’t they ALSO proud of their methods, and would WELCOME access to interested parties on what they do and how they do it?

You know, FREE PUBLICITY and all.

Yeah, I kinda know what you’re thinking, goes for me too.


August 28th, 2009

Bromance lives!

deborah conner

December 5th, 2009

I read Ted Cox’s account in Alternet, and thank him for this work. The pain shared by those in the “we will fix you” community seems summed up in one word: loneliness. The answer according to the therapy is their (per)version of Jesus: an invisible friend who sees into your deepest desires and makes sure you adhere to Fundamentalist Church doctrine. This is a “Jesus” a long way from the Beatitudes.

It strikes me: Such is the mind-set of the men at C st., The Family Jeff Sharlet writes about, the tanned, bouffanted, capped-toothed Congressmen lined up with Michelle Bachmann on the Senate steps.

This was telling:

“The [camp] reinforced stereotypes about masculinity and manhood. The counselor would say: ‘Complete this sentence, ‘I feel masculine when,’ or ‘A man is this.’ And the answers that came up were: protector, provider, husband, father. A man is strong, he is a meat eater. They’re enforcing this alpha male American masculinity. ”

And this is the definition of lonely, a human totally self-sufficient, “needless”, not to be questioned, putting food on the table in an economy where jobs are scarce. The model is the frontiersman in a world where there is no longer a frontier. The real sickness is the myth of masculinity. I suppose that’s why so many guns are sold and why the week-end do-it-yourself militias are springing up in every state. Reason can’t speak to their inner phantoms. Their lonely. Children observe: walk away from this into another future.


December 7th, 2009

Can someone explain to me why the newspaper was afraid of publishing the piece when the confidentiality agreement was only between Ted and the group. I mean, I guess Ted might have to pay some damages if the piece is published, but I don’t understand why the newspaper would.


December 8th, 2009

I think Ted’s research is very important, and outside sources need to know what is going on in these ridiculous retreats. Without outside scrutiny, they could be doing anything to these men – which they are.

Denying your true self is unhealthy mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and even bodily. The harm to these men’s families is even more of a concern. The more they feel they have to be “secret” about their true, inner selves and lives, the more they will go off and do dangerous things (sleeping with other men they meet online, for example, then coming home to their wives).

No all-loving god would create people with ardent desires and true feelings then force them to deny who they really are. It’s the zenith of hypocrisy and irony; unless they believe their god is some kind of cold-hearted trickster.

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