July 10, 2007

What Is the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement All About?

Peterson Toscano, one of the founders of the Beyond Ex-Gay community, addresses that in an entry on his blog.

We don't seek to bash people who identify as ex-gay or invalidate their experiences. Instead we wish to create a space to tell our own. The primary reason being for our own well being and recovery. Too often we shoved our ex-gay experiences in the closet believing that people in the LGBT community may just mock us for spending so much time, money and energy seeking to alter our sexuality. Some can be insensitive to personal and spiritual struggles that filled so much of our lives.

This weekend we saw the birth of the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement. It is a movement without a manifesto or agreed upon goals. Instead we have created a venue for people, who desperately sought to change and suppress their sexuality, an opportunity to unpack their experiences and to ask the essential questions--

Why did I pursue change? What was I looking for? What did I do to myself and let others do to me? What good came of the experiences I had? What harm came of it? How can I recover from these experiences and move on?

The Ex-Gay Survivor Movement--What's It All About? It is about speaking the truth in love. It is about seeking to tell our stories as honestly and vulnerably as possible. It is about telling our stories for our own well being. It is about telling our stories as a witness to the harm we see from a church and a world that insists that to be anything but straight is not good enough and what happens to the people who passionately follow that line of reasoning.

This movement is a radical departure from what some people expect. Even some gay activists are caught off guard by it and do not understand why many of us don't feel bitter and angry. Some conservative Christian groups, who do not know firsthand about the ex-gay struggle yet they insist it is the only route for same-sex attracted people, seem to feel threatened by the gathering of a handful of people who are willing to care for each other, listen deeply to each other and publicly tell our stories.

There is a mysterious power in telling our stories, and one thing is for sure, the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement is about standing up and telling our stories. I hope that the Church, ex-gay ministers and reparative therapists have ears to hear, and that they don't haggle over words and ultimately miss the point.

For there to be true communication, people need to not just hear but actually listen. That is a skill in desperately short supply in our society today, but the members of the Ex-Gay Survivor community deserve plenty of admiration and respect for opening their lives up for public inspection by sharing their stories in the hopes of saving others the pain they endured.

People just need to listen.

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally opened to listening to what other people have to say. I do admit, however, when I hear "ex-lesbian" or "ex-gay", it just doesn't sit well with me. I'm not going to say that their choice is invalid, but when they start convincing me that my lifestyle as a lesbian, and my genetics as a homosexual isn't valid, that's when I start closing my ears. I'll share with them, but I don't like to be force-fed beliefs, opinions and personal interests.