Telling your Ex-gay Story
Have you been a part of an ‘ex-gay’/reparative or conversion therapy program or group?
*Counselling? *Meetings? *Support groups? *Conferences? *Residential? *Online?
Since the early 70’s the 1,000’s of people left these program. They remained silent and disappeared into the woodwork with feelings of shame, guilt and failure. Confusion was also a part of their experience having been told so often about the supposed ‘success’ stories of people who had overcome their 'unwanted same sex attraction'. They wondered what was wrong with them. Was it that they loved their ‘sin’ too much? Or maybe they didn’t have enough faith? Or maybe they just didn’t try hard enough? Maybe God hated them for failing? They often saw themselves as the problem not the ex-gay ministry or the outdated beliefs they were founded on.
The trauma of their experience also meant it was difficult speaking about these things as it brought up pain and anger. Grief can also be a strong emotion for these people.
Over time a level of healing and resolution came to some and eventually a few people spoke out about the damage and harm they had experienced. By these people (known as ‘ex-gay survivors’) telling their stories they have encouraged more and more people to do the same. Mental health professionals have also spoken out. Now it’s your opportunity!
Why is it important for me to tell my story?
- The more of us do this then it adds to the weight of evidence about the dangers
- Our stories help de-construct the ‘ex-gay’ myth that a change in sexual orientation is possible
- If we don’t tell our stories, more people will waste years of their lives trying to become straight.
- Whilst in ‘ex-gay’ programs, most people experience depression, anxiety, stress, self hatred. Some have taken their own lives. Telling your story can help stop that.
- It might be a part of your own healing process.
Why people have remained silent
I have found that it isn't always easy to get these stories. People are sometimes reluctant to talk about it for several reasons.
1. They were traumatised by the experience
2. They are left with feelings of shame and failure
3. They would rather forget about it and move on
4. It can take a long time to heal.
All of these are valid of course and we need to create a safe and respectful space for people to share their journeys if and when they are ready.
Guidelines for writing your story
How to sign off
Firstly you need to decide what level of privacy you want with this. This will determine possibly how much you feel comfortable sharing. The options are.
1. Charles Chan – Singapore (full name)
2. CC – Singapore – (initials)
3. Charles – Singapore (first name only)
4. Name withheld for privacy reasons – Singapore (hide identity but people know what area you come from)
- What program/s do you go through
- How long did you go through ex-gay therapy/programs
- What kind of things were a part of the program
- What happened to you while you were going through the therapy/programs
- Why did you leave or finish the program
- Were there any ongoing negative impact after you left the therapy/programs
- What is your place now re your sexual orientation
- In a sentence or two what would you say to anyone considering attempting to change their sexual orientation
In order to get the reader to keep reading your story I have found that 600 to 800 worlds works best. More than that then people stop reading. Certainly no more than a 1,000 words. There may be a lot more that you want to say. If you want, you can write two stories; one long version and a shorter one. I will only use the shorter one though.
Let me know if you need any clarity with the above.
Thanks again for doing this I know it will make a difference.
Anthony Venn-Brown is a founder of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds and is currently director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International. He is an educator, consultant and commentator on LGBT/faith issues and been committed to deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Anthony’s journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man is detailed in his autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning'. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award.