A young man who’d read my autobiography, A Life of Unlearning and come out, contacted me because his parents wanted him to have a meeting with an Australian ‘ex-gay’ leader. They didn’t want him to be gay. He asked for help with some information as he felt very vulnerable. I wrote these 20 questions to help him.
1. Do you know of anyone who was completely gay (not a bisexual) who has become completely heterosexual?
2. Considering that scientific research demonstrates that homosexuality is not caused by sexual abuse or by poor parenting what do you think made you gay?
3. Would you honestly say that you are a ‘normal’ heterosexual person at every level of your being?
4. Can you guarantee me that if I go through your program that I will be completely heterosexual? Would I be completely heterosexual without being married or would I have to become married to prove it?
5. What accountability mechanisms do you have in place to ensure that you don’t ‘fall’. If you were truly healed, would this be necessary?
6. Do you have the same accountability in place to stop you having sex with a person of the opposite sex? Why not?
7. If you were to be unfaithful to your spouse, would it be more likely to be with someone of the same sex or the opposite sex?
8. Even though it may not have been your experience, do you think it is possible to be gay and live in a long term, monogamous relationship?
9. Do you think that long term same-sex relationships are built on sex or love, support and respect? So what is the difference then between gay and straight couples?
10. There seems to be many former “ex-gay” leaders here in Australia, the UK and the US who are now coming out and apologising for the negative impact they previously had on people they’d taken through their programs, saying they acted in ignorance. How do you respond to that?
11. We now know that people have suicided, self-harmed or attempted suicide because of the enormous pressure they were under whilst going through “ex-gay” programs. How do you feel about that and how do you personally deal with the knowledge that you have contributed to this?
12. It seems that almost everyone who is supposedly “ex-gay” lived a tormented life of sexual addiction and self destructive behaviours. Heterosexuals have the same experience but don’t blame their sexual orientation for this. It seems to me that you get sexual addiction and abuse mixed up with sexual orientation. Shouldn’t you be working on helping people with their sexual addiction and not concentrating on the sexual orientation?
13. Are you a qualified and registered psychologist or counsellor? (usually the answer is no ). So if I find your program has a negative impact on my mental health, can I sue you for damages?
14. In some situations, like prison and other all male environments, men have sex with men but after leaving prison they return to living as heterosexuals. It’s called ‘situational homosexuality’. How different is that to you now being married and having sex with your wife?
15. How frequently are you tempted to have sex with someone of the opposite sex like any ‘normal’ heterosexual man would?
16. When Exodus commenced three decades ago everyone believed that you had to change your sexual orientation in order to be a Christian. Considering that there are now 100,000’s of gay Christians who have come out, live moral lives, have a strong faith and believe that God loves them just as they are, hasn’t your “ex-gay” message become redundant and obsolete?
17. Do you agree with all the directions that the American organisation Exodus has taken? In what areas do you differ from them?
18. If success is classed as changing from homosexual to heterosexual, what substantiated figures, not just anecdotal, do you have on the percentage of successful outcomes from your program?
19. Considering the majority of “ex-gay” ministries reject the growing scientific evidence that same-sex-orientation happens prenatally through both genetic and hormonal influences, how do you respond to those who are born with gender or genital ambiguities which is obviously biological?
20. If I can respect your right to get married and live as a pseudo heterosexual can you respect my right to live as a non-closeted gay man?
UPDATE: The young man remains out and proud. The ‘ex-gay’ leader some years later however, resigned under suspicious circumstances and the ministry was closed down.