There was a time when the terms ‘ex-gay’ or ‘former homosexual’ were non-existent. In the 1950s and 1960s mental health professionals tried unsuccessfully to find a cause and cure for homosexuality. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed the diagnosis of “homosexuality” from the second edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). At last people realised homosexuality was not an illness that required treatment or a cure. Well some did.
From the 1970s Christians began to claim that they had turned from gay to straight by the help of conversion, exorcisms, prayer, fasting and support programs. Organisations and ministries began to mushroom making similar claims; Exodus becoming the umbrella organisation globally. For nearly four decades tens of thousands of lives have been destroyed by the lie God changes people from gay to straight.
Those who survived the trauma took time to heal and feel strong enough to share their experience (see the ex-ex-gay closet in our report on gay conversion therapy in Australia).
In 2000 a new term evolved; ‘ex-gay survivor’, to describe those who’d gone through an ‘ex-gay’ program but eventually came to accept being gay, lesbian or transgender. This has now become more commonly known as ‘conversion therapy survivors’.
Currently we are experiencing unprecedented increased awareness about gay conversion therapy prompted by global moves to have the practice banned and recent movies like The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased. But it hasn’t always been this way.
To deconstruct the ex-gay myth it has taken people to stand up and bravely share their stories. Below is a list of individuals in Australia and New Zealand who’s stories have created awareness, and chipped away at the curse of ex-gay organisations and the devastating philosophy that we were broken and needed healing. (click on each name below to see their story)
- 1998 Steve – in Queensland Pride
- 2004 Anthony Venn-Brown – A Life of Unlearning
- 2006 Anthony Menchetti – Gay Conversion School Drop Out
- 2008 Ben Gresham – Triple J ABC 2 Show and Hack Radio
- 2009 Craig Hoyle – New Zealand
- 2010 Ex-gay survivors march in Mardi Gras
- 2010 ABC’s Hungry Beast Tackles Gay Therapy
- 2012 David Lograsso – Ministries preying on gay shame
- 2012 Damien Christie – Ministries preying on gay shame
- 2012 The Cure Documentary – by Rambling Women Media
- 2012 Hannah- The Cure Documentary
- 2012 Shane ‘Healing’ the gay worshipper
- 2012 Scott – Warning on gay change therapy
- 2013 Chris Csabs ABC 7:30 The impact of ex-gay therapy
- 2013 Evan Thornton 7:30 The impact of ex-gay therapy
- 2014 Nathan Despott – Inside Ex-gay
- 2014 Jim Majoram New Zealand
- 2015 Johann Warre De Joodt Push to ban conversion therapy growing
- 2015 Simon Tinkler – Survivors tell their horror stories of ex-gay/conversion therapy treatments in Australia
- 2015 Tim – Gay conversion therapy still thriving online despite condemnation of ex-gay ministries
- 2016 Brian Coogan – Calls to investigate ‘ex-gay’ movement
- 2016 Paul Stevens New Zealand
- 2017 Geoff Ahern Gay Conversion Therapy Has Been Driven Underground, But It’s Still Widespread In Australia
- 2018 Asher Brodel -‘I am profoundly unsettled’: inside the hidden world of gay conversion therapy
- 2018 Robert Williams – I am profoundly unsettled’: inside the hidden world of gay conversion therapy
- 2018 Evie Macdonald – I am profoundly unsettled’: inside the hidden world of gay conversion therapy
- 2018 Hugo Walker – Canberra’s rainbow bus is heading to Sydney for Mardi Gras
- 2018 Ryan Curran-Pacquing ‘I was told I was an abomination’– New Zealand
- 2018 Ron – Gay conversion therapy survivors share painful legacy of ‘ex-gay’ treatments
- 2018 Liam Webb- Gay conversion therapy survivors share painful legacy of ‘ex-gay’ treatments
- 2018 Kate Phillips – Conversion: a word for torture
There are several people who wished to remain anonymous when telling their stories. Since this list was originally released some names and stories have been removed. They were removed at the individual’s request because of the impact on their mental health, the influence this might have on their employment or that they would rather just forget what happened and leave it in the past. ABBI totally respects their right for privacy and safety. Once again this demonstrates the long term impacts on ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy survivors and why the beliefs and practices in all it’s forms must cease. Please consider supporting our work to make this happen.
We also acknowledge and are grateful for the former ‘Ex-gay’ leaders who’ve spoken up
- 2007 Paul Martin – former Melbourne Exodus leader
- 2007 Vonnie Pitts – former Christian City Church pastor
- 2007 Wendy Lawson – former Melbourne Exodus leader
- 2007 Kim Brett – former Living Waters leader
- 2007 John Meteyard – former Exodus Asia/Pacific leader
- 2013 Simon Tinkler – founder and CEO of Ministry One
- 2013 Alan LeMay – former Living Waters leader
- 2015 Jim Marjoram – former Living Waters leader New Zealand
PLEASE NOTE: If we have inadvertently missed someone in Australia or New Zealand who has told their story in the print or radio media or TV, please email us with their name and link to firstname.lastname@example.org