“At New Hope Ministries we do not attempt to make heterosexuals out of homosexuals. Rather, we attempt to change a person’s identity, the way a person looks at himself.”
These are the words of Frank Worthen, a leader in the world of ex-gay ministries. It is a telling sentence. Mr. Worthen admits that gays and lesbians will not lose their natural God given sexual orientation toward members of their same sex. They will not attempt to make heterosexuals out of homosexuals. Instead, they will teach gays and lesbians to control their sexuality and change their attitude about it. In short, gays and lesbians will learn how to hate themselves and praise God for their new found misery and loneliness.
In this issue of Whosoever, we will explore the tactics of these ex-gay snake oil salesmen and how they are destroying the lives of innocent gays and lesbians who believe the societal lie that they are not “normal.” The leaders of these “ministries” will tell you to expect a struggle, to expect to “fall” back into your old ways, but that ultimately God will “heal” you of your homosexuality. It’s all a lie. God has blessed each of us with the ability to love and God has made us to love those of our same gender. That is a gift from God. It is a sin to throw that gift back into God’s face.
The lapses that “ex-gays” feel during their brainwashing at the hands of these evil “ministries” are only the true essence of these people battling to be free from the bonds ignorance and misinformation.
One of the most powerful stories of how ex-gay tactics do not work is that of Mel White. Once a ghostwriter for some of the leaders of the modern religious right, White spent thousands of dollars and many years of his life denying his sexual orientation. God did not “heal” White, instead, White discovered he was “praying the wrong prayer” all those years. Now his prayer is that he can help others avoid the pain of feeling they must change to be accepted by God.
Several other writers explore the inner workings of these ex-gay ministries, and one ex-ex-gay shares his experience and how God saved him from one “ministry.”
After reading this issue and exploring the stories you may come to agree with another statement by Frank Worthen.
In an article called “Ex-Gay: Fact, Fraud or Fantasy” Worthen writes: “When one has seen the hand of God at work in his life, it is easier to trust God and to rely on [God] in times of trouble.” I agree. I have seen God at work in my life every single minute of the day, and I can truly say God is my hope in times of trouble. I can say that, and at the same time, I can freely and joyfully praise God for making me a lesbian.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.