Yesterday in Phoenix, a local chuch decided to do its part in ridding the world of gays and lesbians. The Church for the Nations partnered with Exodus Internation and held a conference to "cure" homosexuality. According to sources on site at the conference there were over a hundred people in attendance.
The most revolting thing I heard about this conference is the number of kids who were forced to attend. Now I don't want to condemn or express hatred towards these parents as I'm sure some of them are honestly confused about this and may actually have good intentions. Parents generally want whats best for their kids and let's be honest, when you take into account the social stigma (harassment & bullying) and institutional homophobia (legal employment discrimination, the federal Defense of Marriage Act) the world is not always friendly toward members of the LGBT community. I'm sure many parents (and actually many gay folks themselves) would choose to live a life free of discrimination and bias. Take away the gay and you take away something that many people are going to hate you for.
But we need to focus on two certain inalienable facts that this conference and all in the ex-gay movement tend to forget. First - homosexuality is not a choice. And second - Christ never condemned homosexuality. The organizers of Exodus Internation have made themselves the deciding factor on what is moral and right. They have created an agenda not generated on fact but rooted in their beliefs. Nothing wrong with that per say, the basic foundation of the church is living a life based on faith (evidence unseen). But here's the problem, and it's been the problem I've found repeatedly in institutions of faith, people are using their beliefs to preach hatred, spread intolerance and wreck lives.
I've been told since I was a kid that homosexuality is a sin. This "sin" is based on the one line in Leviticas that man shall not lie with man as with a woman. Jesus Christ himself never condemned nor ever spoke about homosexuality. His basic message was this, love God and love your fellow man. But for some reason preachers still resort to Leviticas. So I'm a bit confused. If I'm a sinner for my homosexuality, does that make people that wear polyesther sinners? Leviticas also states that men shall not wear clothes of mixed fabrics. Are people that eat shrimp sinners? Leviticas also states that men shall not eat shellfish. But I won't digress. The hypocrisy of the church will always astound me. I am however tired of the condemnation of the LGBT community especially since it is contributing to lowered self-esteem, questions about self-worth, issues with guilt and shame and tendencies toward suicide.
Luckily there were two local LGBT organizations on-site to protest the practices of this organization. Chris Hall of C.A.R.E. (Central Arizona Rainbow Equality) and Meg Sneed of H.E.R.O. (Human and Equality Rights Organizers) actually attended the conference while many of their parnters stood outside and protested. I want to commend these individuals for their actions. Those outside rallied about the ignorance of such and event and those inside gathered knowledge and tried to provide resources for those LGBT individuals that were there involuntarily.
I do know this, years of research by psychologist have determined two things about gay conversion practices. First and foremost, they don't work. Second, these practices can cause harm. Donnie McClurkin, probably one of the countries most famous ex-gays has stated that his desire to have sex with men has not gone away, but he no longer acts on them. Oh really Donnie, doesn't that mean that you're still a homosexual? A person that is cured from their homosexuality should no longer have attractions to the same gender. A person that refrains from having sex is abstinent not "cured." Theres a difference.
Gay is what I am. You can not get rid of my gayness just like you cannot get rid of my blackness, my height, or my brown eyes. I can purchase contact lenses and change my eye color, in essence hiding who I am, but the reality is this - I still have brown eyes. So you cannot pray the gay away. What should be done is embracing the person with unconditional love and encouragement and a support system that will allow him/ her to succeed inspite of the obstacles the world is going to throw at them.
My prayer for those young people struggling with homosexuality is this: May God grant you love. May God grant you self acceptance and peace. May God grant the world understanding of same-gender attraction. And may God rid the world of hatred.