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TX billboards promote Focus on the Family's "ex-gay" conference

Sicko James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and supporter of “ex-gay” ministries like Exodus International. FoF is putting on the “Love Won Out” conference. Melissa Fryrear is “Gender Issues Analyst” for Focus on the Family; she will be speaking at the event.

I am so sick of the promotion of the “ex-gay” movement. It has been discredited over and over, but Dobson’s Focus on the Family keeps on plugging away, trying to lure self-loathing homosexuals into a torture of denial through “religious salvation.” The latest outrage involves billboards sprouting up around Texas promoting one of its recruitment events to “cure” gays and lesbians. (Galveston Daily News):

“I questioned homosexuality.” Such is written in big, bold letters across the top of billboards throughout the county.

“Change is possible. Discover how,” continues the text accompanying the faces of either a smiling man or woman, presumably ex-gays. The controversial group Focus on the Family is bringing its daylong conference, billed as “Love Won Out” [You must check out this link; scroll down to see some of the queerest “ex-gays” you have ever seen.] , to Houston next month and organizers have already started recruiting attendees. A Galveston resident is behind the 15 billboards that went up throughout the county and south Houston this week. B. Joe Cline runs the Lighthouse Freedom Ministry, which aims to “bring people up to date on the causes and prevention of homosexuality.”

Cline said his son was gay but has now come “all the way back to heterosexuality.”

Cline raised money from Christian groups to put up the billboards. He is using them as a way to advertise Exodus International – the most well-known ex-gay group – but also to publicize the Love Won Out conference, which will include a slate of “nationally known experts who have firsthand experience with the seldom-told side of the homosexual issue,” according to the Focus on the Family website.

Galveston therapist Carla Willis-Brandon said she was incensed when she heard about Love Won Out from one of her patients. “… it will increase shame,” said Wills-Brandon, who works with gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. “People who have shame about their gender, who haven’t sought out help, they search and they will go to something like this (conference) and what they will hear is that the feelings they are having – which are normal – are sinful.”

Paige Palmer, a 16-year-old lesbian at Clear Creek High School, said there are frightening implications for gay and lesbian teens. She said her first girlfriend committed suicide for fear her mother would not accept her. Palmer can list a number of friends who have been beaten up or run away from home because of prejudice. She said it was often harder to be a gay or lesbian teenager than an adult, “because (adults) don’t have to worry ‘Are my parents going to be mad, are they going to kick me out?’”

The “ex-gay” movement, as I said up top, has no way to prove that they’ve “cured” anyone of homosexuality. In fact, they may have destroyed more lives than they have saved. In fact, the leading British pastoral couseling movement to steer self-loathing gays to psychotherapy or religion, Courage, has thrown in the towel. They’ve gotten a sign from above to stop trying to “cure” gay folks.

Also, Wayne Besen’s excellent Anything But Straight exposed the hypocrisy, scandal and lies perpetuated by these ministries, including details on a professed “cured” leader of the movement photographed by the author cruising in a gay bar. The irony is that two of the founders of Exodus, Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, actually fell in love, divorced their wives, and eventually held a commitment ceremony.

And it’s not just Exodus in the game…the Mormon church endorses a variation of ministry called “reparative therapy.” Though the church says it is not directly affiliated with organizations responsible for the mental and emotional torture of vulnerable gays and lesbians, they are threatened with rejection by both their church and their families if they do not submit to “treatment.”

So much for reparative therapy. Maybe someone should tell Joe Cline to pick up a copy of the book.

B. Joe Cline

Lighthouse Freedom Ministry

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding