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Exodus 'ex-gay' roadshow heads for the Golden State

All you folks out in there in Irvine, California, you better make way for Alan Chambers and the rest of the professional heterosexuals of Exodus International. An upcoming “Freedom Conference” June 26-July 1 is expected to draw a thousand people to Concordia University, where attendees will hear about how homos can change and life “the straight life.”

At UC Irvine on June 29th-July 1st, reality-based people can attend “The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-gay.”

“I think there will be cross-pollination going on, because many of us know each other,” said Peterson Toscano, who said he had three exorcisms, and estimated he spent 17 years and $30,000 trying unsuccessfully to go straight. “Private meetings have already been set up for lunch and dinner.”

Organizers of both conferences got counseling designed to help them “go straight,” also known as “pray the gay away.” But they came to very different conclusions about the success of such programs and how much harm or help they can be.

“I chose to live differently, and my feelings changed, too,” said Alan Chambers, president of the Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International, who is married. “Today, I am a far different person. Not that I don’t struggle, but my life has changed. I certainly don’t have the desire to be involved in homosexuality. It has no power over me.”

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has a video up on the not-so-pleasant face of the ex-gay movement, The Two-Faced Love Of Exodus International. See it after the jump.

“The Two-Faced Love of Exodus International” shows a series of mean-spirited clips from Exodus International’s TV show “Pure Passion.” Within the first fifteen minutes of the show, the hosts repeatedly denigrate the lives and families of GLBT people – referring to them as perverse or sexually broken. Exodus may talk a good game, but the truth is, their disdain for openly gay people does not lie far below their surface professions of love.

Interestingly, the movement to “cure” people of homosexuality is undergoing an evolution of sorts.  Alan Chambers, in an interview in the LA Times, is now admitting that orientation cannot change — guess all that backsliding by the “hundreds” or “thousands” of people who they claim have been liberated by Exodus from their homosexuality made them change their tune.

With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he’s a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he’s come to resent the term “ex-gay”: It’s too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete,” Chambers said.

His personal denunciation of the term “ex-gay” — his organization has yet to follow suit — is just one example of shifting ground in the polarizing debate on homosexuality.

Despite the fundamental gulf that divides them, gay-rights activists and those who see homosexuality as a sinful disorder are starting to reach agreement on some practical points.

Chambers and other Exodus leaders talk deliberately about a possible biological basis for homosexuality, in part to explain that no one can turn a switch and flip from gay to straight, no matter how hard they pray.

H/t, King Cranky and Spot4Me.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding