Photos from the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference


LGBT Resource Center at the University of California – Irvine

Jeff Lutes speaks to the group

Jallen Rix performs

Peterson Toscano in Doing Time The Homo No Mo Halfway House

Paige Schilt directs the media

Kara Speltz handles registration

Registration

Jeremy Marks welcomes a friend

Mike Airhart and Ken

Gathering for the Chalk Talk

Discussing Registration

Jeff Lutes and Mel White

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Peterson leads the Chalk Talk

Phil Lawson and Sylvia Rhue

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences

Jim Burroway

Michael Bussee

Dee talks with a film-maker

Lisa and Anthony

Conference participants

Peterson, Christine, Pat, Paige, and Jeff

Students and Pat from the LGBT Resource Center at the University of California

Wayne Besen

Jason & deMarco

What a cute couple

Having a great time at the Ex-gay Survivor’s Conference

Christine Bakke at the ceremonial tree planting

Cutting the paper from the Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences into pieces to plant with the tree

Bill Carpenter

Rev. Steven Kindle

Cutting the paper from the Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences into pieces to plant with the tree

The tree is a Heavenly Bamboo

Cutting the paper from the Sharing Ex-Gay Experiences into pieces to plant with the tree

Mixing the pieces of paper with the soil. The tree will be planted on the campus of the University of California – Irvine

Former Exodus Leaders Issue Emotional Apology; Statements Highlight the Dangers of Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 28, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Los Angeles, CA) — Yesterday three former leaders from Exodus International — the powerful coalition of "ex-gay" ministries — presented an unprecedented public apology for spreading the message that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are sinful and that sexual orientation can change.

"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this message creates," said the joint apology, which was signed by Michael Bussee, Darlene Bogle, and Jeremy Marks.

The apology was presented at a press conference organized by Soulforce and BeyondExGay.com. The event was emotionally charged, especially when the former leaders presented the apology to a group of "ex-gay survivors" — men and women who once sought to change their orientation through ex-gay programs but who now believe that those attempts did more harm than good.

Each of the assembled former leaders represents an aspect of the history and expansion of Exodus’s ministries. Bussee helped found the ex-gay movement and Exodus in the mid-1970s. Within a few years, however, he began to doubt the movement’s message and tactics:

"Many of our clients began to fall apart – sinking deeper into patterns of guilt, anxiety and self-loathing. Why weren’t they ‘changing’? The answers from church leaders made the pain even worse…. The message always seemed to be: ‘You’re not enough. You’re not trying hard enough. You don’t have enough faith.’"

Bogle, former director of Paraklete, an Exodus referral ministry for women, displayed visible emotion as she read from her personal statement of apology.

"I apologize to those individuals and families who believed my message that change was necessary to be acceptable to God. In recent years I have seen the resulting damage from rejection, shame, and conditional love," said Bogle.

Perhaps the most prominent former Exodus leader to participate in the apology was Marks, the President of Exodus International Europe until 2000. Marks described his growing awareness that ex-gay ministries were not delivering promised changes in orientation and issued a call to his former colleagues:

"I now want to try and encourage all those so-called ‘ex-gay’ Christians who lead Exodus ministries — who, in their hearts, know very well that what I am saying is true — to change their minds, as I had to — to simply trust in God once again for their credibility and support, even though that may mean risking all," said Marks, who has transformed his London-based program, Courage UK, into a gay-affirming ministry.

Marks, Bogle, and Bussee are gathered in Southern California for The Ex-gay Survivor Conference, which will take place at the University of California on June 29-July 1. This conference, which will focus on the experiences of ex-gay survivors, is the result of a year of planning and collaboration between Soulforce, the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine, and beyondexgay.com. It is timed to provide an alternative voice to the annual Exodus conference, which is also happening in Irvine this week.

For more information about the conference, visit www.soulforce.org.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Last Minute Conference Information and Directions

The Survivor's Conference: Beyond Ex-Gay

The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference is this weekend, June 29 – July 1. We wanted to pass on some last minute information to assist you in getting here.

  • If you’re flying into Orange County airport there is a free shuttle to the hotel. Just look for the Doubletree hotel van outside of the airport. If there is no van there, there are phones to call for a van.
  • If you’re flying into LAX, there are two shuttles, Super Shuttle (800) BLUE VAN (258-3826) and Prime Time Shuttle (1 (800) RED-VANS ) that provide transportation to the hotel. The cost from LAX to the hotel is approximately $35.00
  • Don’t forget the pre-conference book signing at 4pm on Friday at the UCC Congregational Church at 4915 Alton Parkway; just a 10 min drive from UCI. Authors, Mel White, Wayne Besen, and Darlene Bogle will be there to sign their books.
  • Early registration begins at 6pm on Friday at Crystal Cove Auditorium (see maps on our website.)
  • Registration begins Saturday morning @ 8am. Plan on parking your car at the SOCIAL SCIENCE PARKING STRUCTURE (SSPS-1) located at the corner of Campus Drive and Stanford (see map on our website). Designated conference volunteers (wearing purple conference t-shirts), will meet you there and direct you to the right building for registration and opening festivities.
  • The Orange County Transit Authority provides bus service. The following routes go by the campus: Route #s 59, 79, 175, 178, and 470 all go by the campus. The URL for OCTA is: http://www.octa.net/

For more last minute information, please go to www.BeyondExGay.com/conference

The Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference

Videos from the Ex-Gay Survivors Conference

The Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference took place June 29 – July 1 in Irvine, California.

Former Ex-Gay Leaders Apologize

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Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference Ceremonial Tree Planting

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Ex-Gay Survivors Share

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"Former Ex-Gay Leaders Apologize" & "Ex-Gay Survivors Share" videos by Brian Murphy.

"Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference Ceremonial Tree Planting" video by Daniel Gonzales.

Related Press Release: Former Exodus Leaders Issue Emotional Apology; Statements Highlight the Dangers of Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation

Damaged by Ex-gay Programs, Survivors Invite Exodus Leadership to Hear the Rest of the Story

Open Letter Addressed to Alan Chambers, Other Ex-gay Leaders

International Conference of Ex-gay Survivors to Coincide with Exodus Meeting

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 25, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Irvine, CA) — As Exodus International, the world’s largest network of "ex-gay" ministries, prepares to hold its annual conference this week in Irvine, California, two former participants in Exodus programs have issued an open letter to the organization’s leaders. The letter, which was penned by Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke, invites Exodus leaders to attend a dinner with "ex-gay survivors" — men and women who feel that attempts to change their sexual orientation caused emotional and spiritual damage.

"Many of us have spent months and years under your care in your ministries," the letter explains. "Sadly our ex-gay experiences caused more harm than good, and for many of us we have needed years to recover."

Toscano and Bakke are the founders of beyondexgay.com, a new web resource for ex-gay survivors. They will be in Irvine for The Ex-gay Survivor Conference, which will take place on the University of California’s Irvine campus June 29-July 1. This conference, which will draw participants from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom, is the result of a year of planning and collaboration between Soulforce, the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine, and beyondexgay.com.

According to Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes, "Our conference features the voices of men and women who, in spite of enormous pressures, have come to accept themselves as they are. Their stories present a hopeful alternative to the Exodus message, but we will not initiate or endorse any direct protest of the Exodus Conference."

Although no high ranking Exodus leaders have yet responded to the invitation to share a meal with ex-gay survivors, on Thursday, June 21, Exodus issued a press release indicating that the organization welcomes the possibility of dialogue between the two conferences.

"We feel encouraged that Exodus has responded to our invitation for dialogue," says Toscano. "We look forward to sharing challenges we faced in our lives as a result of our time in Exodus ministries."

Full text of letter:

Dear Exodus Leaders,

It is no coincidence that we scheduled the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference at the same time and in the same city as Exodus’ Freedom Conference. Although we do not wish to interrupt your gathering, we do long for the opportunity to connect with you. Many of us have spent months and years under your care in your ministries. We turned to you for help and received some good from our time under your care. Sadly our ex-gay experiences caused more harm than good, and for many of us we have needed years to recover.

We understand that this was not your intent. From knowing quite a few of you personally, we know that you have a heart to help people and to serve God. You meant to bless us.

Too often once we leave your programs, you never hear about our lives and what happens to us. Most ministries do not have aftercare programs or any formal means to follow-up on participants. Some stories you do not get to hear. If you do, our stories can be simplified by the press or infused with anger or hurt. In hopes of giving you the opportunity to hear about our experiences and the harm that we felt came to us as a result of our pursuit of an ex-gay life, we would like to invite you to join us for a private dinner on Friday, June 29, 2007.

The purpose of the dinner is to give you an opportunity to hear our stories. We do not wish to bash you, attack you or shame you. We simply desire to share our stories with you. No members of the press will be allowed into the dinner and it will not be recorded or filmed. We are hoping for a small gathering with a few ex-gay leaders and some ex-gay survivors. At the dinner a few of us will tell you our stories.

If you are interested in attending this dinner, please RSVP to bxg@beyondexgay.com.

Sincerely,

Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke
Ex-gay survivors and co-founders of www.BeyondExGay.com

Registration for The Ex-gay Survivor Conference is available online at www.soulforce.org. The conference registration fee is $40, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Right to Marry: Participant Statements

WHY ARE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE RIGHT TO MARRY CAMPAIGN?

David Rodriguez, New York says:

Impassioned by black feminist and queer theory ideologies, I want to commit myself to the farthest extent of political action on behalf of queers in the state of New York, and eventually throughout America. My personal desire to exercise my right to marry comes from years of immersion in scholarship and personal growth. The real fuel for the fire comes from my participation in civil disobedience to protest the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, part of the Soulforce Right to Serve campaign in 2006. Nothing could have prepared me for the politicatharsis that I experienced behind bars for 28+ hours. In light of that lived experience and others, I treasure the rights and liberties that I have and advocate for the rights that are denied to me and to others.

Kalil Cohen, California says:

I have been active in trans and queer political organizing in Los Angeles County for the past six years, beginning with campus activism at Pomona College, and extending to wider Los Angeles activism regarding access to health care for transgender people, as well as helping organize a queer women and trans people of color conference in LA. I have hosted house parties about marriage equality, run workshops about trans-inclusion in the marraige equality campaign, and collected signatures for the marriage equality petition currently circulating in California.

Meg Sneed, Arizona says:

A friend told me that we are making progress, that I should sit back and say cheers to the change that is happening. She told me that it may be slow change but it is change…Shouldn’t we show patience and wait until the country at large is more ready to embrace full marriage rights, she asked. I responded with not my words but the worlds of Martin Luther King’s famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail" Dr. King observed that he had never engaged in activism that was "well timed in the view of those who have not suffered." He continued, "For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ " I will not sit silently and "wait" for America to be ready for myself and others to be treated as equals.

Bryana White, Massachusetts says:

As a heterosexual female, I have had the benefit of identifying with a culturally sanctioned sexual orientation; I do not face the persecution or censorship that is often experienced by homosexual, bisexual, and transgender individuals. The aforementioned is a privilege which affords me the opportunity and the obligation to speak on behalf of those who, as a result of biases against their sexual orientation, face discrimination. As an African American female, I am able to personally appreciate the need for people from all groups to speak out for injustices done against individuals who are often marginalized. Without the participation of non-black and male individuals in the initiatives of the Civil Rights and Suffrage movements in America, the significant gains that were made as a result of the movements would not have been possible. As a person whose orientation is "safe" from general bias in this heterosexist and homophobic country, it is important that I refuse to ignore the injustices that may be experienced by those who are different from me in terms of their gender identity and sexual orientation. I am joining Soulforce Q’s Right to Marry campaign because I feel that it is in the best interest of my country to acknowledge, protect, and ensure the rights of all people who live here and I know that it is my responsibility as a human being to fight for the rights of others.

Bryan Murphy, California says:

I am joining the Right to Marriage campaign because I believe that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is government sanctioned discrimination. Marriage in the past has been withheld first from slaves, then from interracial couples, and now from gays and lesbians. Withholding this right is just another way of saying "We do not value you as citizens" and that must change.

Right to Marry: Application

Thank you for expressing interesting in applying to join the Right to Marry campaign. At this point, all positions have been filled.

However, there are still plenty of opportunities to help out or meet up with us along the way if you are a resident of New York state. Or, if you live elsewhere in the country, Soulforce has additional actions and campaigns coming in the fall and winter.

Contact Haven Herrin (haven@soulforce.org) for more information. We would still love for you to be involved in some way.

Right to Marry: 2007 Central Route

Donate to the Right to Marry campaign.

We are traveling the central part of New York State to meet with lawmakers, both Senators and Assemblymembers, to talk about marriage equality. En route, we will host civic engagement events like coffee shop hours, film screenings, picnics, and meetings with local social justice and church groups. We hope local residents will collaborate with us and join us in meeting with their legislators.

Right to Marry Central Route

July 18, 2007 – Syracuse, NY
July 19, 2007 – Oneonta, NY and Binghamton, NY
July 20, 2007 – Castleton-on-Hudson, NY and Catskill, NY
July 22, 2007 – New Paltz, NY
July 23, 2007 – Poughkeepsie, NY
July 24, 2007 – Long Island, NY
July 25, 2007 – Long Island, NY
July 26, 2007 – New York City, NY
July 27, 2007 – New York City, NY
July 28, 2007 – New York City, NY

Live in one of these areas and want to get involved? Contact Haven Herrin (haven@soulforce.org)

Right to Marry 2007 Western Route

Right to Marry 2007 Northern Route

Right to Marry 2007 Central Route

Right to Marry 2007 Southern Route

Right to Marry: 2007 Southern Route

Your donations allow these wonderful folks to work for marriage equality!

Donate to the Right to Marry campaign.

We are traveling the southern part of New York State to meet with lawmakers, both Senators and Assemblymembers, to talk about marriage equality. En route, we will host civic engagement events like coffee shop hours, film screenings, picnics, and meetings with local social justice and church groups. We hope local residents will collaborate with us and join us in meeting with their legislators.

Right to Marry Southern Route

July 18, 2007 – Ossining, NY and Brewster, NY
July 19, 2007 – New Windsor, NY and Carmel, NY
July 20, 2007 – Nanuet, NY and Goshen, NY
July 21, 2007 – Mount Vernon, NY and Pearl River, NY
July 23, 2007 – Yonkers, NY and Port Chester, NY
July 24, 2007 – Long Island, NY
July 25, 2007 – Long Island, NY
July 26, 2007 – New York City, NY
July 27, 2007 – New York City, NY
July 28, 2007 – New York City, NY

Live in one of these areas and want to get involved? Contact Jake Reitan (jake@soulforce.org)

Right to Marry 2007 Western Route

Right to Marry 2007 Northern Route

Right to Marry 2007 Central Route

Right to Marry 2007 Southern Route