Soulforce Action Features Former Exodus Leader Who Apologized on National TV
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: July 3, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
(Los Angeles, CA) — On Monday, 3 survivors of "ex-gay" counseling traveled to the headquarters of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) to speak out about the emotional, financial, and spiritual harm caused by the message that lesbians and gays can and should change their sexual orientation.
NARTH is an anti-gay think tank led by Joseph Nicolosi, a leading advocate of so-called "reparative" therapy. One of Monday’s speakers, Daniel Gonzales, is a former client of Nicolosi. Gonzales said he sought conversion therapy at the age of 18 after years of praying not to be gay. In his statement, he spoke eloquently about the ways in which his work with Dr. Nicolosi "fed his cultural prejudices about gay people" and reinforced the notion that he had to change an integral part of himself in order to be happy and whole.
Gonzales’s experiences underscore the position of the American Psychological Association, which warned in 1998 that reparative therapy puts patients at risk for "depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior," because "therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."
Gonzales was joined by Darlene Bogle, a former ex-gay minister who made headlines last week when she apologized for spreading the message that lesbians and gays can and should change their sexual orientation. On Monday, Bogle spoke of her own struggles and the pressures she felt to change in order "to be acceptable and accepted by my faith community."
The third speaker, Shawn O’Donnell, detailed the financial hardships he faced during 10 years of unsuccessful efforts to change his orientation. O’Donnell, who is 31 years old, estimated that he spent $50,550 on reparative therapy, ex-gay books, and ex-gay conferences. O’Donnell testified that his failed attempts to change challenged his religious faith and drove him to the verge of suicide before he ultimately accepted himself and reconciled his faith with his sexuality.
After making their statements, Bogle and O’Donnell walked in to the NARTH offices to deliver framed collages detailing all three speakers’ personal journeys.
Monday’s press conference was organized by Soulforce and is part of a national campaign to highlight the stories of "ex-gay survivors" — men and women who believe that attempts to change sexual orientation did more harm than good. Video of the press conference is available at www.soulforce.org/article/1278.
Gonzales, Bogle, and O’Donnell were in Los Angeles to attend The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference on June 29-July 1. Sponsored by Soulforce and beyondexgay.com, the conference gathered ex-gay survivors from around the world to share their healing process and to tell the world about the dangers of programs like NARTH and Exodus.
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.