Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forced Ex-Gay Therapy

This post comes with an urgent call.   There have been reports of clergy in the Coptic Church forcing families and youth to undergo Ex-Gay or Conversion therapy.  Everything so far has been heresy and through the grapevine.  We need to know if there is anything factual about these reports.

These practices are dangerous, and in many places illegal, especially if you are a young person and are doing this against your own consent.

If you are in a situation where you are being forced either by your family or community to undergo Ex-Gay or Conversion Therapy, please reach out and let us know what is going on, because we want to help.   You can write me anonymously in a comment, or via my email which is posted on my blog.

Zach Stark: Former Love In Action Graduate

Love In Action, a Memphis-based live-in program to help cure homosexuals, has come under fire over the last few years because of their practices.  Former leader John Smid, came out with this apology and a statement that homosexuality cannot be changed or fixed.  In the years prior to this, they found themselves in a bit of a mess, because they allowed parents of minors to enroll their children in forced reparative therapy.  They called this program "Refuge".  How did the ministry become exposed for doing this? This all began with a young man named Zach Stark, who was registered by his parents in an 8-week stay at the Love In Action house in Memphis.  He wrote on his Myspace blog this cry for help:



"Somewhat recently, as many of you know, I told my parents I was gay. This didn’t go over very well, and it ended with my dad crying, my mom tearing and me not knowing what I’d done – or what to do.
It kind of … went away for about a week or two I think. … Well today, my mother, father and I had a very long “talk’ in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist Christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they “raised me wrong.’ I’m a big screw up to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on. So I’m sitting here in tears…”"


 Many have come forward talking about the damage both psychological and emotional, through the existence of these ministries and having been subjected to them.

Since then many of the ministries are beginning to understand that they have done significant damage to people through their practices.   My question is, why now?  Why is the Coptic Church beginning to jump on a bandwagon that is not only almost dead, but is harmful to her people?

Please let us know if you have been one of those who have been forced either by your parents or others in your community to undergo this form of therapy.   It is one thing if an adult has made a choice to enroll in a program, on their own will, but another if it is something forced under the threat of being ostracized or excommunicated. This has nothing to do with whether you think homosexuality is morally right or wrong, there are other ways of dealing with the things that we deal with, and ex-gay ministries are not the way to deal.   Do not be afraid to speak out.  We love you and we're on your side.

2 comments:

  1. I simply don't understand. John Smid (as you noted) - THE leading ex-gay, live-in-ministry guy for the past decade has renounced this practice, and now even Exodus's Alan Chambers is admitting that "99% of people he knows do not change" and the Coptic church is jumping on board at this moment?! Why now indeed!

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  2. I agree that conversion therapies are not the best thing for a person to experience, and that no one, under any circumstances, should be forced to go through them. Having said that, I do think for some people, certain (not all) conversion therapies actually can be helpful though. I've written about this on my own blog in more detail, but I think some of the social interaction techniques of the therapies can be very beneficial in terms of helping a person feel more comfortable in their own skin, so to speak. I also recognize that for some people, this may look like it's their only option for help, which is sad, but I know people can get it into their minds that they won't be all right unless they can somehow stop being gay. I had that feeling once, and it was through Exodus' help that I stopped feeling that way. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though exgay practices aren't the best way of dealing with a thing, they actually can help in some situations when nothing (or very little) else can.

    Again, I think anyone going through such a thing should be doing so voluntarily. I feel really sorry for the guy you mentioned and his parents.

    Likewise, I'd offer any support or help to anyone out there struggling with any of this stuff. Don't go through these things alone!

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