Monday, November 24, 2008

Ex-Gay Expose in Denver!

A couple weeks back, I flew to Denver to join a group of Ex-Gay survivors, allies, and LGBT activists to protest the NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuals) Conference. I told several of my friends here at school and home that I was going, and the vast majority were shocked that such a conference existed. "Why do they think you can TREAT homosexuality?" most asked...followed by the inevitable "How do you treat a gay person...what does that even mean?!?" These are all people who know my story, or at least enough of it to know that LGBT people do occassionally seek 'treatment' or 'healing' of their same-sex attractions/gender identity/sexual orientation(I don't think I could be much more PC there...that will end be advised!)

While outside the hotel in Denver, CO where NARTH was holding it's conference, I stood with several friends including Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke of, Daniel Gonzales, and many other local activists. It was sooo nice to see such a big crowd! We actually ran out of signs for people to hold, so many of us were chalking it up on the side walk...getting our personal messages out to conference attendees.
Most attendees were mental health professionals...who apparently disregard the American Psychological Association's decision in 1973 to take Homosexuality off the list of mental illnesses and proactively advocate the acceptance of ones' 'gay identity' for the sake of their mental health.

The conference was wonderful. I find that educating people and sharing my story and experiences is quite possibly the best therapy for myself...I guess it's a bit selfish of me in a way, but oh well...gotta take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else, right?

I plan on posting some more conference related stuff soon, including a story about my plane ride back from the conference! Sneak Peak: I sat next to a NARTH Conference Attendee!!! Stay tuned for the forth coming drama that is the 2 hour plane conversation with a conversion therapist! View the rest of the Ex Gay Expose photos at:

The Truth...

Well, the truth is that I suck at keeping up with a blog. It's a paradox, really. I find blogging fun and relaxing...but weeks(months in this case) can go by without me realizing I have not blogged. If I turned this into a political blog, I'm sure it would be easier for me to keep up on, as I tend to read about 5 times a day(conservative estimate, sadly.)

The last few days I have contemplated firing up the blog again, and I got a sort of confirmation...apparently people actually read my blog. I had a few people who posted comments to my blog posts of old. It was really sweet to hear from strangers who appreciate the candidness of this blog. It's hard writing about your life for strangers to read, though, several of these 'strangers' have become dear friends and what I consider to be family. It's unbelievable and reassuring in a way. I have no promises about how long my blogging will continue, or if it will...but I want to thank those people who have helped me over the last 3 years find who I am and those who have encouraged me along my journey of self-discovery...a journey that apparently never ends!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Walkin' in Memphis...again

So, for the first time in over two years, I stepped foot on Memphis soil. The reason for going this time was QUITE different than the first time. Instead of a quest for the Holy Grail that is straightness...this time my trek was about letting my side of the story be told....about sharing truth with others, with hopes of them finding some peace about their sexuality and faith.
The weekend was amazing. Ryan went with me...and was excited and anxious about it. It was hard to be so vulnerable in front of strangers and cameras but even more so in front of someone you love so much. It was hard but so great, too. Partners, spouses, and lovers of ex-gay survivors are to be commended. All too often, I find myself focusing on my past, my healing process, etc...all the while, forgetting that someone else...this great man trying to be in EVERY part of my going through a lot trying to understand. He was blessed to have an affirming church at home and some great friends to help him grow, so he was not even familiar with the ex-gay movement before he met me. I commend him for being so great and amazing...and owe a lot to him.
Anywho...not what this blog post was intended for.
The gathering in Memphis was powerful. From meeting other survivors, seeing old friends, and being a powerful witness to so many by standing in front of Central Church holding affirming signs, letting people know that, "You can't change a Zebra's Stripes." (Thank you Peterson's dad for such a simple and profound quote!)
I was able to share my story in a press conference and with some newly found friends. As I said in the conference, I didn't go to Memphis to have my 15 minutes of fame...I went to share my story and to help educate others. After all...Someone once told me that, "Knowledge is Power."

Thank you Peterson, Christine, the folks at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, and everyone else who made the Gathering so awesome. BTW...The art, Peterson's new play alone were totally worth the drive!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thank you Wendi...and the Commercial Appeal

In this Sunday's edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Wendi Thomas, who interviewed me a couple of weeks ago, wrote a article, that is not only controversial, but touching. It has been 2.5 years since I attended Love in Action, and it is great to know that since then, a movement for education on the myths and lies of the Ex-Gay movement are starting in full swing. The story published is at the following link:

I expect that there will be many people who will not be please with this article...those who are stuck in the rut of religion rather than spirituality...those who see a black and white world, but I welcome a dialogue that is healthy and constructive. I look forward to seeing other survivors in Memphis this coming weekend. I encourage anyone who reads this article who is curious or wants more information from a loving, affirming group of people to attend. Where as my views may not completely match everyone who reads this artice or my blog, I respect those who want to believe in the ex-gay movement, especially LGBT people. For me, if I would not have attended LIA, I would not have made the self-discoveries that have led me to my happiness and self-acceptance today.
Please remember in reading my blog and other ex-gay survivors blogs, that we are making ourselves very vulnerable. I just hope everyone, regardless or ideology can be civil and accepting of different vantage points.
Thanks for reading, and thank you Wendi for a well written, honest, and touching article.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

There's No Place Like Home...

While watching a fun movie, I got thinking about the Wizard of Oz, and how it seems to be a good depiction of my journey. Picture it...A young Christian child from Missouri(Bordering Kansas...FYI) growing up in a conservative home in a small, black and white town. Everything he was ever taught about love was "one day, you'll find the perfect girl for you" and the only thing he ever heard about sex is "wait until you are will be more special when on your wedding night with the perfect woman." The ideology is meet, date, fall in love, get married with a big wedding, mom cries, dad is proud, 2.5 children, lovely house, and happy everafter.
Well, in comes the tornado of realizing my attractions, thoughts, and feelings and in the whirlwind of confusion and experimenting I end up being picked up from the black and white world I knew and landed in this entirely new place.
I was in the young gay man's "Oz." Uncharted, frightening territory where I was all alone. But the difference is, this Dorothy didn't have a scarecrow to give advice, a tin man to remind me I was loved, or a lion to show me how to be brave. Well after a relationship and my first year of college, I started to find my scarecrow, tin man, and lion...friends who helped me be me and realize that it's ok.
Well, then comes the forces of black and white, convincing me that my "Oz" was fun and might feel ok, but that it was wrong, and that I need to come home. They said there was no place like home, and that's the only place God wanted me. Enter Love in Action. Slowly and continually those vibrant colors of "Oz" were fading, and I was entering into the Black and White world...the color of the Bible's text, of course. I was told the yellow bricks and emerald castles were just illusions of happiness, and that only true contentment and joy came from letting the hues of certain aspects of myself go. They took my ruby slippers(and any "False Image" with the brand name Calvin Klein or Abercrombie) away, all while telling me it was for my own good.
After 6 months of this black and white mentality and being kept in the darkness, I had to take the courage I discovered through my lion. This led me back to Missouri where my tin men were...those friends who loved me and wanted me to be happy. They were willing to do whatever it took to help.
The hardest part was putting the Ruby Slippers back on and finding my way back home, to my "Oz." Sadly, I couldn't click my heels three times, but rather I had to use them to trek through fear, pain, hurt, and the unknown. I realized that everyone I have encountered in my life wanted to be my scarecrow in one way or me their opinion on what was best for me. Finally, after months into my trek, I realized that I have to be my own scarecrow. I have to find what is best for me and choose my own path, but I also take great pride in knowing that when the wicked forces of the world try to set me on fire, my ever-supportive friends will be there to help me quell the flames.
I am happy that I have found my own "Oz" and realize that it is so much larger and more wonderful than I could have even dreamed. Truly, there is No Place Like Home!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Unexpected, Pleasant Surprise

When I moved to Iowa to work on the campaign, I left a lot behind: my job, family, friends, etc. Well, I met some great people. Co-workers, volunteers and many more. However, the pleasant surprise is my current boyfriend, Ryan.
When you work 12-15 hour work days, 7 days a week, you don't have much time, if any, for a personal life, but somehow we made it work. I talked to him a little bit before I arrived in Iowa, and quickly went on a date. I had NO intentions for a relationship...was kind of hoping for a campaign fling(anyone who has worked on a campaign knows about the Campaign Fling: you both know it is temporary, so you just have fun, go on dates, etc.) Well, the first time I met him and talked with him, I knew immediately he was different than any guy I had ever met.
Since then, Ryan has turned out to be the most romantic guy I have ever met. Being a huge lover of Romantic Comedies, I have these almost 'illusions' about what the perfect guy and relationship would be like. Well, it's fair to say our relationship is NOT like the movies...It's better. Why? Because it is so real and genuine. Having not really been in a serious relationship where the love is mutual(or present at all) since 2005, I was starting to think I was damaged goods. Having gone through Love in Action and heard so many times that gays cannot have a healthy, significant realtionships, I have been very discouraged. In reading one of Peterson's blog entries, I recently realized that I still have a lot of the ex-gay, anti-gay myths in my head. He was talking about Emotional Dependency, and how the ex-gay movement portrays ALL gay relationships as harmful, emotionally dependent relationships. Someone made the analogy tapes that play repeatedly in our heads. We hear over and over about how: 1.) Gay is wrong and a sin; 2.)Gay relationships are just superficial and only about sex; 3.) Gay men cannot be faithful. Well, after years of people feeding into these myths and lies, people, myself included, have to do a lot of work to rebuild a positive self-image and start to realize that, "Hey, I am a good person and I deserve to have a real relationship with someone who loves me."
I am very excited to be holding a roundtable at the Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth— A Weekend of Action & Art in Memphis, TN. This is also going to be a regional gathering for ex-gay survivors. The roundtable is geared to young adults and the effects the ex-gay movement has on our lives, including but not limited to: psychological, emotional, financial, etc. Below you will see the agenda. I would love to see a great turn out.

* Friday 2/22 Noon: Press Conference at MGLCC to provide a community statement about the Love Won Out Conference. Local LGBT leaders and those with experience about LWO and the ex-gay movement can speak. (892 S. Cooper

*Friday 2/22 noon - Sunday 2/24 6:00 PM The Ex-Gay Survivor Art Show at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center MGLCC (892 S. Cooper) The show is hosted by the MGLCC & Beyond Ex-Gay and curated by Christine Bakke.

* Friday 2/22 8:00 PM Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House--How I Survived The Ex-Gay Movement, at First Congregational Church (1000 S. Cooper)

* Saturday 2/23 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM Welcome Station at Central Church (Love Won Out) Action showcasing a positive message of hope and unconditional love through positive signs, narratives & statements to the community. (2005 Winchester Blvd, Collierville, TN)

* Saturday 2/23 2:00-5:00 PM Beyond Ex-Gay Mid-South Regional Gathering, MGLCC (892 S. Cooper)

* Saturday 2/23 8:00 PM Preview of the Morgan Fox's film This is What Love in Action Looks Like at First Congregational Church (1000 S. Cooper)

* Sunday 2/24 10:00 AM Art, Activism and Spirit a presentation by Peterson Toscano at the Memphis Friends Meeting (917 S. Cooper)

* Sunday 2/24 2:00-6:00 Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center's 5th Anniversary Party at 892 Cooper 19 Years in Memphis, 5 Years in Cooper Young!

* Sunday 2/24 7:00 PM Memphis premiere of Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible, at Holy Trinity Community Church (685 S Highland Street)

Also, Peterson created a great, informative sight:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ask Hillary 2

This is a really interesting video that comes from Hillary Clinton's website, where a young voter asked her about the high suicide rate and depression among gay teenagers. She took on the question and really put her foot down on where she stands on GLBT issues. The video is about 6 minutes...and the question is a few minutes into it.

Finally able to Blog!!!

Obviously it has been a while since my last post, and there is a decent explaination as to why. I ended up moving from St. Louis to Iowa to work on a Presidential Campaign. Blogs are strongly discouraged while employed by a candidate for President...especially when it is someone like me who tends to speak rather candidly.

To say the least it was a BIG move for me. I was very comfortable in my job and life there, but I knew I wasn't following my passion. I am a political nerd...not just because it's fun or exciting, but because I believe being involved in the process is the only way to bring about real change. This may come as a shocker, but I am NOT pleased with the current administration and the scary direction it is leading us.

I have posted previously that I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I believe with all my heart that she is the candidate that can best deliver the changes we need, whether it be the economy, Iraq, healthcare, etc. I believe the other two candidates are notable candidates as well with their own strenghts; however, there are some issues that I believe Hillary has addressed that the others ignore.

Something that Sen. Obama did that really showed me he didn't understand the importance of recognizing the ignorance that is the ex-gay ministry really opened my eyes. As we all remember, Barack was doing a evangelical swing with misisters, preachers, etc. It was brought to his attention quickly that one of the ministers was a "successful" product of the ex-gay movement. Well...Obama decided to keep him on and bring on a gay preacher to balance it out. Fair enough, right??? Not at all. When you look at the GLBT community, most all of the advocacy for advancement and equality comes from the Democratic Party. By keeping a vocal supporter by your side who believes that gays are choosing this and spreading lies about the possibility of change is a kick in the face to a demographic that overwhelmingly supports the Democratic Party. With that said, I realize there are gay republicans...whether or not it is an oxymoron, it is the truth. Anywho...we all know what the ex-gay movement believes: 1.) Homosexuality is a sin 2.) You don't HAVE to be gay, if you don't want just have to work for it 3.) If it doesn't work and you are still gay, it is your fault.

Well, I found myself a bit upset by this. Knowing the pain I went through, I really wish the Candidates would all speak on this issue, as it is a very big issue.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oh, Canada!

I just recently visited my friend Ken, whom I met at the Ex-Gay Survivors conference in Irvine a couple months ago. I traveled to Toronto, my second 'birth place.' to visit Ken and see the Gorgeous city one again.
Last summer, as I believe I have written about before, I attended Pride Toronto. It was a life altering experience for me. I found myself feeling more liberated and free than ever before in my life. This, being just months after my escape from the ex-gay entrappment, I was able to rediscover who I a person, as a young man, as a gay man.
My trip back was full of excitement and wonder. To start, I flew to Buffalo, NY, and was able to visit Niagra Falls. The cabbie and I had an amazing political he was a New York Democrat. I got a really cool take on my Lady, Hillary! He also told me that I could walk across the Canadian/American Border. Being the adventurer I am, I jumped on the opportunity.
The Horseshoe Falls and mist that rose above were gorgeous! I felt so free just walking across a bridge into a foreign country. However, the cabbie said that once I crossed it would be about a 3 block trip to the bus station. Well...Make that 3 miles! Well, let's just say it built character.
Ken greeted me at a Starbucks behind the bus station. It was so good to see a familiar face that was so welcoming. Toronto was already as wonderful as I had remembered it!

More to come soon on the Trek to Canada...