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4190New Resources for Ex-Gay Survivors

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  • Peterson Toscano
    Apr 2, 2007
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      Hi, I know that you have shown interest in t the ex-gay movement and
      particularly about those of us who have survived harmful ex-gay
      experiences. Below is a press release about two new resources for
      survivors--a web site and a national conference in June that will be
      a direct response to the Exodus ex-gay conference.
      We are very excited about these developments.
      The full press release is posted at my blog (copy and paste
      www.a_musing.blogspot.com) Please feel free to let others know about
      this news.
      Let me know if you have any questions.

      Peterson Toscano
      Theatrical Performance Activist
      SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 2, 2007

      For Immediate Release

      Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director

      Cell: 512-659-1771


      Peterson Toscano, Beyondexgay.com
      Cell: 860.680.0639
      email: peterson@...

      (Austin, TX)—Survivors of ex-gay programs can take advantage of two
      new resources this week. Beyondexgay.com, an online community for
      those who are healing from ex-gay experiences, will go live today.
      Simultaneously, online registration will begin for The Survivor’s
      Conference: Beyond Ex-gay, a face-to-face event scheduled for June 29-
      July 1, and sponsored by beyondexgay.com and Soulforce.

      Online registration is now available for The Survivor’s Conference:
      Beyond Ex-gay, a face-to-face event scheduled for June 29th through
      July 1st, sponsored by beyondexgay.com and Soulforce.

      Recent events have brought national attention to the existence of
      programs intended to modify same-sex desires. While much of that
      attention has focused on whether sexual orientation is subject to
      change, beyondexgay.com and The Survivor’s Conference are the first
      efforts to move beyond that debate in order to focus on the community
      of “survivors”—people who feel they have experienced more harm
      than benefits from ex-gay programs.

      “We use the term ‘survivor’ because we want to emphasize the
      very real psychological trauma that these programs can cause, and
      also because we want to highlight the strength of the men and women
      who, in spite of enormous pressures, come to accept themselves as
      they are,” says Jeff Lutes, a practicing psychotherapist and
      Executive Director of Soulforce (www.soulforce.org).

      The creators of beyondexgay.com (www.beyondexgay.com), Peterson
      Toscano and Christine Bakke, talked to hundreds of fellow ex-gay
      survivors. What they heard, again and again, was that ex-gay
      experiences brought inner turmoil, confusion and shame.

      Many survivors acknowledge that some good came of their ex-gay
      journey. “We grew to understand our sexuality better and in some
      cases even overcame life-controlling problems,” says Toscano, but he
      is quick to point out that the harm most survivors experience far
      outweighs the help they receive. The consensus of the major medical
      and mental health organizations is that homosexuality is not a
      disorder and, therefore, does not need to be cured. The American
      Psychological Association identifies “depression, anxiety, and self-
      destructive behavior” among the possible risks associated with ex-
      gay therapies.

      Toscano spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents
      attempting to change or at least contain his unwanted same-sex
      attractions. He ultimately endured two years at the Love in Action
      residential ex-gay program in Memphis, TN.

      “In the end I was still very gay, but also depressed, isolated and
      nearly faithless,” he says.

      Toscano, now a Christian Quaker, has since created a one-person
      comedy about his ex-gay experiences and has presented Doin' Time in
      the Homo No Mo Halfway House and his other work throughout North
      America, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean. In spring 2005, Bakke
      contacted Toscano after attending one of his performances.

      Christine Bakke herself spent more than 4 years trying to change her
      orientation. She moved to Denver in 1998 to become ex-gay and
      participated in a program affiliated with Exodus International, the
      largest network of ex-gay ministries. In 2003 she realized that while
      she had changed in many areas, her sexual orientation remained the
      same. Bakke’s story will be featured in the May issue of Glamour,
      which hit newsstands April 10. Toscano will appear as a guest on the
      Tyra Banks Show on April 12.

      Bakke and Toscano continued to dialogue, and last spring they decided
      it was time to reach out to more ex-gay survivors through the
      Internet. Together with assistance from their friend, Steve Boese,
      they form the perfect team: Bakke—a graphic designer, Toscano—a
      writer, and Boese—a web guru and founder of MyOrgHost

      Beyondexgay.com currently features diverse narratives from ex-gay
      survivors. It also provides an array of resources, including original
      articles and art by survivors, as well as links to other sites. Soon
      survivors will have the option to join the community and create a
      profile. Through an on-line form, they will document and share their
      own ex-gay experiences. Their responses will then be added to a
      database that will track the variety and scope of ex-gay experiences
      endured by survivors.

      "The ex-gay experience is unique in many ways. No one understands it
      better than those of us who have been through it. Creating a communal
      space for ex-gay survivors to tell their stories allows us to share
      what led us into an ex-gay lifestyle and ways we have been able to
      recover from it,” says Bakke.

      Creating a space for survivors to come together and share their
      stories was also the impetus behind The Survivor’s Conference:
      Beyond Ex-Gay. The conference, which will take place June 29th
      through July 1st at the University of California-Irvine, is co-
      sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine.

      “We chose Irvine because the annual Exodus Freedom Conference is
      coming to Irvine that week,” says Lutes. “For Soulforce,
      beyondexgay.com, and the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine, it is
      very important to provide a positive response to the Exodus message
      that gay men and lesbians are sinful and disordered.”

      If you want to stand in peaceful solidarity to lovingly confront the
      damaging consequences of the ex-gay movement – this conference is
      for you. If you have ever been through an ex-gay experience or been
      damaged by the message that God does not love and affirm you – this
      conference is for you. If you are confused about the Bible and
      homosexuality, currently in an ex-gay program, or thinking about
      trying to change who you are – this conference is for you.

      Schedule of Events

      Friday, June 29, 2007, 7pm - 9pm, Crystal Cove Auditorium (free and
      open to the public): Doing time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House: How
      I survived the Ex-gay Movement - a performance by Peterson Toscano,

      Jason and deMarcoSaturday, June 30, 2007, 9am - 5pm. Registration
      online is highly recommended. Registrations at the door will be
      accepted as space allows.

      7pm - Crystal Cove Auditorium (free and open to the public) Jason &
      deMarco in Concert! www.jasonanddemarco.com

      Sunday, July 1, 2007 - Optional worship at a local welcoming &
      affirming church.

      More events and housing options TBA

      Soul Force's page announcing the conference: http://www.soulforce.org/

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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