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Re: Greetings from Love in Action 1988 Survivor

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  • Norm
    Hey Drew, Drew: ...[LIA] desperately needed a trained psychologist on staff, cuz as well-meaning as they may be, lay-people can t always cut it. And to have
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 30, 2005
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      Hey Drew,

      Drew: "...[LIA] desperately needed a trained psychologist on staff,
      cuz as well-meaning as they may be, lay-people can't always cut it.
      And to have house leaders who had only been in the program the year
      before? Big mistake. ..."

      I relate to your experience and was also surprised by the lack of
      training "ex-gay" leaders/counselors had. "Ex-gay theory" assumes
      that most gays have major psychological issues and/or traumas.
      Therefore, a responsible and well-intentioned "ex-gay" ministry
      should have professionally trained counselors who know what issues
      they can and cannot help with.

      The "ex-gay" leader who counseled me in 1995 was only a couple years
      older than me and still in college. Although he was encouraging and
      enthusiastic, his counseling approach was argumentative and high
      pressured. Even after I left the "ex-gay" experiment and acceped my
      sexuality, I still felt haunted by what was said in those sessions.
      Last summer, I met him and he repeatedly apologized for the mistakes
      he made in counseling me. Although I appreciate his acknowledgement
      and believe he did not intend to cause harm, I still believe it is
      irresponsible and immoral for the "ex-gay" ministry to have placed
      him in a counseling role.

      Due to a lack of "successful" ex-gays and nearly no acceptance
      of "ex-gay" theories in the psychological profession, I believe "ex-
      gay" groups must heavily rely on untrained volunteers and
      relatively "new ex-gays". I was surprised to have been asked to
      become a small group leader after only completing the ten month
      program. I declined because I did not feel that I had experienced
      any significant change. I knew that if I pursued even a small group
      leadership role, I would be forced to "fake it" in order to lead.

      I'm glad I declined pursuing a group leadership role. I watched a
      fellow participant who joined when I joined the "ex-gay" ministry
      become my group leader during my second year. He was well-
      intentioned, but completely over his head with how to handle a bunch
      of confused, frustrated, bitchy, young gay guys. Afterall, he was
      in the same boat.

      Drew: "Although, sometimes I think they shied away from me because I
      have always fought towards truth and I want to be transparent and
      honest, even with the reality of my faults and I ask very hard
      questions of myself and others. I want truth, whatever that
      means. ..."

      I think I relate to your experience. Speaking the truth about
      sexuality and faith is very uncomfortable and can even put-off
      others. In "ex-gay" groups, Evangelical Christian groups, and
      probably any other similar faith group, there is a pressure to not
      be "too honest". Afterall, it becomes boring and discouraging to
      hear someone repeatedly confess their continual same-sex attractions
      or doubts about the faith. Certainly, those who proclaim their
      healing are viewed as being more blessed and spiritually developed.

      In my "ex-gay" experience, a friend and I developed a reputation for
      being the pessimistic guys. We rarely offered a "praise report" at
      the weekly group meetings. (If we did, it was usually forced).
      Since confessing my same-sex attractions was part of my pursuit of
      being a more open and honest Christian, I felt it would be setback
      to pretend that my attractions had diminished or that I
      felt "change". Although I am ashamed to admit pleasure in others'
      demise, I did feel vindicated when the more optimistic "ex-gay"
      members "fell".

      Drew: "...A live in program is quite different than any other
      ministry, because if you don't run away physically, it's very hard
      to run away mentally, spiritually and emotionally. And that's
      grounds for a great story. I only know my own story, so I am looking
      forward to hearing some of yours."

      Although it's a great idea of a new reality TV show ("Ex-gay Big
      Brother", "Ex-gay Survivor", "Ex-gay Temptation Island", etc.),
      putting a bunch of same-sex people in a living situation to unlearn
      same-sex attractions just seems like an obviously stupid idea. I
      assume that the "ex-gay" ministry I was involved with, Portland
      Fellowship, gave-up its plans for a live-in ministry. PF used to
      rent rooms in its house for ex-gay participants and there was talk
      of formally starting a live-in program. However, after hearing some
      of the drama and horror stories/rumors, PF appears to have dropped
      that plan and now only rents rooms to student interns who I assume
      are mostly straight.

      Drew, I'm glad you're succeeding in life and are moving on. Thanks
      again for sharing your thoughts.

      Norm!



      --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, Drew VanDyche
      <vandyche@y...> wrote:
      > Norm:
      > Thanks for responding!
      > These are just a few of the things that I gained from the
      experience.
      > The first thing that I learned, living with twelve other guys who
      struggled with the same issue is that I wasn't terminally unique.
      That I couldn't go through life trying to "perform" being the "good
      boy" 24 hours a day. That I had to be real. It quickly became quite
      exhausting to wear the mask and hiding my inner reality as an angry,
      bitter young man became to difficult and my "stuff" began to rise to
      the surface. Unfortunately, LIA wasn't equipped to deal with the
      intense trauma of my personal existence, and my growth, though
      initiated, was stunted. We desperately needed a trained psychologist
      on staff, cuz as well-meaning as they may be, lay-people can't
      always cut it. And to have house leaders who had only been in the
      program the year before? Big mistake. The biggest mistake, however,
      was that we tended to blame all of our problems on our "latent
      homosexual tendencies" and the misconception that if we just took
      care of that, all would be hunky dory. And some of the rules were
      > just ridiculous. No medication for depression? I had clinical
      depression, abandonment issues, an unconnected head and heart, the
      good bad split (you know, the shame based neurosis that when someone
      seems to call you bad, the knee jerk response is "you think I'm bad,
      I'll show you bad." And my masculinity and feminity which are God-
      given traits were not integrated at all. I was convinced that I was
      an evil person. And when you feel that way, no amount of behavior
      modification can affect it. At best, I felt like a pig in a tuxedo.
      Even if homosexuality were "curable" you would think that they would
      recognize that fundamental neurosis and belief systems would have to
      be dealt with first.
      >
      > I have not kept contact with anyone from my year in the group
      although I have run into a few every now and then, to my or their
      joy or dismay. I don't really know how to get a hold of them. I was
      judged harshly by my mates as abrasive and needy and argumentative,
      and rightly so. But I don't think anyone truly saw my heart. All
      they saw was the "shit" rising to the surface and I am sure that
      many felt very "sane" in comparison to me. I was very fucked up.
      >
      > Although, sometimes I think they shied away from me because I have
      always fought towards truth and I want to be transparent and honest,
      even with the reality of my faults and I ask very hard questions of
      myself and others. I want truth, whatever that means. I have never
      had time for people who play games and who aren't honest with
      themselves that we are all "sinners saved by grace." There is a part
      of me that still has that prophet thing going that threatens anyone
      who wants to hide in unreality, live in denial, but I try to keep it
      in check.
      >
      > Some of us tried to have a bible study after we got out of the
      program, but I became persona non gratis, because I kept butting
      heads with people. That was my fault, but at the time, I had taken
      this if you are going to proclaim yourself a christian and be gay,
      that you should do all of the things that straight christian people
      do, you know, no sex before marriage or commitment ceremony,
      monagamy, yada yada yada. I always judged that John Paulk was hyper-
      critical, but I think what I didn't like about him, was the
      reflection in him that I saw of myself.
      >
      > Truth be told, I learned more about homosexuality in that year
      than I ever wanted to know. I laughingly throw my hand to throat and
      say that I was fed up to here with homosexuality. By the end of the
      year, I was "fagged out." But, I fell in love with men that year,
      and more than that, I think I began to fall in love with myself,
      even as fucked up as I was. I can't help but think that if there was
      someone truly trained in psychology watching over us, we may not
      have had so much crap to unravel.
      >
      > This may sound like a pipe dream, but someday, I would actually
      like to be able to provide a place, a safe haven, where true healing
      could happen for men going through it. I want to be a papa smurf to
      my own bunch of ragtag boys and men and lavish love and acceptance
      on them so they can look at their own stuff in a safe environment.
      Bottom line, LIA and most ex-gay ministries are just not safe. It
      takes a village to raise a child. LIA basically recreated the
      dysfunctional family and then placed the onus of responsibility onto
      the children to raise themselves. We were all at so many different
      places in our psychological well-being and you can't use a cookie
      cutter mentality to address them all.
      >
      > Within those ranks, I saw glimpses of truth, of what might be,
      what could be, but as long as the goal of these ministries is to
      change sexual orientation, they will always fail.
      >
      > Looking back, I find the group dynamics of what went on during
      that time fascinating and I'm actually in the process of writing a
      musical based on my experiences and the experiences of others. So,
      if you have actual stories to relate, I would love to hear them.
      Much of that year is a blur of emotional trauma for me and I would
      love to hear what happened from other people's perspective as I
      lived very subjectively back then and didn't have a whole lot of
      objectivity because the emotions were so great they kind of drowned
      out objective thought. A live in program is quite different than any
      other ministry, because if you don't run away physically, it's very
      hard to run away mentally, spiritually and emotionally. And that's
      grounds for a great story. I only know my own story, so I am looking
      forward to hearing some of yours.
      >
      > Love, Drew VanDyche
      > 2520 Ryan Road, Apt 101
      > Concord, CA 94518
      >
      > P.S. How have ex-gay ministries changed? I'm not sure. Have they
      changed at all?
      >
      > (Oh, also - Gary Hayashi has a wonderful lecture he gave at the
      vineyard in san francisco about overcoming shame and how God never
      wanted to label us good or bad which is living by the tree of the
      knowledge of good and evil, but wanted us to live by the energy and
      power of the tree of life - in other words, God wanted us to be
      real. He wants us Naked and Unashamed. That is how I desire to live
      my life.
      >
      > Current status: I finally graduated in August with a degree in
      Performing Arts from the Univ of Tampa. I now have a good job here
      in Walnut Creek, CA and I am working towards my goal as a
      playwright, taking a class at the American Conservatory Theatre in
      the city and I am in negotiation with a theatre company in SF who
      want me to write the libretto for a musical that they hope to put on
      before the end of the year. I have a great roommate and a fantastic
      therapist and we are making amazing strides! I am single and for the
      first time in my life would actually love to settle down in a
      relationship, but I am also picky as I have to be able to
      communicate with my partner on an intense, deep, spiritual, and
      meaningful level. And I need a partner who understands and loves the
      theatre and arts community that shares my joy of creative expression.
      >
      > okay, i guess that's enough for now...:-)
      >
      > ___________________________
      >
      > Message: 2
      > Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 16:59:40 -0000
      > From: "Norm"
      > Subject: Re: Greetings from Love in Action 1988 Survivor
      >
      >
      > Welcome to the group Drew! I think we would all be interested in
      > hearing more about your LIA experience -- especially as a
      relatively
      > early member. Also, any thoughts or comparisons about how the "ex-
      > gay" movement has changed since then.
      >
      > I look upon my "ex-gay" experience in 1995-1997 as one of the
      worst
      > experiences of my life. The messages I learned about myself as
      > being "sexual broken", "lacking true masculinity", etc., took alot
      > of time to unlearn. However, there were indirect benefits from the
      > experience.
      >
      > As a conservative/fundamentalist Christian at the time, the
      > Christian "ex-gay" experience provided me a religiously safe
      > opportunity to meet others who were struggling to reconcile their
      > faith and sexuality. Just knowing I wasn't alone was beneficial.
      > As someone who had no knowledge of the gay "lifestyle" at the
      time,
      > the accountability groups provided a startling orientation to the
      > seedier and darker aspects of the gay community (i.e. anonymous
      sex,
      > unsafe sex, promiscuity, abusive relationships, etc.). I also met
      > gay men who were otherwise happy with their same-sex relationships
      > and were primarily motivated by the desire to be religiously
      > obedient.
      >
      > Since my "ex-gay" experience, all but one of the accountability
      > group members I knew are now openly gay. Although we had to
      violate
      > the "ex-gay" group's rules about no contact outside of the group,
      I
      > developed a great friendship with another group member which kept
      > both of us sane as we struggled to come out of the "ex-gay"
      > lifestyle.
      >
      > In hindsight, I look at the experience as just another part of my
      > coming-out experience.
      >
      > Once again, welcome to the group.
      >
      > Norm!
      >
      > --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, "Drew VanDyche"
      > wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > I just want to say "hello" to all of those who have been through
      > the
      > > fire and come out the other side. Bottom line, I am and always
      > will
      > > be a seeker of truth in the innermost parts. Being involved the
      ex-
      > > gay community was just one of my stops on the journey, but it
      > often
      > > seems that I am one of the few people who tries not to let any
      > > unresolved conflicts from that time, bitterness, anger, etc
      > consume
      > > me. Is there anyone else out there, besides me, who can look
      back
      > on
      > > his involvement and find that there was benefit, even if it
      wasn't
      > > the result that they and I thought that I wanted? I would really
      > like
      > > to hear from you.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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      >
      > Drew VanDyche
      > aka: Drewcifer, Drewski, Drewblood...
      > http://profiles.yahoo.com/vandyche
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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