20 Questions for “Ex-gay” Ministry Leaders

1. Do you know of anyone who was completely gay (not a bisexual) who has become completely heterosexual?

2. Considering that scientific research demonstrates that homosexuality is not caused by sexual abuse or by poor parenting what do you think made you gay?

3. Would you honestly say that you are a ‘normal’ heterosexual person at every level of your being?

4. Can you guarantee me that if I go through your program that I will be completely heterosexual? Would I be completely heterosexual without being married or would I have to become married to prove it?

5. What accountability mechanisms do you have in place to ensure that you don’t ‘fall’. If you were truly healed, would this be necessary?

6. Do you have the same accountability in place to stop you having sex with a person of the opposite sex? Why not?

7. If you were to be unfaithful to your spouse, would it be more likely to be with someone of the same sex or the opposite sex?

8. Even though it may not have been your experience, do you think it is possible to be gay and live in a long term, monogamous relationship?

9. Do you think that long term same-sex relationships are built on sex or love, support and respect? So what is the difference then between gay and straight couples?

10. There seems to be many former “ex-gay” leaders here in Australia, the UK and the US who are now coming out and apologising for the negative impact they previously had on people they’d taken through their programs, saying they acted in ignorance. How do you respond to that?

11. We now know that people have suicided, self-harmed or attempted suicide because of the enormous pressure they were under whilst going through “ex-gay” programs. How do you feel about that and how do you personally deal with the knowledge that you have contributed to this?

12. It seems that almost everyone who is supposedly “ex-gay” lived a tormented life of sexual addiction and self destructive behaviours. Heterosexuals have the same experience but don’t blame their sexual orientation for this. It seems to me that you get sexual addiction and abuse mixed up with sexual orientation. Shouldn’t you be working on helping people with their sexual addiction and not concentrating on the sexual orientation?

13. Are you a qualified and registered psychologist or counsellor? (usually the answer is no ). So if I find your program has a negative impact on my mental health, can I sue you for damages?

14. In some situations, like prison and other all male environments, men have sex with men but after leaving prison they return to living as heterosexuals. It’s called ‘situational homosexuality’. How different is that to you now being married and having sex with your wife?

15. How frequently are you tempted to have sex with someone of the opposite sex like any ‘normal’ heterosexual man would?

16. When Exodus commenced three decades ago everyone believed that you had to change your sexual orientation in order to be a Christian. Considering that there are now 100,000’s of gay Christians who have come out, live moral lives, have a strong faith and believe that God loves them just as they are, hasn’t your “ex-gay” message become redundant and obsolete?

17. Do you agree with all the directions that the American organisation Exodus has taken? In what areas do you differ from them?

18. If success is classed as changing from homosexual to heterosexual, what substantiated figures, not just anecdotal, do you have on the percentage of successful outcomes from your program?

19. Considering the majority of “ex-gay” ministries reject the growing scientific evidence that same-sex-orientation happens prenatally through both genetic and hormonal influences, how do you respond to those who are born with gender or genital ambiguities which is obviously biological?

20. If I can respect your right to get married and live as a pseudo heterosexual can you respect my right to live as a non-closeted gay man?

There are some extremely pertinent questions (which are inappropriate to put on my blog) that can be asked of an ex-gay ‘married’ person who claims they are now heterosexual, about sexual behaviours with their spouses; practices that most heterosexuals would enjoy but would be uncomfortable, or even repulsive, to many same-sex-oriented people. When asking such personal questions, of course the person would protest that what they and their partner did behind closed doors was none of my business. To which I would reply “Exactly, I agree these are very offensive questions. So why do you feel it is your right to talk about the way my partner and I make love behind closed doors and label it disgusting, perverted or sick. Surely the intimacies of our love making in private is no-one else’s' business but ours. Isn't it?”.

What would I say to someone who is considering going into an ex-gay program. 

Before you invest the time, money, emotional energy and possibly years of your life trying to go from gay to straight, ask the ex-gay leaders what guarantee they can give you that it will work. If they are honest with you, the best they will be able to offer you is a degree of ‘heterosexual functionality’, but the gay never actually goes away. Then ask yourself what would be the best way to spend your life, time, money and emotional energy…..rejecting yourself or accepting yourself.Obviously loving yourself is far healthier emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, than self-loathing. After 22 years of trying to change including ex-gay programs, exorcisms and 16 years of marriage, I came to the realization that, in order to live a truly fulfilling life, the latter is a far better option than the former. Like 1,000’s of others today, I finally discovered I can live a wonderfully rewarding, moral life as an openly gay man and …………still have my faith.
Anthony Venn-Brown

Please note:
I would like to thank the Australian “ex-gay” leaders who have come to the place of honestly acknowledging that the goal is not to become heterosexual and that the gay never actually goes away. Your honesty has helped people make a more informed decision about how they will live their lives.

It should also be noted that some people suffering from sexual abuse or addiction gain support and relief through some “ex-gay” organisations. We need to understand though, that heterosexuals who have experienced sexual abuse don’t say it made them heterosexual. Also heterosexuals with a sexual addiction never blame their sexual orientation or try to reject it. They understand that the addiction and their orientation are two separate things.
© Anthony Venn-Brown 
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Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and  was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.