When It's Time To Change

Ex-Ex-Gays: Meet The People Who Tried To “Cure” You

AlanChambers This is a strange, exciting, harrowing time to be a gay American. There is change coming at an almost frightening pace. The Supreme Court will potentially codify gay marriage in the next few days. Our president is enthusiastically supportive of the gay community. Gay Americans are serving openly in our armed forces. Even that last redoubt of testosterone-fueled intolerance, organized sports, is coming around. What’s up with this sea change of acceptance? The Internet? Our time and place on the arc of history? Smash? It’s hard to say, but one more indicator may be the most remarkable of all: the Ex-ex-Gays. We told you about the notorious ex-gay ministry Exodus International shutting down this week. President Alan Chambers’ (pictured) posted apology was notable not just for its sincerity, but for the Christian values he cites to justify their decision. This guy’s been to the mountaintop and says God does not, in fact, hate fags. Now that’s a sea change, like a parting of the Red Sea kind, that big. Who’s next? We’ll see. In meantime, on the following pages find a list of other ex-gays, some who’ve who seen the light, and saw a rainbow, and some who haven’t — yet.
JohnPaulkBisexual-360x235 John Paulk Ex-ex gay. This guy was literally the face of gay conversion therapy when he appeared on the cover of Newsweek in 1998. A former male escort and drag queen, Paulk “converted,” got a job with Focus on the Family, headed up Exodus, cashed in with a book co-written with his ex-lesbian wife, got caught in a DC gay bar, was drummed out of both organizations and dropped out of sight, until April when he publicly disavowed gay reparative therapy, announced his divorce and came out again as gay. Credit Portland for his conversion, where’s a caterer now and can be as weird as he wants.
ted-haggard-mic Ted Haggard Half ex-ex-gay. Not to be un-Christian about a “pastor,” but this guy’s either a confused douchebag or a lying one. His sexual soap opera has been the subject of an HBO doc, countless TV interviews from Oprah to Dateline (not the Predator edition, though there was the case of young Grant Haas, “masturbation witness”), even an appearance on Divorce Court. Haggard was a hugely popular evangelical pastor in Colorado until 2006, when a male escort alleged “Pastor Ted” had been paying him for sex and crystal meth for the previous three years. A few days later Haggard was out, of his job, that is. His wife stuck with him, he’s got a new ministry, and he told GQ a couple years ago: “”I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.” Yeah, we’ve all been bisexual, Ted.
marcus-bachmann Marcus Bachmann Pre gay. He’s the husband of former congresswoman and presidential candidate Michelle, a self-described Doctor of Psychology, and half owner of the couple’s “family” business Bachmann & Associates, a chain of counseling centers revealed to practice pray-away-the-gay therapy. And he’s the kind of guy you overhear at a dinner party or in the grocery store or on line for a movie and you go, “Oh, gay. Like, definitely.” He and his wife will tell you your gaydar is defective, but since there’s nothing wrong with being gay, thinking he is and saying so isn’t defamatory, and this isn’t England. Also, he’s said publicly he thinks gays are “barbarians” in need of deliverance. Closet case closed.
l Michael Bussee (pictured) and Gary Cooper Ex-ex-gays Three years after Exodus was founded in 1976, two of the organization’s leaders, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, left the group to be with each other! Married at the time, they left their wives and had a commitment ceremony in 1982. Featured in the 1993 doc One Nation Under God, the couple lived together until Cooper’s death from AIDS in 1991.
john_smid John Smid Ex-ex-gay Smid ran another ex-gay ministry, this one based in Memphis, called Love in Action. He’d left his wife in 1980 to be with guys, but had misgivings and tried to go straight again, balls out, by becoming a leading spokesman for conversion therapy. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. In 2011 he went ex-ex-gay, and admitted he “never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.” There you have it.
220px-Peterson_Toscano Peterson Toscano Ex-ex-gay. The residential program at Love in Action was just one of the places Peterson Toscano looked to for help in his 17-year odyssey to escape the homosexual lifestyle. Since he came out as ex-ex-gay in 1998, the playwright-actor-activist has shared his experiences on stage and screen around the world in works like Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, Queer 101—Now I Know My gAy,B,Cs, and Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible. And he got married to a South African writer named Glen. Yay!
 bakke Christine Bakke Ex-ex-gay. Along with Peterson Toscano, artist Bakke founded Beyond Ex-Gay in 2007, an online community for ex-gay survivors. Bakke spent four years trying to go straight through conversion therapy, pastoral counseling, discipleship counseling, the Living Waters program and something called Where Grace Abounds in Denver (which would make a great name for a dyke bar). In 2007 she got a splash in Glamour magazine where she recounted the horror of trying to get fixed: “This is where it happened. And after it was over, this is where I was on the floor crying.”

robert-spitzerRobert Spitzer

Ex-gay cure beard

This guy is/was one of the most influential psychiatrists around for a long time for lots of reasons, chief among them he was instrumental in getting the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973 (good), and then for publishing a paper in 2001 that gave cover to gay reparative therapy advocates (bad). Last year Spitzer disavowed the paper, citing fatal flaws in his research techniques (how can you prove who someone is attracted to?). The now-retired shrink apologized “to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals.” Class act.

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  • WayDifferent

    Gays needs to take a look in the mirror at their own “glossy” for a $ too.

    Signed, Gay

  • yaoming

    Let’s not forget psychologist and Southern Baptist minister George Rekers and his rentboy.com “baggage handler”?

  • Nick Bolt

    That’s not the right photo for Robert Spitzer. That photo is of Robert J. Spitzer, the priest, not Robert L. Spitzer, the psychiatrist.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Living authentically, when others will hate you for it, takes a huge amount of courage. Orientation can’t be, “cured.” What a long, strange trip it’s been. These pitiable people have tried so hard to win the love of others, of God, of themselves. Be real, create family, and don’t lie to be loved for something you are not. Futility bites.

  • Jackhoffsky

    My mother isn’t on the list…

  • KJ

    It isn’t accurate to include Peterson Toscano in a list of people who attempted to “cure” other LGBT people. While, as you pointed out, he spent a great deal of time and money to change his sexual orientation, he did not head up a ministry to attempt to do so for others.

  • Taliaferro

    I came out in 1969. I realized that my sexual orientation was same sex and that to try to change that would mean fighting myself my entire life. I did that in Iowa at age 19. Certainly it took courage. I lost some friends who turned out not to be friends at all. I faced some discrimination. Yet I never ever hated myself and my sexuality. As the years went by, I learned I had an uncle who was gay and a first cousin who is a lesbian. I will always believe that sexuality is genetically determined. No one chooses whom he or she loves. No one chooses a “lifestyle” that will result in him or her being reviled, attacked and given the status of a second class American. The charlatans who make money in this so called therapy are the real villains.

  • balehead

    It’s all about the money…as always…

  • Cam

    Actually Chambers didn’t take back anything, he again underlined his belief in what the Bible says about gays, AND he and all his buddies from Exodus are forming a new group.

    This guy eviscerates Chambers Apology in an open letter.


  • Ogre Magi

    Christians are our enemies! Always have been, always will be!

  • KJ

    @Ogre Magi: Many, but not all Christians, Ogre. I’m a Christian (Episcopal flavor) and out gay man. It’s not a dichotomy, though many on both sides would like to make it so. Life’s too short for that.

  • unclemike

    Marcus Bachmann actually said barbarians need to be “disciplined,” which is even gayer.

  • mz.sam

    @balehead: Well said: You’ve hit the funding buck on the head!

  • hf2hvit

    “He’s the husband of former congresswoman and presidential candidate Michelle [Bachmann]”

    He’s the husband of Congresswoman and former presidential candidate…

  • daniwitz13

    some noted Agency should take a poll, Question: To both Gays and straights, If there was a way to tell Homosexuality in or before Conception, would you choose, Homosexuality? This being only a choice factor without going into complex angles like abortion, etc. Why not to understand Homosexuality? Pity.

  • michaelroy

    @Cam: nothing worse than self-hating gays, which Chambers is in my opinion. It’s like self-hating blacks or self-hating jews. Only question is how has he been so good at keeping the man or men in his life under wraps (maybe it’s one of those what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas organizations). He’s definitely caused irreparable harm to a lot of people over the years. only solution is to finally out him, which will happen at some point. Maybe then he’ll just walk away, but I’m sure if that happens, he’ll just spin it and keep this mess going.

  • LadyL

    @Cam: Just read John Shore’s open letter and it is making me view the Big Apology with a whole new set of eyes. Everyone here should read this and then decide how genuine Mr. Chamber’s expressed regret truly is; thanks Cam for the link.

  • MickeyP.

    It’s just so sad that people put themselves through all this. What a waste of time. Hopefully,one day this won’t be the case. I’m glad I came out 1n 1978,at 16 and never looked back. I never had to hide or deal with internalized homophobia. I guess I’ve been lucky. My family is mostly great with it.( one sister,who lives in Texas,is a huge bigot! Go figure!)

  • bcbear4u

    Waste of TIME? What a waste of MONEY!!!!

  • Pete

    hysterical that john paulk is basically ‘johan paulik’!

  • Pete

    While I agree that Theodora Haggard’s full of shit, I feel like the writer, like so many gays, is being dismissive of bisexuality, which trust me is very real.

  • multitasker

    @Pete: Precisely what I was going to say. If he is bi and no longer spewing bigotry, then that’s his business. I still reserve the right to call him an ass for being an ass, though. Kudos to the jerk if he has come to terms with being bi. If every public person could accomplish such self honesty and identify openly, it would be a non-issue among the general populace.

  • multitasker

    @daniwitz13: If you’d asked me that same eugenics-oriented question the first year or so after I came out, I would have said I’d rather not have to be queer. Then I got used to it and decided I probably WOULD opt to be gay—better yet, to let the dice fall as they may. Regarding the rhetoric of a nasty homophobe, I once said to my mom that I hoped that their child would turn out to be gay. My mom first tried to reprimand me for saying something “that terrible;” but then she brought it up a couple of months later to apologize and tell me she understood and agreed. The world needs to celebrate diversity, not condemn it.

  • Hermes3X

    Rather than Ex-Ex Gay, would a more appropriate moniker be: ‘Re-gay’?

    I mean, “Ex-Ex” is a mouthful, and I have the feeling we are going to be saying it a lot from now on.

  • OBakke

    @KJ: It isn’t accurate to include Christine Bakke in a list of people who attempted to “cure” other LGBT people, either Christine Bakke is an ex-gay survivor who co-founded Beyond Ex-Gay with Peterson Toscano. While Christine did move to Denver and spend four years trying to “change” by Exodus’ standards and more, she never participated in any of the “curing”. She has been an ex-ex gay activist for many years through beyond ex-gay, interviews including Glamour Magazine, Diane Sawyer, numerous radio programs and news outlets as recent as this past Thursday regarding Alan Chambers. Christine has been happily married to her wife (that would be me) for almost three years and continues to be an activist for many LGBT issues. Recently helping Colorado’s largest LGBT lobbying group, One Colorado in their fight for civil unions, LGBT healthcare, etc. All along with her work with Beyond Ex-Gay.

    Full story here: http://www.queerty.com/ex-ex-gays-meet-the-people-who-tried-to-cure-you-20130621/#ixzz2X6GmLDBV

  • roniboi

    Small correction: Michele Bachmann, sadly, still has at least a year in office so she is not yet a “former” congresswoman.”

Comments are closed.