The ex-gay movement remains one of the most insidious threats to gay life today.
Dark armies of deacons, preachers, priests and run of the mill wackos are preying on the minds, hearts and “souls” of men and women who can’t accept their homosexuality. While it’s easy for us to wag a finger at the movement’s unorthodox reparative therapy, it’s far more damning when criticism comes from within. Or, at least, from someone who’s lived through it. Take, for example, Scott Harrison: a former ex-gay minister who left in 1990 after the seemingly-progressive group took a distinctly – and disgustingly – radical direction.
Harrison discusses the last straw with Southern Poverty Law Center:
Q: A minister in your church performed an exorcism on you to root out your homosexuality. How did that happen?
SH: There was a particular associate minister who was pretty out there. But the problem was he was also extremely intuitive. He would know stuff about you without you ever having told him. When you’re coming from a perspective that you believe God can give messages to people, words of prophecy, then it’s very easy to become prey. This guy got a team of people together. One of the aspects that is pretty strong in Vineyard [Christian Fellowship], still, is that they believe that people can be “demonized.” Not meaning that a person is fully possessed by Satan, but that a person has given him or herself over to Satanic strongholds in his or her life, so that it may take an exorcism to release the various demons that this person has given over their lives to.
Q: What happened as you went through it?
SH: It was very intense, dramatic, group prayer. It lasted at least three hours. At the end, I was drenched in sweat. There were some real areas of psychological wounding. All I can really describe it as – because of how it happened and the incorrectness of the theology – is that it felt like a spiritual rape to me.
Harrison has since left the movement, accepted his sexuality and speaks with gay non-profits like PFLAG and talks about the importance of spiritual reconciliation.