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08/01/2005

'The View' joins the 'ex-gay' discussion

by Jeremy Hooper

  This morning on "The View," Barbara and her gabby harem chatted up Mike Ensly and Scott Davis from the Exodus "ex-gay" camp o' offensive bullsh*t. As their shining example of reassigned success, the "ex-gays" once again trot out a a young gay dude (Mike) who really doesn't even make that much of an effort to pretend that he's no longer homo, and just sorta comes across as confused and misguided. Judging by the interview, it seems the best Exodus can offer is that through their programs (the details of which they of course remain vague), you can almost get to the point to where you can think that you might kinda sorta be possibly attracted to the opposite sex someday, maybe.

Tempting, no?

For those who might have missed the A.M nuttiness, here's the close-to-accurate transcript:

MEREDITH: Is homosexuality something that can be cured by going to rehab? Well our next guest says yes. Mike Ensly says that even though he was sexually attracted to men throughout his youth, a gay teen camp organized through Exodus Youth literally set him "straight." He's here today with the director of Exodus Youth Scott Davis. Please welcome Mike Ensly and Scott Davis.
Mike I want to start with you b/c you have said that from the time you were a very little boy you knew something was different and at the age of 11 you found yourself attracted to other boys and in your teenage years you acted on that, you became sexually active. At what point did you tell your parents what was going on and what was their reaction?

MIKE: Well I didn't exactly tell them, they kinda found out b/c I was coming out to other kids at school, so, and we lived in a small town..

STAR: How old were you, baby?

MIKE: I was about 15, and so, and their reaction I think in hindsight , it was perfect. They didn't agree with that, it wasn't in their values, but they said we love you no matter what, and we'll accept you no matter what you do, but this is our house and these are our values and just to respect that you can sit with this person once a week and talk

MEREDITH: What person 'once a week and talk?'

MIKE: Someone from the Exodus ministry where we live, so yea, they accepted me, they loved me, it was just no in line with their values.

STAR: So speaking of not in line with our values, your parents are Christian, you were raised Christian, and they wanted you to go and speak to people from what is the New Creations Ministry

MIKE: New Creations Ministry, yea

STAR: Now we've called this a camp, like a conversion camp which is what a lot of people call it, supposedly to help gay teens go straight. Did you want to go, did they force you to go? How were you feeling about that?

MIKE: Well of course I was 15 or 16, I had myself figured out already, so I was real reluctant to go..

JOY: Meaning what, what does that mean "'I had myself figured out'

MIKE: Well you know, I was having a lot of fun as a gay teenager, and I finally, this had been something I had been running from for many years as a kid, and finally I was beginning to be happy about it, and people were saying 'you're gay, just be happy

MEREDITH: So you're happy?

MIKE: Now I'm glad, yes

JOY: How come, what's changed?

MIKE: Well I, umm, I went into the gay lifestyle pretty much as much as you can, and I found that they were right about a lot of things

JOY AND ELISABETH: Who was right?

MIKE: My parents were right, and the people at the ministry, because they kinda told me If you go out and, you know, you live a gay life, this is what you're gonna find, you know, I started out hoping, you know, I thought I was gonna meet one person, fall in love, and be together forever, but it's not really like that.

MEREDITH: That's not true. I do know people who have long relationships. I don't believe that's true

BARBARA: Yea, and that could be gay or straight. Part of this, and then we'll talk to Scott, we know many gay people and in the beginning many of them really wanted to be straight, and it was very difficult. So is part of this teaching you discipline, because I assume there are times when you still have homosexual thoughts, are there not?

JOY: And urges

MIKE: Well it used to be the overwhelming consuming urge that people describe it as, and now it's just kind of a memory, I mean I can tell that other guys are attractive and I know there used to be something there that I used to take a lot of pleasure in, but I really don't have any desire to pursue that anymore

ELISABETH: So my understanding is that you don't think being homosexual is a choice, but you think you make a choice in acting on it

BARBARA: So do you think homosexuals, I should ask each of you this, are born or is it the environment?

MIKE: Well I think it could be combination of both, we don't really know. There were definitely things in my environment that affected the way I perceived myself, and how I related to other people

BARBARA: But Mike do you see yourself as a homosexual that doesn't act on the urges or do you see yourself as a heterosexual?

MIKE: I see myself as an emerging heterosexual, and that's something that's started in me

BARBABRA: I'd like to ask Scott the same question, do you, very quickly, believe that homosexuals are born and that it happens and what do you do to change it?

SCOTT: Well first of all, I think the best research today, if you go and look at the studies themselves as they were written, show that the jury's out for the most part. The studies that claim to have found a "gay gene" really say that it hasn't been found at this point. And what we've found at Exodus, this isn't something we just came up with yesterday, Exodus has been around for 30 years, we have 125 ministries in North America, we've seen tens of thousands of people leave homosexuality, and not just change their behavior but also change their identity, their self perception, and to see their attractions change from where they were 100% homosexuals to where they are 100% heterosexual

BARBARA: What do you do to them?

STAR: Can you help my understanding as to what actually occurs at the camps

SCOTT: Sure, and first of all, I want to say, they're not conversion camps, we've hear some people..

STAR: Well that's what the media calls them...

SCOTT: it makes me laugh, I sure wouldn't send anyone to a conversion camp, but our ministries provide a number of resources. They have mentoring, individual counseling, group therapy, and most of what we are talking about isn't about sex, what we say all the time, 'homosexuality isn't about sex,' it's about an underlying need for real intimacy, and intimacy has a lot of levels beyond just sex, of course, and there's a need in people to connect intimately with their same gender as well as with their opposite gender. When we see people like Mike, many people who come to our doors and say, 'I have these homosexual attractions, but I don't wanna be gay, we start talking top them about their life, and what's going on with their life, to see that really they have this deep need for intimacy with other boys and girls and for some reason that has been cut off.

BARBARA: You hear so many gays asking, 'I knew this when I was six years old'

STAR: Well so does Mike actually, Mike said 'I felt different from the very beginning'

SCOTT: Absolutely. That's something that develops very early in life, even before six, 3, 4, and 5 when our gender identity is forming, there can be things in our environment or family relationships or interactions with our siblings even, and it affects how our gender develops and that, at puberty can change how our sexu...

JOY: Why do you put it as if something is wrong with being gay? And, also, the other question I have, who would choose to be gay in a world, in a society, where homosexuals are vilified and crucified the way they are in this country, for example. Why would you choose something like that? It's something that you are or are not.

MIKE: I agree that it's not a choice, absolutely, and of course it's not something hat people would want to choose, of course.

ELISABETH: You're saying acting on it is a choice, correct?

SCOTT: Well and also the attractions are not..there's a choice to pursue a process of change away from homosexual attractions to heterosexual attractions, and health and wholeness

BARBARA: Well that's what I said, a lot of it's discipline

MEREDITH: There are also teens that have gone through programs like this who come out the other end feeling very isolated, and it's not a good experience.

STAR: Because they don't know which group they belong in

MEREDITH: Well maybe, I don't have an answer, but Mike how do you respond to that? I mean, not everybody thinks this is a good idea

JOY: Do you feel lonelier?

MIKE: Well a lot of kids have a hard time with it. I personally have know a lot of them, and its hard, we don;t force kids if they're not cooperative with the programs, and if they're not getting into it, you know, I've told lots of parents I've interned at the ministry where I went to now, and I've sat with parents and said 'Look your kids just not into this and...

STAR: But what about sexual responsibility, because I keep hearing everybody talk about we are redirecting from homosexual thought to heterosexual thoughts. Are you also emphasizing in a Christian ministry that it's not just about homosexuality or heterosexuality, it's about responsibiltiy

SCOTT: Our goal is not ultimately heterosexuality, it's a healthy and whole life and person, and that's what we focus on..

BARBARA: That's a different thing then what we are talking about, which is that homosexuals can go to your program and change and become heterosexual

SCOTT: That's a small piece of it

MEREDITH: So there's no anti-gay subtext here?

SCOTT: No, I don't think so

JOY: Do you like girls now?

MIKE: I'm getting there. You know, as I've grown, I've started to..umm..have those relationships with other men, not sexual, but learning to be friends, to be accepted, and slowly I've started to notice, hey there;s something going on over there, and if I can be bluntly honest, started having dreams and stuff and waking up and going, you know, 'WHOA'

MEREDITH: Have you had sex yet with a woman?

MIKE: I have not, and don't plan to until I get married

JOY: As if that's gonna change something? It's not like zits you know

STAR: There's another commitment outside of being heterosexual, is what his point is

MEREDITH: How old are you now?

MIKE: I'm 24

ELISABETH: young

MEREDITH: And how long since your last relationship with a man

MIKE: 4 years

JOY: So you're not having as much fun as you were having then though it sounds like

MIKE: I'm much happier now

JOY: Fun is everything

ELISABETH: Not all the time, there's consequence

STAR:There's a consequence to good clean fun

...

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