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06/22/2007

Chambers sheds light on those who've shed orientation

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 5-60"Erstwhile 'mo" Alan Chambers is clarifying remarks recently attributed to him by the Los Angeles Times, wherein it was implied by the writer that he's no longer comfortable with the term "ex-gay." This from the American Family Association's One News Now site:

Chambers cautions those words were not his, but those of the writer, Stephanie Simon. Chambers says in the interview, he merely stressed he has never met anyone who has loved the term "ex-gay" -- which he contends is difficult to define.

"It's something that comes across as confusing," he says. "And while I understand why people have used it over the years -- it's easy to use in a soundbite -- to say that someone is primarily described by the behavior that they used to be involved in I think is a disservice to the people who have found freedom from homosexuality."

And that includes himself, says Chambers. "[R]eally, more accurate labels for me would be, 'I'm a man. I'm a Christian. I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a son.'" Chambers says he is considering whether to ask the newspaper to issue a clarification of his remarks."

But here's the thing: If nobody loves the term "ex-gay," then why the hell does it even exist? Alan asserts that it's because it's "easy to use in a soundbite." However, "homosexual" and "heterosexual" are both quite accessible terms. If they have truly found freedom from homosexuality, then why are they holding on to and even embracing the term? It is certainly not the gay community who wants it around!

It's actually sort of interesting that Alan highlights the silliness of a term that leaves people "described by the behavior that they used to be involved in," as that is an argument that we have made time and time again. But in doing so, he would seem to only highlight this organized movement's flaws, as that is certainly the label and concept they have largely agreed upon. Hell, there is an organization, PFOX, who lobbies for the rights of people who exist in this flux "ex-gay" state. So by coming out against the term in this way, Alan would seem to be helping us show that those who use the "ex-gay" term are holding on to the past for some sort of specific reason. That reason, in our opinion: So that they can marginalize and demonize the community that they have "left behind," rather than just enjoy the new sexual identity that they claim to have.

'I'm a man. I'm a Christian. I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a son.'" Those are all fantastic things to be. Many gays are all of those things as well. However, when you get to the box labeled "Sexual Orientation: ___________," you have a certain answer to input. We applaud anyone who points out that placing "ex-gay" in that space is a little nutty. We just wish that more in his movement would move away from this undefined, non-medically recognized label, and start living their present truth in a state disconnected from this politically-laden term.

Exodus Int'l president stands by criticism of term 'ex-gay' [ONN]
The original LA Times article: New ground in debate on 'curing' gays [LA Times]

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Your thoughts

Seems to me, the reason they use the term ex-gay is to reinforce their idea that it is a "lifestyle choice" and something that can be changed. I can't get a tan and call myself ex-caucasian but I can sleep with the opposite sex and call myself ex-gay. Well heck, I can go sleep with a guy but it doesn't mean I'm not still a lesbian!

Posted by: Jessica | Jun 22, 2007 9:46:12 AM

Exactly, Jessica. And that's why by calling scrutiny on the usage of the term, he would actually seem to be helping our cause.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 22, 2007 9:53:04 AM

same sex love - are we in the right direction?

more at "DONKEY SOUP for the drunken soul"

Posted by: donkeySOUP | Jun 22, 2007 10:14:29 AM

The term "ex-gay" came from Michael Bussee (according to him).

Posted by: Alan Chambers | Jun 26, 2007 4:22:08 PM

Alan: Okay. The point? It is kept alive by many.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 26, 2007 4:28:29 PM

Alan: According to Michael himself, he is not the one to coin the "ex-gay" term:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2007/06/video-the-fathe.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 27, 2007 10:25:51 AM

Regarding who coined the misleading term "ex-gay", I do not claim for sure that I did it, but I may have. Here's the story:

In 1974, I joined the Hotline staff at Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, CA. In response to gay callers, Jim Kaspar (a hotline staff member who was calling himself a "celibate, Christian homosexual" at the time)and I formed "EXIT -- EX-gay Intervention Team". We wrote and submitted (but did not recieve) a grant proposal from the County of Orange to help get our ministry started.

We needed a catchy title and "ex-gay" seemed to fit the bill. Jim Kapsar may have come up with it. Maybe it was my late lover, Gary Cooper who had joined us by that time. I don't quite recall. One of us did. I am not aware of any use of the term before that. I have searched the Net for earlier uses of the term, but have not found any.

We thought "Ex-gay" was a quick way to refer to folks who were hoping that God would change their sexual orientaion. In over thirty years of searching, I have never met an EXODUS person who has.

Alan Chambers of EXODUS admits that it's a rather confusing "soundbite". Ed Hurst, one of the earliest EXODUS leaders (and who still defends the term)says his ministry used it to "vew and provoke the media". Joe Dallas of EXODUS says it's a "convenient way of saying a Christian with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies" but that "ex-gay" just "rolls off the tongue a little easier."

Over the years this "catchy", "convenient" "soundbite" has "vexed", "provoked", confused, decieved and harmed many people. It is way past time to do what Alan Chambers himself said should be done two years ago: "retire the term entirely and see to it that it is never used again." Of course, he hasn't done that.

Posted by: Michael Bussee | Jul 19, 2008 11:54:08 AM

Thanks, Michael. Your unique insight is always welcome!!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 20, 2008 8:09:21 PM

What I have said is that I MAY have been the one to coin the term "ex-gay". Maybe I should not take all the blame. It could be that my ministry partner, Jim Kaspar did. We were both busy writing a funding proposal and needed something "catchy" like "ex-gay".

All I know is that it was not being used anywhere in print (as far as I can tell) before we started using it at "EXIT" -- EX-gay Intervention Team.

I don't think Love in Action (one of the earliest "change" ministries formed about 1973) was using it back then. We at "EXIT" started using in about 1975 -- the year before EXODUS was formed. Now, I regret it was ever used.

A couple of years back, Alan Chambers told me personally that (1) he "doesn't like it" and "tries not to use it", (2) that it is "more confusing than anything", (3) that it "does not accurately convey what the 'change process is really all about'" and (4) that he he thought "we should officially retire it" and "see to it that it is never used again".

Now he uses "former homosexual" instead. That's a distinction without a difference -- they are both untruthful.

Posted by: m | Aug 21, 2008 4:28:29 PM

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