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06/20/2013

On Alan Chambers' big announcement

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 At 10.48.06 AmAlan Chambers, longtime president of Exodus International, has announced that the "ex-gay" ministry is closing its doors. This is not news to me. In fact, I've known about this for months.

Since January of this year, Alan and I have been chatting about everything that is playing out now. I knew he was very disenchanted with his movement, that he was ready to step up and repudiate the harms he has caused and/or emboldened, and that he saw a need to end the operation with which his professional identity is inextricably intertwined. Alan has been refreshingly frank with me, sharing his heart, mind, and crucial insight. He's also been wonderfully receptive, accepting my feedback on everything from the apology letter that he will read tonight on a Lisa Ling special to the overall goals of his personal and professional mission. As you may remember, Alan even brought me in the loop on a nasty email chain of which he was part so that I could see the way his former allies talk about us when they think we're not listening. He has earned my trust, even if I am still unclear on exactly where he wants to take his mission.

And now Alan has shared it all with the world. This man, who has fought us politically, in the press, in the public opinion space, and, most notably, through his direct work encouraging the dangerously misleading sham known as "ex-gay" therapy, has come out, as it were, and taken a stand against his own efforts. While not an LGBT activist by any stretch of the imagination, Alan is no longer a "pro-family" activist who cares to sidle up with the usual anti-LGBT suspects. He is apologizing for damage done.

I want to remind everyone that Alan is far from a fringe figure whose views hold no weight or capital. This is someone who was in the strategy rooms. This is someone who spoke at Liberty Counsel conferences. This is someone who worked with the team behind Prop 8. This is someone who has held personal relationships with any number of anti-LGBT notables. That he is walking away from that is significant enough. But that Alan specifically cites the anti-LGBT movement's reliable harshness as a major impetus for his, well, exodus? That's major!

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