Monday, October 27, 2014

ADDENDUM::How A Former Advocate Of Ex-Gay Therapy Is Working To Protect Others From Harm | ThinkProgress

Earlier this year, a group of former ex-gay leaders — individuals who made a career at some point in their lives promoting or administering ex-gay therapy — published an open letter decrying all forms of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). “It is our firm belief,” they wrote, “that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.” The letter helped launch the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ #BornPerfect campaign, which calls for more laws protecting people from the harms of reparative therapy.

Among the signatories was Tim Rymel, who at one point in his life was an evangelical Christian minister and a vocal advocate for ex-gay therapy, offering his own personal testimony to support his cause. From 1991 to 1996, Rymel served as Outreach Director for Love in Action (LIA), a residential facility for ex-gay therapy based in Memphis, Tennessee. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because after Rymel’s time there, LIA began a youth program called Refuge that in 2005 became the center of a big controversy after a young man named Zach Stark blogged on MySpace about how he was treated in the facility, which he was forced to attend by his parents. Love In Action eventually closed its youth program, but still serves adults under the new name “Restoration Path.”

Rymel now identifies as gay and is working against the harms of ex-gay therapy. He details his journey of self-acceptance in a new book called Going Gay, and he spoke with ThinkProgress about what he learned along the way and what he’s now trying to teach others about homosexuality and Christianity.

Rymel is now connecting with people who attended Love In Action while he worked there to tell “Ex-Gay 25 Years Later” stories. Of the 15 he’s reached out to, only three of them still identify as ex-gay, and only one of those three has been willing to talk to him on the record. What he’s already found is that those who now identify as gay are doing well, while those who still identify as ex-gay continue to struggle with their identities. He’s combining their stories with a meta-analysis of the available research to try to paint a picture of what the ex-gay movement actually looks like and debunk the myth that there are thousands of ex-gays out there. “The thousands do not exist,” he told ThinkProgress.

How A Former Advocate Of Ex-Gay Therapy Is Working To Protect Others From Harm | ThinkProgress

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