Good Riddance to Exodus International...
Got up, got some weed pulled and tree-suckers trimmed off, and fed the kindle of kittens (yes, a grouping of kittens is called a kindle, isn't that fucking adorable?!) their breakfast-- they get wet cat food twice a day, in addition to the dry that's always available. I thought today would be yet another Thursday in Summer. Kids on computer and consoles, fighting over stupid shit like my daughter's obsession with pop music that drives my sons insane, and "it's my turn!"
What I didn't expect was to see a headline that filled me with such joy. I mean absolute joy! This is so fucking awesome and wonderful and amazing! I'd be doing back-flips if I knew how (and I can't cartwheel in the house, it's not safe, after all).
I found out this morning that Exodus International is closing their doors. I'm sure a little background is necessary, as not everyone knows what they are, or were rather.
Exodus International was founded in 1976, according to this NBC article that I read. They taught that they could cure you of being gay; that whole “pray away the gay” thing, that comes from Exodus Intl. They started it, and there's no way to tell how many people were harmed by their dogmatic reaction to a natural, normal state of sexuality.
When I first heard about them, it would have been mid 90's or so, I know I was still in school, so maybe 94-- I can't remember for sure, and I'm not going to look it up. I saw a billboard with a man and a woman on it, and they were purported to be married. She was a “former” lesbian, and he a “cured” gay man-- you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure you've seen that pap on the side of the road, or in photos of backwards Southern towns that still believe that shit.
I don't know if I thought they really could cure gay people; I can't remember. I just remember thinking that was interesting. I mean, here they are, on this huge billboard on the side of I-94! Then not too long after that there was a full page advert in the Kalamazoo Gazette... it claimed they could save you and cure you from the sinful lifestyle of being gay, and that all you needed was Jesus.
Remember, at this time I was straight, I thought; I had no idea what bi/pansexuality was, I just knew I wasn't gay, because I liked boys, as well as girls. I still wasn't entirely convinced that everyone didn't find everyone else pretty much attractive and we just decided we liked those bits better. I know it sounds strange, but even as I was extricating myself from the IBF church dogma, there were holes in my education. Plus, this was the mid 90's, and I was under-age... there were many things about my now-beloved queer movement that I didn't learn until my 20's.
I figured that if some gay guy was upset, or wanted to be a minister or some shit, he could see these Exodus people and get fixed up... provided that was what he wanted to do. Sounded good, right? I mean, if you've got some mole you need removed, or your tonsils, or you're anxious and have OCD you see a doctor to help you. So, I remember shrugging mentally, I guess these gay men thought they needed a doctor to help them.
Even then, though, and not knowing anyone gay, I thought pastors were pretty much assholes about it. I couldn't find evidence anywhere of anyone “turning” someone else gay, so I was content to live and let live. What did it bother me who fucked who? I mean, so long as everyone was willing... I was a very sexually open teen, especially when it came to “whatever you like, as long as everyone's good with it”. I did have to learn limits, and my own comfort levels, of course. But I never judged other people for going with what they enjoyed. Besides, I'd seen photos of gay men and damn, they're hot! Who wouldn't want to fuck the ever loving shit out of them?!
A few years went by, and I was living in Texas. I would be 99, perhaps, or 2000, before I heard of these people again. By this time I knew I wasn't straight, and identified as bisexual (pan/omnisexual wasn't a thing then, we just all lumped in with bis). I was politically active, pushing for legislation to protect the LGBTQI community, I knew it wasn't a choice, and I wasn't afraid to be pro-gay in public. So, when I heard, again, about curing the gay, I got angry! I had assumed, falsely, that it was a local thing, probably in bed with the evangelical/Pentecostal/IFB churches in the area I lived in, in Michigan. I had no idea it was a nation-wide thing. When I learned that, it pissed me right the fuck off!
I mean, who in the hell did these jokers think they were, trying to cure gays! Everyone knew it was biological, and shit, Jesus never saved anyone from anything, let alone being gay. What fuckfaced assholes! I was livid, so I wrote a letter to the editor... and no, it wasn't profane. It never got printed, probably because Ft.Hood/Killeen Texas is pretty conservative, and I was saying LGBTQI people were just A-OK with me and needed our support, not to be cured.
They seemed to skim under the water, though. I'd hear something, usually about how they didn't help, but harmed, about this kid being sent to them for a cure coming back with neuroses and losing their families, because they were still gay! Then nothing for a long time.
Thing is, this never stopped. They harmed countless queer teens and adults. Some of whom where desperate to find a cure for what they considered a horrible condition, something that was incompatible with their religious faith. Others were sent by their parents, to get better... but no one was! They were taught to press down their orientation, to ignore it, to get married to someone of the opposite gender, so they'd be right with god.
I guess during sex, so they could have those god-commanded babies, the gay men and lesbians who were married were all supposed to lay back and think of England? I don't know. It is beyond horrifying!
This group destroyed people.
They destroyed families, tore them up, lied and basically stole loads of cash peddling a cure to something that 1-- isn't a disease, and 2- isn't curable. You can't cure something that isn't an illness. You can just teach people to lie to themselves, to lie to the world, to shove their true selves down deep and pretend everything is fine.
This isn't a cure, it's another layer of dogma. It's another layer of deception in the name of religion.
And frankly, I'm glad they're closing their doors. It's not soon enough, it's about 37 years too late!
I hope everyone who has been harmed by these charlatans gets, and has gotten, help.You can contact the Trevor Project here.
To any queer kids who may have stumbled onto my blog... especially if you've got conservative parents and/or religion:
You're not broken! You're not ill! You do not need to be cured of anything other than the illness of religion that tells you you're evil and wrong!
There is no sin, other than harming someone, and you know what, you're Someone! So, anything that harms you, like telling you you're a sinful awful person who needs to be cured... well, that's a sin, plain and simple.
You are beautiful, wonderful and loved! You don't need curing, you need acceptance. And I accept you, I celebrate you, and I welcome you into the family. You're not alone... not now, and not ever.
I'll talk about the hypocrisy of the pray away the gay movement another time... but here's a secret: they're all still just as gay as they were before they went into the movement... they're all queer! Every last one of the liars. Poor fuckers. we should pity them, and make sure that when they're ready to come out of that, we're open and welcome them home.