The Next Big Thing in "Ex-Gay" Therapy

The controversy that surrounded "Ex-Gay Pride Month" this past July isn't stopping the Family Research Council's new off-shoot organization, Voice of the Voiceless (VoV), from continuing to push for ex-gay "rights" as it sponsors the first-ever "Ex-Gay Awareness Month" throughout September. But given that 50% of millennials now feel that sexual orientation cannot be changed, it appears that VoV might be setting itself up for another washout.

A Pew Research study has found that 40% of American millennials feel that homosexuality is innate. Overall, 41% of Americans believe that homosexuality is something people are born with, and 51% of Americans feel that sexual orientation cannot be changed.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is one of several organizations where ex-gays gather to discuss their experiences — including ex-gay millennials who buck the thinking of many people in our generation about what it is (or isn't) to be gay.

One of the stories on the PFOX website comes from Charles, an ex-gay teen who claims he "chose" the gay lifestyle for "attention, love, acceptance, and most of all, fulfillment of a void in [his] life." After suffering the emotional toll of his parents' divorce, Charles says his mother encouraged him to see an ex-gay therapist. He says he found the therapy to be rewarding and claims that he was "filled with a joy only God can give," and that he "felt complete and whole for the first time in [his] life." Despite the fact that there is no evidence that traumatic childhood experiences such as divorce can lead to homosexuality, and that the American Psychological Association issued a statement saying that not only did it not work, it could be harmful. 

A 20-year-old woman on the site claims that her side is often left out of the dialogue that comes in the aftermath of ex-gay therapy. "In none of the testimonies is the word of God mentioned," she says, which she feels is a reason why so many who try ex-gay therapy feel it didn't change their sexualities.

Completely changing from homosexuality to heterosexuality, however, is something that rarely happens even with people who devote their lives to this process. Alan Chambers, the former president of Exodus International, now says he believes that complete change is unlikely.

Despite its supporters, VoV is fully aware of the backlash it has received from people who feel that ex-gay therapy is wrong. The group is not disclosing the locations of any of the events planned for "Ex-Gay Awareness Month" to anyone not registered for its events. And the events at the end of this month are being billed as an opportunity to "celebrate the lives of former homosexuals and hear about how you can advance and bring awareness to their unique stories and achievements in our nation's schools." This statement, however, comes at a time when California and New Jersey have already banned ex-gay therapy for children under age 18, and other states such as Massachusetts are debating similar legislation.

The millennial generation (and school children) are a heavy focus for VoV this month, as the organization ramps up its messaging that they exist to defend "the rights of all who desire to fulfill their heterosexual dreams." While it is still unclear how effective "Ex-Gay Awareness Month," will be, and even whether or not the ex-gay community actually needs to spread awareness, it is clear that VoV faces a significant challenge, given that half of its apparent targeted demographic does not believe that ex-gay therapy works.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Dan Peltier

Graduating in May 2014 with degrees in Journalism and Political Science from UMass Amherst and I'm hunting for a job. I studied abroad in Rome, Italy spring 2013 and got to witness amazing history and see unbelievable sights. I enjoy following and writing about LGBTQ rights/marriage equality/gender identity, the politics of the U.S. Christian Right and its influences both domestically and abroad, and blogging about my travels. When I'm not writing, I'm either running, reading, or planning my next trip!

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