Now, maybe we can start to have real discussions about being Gay, faith, church, Jesus and marriage.
The only two alternatives for Gays are NOT be atheist or be celibate.
Last week, John Smid, the former director of Love in Action, the countryâs oldest and largest ex-gay ministry, acknowledged on his blog that, contrary to the claims of the movement he represented for decades, gay people cannot become straight. âIâve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual,â he wrote. He himself certainly has not. âI would consider myself homosexual and yet in a marriage with a woman,â he explained. He loves his wife and has no plans to leave her, but wrote, âthis doesnât change the fact that I am who I am and she is who she is.â
Smid, who resigned from Love in Action in 2008, was just the latest ex-gay luminary to leave the movement, either voluntarily or in a cloud of scandal. His break with ex-gay orthodoxy is a sign that, even in the evangelical world, the notion that sexual orientation can be altered is increasingly crumbling in the face of reality. Evangelicals used to insist that âchange is possible,â says Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor once associated with the ex-gay movement. âThe new paradigm, I believe, is no, it doesnât look like that works, and so you go with it, you accept it, and you try to make the best life you can in congruence with the rest of your beliefs,â he says.
Though he didnât realize it at the time, Smidâs journey away from the ex-gay movement began in 2005. Thatâs when 16-year-old Zach Stark posted on MySpace that his parents were forcing him into Love In Actionâs boot camp-style residential rehab program in Memphis, setting off a nationwide uproar. The program cut people off from their old livesâthe rulebook forbid âreading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind,â and even keeping a private journal was verboten. Time spent in the bathroom was monitored to prevent masturbation. Hoping to reach Stark in his isolation, protesters stood outside throughout much of the teenagerâs eight-week stay.
One of them, Morgan Jon Fox, eventually made a documentary about the confrontation, This Is What Love in Action Looks Like. Smid agreed to let Fox interview him, and their meeting had a deep, lasting impact.
âWhen Morgan and I met for the very first time right after the protest, what I saw in Morgan was a man of such character,â Smid told me. âI saw someone who was humble, who was open to being honest, someone that I really felt drawn to. It just opened me up to realize I had not been willing to admit that there were gay people like Morgan.â