Although the climate is changing, it can still be said that individuals who can identify themselves as either gay, bisexual, lesbian, intersexed, transgendered or simple queer, find it challenging to be self-accepting of their sexual orientation. Those who may not (or don’t care to) understand Maslow’s Hierarchy ofNeeds, find it hard to understand why ‘those’ people want to come out and throw it in everybody’s face. Well, those people do not necessarily want to come out to ‘you’. They want to come out to themselves. According to Maslow, after our physiological and safety needs are met (you can click here if you are unfamiliar with this psychological theory), all people need to experience a sense of belonging, esteem and self-actualization. When we have to deny and lie to ourselves about a characteristic from one of these elements, all the other elements are affected.
For example, if I believe I am ugly or stupid, I will have a hard time accepting positive messages from others about myself (esteem and self-actualization), which can affect how I relate to those around me (sense of belonging). I view myself with a deficit and/or defect that will stunt my development and social interactions as a human being. A similar negative internalization occurs when LGBT persons have to suppress their sexuality.
There are plenty of sources from where these negative messages originate. One source I am personally familiar with. I will be discussing this source over a series of future blog posts. This source is religion. In my specific life experience, it has been the Christian church. Before I continue, I will state that I am not bashing Christianity as a religion as I identify as a practicing Christian. Where Christianity and homosexuality collide is in the centuries-old misinterpretation / mistranslation of scriptures from the Bible which results in the problem of negative self-imagery. (For all of my devout Christian readers, we will discuss theology in future posts.)
This is where the ex-gay movement comes in, which is the true subject of this and future posts. It believed that Exodus International is the non-profit organization that started this movement back in the 1970s. I have first hand experience, as I have been a participant and facilitator in the ex-gay movement through one of their affiliate ministries. It took me many years to understand and accept my sexual orientation and to stop trying (unsuccessfully I might add) to change it through prayer and reparative therapy. God didn’t answer those prayers because there is nothing wrong with my sexuality and reparative therapy doesn’t work.
I cannot stress my love and appreciation for my Christian faith. However, I struggle because I know there are many LGBT Christians who continue to live on that ex-gay treadmill.
“The church says that the Bible says that my sexuality is wrong. They must be right. I will suffer in silence, engage in clandestine activities, or engross myself in destructive and risky behavior, hoping my feelings will change.”
This is not the correct message found in the Bible. And this is no way to live.
Over the next few posts, I will talk about some of the founders and leaders within the ex-gay movement, why they have walked away and why you can too.