When an ex-gay leader comes out of the closet, looking for the light, I want to be a person who welcomes him into the beautiful truth that he cannot and should not crucify himself any longer at the Altar of Heterosexuality. No longer will he pretend he is someone he is not. No longer will he wish he were dead. No longer will he wonder why God is so hateful as to create such a flawed sexual identity. When an ex-gay leader comes out of the closet, I want to be a person who does not judge their history but has benevolence that comes out of abundant grace, flowing from a fount of forgiveness.
That’s a tall order.
I get it.
But it’s what I desire for myself.
When John Smid, a former ex-gay leader, announced his return to sanity this month (a.k.a. that he is a big homo after all), I know it stirred up a storm of reflection among all of us who identify as ex-gay survivors and definitely for those who still identify as “ex-gay.”
The thing about Smid though is that he wasn’t just another guy who led groups at Exodus International (or some over-bearing, manipulative woman at Prodigal Ministries in Cincinnati Ohio). He wasn’t merely facilitating conversations where people come to meetings and get their identities molested. He was a ring-leader at the ex-gay residential facility, Love in Action (which was shut down last month due to low funding and oh yeah, it doesn’t work). Now, I’ve never been to the Love in Action facility but what I imagine is that it magnifies the soul-raping that I attended in therapy sessions and “support” group meetings. Basically, they gathered in a location where no one was around to monitor all of this self-hate and heterosexuality worship, for months on end. They made promises to set you free, taught you that what you felt is wrong and swore that God loves you anyway…
It sounds like gang soul-rape…
So when it comes to healing from the wounds that were inflicted under this guy’s leadership, I can literally only imagine what kind of things went on, the faces he made, the words he used, the hugs he offered, the intentions he twisted, the stories he told, the prayers he prayed. It grosses me out to even try to imagine it.
Rather than going too far in empathizing with the survivors of Smid’s smut version of “healing,” I wanted to share a private encounter that I had with the spirit of my father yesterday and how it relates.
Okay, I didn’t really run into his spirit or anything, but he just died a month ago and I spend a lot of time thinking about him, missing him, trying to access the better parts of who he was and in doing that, I’ve been celebrating one of his quirky habits in conversation. (You may have to read this part aloud to fully come into the journey but come along… it will be enlightening and entertaining.)
My dad liked to speak by inverting letters in words or phrases, which weren’t always appropriate but were silly and sometimes very funny. For example, my name was Dale Gickert or he would call and say, “Hey honey, dow’s your hay?”
In fact, he would have full conversations like this sometimes and it would drive me bonkers. He would be explaining how the V.A. were nucking futs or how the guy hown the dall forgot to meet him at Kentucky Chied Fricken and I would finally exclaim, “Dad, please stop waying seird things to me!”
Annoying, funny but well, that was my dad. He thought he was hysterical and only now when he doesn’t call and talk like a goof, do I realize how much I miss it.
So, I’ve been seeing and hearing things in those “inverted” ways since he died and today when I came home, I saw a card on the table that a friend got for me yesterday since I’ve been sick.
It said, “Heal at your own Rate.”
But I read…
Real at your own Hate.
Reel at your own Hate?
Be Real about your own Hate?
In that moment, I thought about healing from the ex-gay movement and Christian Fundamentalism. This healing is something that we do at our own rates but how true it is that part of healing is recognizing when to reel about the hateful things they did and reel because it is still being done!
To be even more honest, are we real about the hate that we have, towards them, not as people, but towards their deplorable actions? (or anyone who has hurt us, intentionally or not)
Personally, I can say that I’ve forgiven the ex-gay leaders of my past and all previous wounds to this date from the fundies. (I’m sure there are more to come.) I can also say, personally, that if John Smid wants to hit up a club with me, I will buy him a lap dance from the most beautiful drag queens in DC but this is me, healing at my own rate.
And that is all that matters.
We have that in common. We all have healing to let in and hate to let out.
This is the homospiritual journey, as I see it.
I’m thankful that I get to share it with all of you, regardless of the stages of our healing or the type of wounds people of “faith” have put upon us. We must forgive ourselves for letting it happen and forgive them but not without proper and full acknowledgment of what it means.
Thanks for being a part of this journey. I’m sending blany messings to you all!