Attn: Producers of Our America
HARPO Productions, Inc.
1058 W Washington Blvd
Chicago, IL 60607
June 21, 2013
Dear Lisa Ling and Producers of Our America,
For three consecutive years, you have produced exclusive documentary shows via “Our America” on the work of Exodus International, their affiliated ministries, counselors, and participants of their programs. While we applaud your willingness to take on such a controversial and complex subject as homosexuality and faith, you have consistently combined the work of Exodus International with professional psychotherapists and psychologists who offer Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) therapy. While counselors and ministries under the Exodus network provide spiritual guidance and have, in the past, used interventions to help individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions pursue heterosexuality, many, if not the majority of these counselors, are not trained professionals in the field of psychology.
The work of ministries such as Exodus and their affiliated chapters is primarily to walk along side persons struggling with their sexual identities and offer them education, hope, and guidance as they struggle in maintaining their faith with their unwanted homosexual feelings. While many of these ministries provide an avenue for spiritual growth, support, and accountability, they do not always help persons who experience homosexual feelings understand all the complexities of human sexuality and sexual orientation.
Sexuality and sexual orientation is a complex and multi-faceted part of an individual’s composition, and involves more than just sexual arousal, behaviors, feelings, and desires. Sexual orientation is influenced by attachment, bonding, and other psychological drives, as well as an individual’s temperament, environment, culture, and psychosocial experiences, among other factors. Change in sexual orientation, namely from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation, is not easy, and is not necessarily binary. Some clients may experience a complete resolution of their unwanted SSA over the course of therapy, while others may experience smaller, significant changes on a continuum; still others may fail to achieve progress towards reducing SSA and increasing heterosexual feelings, despite considerable effort. Such experiences are consistent with a wide range of clinical issues that clients seek professional help from, with varying outcomes ranging from client to client.
Under its current leadership, Exodus has made statements over the efficacy of Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) when many of its SSA leaders have failed to undergo such treatment themselves. Such leaders are also unqualified to make these statements due to their lack of training and education in the psychological field. However, real change in sexual orientation is possible, based on hundreds of our own client outcomes, thousands of testimonies circulating in popular culture, and one hundred years of psychological and scientific reports published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Unfortunately, the three shows you have produced have failed to fully explore the entire nature of the ex-gay movement, focusing on only one specific ministry that has been troubled for several years. There are many organizations that address the complex nature of sexual orientation through psychotherapy and counseling, such as the International Healing Foundation, National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, People Can Change, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing, as well as a number of independent mental health practitioners operating under the umbrella of the Restored Hope Network.
In your effort to report controversy over “ex-gay survivors” and clients such as Christian who have seen untrained and unqualified counselors for help with their homosexual feelings, you have failed to actually educate the public on the entire nature and scope of services available for others potential clients with unwanted same-sex attractions. You have also failed to give equal time to hundreds, if not thousands, of persons who have successfully undergone psychotherapy and counseling to overcome unwanted SSA.
We therefore plead with you to commit to exploring the full range of psychological services and organizations that help individuals with unwanted SSA. Interview experts in the psychological and SOCE field, as well as clients that have experienced success in changing their sexual orientation. As scientists, we understand the process of confirmation bias, meaning, when you seek to find a certain outcome, you will certainly achieve that through non-objective reporting, finding evidence that favors a certain pre-conceived notion on a certain issue. We can only hope that you Lisa, a respected journalist, will research all the facets of the ex-gay movement, not just religious ministries, to provide the public with a complete and accurate portrayal of who we are and what we do.