First Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Dinner Reflects on Where We’ve Come, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going
On September 30, 2013 ex-gays and their allies from all over the country gathered in Washington, D.C. to honor our legacy, recognize our achievements, and look towards our future. Dr. Douglas McIntyre, Co-Founder of Homosexuals Anonymous, the oldest and longest-running organization supporting individuals who wish to leave homosexuality, spoke about how far we’ve come in 40 years. “Having lunch on Capitol Hill today with many individuals that have shared the same experiences as I, reminded me that we’ve come a long way. When I was boy, not only was I unable to tell anyone what I was going through (having unwanted homosexual feelings) but there was no place to go. No safe group or organization helping people like me. Today, I’m surrounded by friends . . . it’s a day to celebrate what God has done,” commented McIntyre.
Greg Quinlan of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) gave one of the most heartening talks of the night, passionately speaking about why ex-gay awareness is so important. “I speak out about my experiences because of what I’ve seen. When I was in the gay lifestyle, I buried 100 of my gay friends who died of AIDS before I stopped counting. My friends would ask me: ‘Greg, would you please read this scripture at my funeral? Would you tell my son I love him and why daddy couldn’t be with him? Would you pray for me and ask God to forgive me?’ After suffering through so much heartbreak, pain, and death around me, I made a choice to come out of homosexuality and I haven’t looked back, and I will continue to speak out so that others can know that I have seen the change. I have to speak of these things. It is my obligation to do that!” Citing Acts, Quinlan proclaimed his duty to preach the good news, “I will continue to declare that ex-gay is ok, you can change!”
The night also featured two awards, the first given to Liberty Counsel’s, Mat Staver, who spoken about the current legal battles facing clients with unwanted same-sex attractions (and the counselors that help them) that he and Liberty Counsel have been waging in court. “It makes absolutely no sense that someone’s right of self-determination be infringed upon in the counseling office, especially when it threatens our fundamental liberties of speech and religion,” commented Staver. Watch the presentation of the First Ex-Gay Pride Freedom Award by clicking here.
Staver told the story of clients he represents in New Jersey and California – “fourteen, fifteen-year-old boys” – who have benefited from Christian counselors. Upon discovering their same-sex attraction, many “began to cut themselves, hate themselves, question who they are, and their relations with family and friends became fractured. After beginning counseling, however, their self-esteem improved, their same-sex attractions decreased, and their friendships improved.”
Voice of the Voiceless President, Christopher Doyle, expressed the need to create safe places for youth who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction. “We have to find a way to minister to people of faith – young people especially – and allow them to struggle just as we allow other non-SSA young people to struggle as they mature. How many of you have children in their 20s and 30s who continue to struggle with problems in their lives that keep them from reaching their full potential? You love those kids and continue to love them even as they struggle . . . we, people of faith, need to celebrate those young people and mentor them as the mature. We need to provide welcoming places for them – not to endorse their behavior – but to see their potential and look beyond their behavior and into their hearts.” Doyle challenged the audience to invest into young people if they want to see a change in the culture war on homosexuality.
Before Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. delivered a passionate keynote address, Dennis Jernigan performed the 2013 Ex-Gay Anthem, “Rise Up.” View the music video by clicking here. Produced by Brant Fricker, “Rise Up” is a song, in Dennis’s words, “from God’s perspective toward us.” Based on scripture from Psalm 32:7 and Zephaniah 3:17.“It is true. I once identified as homosexual. Through an encounter with Jesus Christ, I was given a brand new identity. I am tired of feeling like I have to be quiet about it in today’s culture. My story is my story…and the more I share it, the more I find a great number of men and women who once thought they were homosexual as well. It is time to rise up and declare who and Whose we are,” commented Jernigan. Dennis is married to beautiful wife Melinda, and together they have nine children.
Voice of the Voiceless is the only anti-defamation league for former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions, and their families. For more information, visit: www.VoiceoftheVoiceless.info