It is with personal sorrow that I read the guest column from 24 former overcomers now opposed to options for youth (“Guest columnist: 24 former 'ex-gay' leaders unite to oppose conversion therapy,” Aug. 19).
One of those signers was my former husband, who, along with me, left homosexuality in the early 1990s. He returned to gay relationships after 21 years of our marriage, which created our three wonderful sons.
It is true that some people who sought to leave homosexuality return to it. It is nothing new. Truly, it must be a painful struggle to change core beliefs and embrace opposite goals.
Resolution is possible — by returning to what is clear in the Bible, or by changing beliefs to accommodate homosexual desires. These 24 people appear to have chosen the latter. Consequently, they want to shut down hope and options for others.
It is vital to see what conversion therapy bans are. Proposed around the country and brought to Kentucky lawmakers and citizens, these bills are not seeking to outlaw some horrible method. Rather they are seeking to eradicate a person’s own goal for seeking counseling, and to punish those who support them.
They seek to impose viewpoint discrimination — asserting that their viewpoint is not only better but that LGBT affirmation should be the only allowable option for teens grappling with unwanted same-sex attraction. In essence, “What is no longer true for me cannot be true for you.”
They conveniently ignore those of us whose lives have changed. I left homosexuality decades ago and have had a more satisfying and full life, peace and joy (despite the significant loss of my marriage), because of surrendering my life to Jesus. I remember being 19, lesbian identified and depressed with a disconnect to the author of life and peace. This story is not just mine.
Sarah, a young, single woman, had sought hope for life change and was told there was none. She considered taking her life, then asked God for real hope to leave lesbianism. When she connected with us at our HOPE conference, she found the peace that she had been seeking.
Bob called me while living a double life, married to his wife and engaging in homosexual sex. He was desperate for help and suicidal. I was able to connect him with compassionate care in his area. He is still alive today and thriving.
Jeff was going to church, having anonymous sexual encounters and teetering on the edge of a bridge, until he surrendered his weaknesses to Jesus and sought help at one of our member ministries. Disclosing his struggles, others came alongside him. He was no longer alone in his struggle. It made all the difference for him; now he radiates joy.
Many are the life stories helped by compassionate care of pastors, counselors and those who have been there — whether licensed or not. A chorus of former LGBT voices have found Jesus to be their waymaker, redeemer from the wages and slavery to sin, and amazing grace that sets captives free. Jesus continues to restore hope, family relationships and possibilities for all who seek him. What a privilege to be a small part of sharing the hope that I have personally received.
We recommend keeping open compassionate care from licensed and unlicensed support persons. The individual should be allowed to seek whatever care they find supportive of their own goals, even if their goals change.
Another danger of conversion therapy bans is embedding trans ideology into law. “Gender affirmation” encouraged by professional associations is a pathway to bodily mutilation and sterilization and advocating for ideas that remind us of Nazi Germany’s Mengele experiments. Claiming to protect youth, they funnel them down irreversible pathways of loss — mental and physical health issues where regret can easily be found.
Together we strongly urge citizens, city, state and federal lawmakers to oppose “conversion therapy” bans.
Anne Paulk, of Colorado, is executive director of Restored Hope Network. This column was also signed by former LGBT persons and supporters, including the Rev. Dr. Linda Seiler, Jim Katsoudas, Jennifer Thorne, Daren Mehl, Douglas Mainwaring, Ted Schneider, Laura Haynes, Ph.D., Walt Heyer, Mark Nelson, Kim Zember, Jonathan Hacker, Jeff Simunds, R. Duncan Heinley, Hal Selby, Carol L. Moore, Dan Hitz, Joshua Inman, Kirby Overcash, Luca Jo Groppoli, April Lockhart, Mike Cooley, Shirley Baskett, Denise Shick, Ronald McCray, Kevin Whitt, Jack Stewart, Daniel Hill, Jim Venice, Jeff Winter, Ken Williams, Debora Barr, Pastor Phil Courson, Don Smith, James Parker, Liz Hernandez-Torres, Ron Elmore, Luis Javier Ruiz, Kenny Warkentin and Jeanie Maschmeyer Smith. Paulk can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org