As a pastor’s daughter I grew up in the church and a very religious environment. I committed my heart to God at four years old and began dreaming of traveling the world singing for Jesus. However, my feelings of same sex attraction began at this early age as well. I was taught that those feelings were sinful and that I felt as though I could never admit to them, much less act on them. Homosexuality seemed to be the worst sin possible. My secret struggle began and it would last for more than 25 years.
I attended private Christian school my whole life so at 18 when it was time to go off to college the natural step was to attend Bible college - Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. Within two weeks I had met my first girlfriend who was another pastor’s daughter. SAGU is adamantly against homosexuality, so again I knew better than to be open about my feelings. I fought to keep my sexual desires secret so that I could attend the university and keep up the appearance of a "healthy, normal Christian." I dated boys as well – just to help camouflage my lesbian relationships. I was “outted” in 1995 and immediately kicked out.
It was inevitable to feel regret and confusion in a situation like this after all I had been reared to believe a certain way, and everything I had been living for said that I was a hypocrite and a failure. I began to weigh it all out, and decided that the shame of being a lesbian was too overwhelming. Pushing all of my true feelings deep inside, I confessed my “sins”, renounced being gay and was allowed to re-attend SAGU in 1996. Over the next few years I had multiple partners - all secret relationships with fellow, female students. But the fear of being a disappointment and disgrace to my family would soon take its toll.
Wanting to please others – I decided once again to suppress my sexual desires and attempt to become the “ideal” Christian young lady. I left SAGU in 1999 and rekindled my dream of singing around the world for Jesus. Along with a few friends, I started a Christian band called “Exit” and began using the title “Ex-Gay” for publicity. Word spread quickly about the band and almost overnight we began working with Exodus International, Exodus Youth, PFOX, Focus on the Family and several other ex-gay affiliates. I founded MyTrueFreedom.net – an ex-gay website where I shared my struggle and directed kids and teens to Exodus Youth. Within two years the website had over 180,000 viewers.
Kori with Tree 63
As a band our first gig was opening for the Christian band Skillet and it wasn’t long before we was touring the United States and opening for bands like Tree 63, David Crowder, Pillar, Third Day and others. Ii ministered side by side with several well-known icons of the ex-gay circle like Sy Rogers in Florida and Dennis Jernigan in Oklahoma. We released 3 CDs and our music was heard on the radio around the world via Calvary Satellite Network.
In 2002 we were the featured band for the youth portion of the Exodus International National Conference in Wheaton, IL. Through the years my band ministered at Cornerstone Festival with Exodus Youth, many Love Won Out Conferences across the United States and was the featured speaker and worship team for many ex-gay events.
Well on the way to fame in the Christian market, my schedule kept me so busy that it was becoming easier for me to ignore my homosexual feelings. Years passed and I decided to become a solo artist (Kori Ashton Band) and continue in the ex-gay ministry, now as a full time worship pastor of a large church in Idaho where I led five worship services to over 9,000 people per week.
I was at last living my dream – singing for Jesus and sharing God’s love – but somehow I was still quietly hurting and lonely. I had been so preoccupied with creating an image of a “Perfect Christian,” that I had ignored who I knew I truly was. After leaving the full-time ministry in 2004, I stopped running, turned and faced my struggle. Through counseling and mentoring, personal discovery and family support, I finally found a balance of my sexual identity and my faith!
It has been a lot of tears and prayers, but I am blessed to say that I am now Ex-Ex Gay. No label fits me better than “Set Free!” The manipulation of the condemning so-called “Christians” (not true examples of Christ) with their failed rehabs and the self-abuse of needed perfection is NO MORE! God's Word is Truth - Nothing can separate us from His Love!
I have never known God’s peace and grace like I do now. I have realized that my imperfection keeps me on my knees, looking to God and not to people for my acceptance. He truly loves me for me. I wouldn't go back and do things differently. The road I’ve traveled has been the scenic route, but it has led me to the feet of God where I rest in His Grace knowing that I am His design, His joy and His perfection!
Today I have traveled to 8 countries sharing God’s Truth and can be found leading worship at local churches. I have performed at Pride festivals and events in south Texas singing about my personal evolution.
As an effort to share my journey and encourage others, I launched LesBePure.com in 2008. My goal is to have a safe place online where women can go to learn more about finding their own balance of faith and sexuality. This is a resource for the lesbian community to discover a new way to rethink, respond and react!
The best news yet is that my partner Rebecca and I are engaged and will be married June 2010. Now I think Oprah would call that a “Full Circle Moment!”??