Beyond Ex-Gay

Seeking Truth and Closure

By Christine Bakke


It was Feb of 2004, a year since I first began to admit to myself that my sexual orientation hadn't changed in spite of all I'd done to “fix it”. One day I heard yet another quote from an official at Exodus stating that "hundreds of thousands" of people had left homosexuality. I wondered where he had gotten these numbers.

In all my ex-gay history no one ever followed up with me to see if I was still ex-gay. Nor had they with any other ex-gays (or former ex-gays) that I knew. In fact, as far as I knew, the people from the ex-gay program I attended probably assumed I was still on the ex-gay path; I had never told them otherwise.Image of mosaic spiral

About this time a somewhat negative article about the ex-gay group, Where Grace Abounds (WGA), appeared in a local newspaper. I had moved to Denver from California to join an ex-gay ministry and first attended WGA in December 1998. Prompted in part by the article, I decided to attend WGA's regular Thursday night meeting.

Going there felt risky to me. What if I felt sudden doubts about leaving the ex-gay life? Could I have been wrong? Would I feel a longing to go back? I sensed that I was going to turn everything upside-down then shake it all up to see what "stuck"—what was real and true.

As I sat in the church basement room with the group, I realized just how distant from this world I had become. Even so, in some ways, I could still identify with the people present that night, the ones seeking truth, seeking clarity, partaking in honest conversations and listening to the lively speaker. All good things, but I no longer believed it would ever change me from gay to straight or that such a change was necessary.

That night, after I got home, I wrote an email to Scott Kingry, a staff member at WGA who I always respected and who I remembered fondly, and we began an e-mail exchange.

In one of my e-mails I wrote: 


I don't really think our viewpoints are mutually exclusive - at least, I hope not. I admit I don't see being gay in and of itself to be a problem, to God (as one sees him or her) or in life. But I strongly believe in inner healing, and I think that often there is not a place for gay people in particular to get inner healing as many don't fit into religious life and feel like inner-healing work is tantamount to trying to be "cured"…

…I'm also pretty opposed to where Exodus and Focus (on the Family) are heading with regard to the political issues - I feel betrayed and hurt by them as a gay person (I felt this way even when I thought I was ex-or mostly-ex-gay). I don't get the sense that WGA is that involved in the politics (hopefully?), but more in the people.
 Photo of person jumping for joy
After reading his kind response (He stated that he saw the "relentless pursuit of truth" in my life) and considering all that I had written, I knew something within me had changed. I had taken a major step. Aside from some anonymous web musings, this was the first time I admitted to someone in the ex-gay world that I considered myself to no longer be an ex-gay—that I am in fact, a lesbian.

Normally, admitting that I am not a success at something is just about the last thing I want to do. This time it freed me. It felt amazing to come out of hiding and acknowledge my truth.

Reporting back to WGA in that e-mail, informing them of my current status, I also bore witness to the fact that the ex-gay movement couldn't in good conscience count me as one of the "hundreds of thousands" who purportedly had changed.

Closure feels scary sometimes; risky, unsettling, but getting to the place where I felt comfortable enough to find closure with WGA not only helped me, but I want to believe it helped them too. Regardless, I realize now that it served as a vital step my own recovery process and in my relentless pursuit of truth in my life.