Beyond Ex-Gay

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Poems by Jaylen Braiden

Remembering Exodus
( a self annihilating prayer )


by Jaylen Braiden

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

And please annihilate the sin

change me from the outside in

-when I look into the mirror

I pray I will not see the queer


Taking Back Ground


by Jaylen Braiden

Taking back what is minePhoto of leaves over a grate

my soul

my passion

my mind.

Now is to manage the damage,

sweeping aside the wreckage of the past.

Now is to boldly laugh Ha Ha!

Possessing myself at last.

Locusts have devoured

the foliage of my youth.

Now it is spring time

behold the new shoots.

Taking back what is mine

my soul

my passion

my mind.

Redeeming the time

I thought was lost.

Re-possessing myself

what ever the cost.


The Prayer Closet


by Jaylen Braiden

Praying boy photo I will not return to the closet

though it’s there I learned to pray.

I brought all my sins to that prayer closet

and nailed them dead every day.

I learned to love the sinner and hate the sin

-though they’re one and the same.

The "sinner" refused to depart me

though I refused to take its name.

I tried to kill myself in the prayer closet

-holding a vigil, a wake-

on behalf of the living dead.

Praying for my soul in that prayer closet

-I nearly lost my head.

The tenacity, the ferocity, the will to survive

my soul fought back in that prayer closet

-that’s why I survived. 


Picture of Jaylen

About Jaylen

My name is Jaylen Braiden. I began attending Desert Stream Ministries when I was 15 years old. At the time I was the youngest person they ever allowed to attend their program. Initially I was on a spiritual high that I took to mean that I had God's leading and blessing in this area. I KNEW that Jesus could and would heal me of my homosexuality.

As the years passed that certainty faded but the conviction that homosexuality was a terrible sin remained. I was determined to stick it out no matter what the cost. As I was nearing my 15th year I had already been struggling with depression for more than 5 years and though I wasn't literally suicidal (I was too chicken) I prayed daily that God would send a fatal accident my way to end my struggle and pain.

About this point it began to dawn on me that if God had in fact lead me in this direction I would not have ended up in such dire straits. He promises abundant life and my life in every way was anything but abundant. I found myself, apprehensively at first, coming out of the closet, though it did not square with my theology

I had the sense that it was God Himself that had brought me out of the closet. The poem that I want to share with you was written during this process:

the Shortest Verse.

Image of bronze girl statue


by Jaylen Braiden

I will not turn back

to the lonly black concealing place;

more a tomb than a closet.

Was it you who called me out

raising me from the death of

pathological religion?

Who will unwind the death-cloth

that binds and restricts

covering with constricting condemnation?

Obeying the Voice that called me by name

I stumble out

unsure but alive

-in spite of my wounds.

And I see that You've been weeping.



Poems by Peterson Toscano

Image of peterson at a cafe

Somewhat like Jaylen's experience, I felt that I lived for years bound up in a tomb. I came to understand that not just my sexuality, but so much of my personality, gifts and destiny had been forced into the closet with me. Moved by the story of Lazarus and how his friend, Jesus, rescued him, I wrote this poem in honor of all the people who helped me to become me.

Grave Robbers

by Peterson Toscano

Lazarus came forth, gleaming white,

A pillar wrapped tight outside his tomb.

Jesus looked at us, “Take off the grave clothes,

And let him go.”


Panic twisted my gut like a wet washrag

Wringing out courage.

Who knows how to undress a mummy raised from the dead? Does one start at the heart or close to the head?

We circled him as if he were a bomb to diffuse.

Then we began in earnest,

Unbinding, tearing, speaking comfort as we went.

The crowd pressed in hurling advice like stones.


Lazarus stood like marble, cold from his grave,

While we sweated in the cruel sun,

Unwrapping his trappings.

But suddenly, (or did it take years?)

It was complete.

Mary and Martha washed their brother in tears:

He was free -- naked and in his right mind.


The Activist Poem

by Peterson Toscano

(from "Queer 101", a theater piece I wrote for HS students. The character, Chad, ends the piece with this poem)

You wanna be an Activist?
Change the World?

Be yourself -- without apology and without shame,
walking hand in hand in public with the one you love
knowing that is a loving act of

You want people to change?
Laws to change?
A global transformation into a shimmering butterfly society?

Then You must change,
be yourself
be Real

Knowing that the most powerful activists in the world
are those people
who are



Image of a rainbow kite


Haiku for the New Year, 2006

by Christine Bakke

as i am right now
is when i learn to love me—
my heart unclenches





Poems by Scott Tucker

Image of Scott

Poem One

by Scott Tucker 

How do you get rid of a pain that runs so deep?
A pain that blinds you like the brightest red,
It consumes you, holding fast while you feel its burn…
The layers keep falling off,
Till you lie naked before its eyes!

Read the rest of Poem One here 



by Scott Tucker 

wasting away,
starving for love,
like a scarecrow
in a forgotten field
whose only company
is the crows it’s doomed
to scare…

alone, abashed and silent


a dank, gray morning
amidst the rows of
dried and crackling husks of corn
there is a solitary figure
hanging over his makeshift stand


flying, gliding on his black wings
he looks down
continuously cawing
as he mocks the lonely man
full of straw





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