The Ex-Gay Survivor's Survey Results
Implemented and edited by Jallen Rix, Ed.D., ACS
With Co-facilitators, Christine Bakke-O’Neill, Gail Dickert, and Peterson Toscano
Purpose of this survey:
All too often, the public eye is drawn to the “squeaky wheel” in terms of the reparative therapy/ex-gay debate. Usually this means the people that make the craziest claims, and the most outlandish presumptions get most of the attention. Indeed, those who happen to be leading such “ministries” are often looked to as so-called “experts in the field” when they rarely have any real sexuality education or training. Unfortunately, those who have been damaged by these organizations are left as a footnote, or don’t get mentioned at all. This gives the public a skewed view of what’s really going on in the ex-gay movement.
Therefore, we decided to use a surveymonkey.com template to provide ex-gay survivors a safe and easy format to voice their experiences. At the same time, we would collect some general numbers about this population. Although surveys can have many uses and applications, this is simply a platform for ex-gay survivors to be better heard and understood.
Probably, more important than the stats were peoples’ personal experiences, therefore, everywhere we could we provided “blank box” options so that survivors could write - in their own words - parts of their specific stories that applied to the different questions. In fact, these personal experiences are the real gems of the survey results.
We have added some of our own observations throughout the results, but mostly at the end, on the conclusion page. We hope that this survey and its results can be an inspiration and a starting point for further examination and more rigorous research of the damage that continues to occur in ex-gay environments.
We genuinely thank all those who have participated in the survey and we invite other ex-gay survivors to fill out the survey which is still available to take. We will then tabulate the results again at some point down the road.
Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, “SOCE”
This term has been coined by the American Psychological Association as an umbrella label for the ex-gay movement at large. For the most part, we will be using this term interchangeably with “reparative therapy,” and “ex-gay ministries.” If you would like to read the APA’s paper, “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation” in which they first explain SOCEs, go here (pdf download).
How the survey results can benefit you...
If you are an ex-gay survivor...
Most likely, you will find solace in the many people who added their voices and stories to this survey. A word of caution, though, obviously, reading the answers of over 400 people may prove to dig up more memories than you comfortable with. As the editor, and an ex-gay survivor, I will attest, I had to take a lot of breaks reading some of these results. I suggest you do the same. I did find the results to Questions 8 (though it is intense), 12, and 13 articularte great information and encouragement for those seeking constructive recovery activities from ex-gay harm.
If you are a therapist...
...wanting to help ex-gay survivors to recover from their wounds, please check out questions 6, 7 and 8. The results will give great insight as to what motivated ex-gays to participate in these organizations and what helped them get out.
If you are an ex-gay leader... (a personal note from the editor)
Whether you ever admit to reading this or not, here are over 400 people that went through some kind of ex-gay experience - perhaps under your guidance - and have something to say about it. It’s tough because it’s like reading what people really think about your work without any filter. Sure, these are the people for whom SOCE did not work. But don’t you want to improve your standings? Wouldn’t you want to craft your ministry in such a way that no one would leave your organization? After all, here are over 400 people you potentially once had in your fold and you lost them, and many of them feel they were deeply damaged as a result. I dare you to read on and see what’s being said about you, if for any other reason than to make your “product” a more successful one and to minimize the harm that it has caused in these people and in future clients.
Consider how so many people can go through your “treatments” and come out the other side hating themselves so much? And how is it that, even if they might of have come to you already with a certain amount of self-hate or maybe even mental illness, they went through your programs and left your care feeling just as bad or worse than when they went in? How can so many people go through your programs and come out no longer believing God exists? Do you not see this as a problem?
I know you may not like what you see in these responses, but guess what, we can agree on that! I don’t like what I see in these responses, either. Let’s set in motion a comprehensive, unbiased study and action plan so that none of the damage ever has to happen again. Ultimately, whether or not any of this sinks into your heart, here is what over 400 people have said about your work and I figured you would want to know...