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Read this, Rick Perry
June 20, 2014 10:11 AM   Subscribe

To Straight and Back: My Life as an Ex-Ex-Gay Man Afterward people began emailing and Facebooking me, telling me stories that were very much like those of my friend in the Portland coffee shop, “I wanted to be like you and your wife; you were held up as poster children. And I hated myself because I couldn’t be you.” That really rocked me. I hadn’t realized all this while I was preaching the ex-gay gospel. I’d been shielded from it. Previously
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (20 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wish this guy would stay out of the limelight--the 2013 apology did the trick and there don't seem to have been any intervening developments. Why another article now? Seems like an honestly troubled person. It was wrong of the ex-gay crowd to push this guy into a leadership role then when he clearly had several destructive and unresolved issues, and it will be wrong for ex-ex-gays or anti-ex-gays to push this guy into a leadership role now after he's destroyed his own family.
posted by resurrexit at 10:21 AM on June 20


On a quibble note, wouldn't he rather than being an ex-ex-gay man, just be bisexual? If he's saying he fell in love with and still loves his wife, but also men...it seems kind of like he's positioning stuff as more dramatic than it needs to be in order to get media attention.
posted by corb at 10:27 AM on June 20


Some day, I hope they do some in-depth analysis of what it's like to be the rejected spouse.
posted by Melismata at 10:28 AM on June 20


Some day, I hope they do some in-depth analysis of what it's like to be the rejected spouse.

Actually, I thought an interesting part about this specific case is that his wife was apparently an "ex-lesbian". Which makes the whole thing seem like one of those old-timey marriages of convenience.
posted by threeants at 10:29 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


corb, i understand bisexuals to be even more shunned than gays; The drama level is whatever the subject wants it to be, but it could be the easier way of framing it for him.
posted by rebent at 10:32 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


True, threeants, but then the article went on to quote him on how much he'd hurt his family. So the true story of the spouse was glossed over (and even sensationalized a bit), as usual.
posted by Melismata at 10:33 AM on June 20


It's possible to be in love with the opposite sex as a gay person. I was definitely in love with my boyfriend as a teenager. But the sex... oi. Even though the emotional feelings were real, it was still a very incomplete relationship in a lot of ways, physical attraction being the most obvious but definitely not the only issue and as soon as I realized that and got out and came out, my life was infinitely better.
posted by zug at 10:40 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


corb, after my partner transitioned female-to-male more than 15 years ago, one thing that was very interesting (and annoying) to me was how important it was to other people that I label my sexuality. I had people telling me, "well, you're still a lesbian..." and other people telling me, "clearly, you're bisexual," and even one or two people who said, "now that you're straight..."

The thing is, none of those labels felt true to me. This thing that was self-evident to other people (though they disagreed about what was so self-evident) wasn't obvious to me at all. I knew other women in my position who did still clearly identify as lesbians, and others who thought of themselves as bisexual, but I didn't feel that either of those things was true of me. The best description I could come up with for a long time was, "I am a formerly lesbian-identified woman now in a relationship with a trans man."

Since then, I've had the opportunity to explore my sexuality more. As a lesbian, I dismissed the relationships I had with cisgendered men before coming out, but I eventually came to claim them as something authentic and not just the pressure of socialization. I'm still attracted to cisgendered women, but I also have a clear attraction to trans men specifically (three of my "woman" lovers, besides my partner, transitioned female-to-male after our relationships ended), and also to certain women on the trans spectrum whose mix of physical strength and femininity is very appealing to me. Recently, I began a flirtation, that may eventually turn sexual, with the first cis-gendered man I've been involved with for almost 30 years.

So, I guess I'd say that one reason people don't adopt labels that seem obvious from the outside is that they don't feel intuitively right. Another is that they really don't fit—bisexual, for instance, implies being attracted to two genders, but it's not that simple. My last girlfriend, who had an astounding gift for finding people of all physical types attractive, considered herself pansexual, and that's a word I can imagine using to describe myself.

As far as the wife in the story goes: I appreciated that the author mentioned the pain that is caused to women in these situations. I was sorry that his wife was dropped from the story somewhere between "this was very difficult because she still believed in the movement" and "things are find with my son now." Maybe he felt it wasn't his place to tell his wife's story, but I'd have liked to hear it, or to hear him say something about how this was for her and where their relationship to each other ended up.

I also bristled at things like him writing, "I moved my wife and sons to Portland." Perhaps their marriage really did operate on a level where he could make that kind of decision all on his own, but boy did it rub me the wrong way.
posted by not that girl at 11:02 AM on June 20 [34 favorites]


It was wrong of the ex-gay crowd to push this guy into a leadership role then when he clearly had several destructive and unresolved issues, and it will be wrong for ex-ex-gays or anti-ex-gays to push this guy into a leadership role now after he's destroyed his own family.

The benefits of RTFA:
Recently, my oldest son, who is 17, said this to me: “You’ve become a better dad to us, and a better person. You’re much more at peace. You don’t lose your temper. You’re calm. I accept you for who you are, Dad, and I love you.” I told him: “When you’re not fighting who you are, you’re a much better person.” It’s true. Sometimes, while I was living my double life, I was very short with them. When the gay pride parade would come around, and it was always on Father’s Day, I’d be with my sons and wife, but I would be longing to be at that parade. This past Father’s Day, I spent a glorious day with my sons but the tinge of loneliness and the longing to be watching that parade was gone… vanished. I had stopped fighting what just did not change. No doubt, my decision to move in this direction has left scars. I have hurt the people I love. But I have no regrets about embracing the path of honesty and authenticity; I believe it’s made me a kinder example of the person I couldn’t be before.
Today I have no desire to get involved again in a national debate. I am happy running a business, and being true to myself and my children. My extended family accepts me as I am. I am supported by them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:07 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Yup. No mention of the wife. His son is not the only person in his family.
posted by Melismata at 11:09 AM on June 20


Maybe he felt it wasn't his place to tell his wife's story, but I'd have liked to hear it, or to hear him say something about how this was for her and where their relationship to each other ended up.

I was curious about that, too, so I looked to see what I could find. Last year, it sounded like their relationship might be less than friendly. Wouldn't surprise me if she asked specifically that he not talk about her.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:11 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure "I'll pray for you" is the "Bless your heart" of the religious.
posted by corb at 11:16 AM on June 20 [7 favorites]


It's possible to be in love with the opposite sex as a gay person. I was definitely in love with my boyfriend as a teenager. But the sex... oi. Even though the emotional feelings were real, it was still a very incomplete relationship in a lot of ways, physical attraction being the most obvious but definitely not the only issue and as soon as I realized that and got out and came out, my life was infinitely better.

This is very close to my experience. I definitely had strong emotional feelings for my ex-boyfriend (and still do to some extent) but after having sex with women I knew there was no turning back. It was actually really heartbreaking for me - I felt like I was throwing every good thing away because of something as insignificant as sexual attraction. Even now I still deal with some tinges of regret, especially now that I am out of a very tumultuous relationship with what was my first serious girlfriend.

Thankfully my ex-boyfriend and I are still close, but it hasn't always been easy.
posted by divabat at 11:47 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


If nothing else, dude must have an interesting cv:

Chocolatier
Professional Ex-gay man
Professional Ex-ex-gay man, caterer, and John Denver look-alike
posted by octobersurprise at 11:51 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Mr. Show
posted by symbioid at 11:51 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


The saddest thing about all this, for me, is how many people still believe in the ex-gay movement. I suspect they dismissed his growth as 'influence of the devil' or something so they can keep going with the cognitive dissonance. It's just so, so sad. The closet is a lonely fucking place.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:30 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


To come late or never: an article on his life as an ex-narcissist.
posted by jaduncan at 2:50 PM on June 20


Good for him for publicly renouncing the whole thing, if he wants to spend the rest of his days giving press conferences about how wrong he was, how much the ex-gay movement doesn't work, and how sorry he is, then great - get the word out, say it loud, be the poster child for the ex-ex-gay movement rather than the ex-gay movement.

But he was miserable for two decades, even knew what he was saying was fundamentally incorrect, and yet was still surprised that his advocacy had negative effects on his fellow gays? 'Fuck that guy' makes up a large amount of my response to the article. After all, he didn't just go to reparative therapy, he took an extremely prominent role in trying to convince others that it would work for them too, even though he knew it didn't even work for him. And those two decades, in the article, are a masterclass in passivity - his ascent up the Exodus ranks just seemed to happen, apparently. Even his comparison, that being gay made him suicidal but telling countless others countless times that they, too, should be as miserable as he was just made him want to throw up.

So my desire to acknowledge that someone who has fucked up has changed for the better is fighting against my desire to call this some self-serving, solipsistic crap. And I'm pretty sure my contempt for him can't be prayed out of me.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:24 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


So my desire to acknowledge that someone who has fucked up has changed for the better is fighting against my desire to call this some self-serving, solipsistic crap.

It's usually a good idea to acknowledge the former while not forgetting the latter.

Yeah, he should be leading the crusade against the ex-gay movement. He has that moral and ethical responsibility. But we can't force him into it, and the fact that he has publicly stated that it's capital-w Wrong is (barely) enough for me. I can't blame him for not wanting to be in the spotlight anymore. Sometimes reform and redemption come in small, quiet ways, you know?

(gay man here, not exactly unaffected by what his loathsome movement has done to a couple of people I actually knew.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:30 AM on June 21


Another is that they really don't fit—bisexual, for instance, implies being attracted to two genders, but it's not that simple.

the "two" is bisexual may have originally come from two genders, but most bi activists/writers/discussants use the modern definition that means being attracted to more than one gender, or to people of the same gender as well
as different genders (the two but being same & different).

Identity is very personal and solely an individual's choice. But just wanted to clarify that most people who do identify as bi* (now with extra asterix, to cover more, just like trans*) do not mean to say that they are attracted to two genders and no more or nothing in-between. Many of us are in between genders, as well as being attracted to people at different places on the spectrum.

statement from one writer, Robyn Ochs - 'I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.' (source)
posted by jb at 12:27 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


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