SF Protest of Desert Stream Ministries Seminar


“We’re here because ex-gay therapy has been said by every major health and mental health organization in the United States that it does not work,” explained Hidlebaugh. “Not only does it not work, it’s harmful to those who participate in it. The truth is God created and loves gay and lesbian people just the way they are without any reservation. We’re here to say its okay to be gay and a person of faith. It’s okay to be gay and Christian. You don’t have to change. Ex-gay therapy is poor science but not only is it poor science, its poor theology, to say that God isn’t big enough to love gay and lesbian people just the way they are.”

A handful of conference attendees spoke peacefully, and at length, with the protesters during the lunch break. Most, however, ignored them. Many passersby honked their horns or clapped in support of the protesters. “I agree,” one man told the protesters as he walked by.

Maria Caruana and Todd Ferrell of San Francisco’s Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church came out to join the protesters, wearing purple “Christian + Gay = OK” T-shirts. Ferrell was there, he explained, “To let people know that there are people out there that have found freedom and have a great relationship with God. I don’t think that he intended my life to be in a quandary about change for 40 years. What happened is that I found freedom just by accepting myself and accepting the gift that God gave me as a gay man and suddenly peace and joy and all of the things that I didn’t have before that I was fighting, finally came.”

Michael Laird, a member of Promised Land, came out during the lunch break and offered water and conversation to the protesters. He spoke at length with two of them.

“Jesus talked about how we’re all very broken people,” he told the Bay Area Reporter. “Obviously, that comes out in the sexual area and Jesus would often, when he walked on Earth, talk to people who were broken sexually. He loved all of us and he also said: ‘Okay, it’s time to stop doing what you’re doing.’ That’s true with homosexuals and that’s true with straight people.”

When asked why he wants to change other people’s sexuality, Laird said that that was not his intention, that he was there just to attend the conference: “The church is having a conference for both straights and homosexuals to try and receive healing to get God’s power to live in the right way.”

Huh.  Ex-gay therapy doesn’t work.  “Thoroughly debunked,” even.  I didn’t know that mental health professionals had contacted everyone who’s undergone that therapy.  I never got my phone call or questionnaire.

That’s not being insensitive to those who have undergone some sort of reparative therapy and ended up more messed up than before.  Those broken people are going to be the millstones around the necks of those who have concocted therapies that end up more damaging than not.  (I still have images of that one man taking a tennis racket and beating the crap out of a pillow and screaming his rage at his mother.)

I just hope and pray that those men and women who are searching for a whole and complete masculinity and femininity don’t take news articles like this at their face.  Or, come to think about it, blogs like this.  Search for the facts.  Ask questions.  Pray.  Then trust God to find a place for you.

I give the staff at Desert Stream Ministries credit for not arguing with the protestors in print, and their praying for their persecuters.  I also note with irony that, like the recent protests at Mars Hill, we tend to undergo the most persecution from our own. 

~ by WriterRand on February 25, 2007.

2 Responses to “SF Protest of Desert Stream Ministries Seminar”

  1. “. . . I didn’t know that mental health professionals had contacted everyone who’s undergone that therapy. I never got my phone call or questionnaire.”

    Since ex-gay ministries rarely discuss success rates or follow the long-term outcome of their ‘graduates’, I doubt ex-gay ministries are willing or able to demonstrate that their ministries are helpful or effective. They even had problems referring an adequate number of successful ex-gays for Dr. Spitzer’s heavily bias 2001 telephone survey.

    “I just hope and pray that those men and women who are searching for a whole and complete masculinity and femininity don’t take news articles like this at their face. . . .”

    I hope and pray gay/questioning men and women don’t buy your assertion that they are not completely masculine, feminine, or “broken people” at face value. Don’t you think telling gay or questioning people that they are not completely masculine, feminine and are “broken” confirms the protesters’ point that ex-gay “therapy” can be harmful?

  2. I’m not saying that gay men and women are not completely masculine. But often, there is the feeling either deep or near the surface, that their masculinity has been found wanting. Ask yourself this: if masculinity is all healthy in a gay man’s life, then why is the top-selling niche of gay porn watching straight men perform gay acts? Why is there always such a rift between “straight acting” gay men and their “flaming” counterparts?

    Which is worse? Admitting to the brokenness that’s there and searching for healing, or attempting to heal that pain by normalizing the brokenness? I’m not saying the ex-gay ministry isn’t full of problems. It is. Especially when secular people get involved. There IS healing, though, and God promises it to those who look for it with their whole hearts. It’s not a quick fix and there will be setbacks…but there will also be incredible joys. God’s a God of process and I’ve found that many of those who come through it and are even more broken are looking for a quick solution to their desires instead of realizing that the journey is what matters most to God.

    One man’s opinion. Your mileage may vary and you’re always welcome to hang here regardless.

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