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A sincere apology

A sincere apology

As
the director of an ex-gay ministry in Hayward, Calif.,
Darlene Bogle appeared on shows like Sally Jesse
Raphael
, Jerry Springer, and 48 Hours to
tell people that being gay is “curable.”
She wrote several articles and two books—Long Road
to Love
and Strangers in a Christian
Land
—about being an ex-gay and held
workshops on the subject.

In
1990, Bogle met Des, who was attending one of her
ex-gay workshops, and sensed instantly that God bought
them together. Within weeks Bogle was asked to step
down from her leadership position at the Foursquare
Church and she was removed from the Exodus ministry.

Bogle, joined by
former ex-gay ministers Jeremy Marks and Michael Bussee,
held a press conference on June 27 at the Los Angeles
Gay and Lesbian Center with Soulforce and Beyond
Ex-Gay to apologize for exposing LGBT Christians to
such indoctrination.

Bogle, Bussee, and Marks ex-gay survivors 395 wide (Soulforce) | Advocate.comDarlene Bogle, Michael Bussee, and Jeremy Marks.

The press
conference and apology precedes the Ex-Gay Survivor’s
Conference in Irvine, Calif., this weekend. Beyond Ex-Gay
and Soulforce partnered with the University of
California, Irvine’s LGBT Resource Center to
sponsor the conference with workshops, speeches, and
entertainment.

“Although
we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the
isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this
message creates,” Bussee said, speaking for the
group. “We apologize for our part in the message of
broken truth we spoke on behalf of Exodus and other
organizations.”

Bussee, the
cofounder of Exodus International, said that he was a devout
evangelical who started the ex-gay movement in the 1970s out
of his own self-hate. Eventually he and another
cofounder, Gary Cooper, left the group and their wives
to be together and happy. He has been critical of
Exodus ever since.

In 1986, Marks
became a member of a ministry in the United Kingdom where
he met other gay Christians mired in the same struggle to be
straight. He headed several ex-gay programs, including
Courage U.K., and later became president of Exodus
International Europe. By 2000, Marks abandoned the
ex-gay theories and transformed Courage U.K. into a
gay-affirming evangelical ministry.

Ex-gay survivor
Eric Leocadio was on hand to witness the official apology
in Los Angeles. As a high school freshman Leocadio ingested
two fistfuls of pills, hoping to kill himself so that
he would not have to struggle with his sexual
orientation. “When I survived,” said Leocadio,
now 31, “I realized that God wasn’t done
with me. There was so much more that God had planned
for me.”

But his journey
of self-acceptance was arduous. After his suicide attempt
Leocadio became a devoted Christian and used his
spirituality to stifle his same-sex attractions. At 26
he ended up at the Desert Stream Ministries in
Anaheim, Calif., where he underwent an intensive ex-gay
program to heal his “brokenness” (along with
masturbators, prostitutes, and fellow
gays), yearning to live a straight and
“normal” life.

“I
received a lot of mixed signals from the church,” he
said. “Everyone gets unconditional love from
God but only conditional love from the church, based
on the concept of ‘wholeness.’ ”

Leocadio left
Desert Stream in 2004 when he realized the promise of an
ex-gay life devoid of same-sex attraction wasn’t
true. It became clear to him that one could not just
shed sexuality and that he would have to devote
the rest of his life to praying against his sexual urges.
The following year Leoncadio started his
TwoWorldCollision blog to document the conflict
between being gay and being Christian; his posts have
been known to move people to tears and inspire
e-mail responses from around the world.

“I wanted
to get to the point where I owned my belief,” he
said. “What I knew about Christianity was the
only thing I was taught. I decided to take a step back
and learn more. I met other gay Christians who had a
genuine faith and love for God. Through meeting them, I have
been able to truly learn the love of God and own it
for myself.”

Tags: World, World

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