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Former 'Ex-Gay' Movement Star: 'My Sexuality Is a Beautiful Gift From God'

Former 'Ex-Gay' Movement Star: 'My Sexuality Is a Beautiful Gift From God'


Christian Schizzel says he decided to come out as gay 'so that people who have used my story against other gay people won't have it as a weapon anymore.'

Christian Schizzel, who for years was touted as an "ex-gay" success story, has renounced so-called reparative therapy, which purports to help people "leave homosexuality."

In a Religion News Service interview with Eliel Cruz, who is also an Advocate contributor, Schizzel said he's coming out as gay "so that people who have used my story against other gay people won't have it as a weapon anymore." Schizzel described being isolated from his friends and family, who were blamed for his sexual orientation, and being coached to tell people he was straight "even though there wasn't an ounce of me that was interested in women."

"To those who still promote reparative therapy or hope it could work for them or a family member, I hope they realize this path leads to a horrid dead end," he said. "It's harmful and excruciatingly painful. There's no academic or spiritual basis for its promotion. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone, not even the ones who harmed me the most in this life. In the end, my sexuality is a beautiful gift from God, and every day, I have found, I have to make a choice to honor it in the straight man's world."

Schizzel received the so-called therapy through the Janet Boynes Ministries and the Bachmann & Associates counseling centers. The latter are owned by Republican congresswoman and onetime presidential aspirant Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus Bachmann.

Among readers who commented on the piece was Alan Chambers, the former president of the defunct Exodus International ex-gay ministry. Chambers, who in 2012 said he no longer believed in the effectiveness of reparative therapy, wrote:

"I've watched Christian truly change into a healthy and whole man over the course of 4 years. He sought the real Jesus, not the one he was being taught about, and found the truth: Jesus loves everyone. I'm so proud of Christian and his courage. Watching him blossom into his own person is a joy to watch. I agree with him, it's time for the church to lay down it's WMD's, be it people, policies, or therapies aimed at defeating our neighbors. Enough damage has been done. Time to heal. Time for peace."

The shuttering of the infamous Exodus last year seemed to be a death knell for the widely discredited concept of reparative therapy. Known to be ineffective and harmful, it has been widely condemned by professional associations such as the American Psychological Association. Ex-gay therapies have been recognized as a factor in influencing depression and increasing the risk for suicide. California and New Jersey have banned licensed therapists from performing reparative therapy on minors.

Chambers isn't the only conservative religious leader to acknowledge the harm inflicted by reparative therapy. John Paulk, formerly a leader with the Focus on the Family ex-gay project Love Won Out, apologized for his role in the ex-gay movement, and this year Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore called reparative therapy "severely counterproductive." Last month former ex-gay leader John Smid married his male partner in Oklahoma.

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