In two weeks, the Love Won Out ex-gay conference is coming to Houston, Texas. Love Won Out was started by Focus on the Family, but it is now run by Exodus International, an umbrella organization for numerous ex-gay therapists and ministries. Love Won Out conferences are held around the country, promoting false ideas about the nature of same-sex attractions and harmful “reparative” therapies to help people “who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions.” Rather than help minimize the “struggle” through affirmation as professional psychological standards recommend, the ministry works to help individuals “heal” by “overcoming those desires” through repression, abstinence, and “praying the gay away.” Michele Bachmann endorsed the group in 2004, saying “they will present the truth about homosexuality” and Gov. Rick Perry is headlining a dinner in October for a New Hampshire Christian group that promotes the conference.
Love Won Out has a number of sessions designed to propagate lies about sexual orientation and encourage parents and religious leaders to condemn homosexuality in young people. Here is a sampling of the conference agenda:
– “Understanding Male Homosexuality” claims to examine “the true nature” of how family dynamics help same-sex desires “develop.”
– “Reaching IN to the Gay Community: What Would Jesus Do?” offers ideas for how to evangelize to “sinners” with “grace and truth.”
– “Change Happens” promises to show how to “walk away from homosexuality” with an eye on “a picture of the beauty of a life changed by Jesus Christ.”
– “When Homosexuality Hits Home” will tell parents and family “how to deal with the many conflicts and emotions” they’ll face when “learning of a loved one’s homosexuality.”
– Student Track: The conference features a whole track of sessions for people under 23 to learn about “God’s message to those who struggle with sexual identity.”
A coalition of groups organized by Truth Wins Out will offer a corresponding series of events to counter the harmful messages spread by Love Won Out. In addition to a direct protest of the conference, there will also be a screening of a new documentary called “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like,” which tells the story of Zach Stark, who at age 16 was forced into the now-defunct Love In Action “Refuge” program by his parents. Stark made national news by writing about the rules and processes of the sequestered ex-gay treatment facility in detail on his MySpace page. Ex-gay survivor Peterson Toscano, who was recently misrepresented by NPR, will also perform scenes from his plays, including some that tell of his own experiences with ex-gay therapy.
Ex-gay therapy is dangerous junk science, and its proponents make no secret of the fact their primary audience is young people. With the endorsement of multiple presidential candidates, these damaging ideas must be countered at every turn.