Brazilian Ex-Gay Leader Comes Out, Rebukes ‘Act Of Violence’ Of Reinforcing Internalized Homophobia

Sergio Viula, Former Ex-Gay Leader

AMERICAblog Gay points to a Brazilian ex-gay leader who has come out as gay and harshly condemned the ineffective therapy he spent decades promoting. Sergio Viula co-founded the Movement for the Healthy Sexuality (MOSES), but now says ex-gays don’t exist and promoting ex-gay therapy is “brainwashing” and an “act of violence” that relies upon reinforcing internalized homophobia. Viula is now encouraging young gay people to find spiritual outlets that affirm their sexual orientation:

VIULA: Nobody really quit being gay. There were relationships even within the group, between an activity and another, they would always find time for that. Can you figure out how much suffering to myself and to all of those who have already worked or been influenced by this kind of ‘ministry’? That’s enraging! And there are people repeating that stupid discourse until today. […]

Yes, it was an act of violence against ourselves, as we had internalized the homophobia that surrounded us from early childhood, as well as against the others, because we reproduced that very homophobia which they had internalized by themselves long before. We just reinforced it even more. […]

Religious conversion which does not admit and CELEBRATES your homosexuality does not deserve your time and talent. If you want to attend a church, search for one which is mature enough to even question the validity of its own religious statements. But, preferably, live your life without relying on existential braces whatever they are.

Viula is only the latest ex-gay leader to recant his previous teachings. John Smid of Love In Action recently began doing the same. The testimony these changed men share is important to highlight, but it does not undo the harm that ex-gay therapy continues to cause individuals every day. The desire to change one’s sexual orientation (and the belief that it is possible) is motivated by the anti-gay stigma present throughout society. Only by challenging that demonization will the harm ever come to an end.