One of the former leaders of the "ex-gay movement" said that he no longer believes in reparative therapy and thinks that the controversial practice actually does a lot of harm.
John Paulk, who co-authored “Love Won Out: How God's Love Helped Two People Leave Homosexuality and Find Each Other,” spoke about his past beliefs in an interview with PQ Monthly last week.
This is some of what he said:
“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted. I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.”
Paulk is deeply apologetic for the harm that his words may have caused.
“I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued," he said. "I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”
The ex-gay movement leader also issued a formal apology for his past actions:
“For the better part of 10 years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what’s known as the 'ex-gay movement,' where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination," he said. "At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not."
The apology goes on: “So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the “ex-gay movement.” I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself “ex-gay” and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.”