WARNING! VERY PERSONAL CONTENT
Previously in Pray the Gay Away: A searcher for truth found Jesus in the bushes. Gay since he was 10. ”No big deal,” he said. “No, I was not raised by an abzend fadzer and an oferbearing muther.” In childhood he developed spychic skills and became early a relationship coach to his friends. As a young adult, IBRA RADIO became his darling.
In January 1995 I had enough, I surrendered and told in a meeting with the parish church board about my feelings, that I had done a lot of good work for the church, using my energy on G-d and I also told about my sexuality. I thought I would be met with understanding and respect, (I have always been a hopeless optimist!) but I had misjudged the whole situation. To simply surrender myself completely unprotected and vulnerable, I was an easy target! I was surrounded by seven board members and all read from the Book of Leviticus and how G-d condemns such acts. I got out of hand a one way ticket to h..l! Someone came up with the idea to “get a girl somewhere who could cure my homosexuality,” exorcism was even mentioned and examples what had happened to another homosexual man who had been a member of the congregation,
“– Well, he just disappeared without a trace.” They came up with the idea of “ex-gay” therapy, and because I did not want to lose my friends and having to leave my congregation, I accepted. Everything was done in secret, we were all in this small group initiated in the plan and outwardly pretending as “it was raining”. No one in the church, not even my family knew what was happening. Preparations were made and contacts were made for me to go through an ex-gay therapy. I was 33 years old, a virgin until then, had never engaged in sex and drugs, but after being yelled at by the pastors, I felt dirty and emotionally raped, but still, I really wanted to get rid of my homosexual urges, how stupid I was! It was determined that a ministry in England, affiliated with Exodus International would carry out the repair work. There are different kinds of therapies out there in the ex-gay world, such as Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), affirmations, or just smashing a tennis racket on a pillow or huggings, that is the method of Richard Cohen, a self-proclaimed psychotherapist, often seen on You Tube because it is so veird. I went on the pretext that I should go as a trainee to work as a cameraman in southern Sweden (yes, I have done some TV stuff to). The therapy consisted of many therapy sessions. My therapy involved different types of methods; counseling, prayer and affirmations, where a person is to strengthen his own identity with the help of positive thinking and prayers. There are in this context even therapies involving “Penile plethysmography” (PPG), or “phallometry,” that is a measurement of bloodflow to the penis, where the erectile responses to different types of erotica are measured. Fortunately, I did not have to do that.
Listen to the podcast “Unbelievable” from Premiere Christian Radio on “Homosexuality and Ex-gay Therapy”. Guests in the show are Jonathan Berry, “True Freedom Trust” and Jeremy Marks, “Courage UK,” giving us two views of the therapies given to people with “unwanted same sex attraction,” (SSA).
SEE ALSO FORMER EX-GAY LEADERS “COME OUT OF THE CLOSET”
(Published July 3, 2007 by SoulforceQ, YouTube)
THERAPY Tremendously Unsuccessful!
I can not say that the therapy was effective! It has left deep emotional wounds that never seem to heal. It has also resulted in difficulties in decision making, difficulty in concentrating and lacking in confidence and selfesteem and it gave me a deep depression. It also influenced my interest in sex, it has led me to live completely celibate, something I on the other hand have done my entire life! I did not even have the chance to live a “sinful life.”
BACK HOME – Mission Not Completed!
I was very offended, so I went home again after two months. When I got back home, the church leaders and pastors clearly showed their displeasure and forced me to let me go through an exorcism to remove the “evil gay spirit” in me. (The link goes to another exorcism). They had called for a preacher from another part of the country, who used to preach in our church, he was a good friend to all of us. He was there to expel the demon in me. Of course it did not help! On Details.com is another exorcism story. Read about Kevin, a member of a Pentecostal Church and other stories from guys who have been targeted for exorcism.
Already depressed I made my first suicide attempt. That happened just before Christmas 1996. After the Christmas holiday and after being alone and sick during the whole New Years, I came out of the closet for my parents and siblings. First they were terrified because I was sad when I called them and they thought I had been involved in an accident or something. But after I told them my story, they showed all the love, affection and tenderness I needed right then.
Rumors soon spread about my homosexuality to the rest of the church; someone had blabbed, even though the church board was bound by confidentiality! For me, this was by now a closed chapter. But I have some good memories too, because during all this turmoil, I had friends where I least expected it; a family and a young man and another woman, that I felt I always could trust. Even our young evangelist and his wife spoke relaxed and normal with me, even if we all knew their point of view. That made me feel a little better.
In January of 1997 I left my congregation, or rather, I was expelled and could finally return the church keys, which I had borrowed over the years. And I could leave my hometown, for good this time, for an education and directly after that, a job in Stockholm.
That was my personal testimony at a glance! My story is very similar to the stories I have heard throughout the years from other gay men; Swedish as well as immigrant boys from Middle East who were raised in religious families. We share the same fate, even if I was not born into a religious family.
EPILOGUE – Picking up the pieces
Safely installed in a new town, a new life in front of me, I started to reflect, thinking about the past events. Slowly I started to pic up the peaces from what I had left behind of my personality, I was still very depressed. And slowly my soul begun a major repair job, or why not call it a reconstruction of what people had annihilated. It was not totally lost. I started to read the Scriptures again, slowly, hesitating, resting on every word and syllable. I cried a lot during this time, but that was okay. I knew I would eventually return to life. The medicine was school work alternated with long bike rides in a beautiful rural countryside. It was like a caring and healing bandage for my soul. It was during this time I initiated my website Hate Hurts, of which some articles from that time are now translated and added here on my meadow.
I knew pretty soon what the Bible is supposed to say about homosexuality and about persons who identify themselves as such. Now I also began to understand what the Bible does not say on this topic! Because when I started to remember what I had heard from around the churches, I could suddenly see a clear pattern; an incredible Scripture twisting! I do not understand why I kept on going to the church. As I sat there in a new place, relaxing more and more, I started my studies of all the scriptures that speak of “homosexuality” and other “truths” and what I finally concluded, was that I did not recognize myself in these stories! I could not find one single verse in the Christian or the Jewish scriptures that condemned homosexuality as a cruel depravity, I did not even find a consensual homoerothic relationship between two adults of the same sex as we know it today! Not a word! What I am concerned, I do not believe that the Scriptures speak about homosexuality at all! It was not a big deal back then!
An attempt to combine two explanatory models
How is it that people who identify themselves as gay feel attacked and condemned by religious and other people? Because I believe there are two models of theological thinking that do not match. In the first model they equate the personality (Identity as a Gay man) with the homosexuality (a behavior Trait) and thus condemn the person who they perceive as gay or effeminate. Identity + Traits go hand in hand, they are ONE! These are inseparable according to theological thinking. Logically, that means that in the same time they condemn homosexuality as an evil behavior, they must also condemn the person! Let us continue this thought. This very same must go for believers because they often “identify” themselves as believers. That means that their personality (Identity in Christ/G-d) and faith (a behavior Trait) also go hand in hand: Identity + Traits.
Now, I do not claim that I am right, G-d forbid! I only follow an irrational thinking and basis on this thinking. The other explanatory model is that identity and traits are DEVIDED! They have no connections whatsoever. If not, that would mean that there are no relations between a persons Identity as Christians, Jews, gay or Latinoamericans and their behavior. Meaning that a religious faith has no implications in behavior. In the same way a gay man would not differentiate his behavior from a straight.
My reaction to this must be that if there really is a differentiation between these concepts of identity and “personal traits” (such as faith or sexuality) and at the same time they are united, then in a remarcable or devine way, a person’s identity could very well be expressed in a sexual orientation, just like a religious identity wery well can be expressed by a person’s faith.
Perhaps that is with an emphasis on sexual orientation because sexuality is substantial and more firmly rooted, while a religious belief is more fragile, easily swayed and easily manipulated and is normally obtained by your own free will but you can change your belief system whenever you want. For a gay person to become straight or vice versa, is not that simple! I have mostly mentioned Christianity in my texts, and I want to say that I do not pick on them more than other groups, because that is the religion that most clearly has set as a key issue to oppose homosexuality.
Both John Smids (former Love In Action), Jeremy Marks (Courage, UK) and Alan Chambers (Exodus International) appears to have left most of the ideas which we associate with reparative ex-gay therapy. Some of them out there have even formed new ministries, where they help lost gay youth. Which is good, if it stays at that. It is important that all people are treated with respect and dignity, as the unique beings we are.
A brief summary. I have traveled a long way in life and in my inner landscape. I have revisited many ideas and “truths” and I have also been tearing down many constructions of thought. Constructions that was nothing but walls made to isolate, built around me as a protection and to make faith and everyday life to make sense, a good approach at first, but these walls are now demolished. Once and for all! My life is a constant journey, may I never be so grown up, loaded with arrogance against my fellow human beings, always with a straight answer to everything, so I forget to live, today! I wish to live a life in humility, responsive to people and G-d. I pray that I may carefully and gently bear the innocent, sensitive child within me and let the Holy One guide me through what is left of my soul’s journey. I want you, my dear reader to embrace that thought also. Feel free to make a comment.
The Jewish Bible on Love:
Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all transgressions.
(Proverbs 10:12, Jewish/English Bible, JPS 1917)
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
(Proverbs 15:17, Jewish/English Bible, JPS 1917)
• Richard Cohen: International Healing Foundation
• Jeremy Marks: Courage, UK
• Jonathan Berry: True Freedom Trust
• Darlene Bogle: former Exodus leader
• John Smid: “Grace Rivers Ministries”
• Exodus International
• Alan Chamber: Blog
• Restoration Path, former Love in Action
• Beyond Ex-Gay: Apology from former Ex-gay Leaders
© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
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