"Anti-ex-gay extremists say that I do not exist -- that we don't exist," said Christopher Doyle, president of Voice of the Voiceless and Equality and Justice for All. "Tell that to my wife of seven years. Tell that to my three beautiful children."
Some of the activists spent the morning in meetings on Capitol Hill. Doyle said he met with Democrats and Republicans, all cordial, but "Republicans were definitely more sympathetic." The event marked the first Ex-Gay Pride Month, which the group designated as the month of July. Organizers had originally planned a reception at the Family Research Council, but emailed and phoned threats from homosexual activists caused them to postpone the event until September at an undisclosed location. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, will receive the first Ex-Gay Pride Freedom Award at the event.
Greg Quinlan, president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), said homosexual activists have no room for other opinions because they want to "take over" education, health care and government so that theirs is the only voice heard. Quinlan, a lobbyist, said he learned his trade while working with the Human Rights Campaign Fund in the 1980s and '90s.
"When you see that equality sign in their logo, it's not about equality -- it's about dominance," Quinlan said. "It's not about human rights. It's about sexual rights of a small sexual minority."
The gathering at the Supreme Court only numbered about a dozen but they said there are thousands of ex-gays around the country who are afraid to identify as such.
"I have suffered more discrimination and intolerance as an ex-gay than I did when I was actually in the lifestyle," said Grace Harley, an African American woman who lived for 18 years as a transgendered man named Joe.
"Former homosexuals like me need protection," Harley said. "Ex-gays are more hated than gays are."
Various participants explained how they believe they ended up in the homosexual lifestyle, including childhood sexual abuse, emotionally incestuous relationships with parents and unresolved bitterness toward fathers.
One man, Chuck Peters, said he was molested by his Boy Scout troop leader, which sexually disoriented him and led to 22 years in the homosexual lifestyle. He held up a printed copy of sworn testimony from Nicholas Cummings, the former American Psychological Association president who led the effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, to point out that homosexuals have the ability to change.
Peters said after his boyfriend died of AIDS, he decided to seek therapy to determine why he had such a strong attachment to other men. He eventually found the help he sought, but not before being told "over and over again that I was born that way and I should accept it." Peters, now the clinical director of the Sexual Orientation Change Institute in Beverly Hills, Calif., said therapists told him he had internal homophobia that made him not want to be homosexual.
"We should have the right, like all Americans, to be able to express our views without intimidation," Doyle said while wearing a pink "Ex-Gay is ok!" lapel pin. "We're not going anywhere."
Reprinted from WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine (www.worldmag.com).
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