Ted Cox’s Journey to a Gay Deconversion Retreat

I’ve mentioned Ted Cox before — he’s the guy who went undercover at a Gay Conversion Camp:

An atheist, Ted Cox, spent the past two years going undercover as a gay man undergoing gay-to-straight therapy programs run by Christian groups (as if there were any other kind).

What he found was precisely what you would think: These programs do nothing to “convert” you from gay to straight. They just try to make you suppress your (gay) sexual urges. They make up their own “facts” — you’re not born with it, it’s the result of a traumatic childhood, Jesus can save you from The Gay, etc.

Stinque.com is publishing excerpts of a longer story detailing his experience there and you can read that entire piece thing here.

Check it out. The whole thing is very well-written and exposes the truth about how these places work.

It’s terrible that some gay men feel they have to go through this sort of thing in order to suppress their feelings and to lie to themselves about their true identities.

  • Ally

    I have a friend who was forced to go to one of those camps in Ecuador. There they tried to beat the gay out of him. (He is currently in political asylum in the US).
    It’s not necessarily a choice, but sometimes cruelly forced upon people. Either way, it’s not a good place.
    But for a humorous satire of said camps, I recommend the movie “But I’m a Cheerleader”

  • Alan E.

    I printed this out immediately and have made it halfway through. So much isn’t surprising because it’s what so many have already suspected, but it’s still shocking enough to see it down on paper.

  • cathy

    It is terrible enough to think of adults choosing to enter these programs, but the reality is that these ‘pray away the gay’ programs usually target teenagers and kids whose parents force them to go. This is especially true for trans kids who are even more likely to be locked up and abused under the pretense of curing them.

  • http://www.belovedspear.org Beloved Spear

    Interesting stuff, Hemant. A really, really important read. Thanks for sharing it.

    What strikes me as most bizarre, given the rationale for stuff like this, is just how utterly devoid of Christianity the “gay conversion” process was. Cox notes it on page 16, but it struck me early, as I anticipated signs of Christian fundamentalism and found…none.

    I’m a progressive, pro-gay Christian pastor, and the whole thing struck me as…well…amazingly unbiblical. Dudes dressed like death? Jack in the Beanstalk? Where in the Sam Hill does this stuff come from? I expected to come out of this irritated at fundamentalism, and instead found myself marveling that I might be a more orthodox Christian than the deprogrammers. Which is saying something.

  • Trans Sami

    A fun game to play with bigots claiming ‘ex-gays’ exist:

    Ask them about women in Muslim countries who never leave the house without that full body sheet. Ask them if they think those women actually made a fair choice to walk around in the middle eastern sun all day in several pounds of clothing. Ask them if they think their was no religious or societal pressure for them to dress in a heatstroke inducer and that the women are being honest when they say they’re happy and proud to wear the sheets and never leave the house without their husband.

    Assuming the person isn’t a sexist middle eastern Muslim themselves it’s almost guaranteed they’ll respond to this with the obvious: Those women would be treated as social pariahs if they dressed sensibly or left the house alone. They’re only saying they’re happy about it because they’ve been told all their lives they should be.

    Then ask them about ‘ex-gays’ and watch them immediately change their tune and pretend it’s utterly impossible for someone to live a degrading existence where they argue against their own rights and freedoms because society and religion demand it.

  • Leena H.

    Can’t they just leave gays alone already???
    Argh! I’m glad they don’t do this (I think???) in my country, because my gay friends rock :D

  • Erp

    If Hemant permits a bit of an ad, Ted Cox will be speaking at Stanford University on Monday evening, April 19. Co-sponsored by AHA! (Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics) and Queer/Straight Alliance.

  • medussa

    A truly frightening vision of reality and humanity.

  • Stephen P

    It’s the same basic idea as forcing left-handed people to write with their right hand, something which was quite common up until about the 1950′s. Some people just can’t cope with the idea that other people might be a bit different from the norm. It’s the deprogrammers themselves that need to attend a course of therapy (though hopefully one a bit more sane and science-based).

  • idioteque

    One of the things that irritates the crap out of me is when fundies cite suicide statistics among gays and lesbians, and cite this as “proof” that homosexuality is wrong. But what I want to say to these bigots is that if THEY didn’t go around pointing at gays and lesbians about how worthless they are, making them ashamed of who they are, parents disowning their children, wreaking all sorts of psychological havoc on their self-esteem, you know, those suicide rates probably wouldn’t be so high.

    As far as these gays and lesbians who try to live a lie for the sake of others (especially for potential condemnation based on religious bigotry), I just feel sorry for them– they shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are. That’s a terrible way to live. And these organisations that try to “cure” them of their “disease” are only capitalising on their misery, compounding their pain.

    These bigots can only teach you one thing: How to lie to others and yourself. So much for “and the truth shall set you free.” They don’t have any “truth”– only bigotry, fear and lies.

  • czechatheist

    The gays of US shouldn’t seek refuge in christian camps, they should rather visit what is becomming to be known as the world’s gay capital – Prague. Maybe some atheist group could arrange an atheist gay camps here for them. And as a bonus they can send here also theist gays, as gay bars are purportedly very often visited by gay priests.

    http://www.czechfocus.cz/2010/4/13/art52030.html
    http://www.czechfocus.cz/2010/4/13/art51834.html

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    I don’t understand why someone would care who another person was attracted to enough to try to force them to change. It isn’t as if anyone is hurt by being gay, it is only that some people take such an interest that they inflict harm on this harmless group.

    I suppose the best thing that can be said about the US gay deconversion attempts is that they aren’t doing what they do in Zimbabwe and raping gay people or threatening them with life imprisonment or execution like they are in Uganda. See, it could always be worse.

  • Nankay

    Hoverfrog,

    Somehow that doesn’t cheer me.

  • Joe Z.

    Here’s the line that really got to me:
    Dave’s concern for his sons highlights the tragedy of the ex-gay movement: It makes good people feel evil.

    Man, that reminds me of my own years as a Christian, how I was made to feel that I was just pure walking, talking evil. It just breaks my heart to think of the terrible self-loathing inflicted on so many people.

  • Steve

    It is disturbing that men who are SSA are so desperate to change. People, especially the fundamentalist Christians, continue to tell their flocks that “gay is wrong” and “gay is evil.” Come on, it’s natural. Until they stop taking their Bible literally they will never stop. What they have to fear is beyond me. You can’t make someone gay and you can’t make someone straight just like you can’t make someone love you. I wish all with SSA to stop trying to change and come to terms with their lives. Visit a local PFLAG group for support.

  • http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1580421.Fringe Silent Service

    Hooverfrog,

    I feel so much better about my life now. I only had to hide from most of my closest friends for fear of losing my job. Thanks.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Nankay, really? That things could be worse is surely cause for celebration.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Silent Service, that’s awful obviously but on the bright side losing your job isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

  • XPK

    @hoverfrog – Telling someone “things could be much worse” or “{that} isn’t the worst thing that could happen” is like telling someone “stop complaining about it” or “your personal experience of being ostracized by family, friends, coworkers, etc. isn’t that bad given the alternative”.

    Not very empathetic or sensitive.

  • muggle

    hoverfrog, I usually love your posts and I agree with your point since I always try to remember how things could be worse and it’s gotten me through some extremely rough patches in my life but, yeah, badly worded, dude.

    It still reminds me of my doctor telling me my pain wasn’t that bad because I hesitate to get a full knee replacement where my knee has gone missing when said replacement given my weight and my state of deterioation not only has the usual risks thereof but will last 5-8 years tops and since I’ve osteo arthritis throughout my whole skeleton would only result in questionable good for that brief time even if all goes well. I’m still thinking totally not worth it but his remark still stung.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    My mistake and I apologise for any offence caused. I guess the comfort of “things could be worse” is just culturally different on this side of the pond.

  • http://trialofbeliefs.blogspot.com steve

    To gage some understanding of anti LGBT lifestyles it only requires a bit of an understanding of human emotional mind sets.I.E sexaul fear,peer pressure of comformity, the insercurities of ones self estreme.
    A religious argument encompresses each of those points, of which has not and never did have anything to do with a God or no God and everything to do with the above issues.
    Leviticus : ( the bible 18:22) which is often used to excuse an intolerence or prejudice and a bigotry towards homosexuals contains not a single word about lesbians or even transgenders.
    Could it be just has today that some males find lesbians attractive?
    Another point to this is religious use of adultry ( condemning without cause or excuse for it) It takes 2 to commit yet it is the woman that is stoned to death for it? (sexism, submission of women)
    It is consider manly to have had sex with many women yet if a woman does the same she is a slut? (excused sexism by the use of a God concept)
    The issue about the bigotry or at least intolerence of homosexualy has nothing to do with a religion ,or a culture, it has everything to do with a dishonest admittance has to why one is against it.
    That dishonest attitute and excuse for it lays completely in a personal unsureness of ones own sexual security.
    Peer pressure to comform coupled with sexual security issues is central to this issue.
    Every notice a male walking along a side walk on a cold rainy day wearing no coat or hat acting as if the weather does not effect him?
    Could be he has no coat or hat or? could be he thinks this makes him appear more manly? Anyone ever notice other behavoir like that?
    Religion is by fact of practice the organized use of a belief.
    Religion is by fact of history early attempts at creating codes of civil law and conduct that used the concept of a belief to justify a social comformity and to justify a social discrimination to create a comformity to its dogma and doctrine.
    Early laws of civilizations were nearly all centered around forms of religious beliefs, be it idol worship or single god beliefs. (this is proveable historical fact)
    It could be argued and well argued that religion is organized discrimination via the use of a belief for purposes of comformity to its doctrine and dogma. (historical and present day use and evidence strongly points in this use of a belief)
    If a person chooses to believe in a God fine, if not fine, yet the use of either one to justify a bigotry or intolerence is perhaps the highest form of un-ethical use).
    Since the dawn of time there has been only one real enemy, this enemy has been responsible for more war,hate,child abuse,family seperations, and illness then all other evils combined.
    It will organize around anything that encourges discrimination and ignorance.
    It’s name is Bigotry it’s excuse is dishonesty.

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  • JIM DEFENDER

    Nothing that has been typed on this page about “Journey Into Manhood” is true.  “Journey Into Manhood” is (1) not an ex-gay program — nobody associated with it identifies themself as ‘ex-gay’, (2) not a Christian organizatoin or program (it includes men Jewish, Muslim, Christian and non-religous men), (3) not something men attend out of a sense of shame (the main focus of the weekend is helping men accept their feelings and make responsible choices they can feel good about) and (4) never, in any way suggests that anyone can change thier sexual orientatoin through prayer (pray away the gay is simply an attitude that is rejected by the weekend).

    The reality is that almost all of the men who have attended the weekend report a greater sense of self acceptance, greater acceptance of their feelings of affection for other men, less shame and a greater sense of empowerment after the weekend than before.  Ted Cox visited the weekend by lying about his own identity and now has made a point of trying to twist what he experienced in order to humiliate men who participate in teh weekend because of his own hatred and intolerence of Christianity.  Ironically, he has targeted a group of peole who aren’t even necessarily Christian for the focus of his hatred.  He now has attracted a following of “pro-gay” people who seem to think “Journey Into Manhood” is something onto which they can /should project thier bitterness against all things non-gay, when ironically “Journey Into Manhood” and the organization that hosts it are actaully fully affirming of people who chose to be gay and make absolutely no judgment that anyone should try to change their way of responding to same-sex attractions unless they want to.

    The intolerance and bigortry of the gay community against this group, and this weekend is unconscionable, and speeks to the deeply seated hatred and ‘brainwashing’ that the media (and the gay movement) have foisted onto society — inciting people to not only hate those who disagree with same-sex acts, but even to harbor an indignant  hatred and intolerance of men who are openly and happily attracted to other men — but who simply bond/connect in non-gay ways.

    Sites like this (and those who post here) make me hope that more and more men who love men will opt-out of the “gay identity” and seek deeper and more authentic ways of connecting (like Journey Into Manhood) — and that in time Bigots like Ted Cox will be seen for what they are.


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