Surviving the Exodus . . . finding a radically new life.

I just could not wait to post this powerful testimony from a friend of mine, David Gregory Starbuck.  No wordy introductions, no set-up, just lifting up his words as a prayer for grace and understanding…

Forgiveness is in process and it will come, but as an Exodus survivor I at least have to pause a bit for some reflection. It is a not-too-subtle form of abuse that says, “Homosexuality is a psycho-spiritual disorder from which God can heal you.”

Twenty years ago, I bought that line because I desperately loved my two beautiful sons who were about to enter their teens along with my wife who found herself in a situation she never signed up for. I wanted to hold my family together so badly I’d have done anything, and I did.

After three agonizing years of support groups, pseudo-psychotherapy that included warnings of demon-possession and “being slain in the spirit,” I concluded, as most of us did, that “God indeed can heal, but he won’t heal me.”

It came down to an afternoon, and a strong impulse to sit in my garage with the motor running. Looking in the mirror at my 39 year old face, I began to wonder if my boys would rather have a gay dad than no dad at all. I answered that in the affirmative and I lived to tell. Ultimately it was my family that loved me unconditionally helping me to find the God who loved me that way too.

So, when asked to take this apology seriously and welcome my emerging brothers and sisters, I will indeed do so. However, I need a minute to breathe and to honor the memory of those who looked in the mirror and answered differently.

An apology will never alter the landscape of wounded lives, some of which were needlessly lost. But believe me when I say that I welcome this development and that it gives me hope. This is the only authentic thing I can say at this moment.


Amen and amen.


David is a UCC minister whose own journey has made him passionate for justice and equality. Ordained 30 years ago as a Baptist minister he has had two distinct pastoral vocations. The first one was lost to a system that expelled him because he was gay. The second has involved a rebirth into a church that affirms him as a child of God and refuses to throw away his gifts. He is currently a UCC pastor/church planter in the Hudson Valley north of New York City where he and his partner Tripp Hanson are having the time of their lives.

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176 responses to “Surviving the Exodus . . . finding a radically new life.”

  1. Wow – what a beautiful story! And it’s interesting that today, a friend of mine (I will not use his name) posted this comment to my FB post on Exodus:
    “Attending meetings of ex-gay groups, including Exodus International, was actually important step in my coming out. I saw all of these beautiful, creative, intelligent, kind, loving people each week talking about how horrible, disgusting, and vile they were and something in my spirit said, “No you’re not!” and that was part of what helped me to realize that I wasn’t either.”
    It brought tears to my eyes (even now as I re-read it)!