Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the ex-gay movement has engaged gay advocates in a battle of testimonies. Transformed ex-gay leaders are the best argument for their movement. Likewise, those who've left the ex-gay movement in despair and disgust are the best counterargument. The debate continued this June, when Exodus International held its 32nd annual conference in Irvine, California, featuring dozens of speakers and seminar leaders who have quit homosexuality. Down the road outside the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, a news conference featured three former Exodus leaders saying "ex-gay" is a delusion.
New research may change the terms of debate. Psychologists Stanton Jones of Wheaton College and Mark Yarhouse of Regent University released today a book detailing their findings from the first three years of an ongoing study. They are investigating participants in 16 different ex-gay programs associated with Exodus, the largest ex-gay ministry group.
The results show that some participants experienced significant change, though the change was usually partial, not complete. Furthermore, participants showed no additional mental or spiritual distress as a result of their involvement in the ex-gay program. This study is the first to use multiple interviews and questionnaires over a period of years, assessing participants from near the beginning of their involvement in an ex-gay program.
Jones and Yarhouse launched the study to try to resolve differences between their professional community, which warns that "reparative therapy" for homosexuals is both impossible and dangerous, and testimonies they have heard from those involved in ex-gay movements. Though critics of ex-gay movements sometimes cite research findings in warning ...1