“We must respect the choices of all who seek to live life in accordance with their own identities; and if there are those who seek to resolve the conflict between sexual orientation and spirituality with conversion therapy, they must not be discouraged. It is their choice …”
Extract from Edward’s story : “Choosing to hold my family together”
“My story begins at age four when I was sexually abused by a man who was a neighbour. Being so young, I didn’t understand what had happened, but during my childhood I had sexual images from this event which no child should have. When I was six, I was seriously ill and missed a year of schooling. When I returned to school I was physically very weak, very thin, and had to wear glasses. The boys in the boys’ playground refused to play with me, so I had to play with the girls in the girls’ playground. This lasted about a year during my childhood. I felt my father was emotionally distant. I felt he was a bully, but conversely my mother smothered me….
Some gay people do have genuine loving gay relationships and they choose to go this way, but they should not condemn people like myself. I have been condemned by gay people: “you are really gay” and by straight people: “you are pretending to be straight”. The truth is, I am a happily married family man, who chooses to reject his gay side. This intolerance by some in the gay community towards people like me is unacceptable. Information should be available, particularly about the many causes of homosexuality, and how to get support. People like myself need to be accepted by gay and straight people alike, for who we are.”
The Campaign: Distribution to the House of Commons and Lords, September 2012
On the 23rd of September 2012, letters were delivered to member’s mail boxes in the Houses of Commons and Lords. Accompanying the letter, personalised to each member, was a copy of the booklet “The Right to Decide”. The letters also requested MPs to sign the registered UK Government Petition (left) “Right to reduce homosexual feelings where possible, using professional help“.
Here are the slightly varied letters submitted, with a copy of the stories of individuals moving away from homosexuality, to the Coalition Government at the time:
Introduction to Beyond Critique:
I am often asked by those interested in the issue of unwanted same-sex attraction to introduce them to the men and woman who journey away from homosexual feelings and practice. It is very difficult to arrange such meetings for many reasons. The fact that many of the stories that follow are written under pseudonyms is illustrative of the climate the UK finds itself in today, and indicative of the high levels of intimidation this population group feels in our society.
These people, whose accounts and personal goals are often dismissed, are the subject of repeated stereotyping and pejorative remarks by gay activists. They often speak of how devalued they feel by the professions that have abandoned them, the church which fears them, the politicians who ignore them, and increasingly hostile activists who despise their accounts. They also speak of an enduring fellowship between themselves and those who walk alongside them as fellow travellers, mentors, therapists, counsellors and pastors.
Each of these individuals, bar one, is known to me personally, either through interviews, counselling, psychotherapy and support group sessions, or because they are my friends. All are resident in the UK or in the Republic of Ireland, and their average age is 31 (between 23 and 55 years). Five come from Northern Ireland. Five contributors are married, one recently and another has remained so for 32 years. Among their number are a mother, youth workers, ordained ministers, dentists, a doctor, a project manager, an HE lecturer, a lab technician, and a salesman. The vast majority (all but 3) have been exposed to professional psychotherapy of some sort or other – and some of them to what gay activists and an unsympathetic and sometimes uninformed media refuse to describe as anything other than “reparative” therapy. Only one member of the group has actually undertaken what is properly termed Reparative Therapy©, under a therapist qualified to use that modality – which was effective for him. (Mike Davidson)
What they said at the time…
“Such a book has long been needed to inform debates in church and state on same-sex attraction. These frank and brave testimonies from people who have often been shamed into silence from all sides address a most important issue of justice. They should be pondered carefully. Tread softly – you tread on their hopes for a better future for many.” Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream.
“In a post-modern world that places high value on relationships and personal stories, this book is an incredibly useful collection of different people’s varied journeys out of homosexuality. Each individual account of change, transformation or decision to live a holy life is a challenge to a modern secular dogma in our society that denies both the validity of such testimonies and the right to seek congruence between one’s sexuality and spirituality.” Revd Peter Ould.
“Those who recognize the foundational character of a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations have strong arguments from Scripture, philosophic reason, and science for their position. Where proponents of homosexual unions have an advantage is in the telling of stories. This book helps to fill that gap and combat the political and ideological intolerance of those who reject therapeutic help for persons seeking to leave behind a homosexual life.” Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, U.S.A. Author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon Press) and co-author of Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Fortress Press).
“‘Gay’ identity is often deeply embedded in how homosexuals understand themselves. But must gays insist on security in their own sexual identity by denying others a different path? We have been listening to the experience of gays for a long time now, what about a hearing for ex-gays? Alongside the persistence of sexual identity should we not put the fluidity of sexual identity? There is important fuel for thought in the experiences recounted here”. Professor John Nolland, Trinity College, Bristol.
“Those of us who choose not to embrace a gay identity or to pursue a same-sex relationship because of convictions of faith, or indeed for any other reason, must have freedom to seek appropriate pastoral or counselling help in ordering our sexual behaviour according to our own world-view. This point is argued very powerfully in this excellent book, which is made all the more authentic by the very moving accounts of individuals who are personally impacted by these issues”. Jonathan Berry, Director of True Freedom Trust.
“I am glad to support a positive initiative which helps people live their sexuality in freedom and dignity in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ” Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow.
1Haldeman DC. Gay Rights, Patient Rights: The Implications of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy Professional Psychology – Research & Practice 2002;33(3):260-4.