Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm Sorry I Hurt You So Much

So my friends Peterson and Christine have been working like crazy over the past year (or more?) on putting together and planning the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference that is happening this weekend.

Today, there was a Press Conference at the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles, CA and I had the honor of being invited to be a part of it.

As reported by BeyondExGay.Com, "Three former ex-gay leaders issued public apologies for the roles they played in ex-gay ministries affiliated with Exodus International. They also shared portions of their personal stories. The event was covered by members of local and national news media including CNN and Azteca America."

I was honored to be among the ex-gay survivors who went up to receive and accept the apology letter. I was quite moved by the experience . . . .

After the Press Conference, we were all available for interviews. I was interviewed by the Advocate. I talked about my own experiences going through an ex-gay program. One of the things I shared with her (as well as with the reporter from the OC Weekly yesterday) was that I realized the mixed message that these ex-gay programs (and the Church) were giving me. The mixed message was that of God's unconditional love and the Church's conditional acceptance that was dependent on conforming to their interpretation or version of "wholeness".

God loves you. But we will ONLY IF you embrace heterosexuality. Even if you don't actually become straight, we want you to look straight (to us).

That's the kind of thing that fractures our identities. I mean, goodness, I attempted suicide before the ex-gay program because I hated being what I was. How much more damaging can it be after an ex-gay program affirms that self-hatred?

Oh but don't worry, at least God loves you.

They tell us when we enter the ex-gay program that we're broken because we're gay. I realized that instead, they were the ones who broke me further when they encouraged me to manipulate my personal and sexual identity.

Be straight. Or at least let me think you're straight.

Sorry! I can tell i'm getting bitter about all this! But that's why this Ex-Gay Survivor Conference is so important! People need to know how these programs can cause such trauma.

My journey now is about exploring authenticity. Discovering the real me. Loving and accepting the real me. Presenting the real me.

The experience at the press conference and accepting this apology from these ex-ex-gay leaders was surreal.
I found that many emotions resurfaced from when I was desperate enough to try to be straight. I found myself close to crying when I shook hands and hugged them! If I can find the time to sit down and process things, i'll try to write up a blog to revisit some of those emotions.

In the mean time, please keep praying for me, the conference, and especially for Peterson and Christine as God continues to position them as a voice for "ex-gay survivors" like me.

Here's the text of the formal apology, as reported by Peterson:

Statement of Apology from Former Exodus Leaders
Issued by Darlene Bogle, Michael Bussee, and Jeremy Marks
June 27, 2007

As former leaders of ex-gay ministries, we apologize to those individuals and families who believed our message that there is something inherently wrong withvbeing gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this message creates. We apologize for our part in the message of broken truth we spoke on behalf of Exodus and other organizations.

We call on other former ex-gay leaders to join the healing and reconciliation process by adding their names to this apology.

We encourage current leaders of ex-gay programs to have the courage to evaluate the fruit of their programs. We ask them to consider the long-term effects of their ministry.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Covering the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference

There has been WAY too much news going on that i'm excited about to properly keep up here at Two World Collision. I'll try to post as often as I can but this is going to be a crazy week!

I've got a ton of guests staying at my place this week. No, I actually do mean a ton of people. They are coming in gradually but by the weekend, i'll have 6-8 people staying at my apartment for the upcoming Ex-Gay Survivor Conference. My buddy/room mate is so awesome to be okay with using our lil two bedroom apartment like a hostel. He's even gonna sleep elsewhere so that we can use his room! Plus, there will numerous GCN'ers getting together on Sunday afternoon after the conference. Stay tuned for pics of an awesome and full weekend!

So later today, I'm being interviewed by a local newspaper - the OC Weekly - to talk about my story as an Ex-Gay Survivor. Tomorrow, Wednesday morning, I'll be part of a press conference in LA for this weekend's conference. I'm just going to be available to tell my story in case anyone wants an interview. On Friday afternoon, prior to Peterson's show for the conference, there will be an authors' book signing event that i'm in charge of. It's with Mel White, Darlene Bogle, and Wayne Besen. I also received an email from someone from Here! (new Gay themed cable network) who may be interviewing me this weekend for some projects their network is doing regarding faith and sexuality. So we'll see how everything goes!

There is a ton going on for the conference, including some major press and media coverage. Check out everything that's going on at the Conference News Page. Something particularly interesting is an invitation to a private dinner that the Ex-Gay Survivors made to the Ex-Gay leaders. You can read it here.

There's so much going on right now here in Southern California with all of this. Will you please cover me and us and it all in prayer? Thanks!

Island Beauty

At this past Saturday's AIDS Walk Long Beach, I met these two super awesome gals named Siena and Toast - together they sing pop acoustic music and also hawaiian music. They are called Makena. I'm in love with them! They are beautiful and sweet - and also local.

I spent some good time talking with them during one of their breaks. I told them all about Gay Christian Network and Catalyst and Two World Collision. I haven't been back to Hawaii since I last left there after 6th grade. I lived there for pretty much all of my elementary years. It was refreshing to reminisce a lil' about being there!

Anyway, their music is so sweet! Some of their songs are in english, some are in hawaiian, some are both. I'm definitely going to get their CD and maybe check out some of their shows. My favorite song is called "Good Enough".

Be sure to check out their site at You can hear some music samples at They also have a podcast at There, Siena and Toast, two Hawaii girls, talk about being gay, Asian-American, their music, relationship, day to day spirituality, and pursuit of happiness in California. They have giveaways, listener mail, and interviews, too. I'm hoping to interview them for a future Catalyst podcast!

I made a video clip of them doing Sixpense None The Richer's "Kiss Me" this weekend. They gave me permission to post it on YouTube. Check it out!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Karaoke Virgins

Okay, this one is just hilarious. My friends Steve and Jayson did Madonna's "Like a Virgin" on karaoke at a luau birthday party that we were at Saturday night.

I've gotta tell ya - with all the craziness going on the past several months (see post from last Thursday), these two buds have brought true comic relief in my life. I hang out with alot of people, connecting with various groups and different folks and its all fun. But whenever I hang out with Steve and Jayson, it's a guarantee that I will laugh like crazy. These two keep me grounded. These two make sure I don't take life so seriously. I really appreciate their friendship and consider them a true blessing.

For a good time, call Steve and Jayson at 1-900-555-.... *grin*

Hehe, Happy Birthday Jayson!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Not So Average Brit

I understand being underestimated. I know what it feels like to have somebody take one look at me and be completely unimpressed.

He's young. He's old. He's gay. He's straight-acting. He's Christian. He's filipino. He's asian. He's a techie. He sees a fitness trainer. He's broke. He's stiff. He's a loner. He got his degree from THAT university.

Until, that is, when I begin to function within my element and, to their surprise, I absolutely kick ass! How do you like THEM apples!

I say that humbly, of course.

I was the guy who was picked last for basketball or football. I was the one who never made the cut. Perhaps this is why I love rooting for the underdog.

Behold, Paul Potts, a 36 year old average looking British cell phone salesman doing his rendition of Nessun Dorma in a talent competition that completely changed his world. According to IC Wales, he sang his first opera when he was 28 years old. And now hear him go!

It's not just his singing; it's his story that I find fascinating. Earlier this week, Matt Lauer interviewed William and Harry, the HOT british princes of Wales. But Paul is the Brit that inspires me. He's the hero.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nutshell Hodge Podge Version of Things

So yeah, it's been a while since my last post and there have been a ton of things going on (as you can tell if you've checked out some of the filmloops in the right column). I'll fill you in on the nutshell-hodge-podge version of the past several weeks to give you an idea of how my life has been. I promise that I'll try to find some time to sit down and process some raw thoughts. (Hehe, as if you've been waiting for the juicy stuff, right?) In the mean time, my world has been both crazy and crazy busy.

Pretty much all of my weekends and numerous weekdays for the past several months have been jam packed with connecting with a variety of folks - friends, new friends, work events, community events, family and even a couple of dates here and there (but no, not that many) . . . .

There have been a couple of birthday dinners. I've gone out to the local karaoke bar a few times. I've gone out dancing at some clubs. I even went to an underground club in LA and it was soooo much fun! That night I danced non-stop, literally, from 2:15am - 4:00am. It was crazy fun! I went out to Palm Springs one evening. I went to a gay prom. I went to an awards dinner for work. I had my last sessions with my personal trainer at the gym. I saw a friend play in a wind symphony concert. I went hiking. I was interviewed by a gay magazine with regional circulation. I was interviewed for a podcast. With the help of a friend, I created a touched up audio recording of my "Connect and Affect" speech. I'll post that up some time. I went to a poolside BBQ party. I've had dinner in several people's homes. I've gone to the movies many times. I've gone to a couple dinner parties. I went to happy hour. I helped clean up the beach. I saw a friend's first photo exhibit. I helped coordinate a multi-time zone movie viewing of The Breakfast Club along with a local lunch time breakfast food potluck in LA. I went on a couple of dates. I crushed during some non-dates. I reconciled two friendships that were previously on the rocks. I went to Santa Barbara. I saw the Long Beach Pride parade. I saw the Los Angeles Pride parade. I played volleyball. I played tennis. I've been jogging. I got addicted to Facebook. I caught up on TiVo (but now i'm behind again because i've been doing all these things you are reading about now). I met with a financial planner. I've exchanged a couple messages with some guys. I've been connecting with the planners for the upcoming Ex-Gay Survivors Conference. I accepted a volunteer position as the Gay Christian Network (GCN) Southern California Regional Group Leader and Facilitator. I applied to do a small group workshop at GCN's annual conference in January 2008 in Washington DC. I've talked with God.

So that was all the fun stuff.

The not so fun stuff includes some really horrible days at work for the past month. The Executive Director was fired. The internal politics at work flared up and the two factions started warring with each other. The keys to the building and the alarm code were changed. I didn't receive the new ones for several days (and i'm supposed to open the office in the mornings). A couple Board of Directors cussed each other out in the office in front of a member and all the office staff. There were protestors outside the office who eventually barged inside forcing themselves in the lobby area (where my desk is) and did the whole yelling and chanting bit. (They were protesting against the organization's president). I lost respect for many of them because of their tantrum-like bullying behavior. We were on the front page of the newspaper numerous times. Editorials were written about the organization. The tension in the office was so thick at times that you could slice it with a knife! On one day, I left work early after only being there two hours because of the tension. One co-worker in particular has been getting on my-last-nerve! There have been independent auditors in the building. The book keeper quit today of all days - the day that our payroll is processed so that we can get paid on Friday. There have been numerous members calling, emailing, and coming in wondering what the heck is going on because the president hasn't been communicating with them (or even the press) why they fired the Executive Director. So the press is only reporting one side of the issue. A controversial meeting was held to reinstate the Executive Director but there is still question in regards to that meeting's legitimacy. So the boss is back but it's way awkward. Is he really back? Is he really the boss? We're all caught in the middle.

On the flip side, we finally reached a tentative agreement on our employment contract in our bargaining sessions. Part of that agreement includes retroactive pay. I'm super stoked about that. What shall I do with that money, you ask? Why - pay for my MidWest vacation through five states that i'm taking with a friend at the end of August, of course! =) The Board of Directors votes to ratify our contract tomorrow. They better. Otherwise, we're ALL calling in sick!


Okay, i think that's it. That's all the craziness of my life the past couple months. In the next several weeks, i'll be attending the Ex-Gay Survivors Conference and helping with the book-signing table. I'll be seeing Peterson Toscano's awesome show along with Jason & DeMarco. I'll be going to a picnic in San Diego that i've helped put together. I'll be going to a hawaiian themed birthday party. I'll be participating in the Long Beach AIDS Walk. I'll be going to a single day of the Evangelicals Concerned Western Region Conference. I'll be having coffee with many people. I'll be having dinner with many people. Hopefully, i'll be going on some dates. I may go camping. I am definitely going to the movies to see Transformers, Harry Potter and Evan Almighty. Also on my radar is getting the Catalyst web site revamped and updated. I also want to prepare and video record my Ex-Gay Survivors story and also my vision for Catalyst. At the end of August, a friend and I are planning on touring St. Louis, MO, Louisville, KY (to support BeckyO in her Ironman triathlon), Indianapolis, IN, Chicago, IL, and Grand Rapids, MI. Fun times!

So the summer will be super jam-packed. Let's hope I can balance this introvert's social life with some alone time. Maybe then I can really blog and give you some of that raw juicy stuff that i've been thinking and processing about in this head of mine. Either way, thanks for keeping up with me and TWC!

Stay tuned....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Happy Birthday Christine!

Here's birthday wishes to my fabulous friend Christine! Hope you enjoy your day and know that you are loved! =)

If you remember me mentioning in a previous post about her, Christine is a key organizer for the upcoming Ex-Gay Survivors Conference at UC Irvine here in Southern California.

It's gonna be an awesome time of connecting with other people who have "survived" ex-gay ministries and also for those who understand the tension of being in a hostile climate towards the issue of faith and homosexuality.

I'm really looking forward to this conference. I've already registered for it. Consider registering for it too! =)