I am an ex-exgay and here is my story:
I knew growing up that I was gay (or at least suspected). I imagined intimacy with males from age 6 on and was surprised when I found out about straight sex at age 12 (It did not seem natural to me). My only experiences with gayness was occasional negative glimpses on the TV. Either the character was evil, a murderer, or dying of AIDS (I am still attracted to Aidan Quinn simply because he played a gay character in “An Early Frost”). Worse, I grew up a Mormon and heard that homosexuality is equivalent to murder and is the third greatest sin. I figured that prayer and obedience would fix my feelings. I had committed no sin, and hopefully it would go away.
When I was 19, I decided to go on a mission. I told no one about my feelings, and so the Church sent me to France. I had to live with male companions for twenty-four hours a day (the Mormon Church even exhorts that missionaries should stand outside the bathroom door to make sure their companion is not committing self-abuse, or masturbation). I had extremely close relationships with my companions except for intimate acts. My feelings that I was a homosexual increased—the more I worked, fasted, prayed, and read scriptures did not improve things. I started feeling my faith slip away. If my homosexuality was a test from God, it was awful cruel and daunting. No missionary I knew was having such a difficult problem to overcome a “test” from God. I felt as if I was being punished for something I had not committed.
When I was 21, I had stomach problems and left my mission a month early. I went to a doctor back in the states who said my illness seemed to be caused by stress. I went to a psychiatrist and told him that I felt I was gay. He told me to confront the Church. Next, I went to the Bishop and told him. He was shocked and sent me to a Mormon psychiatrist (associated with Evergreen, the Mormon Church’s equivalent to Exodus). He said that my problem with homosexuality was due to a lack of self control. He gave me books to read by Elizabeth Moberley, who suggested via Freudian theory that I had a lack of development due to an absent father. It was true that I had bad relations with my father, but both straights and gays often do. The psychiatrist told me not to masturbate. With the lack of father development, the masturbation just continues to make me more and more homosexual (I still had never had homosexual sex). His commands were to pray fervently (I hadn’t done this?), hang around straight men, play sports, and sing hymns in my head. This did not help, so he suggested hypnosis, but the thoughts continued. We then started aversion therapy. He told me to imagine that anytime I had sexual images of men then maggots and sores would invade my mental visions. The psychiatrist was getting frustrated at me at this point, saying I was not doing enough.
Back at Church, the word got out that I was homosexual. I was not longer allowed to be around children, prepare sacraments, or pray though I had done nothing wrong. People became scared of me, and longtime friends refused to associate any longer. The psychiatrist at this point told me to try electroshock therapy. He said in severe cases it was the only way. I refused. The Church excommunicated me at this point. Even though they knew I had done nothing sexual, they put me on trial and questioned me. I was shocked—they probed me with sexual questions of things I had never heard of. I was kicked out forever with a letter and warning that said I was outside the Church’s reach. Because I once held the priesthood, I now was a candidate for Outer Darkness.
I then came out, 7 years ago. I am so glad I have. My life is so much better than ever before. I no longer struggle with my sexuality because I know who I am. Sadly, a friend who was in the same exgay program committed suicide after 2 years of electroshock. He had burns on his arms where they would shock him for showing sexual response to pictures. They even had him get married and have children to prove his straightness. Instead, he was visiting parks and alleys for sex. He injected himself with drugs and left behind two beautiful young daughters. I could have been him. I now have a friend who is in Evergreen and was in Love in Action. I see him on the same road as me and my dead friend. Hopefully, he will realize that you can be happy and gay.
Sadly, one of the things I lost was a faith in God. I could not understand the hatred brought upon gays by people who were supposed to be Christian and loving. Maybe, one day I’ll find it again. For now, I just like living my life, feeling sane, and loving my man. Life is great.