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INTRODUCTION

There are others who are much better at shutting out their past. Some ex-gay survivors have stepped out of the church and have never spoken or thought of it again. Who am I to judge a recovery strategy that seems to have worked well for them? For myself, however, I have found great healing and strength from acknowledging my religious history — for better or for worse — much like I might acknowledge my ethnic heritage. I’ve met many former Christians who reject their religious background by negating it. They declare, “I don’t believe in Christianity,” as if they never had any connection with it or it does not bear any relevance on their lives now. But if asked, “Were you raised a Christian?” They will respond with a litany of their religious upbringing and its bearing upon them. It’s as if they think that no longer believing in Christianity somehow stops it from being a part of their historical makeup. I think this does a disservice to self-acceptance. It’s almost as if they are saying, “I don’t accept this part of who I am, this part called my past.” If I asked a person if she were Russian, would it make sense for her to say, “Oh, I don’t believe in Russians.” Huh? Of course not. My religious upbringing had a part of making me into the person I am today. In fact, it may have more influence on who I am today than my ethnic heritage does. It is part of what makes me unique. No, I no longer believe like the Southern Baptists I grew up with, but I once did. To pretend it did not happen in hopes that the memories will hurt less is a way of not accepting who I am. To wish it did not happen is a waste of energy — a lost cause — because no one can change the past. Accepting our past is like accepting our skin color and our sexuality. A quote from Lily Tomlin that I often meditate on is, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.” Wishing our ex-gay experience had not happened, ignoring it with the hope of forgetting it, avoiding the painful memories when they come up, could be another way of resisting forgiveness for myself or others for what has occurred. It seems most ex-gay survivors aren’t suppressing the fact of what happened simply for the sake of it. They’re actually wanting to avoid the deep pain and hurt these memories still bring up. Granted, when someone is faced with uncomfortable, scary, difficult, and painful circumstances, it is natural and often wise to run in the opposite direction to get as far away from the unpleasantness as possible. However, there’s a difference between maneuvering around negative influences that are outside myself and resisting what I am emotionally experiencing inside me. When it comes to my own feelings, I have learned that the quickest route to the other side of pain is directly through it. This approach is what M. Scott Peck speaks of in his landmark book, The Road Less Traveled, in which he stresses that we must end avoidance and face our fears if we are to be truly healthy. Besides, all that suppressing and avoiding of feelings sounds all too familiar. 13

Ex-Gay No Way (Jallen Rix) book excerpt  

Jallen Rix, a young Southern Baptist, joined an ex-gay ministry when he discovered his same-sex attractions. Although the ministry did not m...

Ex-Gay No Way (Jallen Rix) book excerpt  

Jallen Rix, a young Southern Baptist, joined an ex-gay ministry when he discovered his same-sex attractions. Although the ministry did not m...