LIA couple

Every year there are one or two “ex-gay” related stories that become instant classics. They capture the essence of these  programs, showing their failure, futility and farcical nature. A new report by Dallas Voice reporter David Taffet is one such must-read classic. If you read one story on the ex-gay myth in 2011 — make it this one.

Taffet deftly tells the story of two men, KC and Larry, who meet in Exodus International’s cult-like flagship ministry, Love in Action, based in Memphis. KC is forced into the “straight camp” by his parents, while Larry attends on his own, having fallen into a group of evangelicals. Love in Action is harsh and works to isolate the men with strict rules:

The two described the restrictions: No cologne. No clothing by Calvin Klein.

“I had a Nintendo Gameboy. I couldn’t keep that, because it would keep me from being focused on God,” Larry said.

“I played piano,” said KC. “I couldn’t play because they said it would distract me from my therapy.”

Love in Action is run like a 12-step program — except the counselors are unqualified Christan quacks who do more harm than healing.

“In individual sessions, I was asked to open up about certain things that only a real counselor could deal with,” Larry said. “I now am seeing a true counselor because they opened up these wounds and never closed them.”

It is important that people understand that “ex-gay” programs focus on changing behavior, not sexual orientation. Because they are unscientific, they often confuse science and stereotypes — in laughable ways.

In this part of the program, they had to work on “trigger trips.” They sent the group of four who had started together to places that might trigger sexual feelings.

Their first trip was to the mall — their first shopping trip in three months.

One member of the group wanted Godiva chocolate but the other three restrained him because apparently only gay people eat Godiva chocolate.

But the biggest test was when the four walked by Abercrombie & Fitch. Larry said that when the four saw the huge poster of the ripped model in the window, they stopped short and fell on top of one another.

As the program goes on, KC and Larry fall in love. The result is a beautiful, tear-jerking love story delivered with aplomb by The Dallas Voice.

I often wonder what it must be like for Exodus’ Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas to read such stories. What must it feel like to realize you have dedicated your life to facilitating a tragic comedy? At some level, these men know their work is biblical buffoonery and that they are still gay. But, I guess Chambers and Thomas have to make a living — even if it means collecting money from good people to put them through a surreal obstacle course of idiocy.

Please, let us know how you liked this inspiring Valentine’s Day love story.

(The Dallas Voice has once again delivered superior coverage on the “ex-gay” issue)