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Ministries Decried

December 17, 1987

As a psychotherapist, a Christian and a former "ex-gay," I want to thank Ann Japenga for her article on change ministries ("AIDS Revives the Christian Crusade to 'Save' Gays," Dec. 6).

It is tragic that the fear of AIDS and ongoing misunderstanding and hatred of homosexuals should lead young men and women (who despise themselves for being gay) into "ministries" to "save" others (whose self-esteem has been similarly damaged by our homophobic society).

I know. I was one of the founders of Exodus International, the network of "change" ministries mentioned in the article. I, too, was looking for an escape from my feelings. I had been taught to believe those feelings were wrong. I had hidden my strong feelings of affection and attraction because I had learned that one would be rejected if one was honest. I hid from my family. I hid from my friends. Mostly, I hid from myself.

Somehow, I found myself at the head of a very active "ministry" advising others on how to become "ex-gay." I had been told that God would change my feelings. I told many others this same thing. Somehow, I ended up as a guest on Pat Robertson's "700 Club" telling my story.

All the while, the secret emotional struggle continued. The feelings did not go away. Gradually, I came to accept myself as I am. Gradually, I managed to undo the emotional damage. Finally, I can say with pride that I am a happy, healthy, homosexual man. As a counselor, I now try to help others accept themselves, too.

I only wish that I had come to this spot sooner. I could have spared many people--the gays who contacted the "ministry," my family, my ex-wife and my beautiful daughter--the pain of my hiding from myself.

God loves us as we are. Heterosexuality is not a prerequisite for Heaven.

MICHAEL S. BUSSEE

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