Statement of Appology

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Alan Le May
Joined in 2013
August 6, 2013, 18:25

Statement of Apology

Well-meaning but misguided – A Christian heterosexual man’s journey from tolerance to advocacy.

It is relationships and what those relationships have contributed to my life that has made the most significant contribution to who I am today. I have always considered it a privilege to have known gay and lesbian individuals. They have taught me much, they have challenged me and those relationships have changed me. As a heterosexual man and previously an ordained minister of religion, empathy for gays and lesbians did not come naturally. My Christian faith taught me to be compassionate, and to a point tolerant, but it has been my continued relationship with same sex orientated people that has led me to empathy and advocacy for these individuals, and it has been a difficult journey. I determined at the outset of this journey that honesty would be my guide as I navigated the issues that impacted on my understanding of same sex orientation. I would be honest as I applied what I learned to what I experienced and I would be honest with myself, my family, friends and mentors.

I find myself now at a point on this journey of regret and the need to make public my apology. It was many years ago now that with good intentions and motivated by compassion I lead a series of church based therapeutic small groups that were intended to offer love, support and guidance to homosexual individuals. It is my personal view that while my intent was well meaning it was, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, misguided.

It was in the late eighties and early nineties as a young Assistant Pastor that our church utilised the Living Waters program developed by Andrew Comiskey. I was one of a team of caring church members who were trained in the facilitation of the therapeutic small group process. There seemed to be a gay and lesbian community on the church’s doorstep looking for hope. Most that came to our church and participated in the program were looking for healing and wholeness and that hope, included their sexual orientation reorientating towards the opposite sex. We told them that God loved them and that God would heal them, we taught them what we thought the Bible said about healing and about sexuality, we prayed with them, we showed them love and we accepted them. But we never accepted their homosexuality. In fact we told them that while God loved them, God hated the sin of their homosexuality. I have since learned that it is this message that has caused so much harm in the lives of so many who came to us looking for hope. After approximately 3 years facilitation and subsequently many more years observation of other similar programs I have seen these hopes dashed rather than fulfilled and the consequence being a range of social, emotional and psychological problems for those whom we were compelled to help.

I sat down with a man who had been part of that church program. It was many years after I had stopped facilitating the program and had lost contact with him. I saw him on Facebook and he had recently come out to his Christian fundamentalist family and friends declaring that he had accepted his homosexuality and since he had his life had changed dramatically. His story made a significant impact on me. He had tried every church ministry and therapeutic program he knew of but his efforts to be healed of his homosexuality only compounded hopelessness in his life and fed the anxiety about what he had been told concerning the eternal consequences of his lifestyle. In other words, he would go to hell. The psychological consequences were depression and sexual addiction.

I have since learned that this story was typical of those who had participated in these restorative programs run by the church. I was challenged to review my theological position if I was to continue to allow honesty to be my guide. To my surprise there was a growing body of theological works that were reconsidering what scripture said about same sex orientation and the role of scripture in the life of the religious follower

My experience and my research have brought me to the conclusion that sexual orientation in most cases occurs naturally and not the result of nurture. I am sorry that my response was too reject an individual’s sexual orientation, to deny them the opportunity to be fulfilled in love and for the dysfunction and harm that that may have caused. I have seen firsthand when quite dysfunctional individuals with same sex orientation accept themselves and find acceptance from others recover and develop into healthy, functional people.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
August 7, 2013, 22:32

Hi Alan

Thank you for your apology, for listening to others in our community and finding truth through their experiences. It is good to know that people like yourself can change and find more accepting ways of approaching those in the LGBTI community. Thank you also for acknowledging the immense damage that so-called reparative programs have caused for those who have undergone them. There are many here who have suffered deeply as a result of their ex gay participation and it remains a very sensitive and painful subject.

You said:

I have seen firsthand when quite dysfunctional individuals with same sex orientation accept themselves and find acceptance from others recover and develop into healthy, functional people.

I would state this a little differently. Those who have been shunned because of their same sex orientations are usually healthy people who have responded the best they can in the face of horrific treatment by others. It is the dysfunction of the church and others in society that has caused the problems rather than the person themselves. That rejection is then internalised by the individual on the receiving end and this often can lead to dysfunctional living although not always. Acceptance from others helps the person find acceptance within themselves and be set free. However it is very difficult to find self acceptance when there is a great deal hatred and rejection in a person's environment, especially when it comes from those closest to the person. We are fortunate though that more and more people are realising that there are much kinder ways to interpret scripture and that the church is slowly accepting LGBTI people. Thank God also that ex gay programs are closing down and recognised as harmful by professional groups.

Thanks again for posting.


Ann Maree

Youth Coordinator
Joined in 2008
August 22, 2013, 09:23

Thank you Alan. It's important and means a great deal to so many people.

Chapter Leader
Joined in 2008
August 24, 2013, 21:38

Thanks so much, Alan. Fortunately, I was never pointed towards an ex-gay programme. But, I continue to see the damage thye have caused in many lives. Trust we can 'touch base' with you some time. God bless! ~ david

Joined in 2008
August 28, 2013, 13:14

Hi Alan,

Thank you for taking time to put this post up. As Ben said, it will help others 🙂


Joined in 2009
August 31, 2013, 15:51

Alan, No need to say anything more except: thank you.

Joined in 2012
October 22, 2013, 13:03

Thanks Alan, your apology means a lot to me, because whilst I still cannot stand looking at, or even entering a church from what a preacher said to the congregation over here in New Zealand about same-sex relationships, it's good to see some Christians are changing their views and that not all churches, pastors, preachers and ministers are homophobic.

I agree with What Ann Maree said though, as I kind of found that particular statement slightly offensive. I read it as 'gay people are dysfunctional' :-/ I'm not sure about what others read it as, but that's just my two cents!

Thanks again for the apology

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
November 6, 2013, 15:48

Thank you Alan for doing this. I believe that possibly you are the first….and one and only former straight ex-gay leader to apologize in Australia. Whist some may say that sorry is never enough it does open up the possibility for healing.

It means a lot to many people though but even more so for young people today who might being told that ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy will change their same sex orientation. This will save them many wasted years. As one young man said to me who'd been a part of an ex-gay group "It caused me to loose a decade of what should have been some of the best years of my life. Whilst everyone else was out there having fun and enjoying themselves I was living in torment because I believe that God didn't want me to be gay and that He could change me."

He is now living as an openly gay and very fulfilled man who is doing amazing work in the LGBTI community.

Anthony Venn-Brown

Co-founder of Freedom2b and Founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI)

Joined in 2014
August 3, 2014, 20:31

When Exodus closed down it caused me a lot of angst: I had seen them as a beacon of hope. However, I'd already come to a similar conclusion myself. I've been through ministry aimed at ridding me of my same sex attractions. Whilst I thought it had worked at the time, it wasn't that long before I realised that I was just as gay as I'd always been.

It's one thing to be gay and know that the ex-gay ministries don't work but it's something else again to be straight and religious and admit that you were wrong. I think it takes a lot of courage to make such a major admission on such a hot and contentious subject.

Thank you.

Joined in 2014
August 4, 2014, 09:49

Thank you Thank you Thank you apology received and accepted :O)

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