Why One Gay Conversion Story Doesn’t Mean You Can Pray Away the Gay

My comments on this week’s viral video: You might not agree with the content and message, but it’s helpful to know thy enemy.

It’s been cold in my hometown of South Carolina for the past couple weeks, so my brother sent me this text: Trump has only been in office 1 year and already fixed global warming.

My reply: I ate lunch today so I guess he solved world hunger too.

I told my mother about our exchange. She was a science teacher and suggested that I remind my brother that there’s a difference between weather and climate. You can’t extrapolate a trend from one data point. Or even a few outliers.

This notion that one example becomes the rule has been on broad display this week with the release of a video from Anchored North, a “religious” group that supports and promote gay conversion therapy. (Yes, these groups still exist).

The video is misleadingly titled: “A powerful coming out story!!! LOVE IS LOVE” and is being used to prove that it’s possible for everyone to pray away the gay.

In the video, “Emily” claims to have spent seven years living out her same-sex attractions in a wild party lifestyle. At the start of the video, Emily is a girl who just wants to have fun.

The first part of the video is beer and summer and bright colors and techno music. (It’s basically excerpted from the recruitment video that lesbians are shown outside the Home Depot.) But then at the 1:56 mark, the summer beach party is over, the leaves fall off the trees, and Emily is in a dusty abandoned warehouse where she finds a neglected Bible with ratty crumpled pages.

Emily picks up the Bible and reads the verses on homosexuality and believes that she won’t enter the Kingdom of God.  And then she quotes verse 11 (no reference to any particular book): Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (She is of course quoting from One Corinthians, Chapter 6. I’m using the Donald Trump method of naming books of the Bible here.)

From that one moment, Emily says that her eyes were really opened, and she thinks she’s been wrong all along.

The video ends with Emily snuggling with a guy on the couch. He’s whispering sweet nothings into her ear, and she’s laughing. A Yankee Candle is on the end table, they have some framed Jesus quotes on a console, and they are well-off enough to have a window AC unit in their apartment. You might want to argue that her cute boyfriend is gay, and this is just a relationship of convenience, but their apartment is painted a horrific dark army green so I don’t think he’s got the gay gene.

In the video, Emily doesn’t say whether still has attractions to other women physically (and it’s not even clear whether she had deep-rooted sexual attractions to women in the first place. She mentions that she got a hickey from a girl, but  I gave and got hickeys from many girls in high school. I never wanted to have sex with them though). But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Emily was 100% attracted to women and then one day she reads a couple verses of Scripture and that changes immediately to 100% attraction to guys.

Some so-called “Christians” use this one example to prove that the rest of us just aren’t trying hard enough.

I’ve had my own a-ha moment on the verses that I thought condemned homosexuality, and God showed me an alternate path.

It was my senior year of college, and I was at the end of a long struggle to pray away my gay. I had done everything, but nothing was helping, and I couldn’t go forward. I went to the chaplain at my college and begged him for help. I wanted a cure to homosexuality.

Instead of offering to pray that I would change and instead of hammering me over the head with Bible verses that I’d read way more than he had, this pastor told me that I could be gay and Christian. I read some books that he recommended, and I came to realize that God was calling me to be in a committed relationship with another man.

My story is different from Emily’s but is similar to the 99.9% of the folks who try gay conversion therapy and can’t find that change of sexual orientation they so desperately seek.

Emily’s video is one data point.

One snowfall doesn’t disprove global warming.

One meal doesn’t mean that world hunger doesn’t exist.

If you’d like to hear more data points, I talk each week with folks in the LGBTQIA+ community about their experiences struggling with faith and sexual orientation on my podcast BE THE BRIDGE. www.brianpeytonjoyner.com/podcasts