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There’s More To Our Story During And After Filming With “Pray Away”
As the Pray Away project unfolded in its from start to finished film life, so did ours. For example, most of the footage included in the movie is with my first sit-down interview with Kristine in January of 2017. Dan and I had been dating for two months at that point. Now, a few months short of 5 years later, he and I are planning our wedding for October 16, 2021! This post is simply a “where we are today” kind of post.
Also, during my interview with Kristine for Pray Away, I had just been out of the closet for two years. There was so much still to heal, to figure out, to “unpack, deconstruct,” make amends for, and all that. While this process is ongoing, so much more depth in all of that has occurred since that particular interview.
The process of embracing my authentic self has been crushing in many ways and incredibly liberating in others. People often ask how I went from a homeless gay teen to the Executive VP of Exodus to then turnaround, help to shut down Exodus International, and coming out again. Today I know exactly how I came to be who I was and how I got to this point in my authentic life.
Today I can also forgive my abusers and seek forgiveness from those I have hurt through my work back in the exgay world. Today I can make informed amends for the abusive ideology I taught and promoted. I can also take personal responsibility for my healing process as a survivor, past role as an exgay leader, and steward this present reality with the hopes of doing better now that I know better.
After helping to shut down Exodus, it took a long time (to me at least) to rebuild a career path.
Today I work for a major ISP/Telecommunications/Cable TV company. I don’t care to share precisely where, but let’s say I do technical support/troubleshooting and customer service on a pretty high level for this company. Information Technology was the career path I was going down when I got swept up into the conversion therapy world, so I went back to a field of work that does come naturally to me. I love technology and people. To be in a line of work that helps folks with real tech issues find answers and a fix is all good to me.
I don’t have a gigantic corner office with wrap-around windows anymore; no more free upgrades on plane flights, but I do have an honest day’s wage, a clear conscience, and a genuine sense of accomplishment. I prefer reality instead of conscience numbing “benefits” while promoting what I now know are lies. In addition, I love helping (with Dan) provide for my family.
I have had a profoundly spiritual journey my entire life. I identify more with Universalist Christians (i.e., like Richard Rohr) than the toxic evangelicalism I was a part of before. Meaning, I am a Christian, and I love Jesus. There have been too many mystical experiences (for me) to deny His reality in my life. That said, I don’t believe He would condemn someone to an eternity of hellish torture, starting with trying to fix something that isn’t broken, any longer. Being gay and Christian is not incongruent.
My job had me working on Sundays for years, but recently I am delighted to now work Monday through Friday again. Dan and Autumn are also Christians, but we have been slow to join a church. Dan and I have been talking about it, and honestly, organized religion of any stripe makes me cautious. At the same time, we love the JoyMCC church (there is a shot of me in the pews there in the film) and that is top of the list for our spiritual home if we decide to go back to in-person worship.
I do believe that the energy you put out into the world will come back to you. However, I also think others will try to steal your energy, curse it, or bless it. This topic has been a specific meditation I have been having a lot of lately.
Speaking of weddings, I’m marrying an awesome guy!
On October 16, 2021, Dan and I will marry. We will be together for five years in November, but October is our wedding date.
As I was thinking of the possibility of marrying him, I was genuinely conflicted with survivor’s guilt and the thought that I didn’t deserve it. I fought hard and advocated against gay marriage for years. Who am I to have the audacity to now partake in the rights, benefits, and protections of marrying another man?
When people say I don’t deserve it, in some ways, I agree. The past self-loathing me doesn’t deserve it. However, people (including myself) are allowed to leave cults, learn, grow, change their minds/focus, and heal. I have done that and continue to do that every day.
I love Dan. Marrying him will happen regardless of my past because my authentic self wants to make this essential step in our lives and future together. So I get why people don’t believe I should be allowed. But, at the same time, I have repeatedly apologized over the years for my work in public policy in the past and will continue to make amends when opportunities arise.
Today, I will let nothing stop me from getting married because I went through hell and back to get to a place to find the man I love and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I am delighted my past efforts failed, and marriage is now legal for all. Including me.
October 16 can’t get here fast enough and yet is coming too fast! So much to plan!
Conversion therapy’s religious form (the cult of exgay ministry) stole 22 years of my life. While there, I genuinely believed I was called to celibacy and would work in exgay ministry at Exodus International for the rest of my life. When that all blew up, I had no idea what to do.
During the Pray Away film, they followed us for several years, and most of that part of the journey wasn’t included in the movie, but they were there for important milestones in my journey that resulted from the pointed questions from the Pray Away team. These milestones all point to my true calling which is to be a husband to Dan, bonus Dad to Autumn, and a Fur-Dad to my two fur-kids (Queen Gigi the Grey and Eli the Zombie Killing Chihuahua).
I don’t use the term “calling” as synonymous with advocacy any longer. However, I will never stop calling for the end of conversion therapy and speaking out against exgay ministry. The danger, destruction, and even death from this abuse must stop.
Life is good when lived in honesty, taking personal responsibility, and always humbly pursuing to do right by making amends, honoring your growth, and celebrating our authentic self. It’s a daily decision and one I am glad to make.
There is so much more I want to share, and it will come out on this blog as we move forward. That said, I am an open book, so if you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me directly. Also, if you are in need of help or want to support like-minded efforts to stop conversion therapy, check out my new Resources page.