Participants Include Rev. Dr. Mel White, Peterson Toscano, Christine Bakke, Rev. Nancy Wilson, Jason Cianciotto, and Rev. Phil Lawson
June 29-July 1, at University of California-Irvine
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 27, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
(Irvine, CA) — This summer, on June 29-July 1, former "ex-gays" and their allies will have an unprecedented opportunity to meet, share resources, and add their voices to a growing social movement. The Ex-gay Survivors’ Conference, which will take place on the University of California’s Irvine campus, is co-sponsored by Soulforce, beyondexgay.com, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center at the University of California, Irvine. A complete conference schedule is now available at www.soulforce.org/article/1252.
Recent events have brought national attention to the existence of programs intended to modify same-sex desires, which continue to multiply in spite of the consensus of the major medical and mental health organizations that sexual orientation is not a disorder and is, therefore, not in need of a cure. The Ex-gay Survivors’ Conference will focus on the personal stories of "survivors" — people who feel they have experienced more harm than benefits from ex-gay programs.
"We feel that the voices and experiences of survivors are the most powerful answer to the Exodus conference, which will be happening in Irvine at the same time," says Paige Schilt, Soulforce Media Director. Exodus International bills itself as the largest network of ex-gay ministries.
Facilitators at the Ex-gay Survivors’ Conference, which will feature interactive workshops, include Soulforce co-founder Rev. Dr. Mel White, former Exodus leader Darlene Bogle, and beyondexgay.com co-founder, Christine Bakke, who recently shared her story on Good Morning America and is featured in this month’s Glamour magazine.
Performance activist Peterson Toscano, who has recently appeared on the Tyra Banks and Montel Williams shows, will open the conference with his one man show, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House on Friday evening, June 29 in the Crystal Cove Auditorium. On Saturday, Toscano and Bakke will co-facilitate a workshop titled From the Chat Room to the Talk Show: Processing and Sharing Our Stories.
"The ex-gay experience is unique in many ways. Creating a communal space for ex-gay survivors to tell their stories allows us to share what led us into an ex-gay lifestyle and ways we have been able to recover from it," says Bakke.
Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes, a licensed psychotherapist, will co-facilitate a Saturday session titled Building Healthy Relationships After an Ex-gay Experience. The American Psychological Association identifies "depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior" among the possible risks associated with ex-gay therapies.
For those who have not had an ex-gay experience but would like to stand in solidarity to confront ex-gay ministries and reparative therapies, the conference will also feature an ally track, with workshops such as Ex-gay 101 and Becoming a Powerful Ally. The latter will be facilitated by Rev. Phil Lawson, a civil rights leader and affordable housing activist.
Saturday’s events will culminate in a concert and film forum in the Crystal Cove Auditorium. The evening will feature singer/songwriters Jason and DeMarco, as well as excerpts from the documentary God and Gays and works in progress by filmmakers Lisa Darden and Morgan Fox.
Friday and Saturday evening events are free and open to the public.
Registration for the conference is available online at www.soulforce.org. The conference registration fee is $40, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.