Soulforce Symposium: Philadelphia 2010

Soulforce Symposium: Philadelphia, PA November 5 - 7, 2010

More information: Speakers, Presenters & Contributors

We had an amazing experience in Philadelphia at the 2010 Soulforce Symposium. More than 300 people gathered over the two-day scheduled events, including the Life Rally on Friday night and the Symposium on Saturday. Seventy percent of these individuals were at theirfirst Soulforce event of any kind.  I want you to hear some of their feedback so you know what you have helped create with your support.

@Jaybakker It was awesome to see you this past weekend at the Soulforce event. Thank you for being more than an ally. #ss2010less than a minute ago via txt


The soulforce symposium was stupendous – Everyone did great n totally professional job, so proud of my joyful diverse family! Thanksless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


We needed 3 pages for all the words people had to describe the conference. Pretty inspiring stuff. #ss2010.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry


The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story by Jay Bakker while he was with us as a plenary speaker.  NPR interviewed him.  The EPDN and Edge covered the events.  Journalists from France and Norway stayed with us all day interviewing participants.

Bill Meyer from Duke Medical Center had a standing room only crowd for his incredible research about the unholy partnership of media and religion in the historical abuse of non-gender conforming people (LGBTQI).

Christine Bakke’s workshop participants produced amazing life stories in art that will be reproduced on our site.

Making ex-gay survivor art

Rev. Jeffrey Jordan’s MCC Philadelphia members held a vigil at NARTH and then joined us to share what they saw and heard.

Petersen Toscano presented a cabaret on Saturday night that combined segments from several of his plays—deeply moving, incredibly funny and inspiring.

Six panelists and a facilitator Kevin Jones, Vincent Cervantes, Melanie Martinez, J Mason, Amanda Lee Genero, Jeffrey Jordan, and Cathy Renna responded to a question in ways that had all of us thinking again about what it really means to operate at the intersections of justice.

Dr. Daniel Helminiak took us on a spiritual journey at the closing session, reminding us that at the Spirit level of our lives, labels mean nothing.
We captured video of sessions and people’s stories that live on now as encouragement and catalysts for nonviolent resistance.

We learned so much about what is real in the lives of people who have experienced religious abuse and spiritual violence from brilliant activists and writers.  We explored the "bullies in our own minds" that Mel speaks of so beautifully in his new "It Gets Better" video.

I think we gave real hope to people and created safe space for intense conversations about their lives and how to move forward in the midst of oppression.

We already have requests to bring the Symposium experience in the Spring to the West Coast and the Appalachians. More will follow.

We hope you will help us continue this work throughout the United States. In 2011, we are planning to take Symposium-like panels to at least five of the colleges and universities where the Equality Riders have gone and hold our EQ Leadership Camps to train at least 50 young advocates who apply for the Equality Ride in 2012.

You can help ensure the success of future Soulforce programs by donating today.

Sponsored in part by
COIL Foundation
COIL Foundation

Soulforce Symposium Speakers, Presenters, and Contributors


Jay BakkerJay Bakker is a pastor who grew up witnessing both the good and bad of the church. His parents are Jim and Tammy Faye, ministers-turned-TV-hosts, who helped start both the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club in the 1970’s, and later founded the PTL (Praise The Lord) Club. At the height of their popularity, they pastored the largest church in the country – until their lives were changed by one of the biggest scandals in American history. For the first time, Jay was exposed to the dark underbelly of religion; an experience that would stay with him to this day. In 1994, Jay, along with Kelli Miller and Mike Walls, started Revolution Church in Phoenix, AZ, to minister to those being ignored and rejected by the Christian church. He started a Revolution Church in Los Angeles, CA, and Atlanta, GA, before moving to New York and starting a church there in 2005. Jay has been an ally and friend to the LGBTQI community.


Daniel HelminiakDaniel Helminiak teaches psychology and spirituality as Professor at the University of West Georgia. He is also a psychotherapist, Catholic priest and theologian, author, and lecturer. He holds a PhD in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in theology from Andover Newton Theological School and Boston College, where he was teaching assistant to Prof. Bernard Lonergan, whom Newsweek magazine called the Thomas Aquinas of the 20th Century. He is certified as a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and is licensed as a Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia. His book, What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality (Alamo Square Press, 1994, 2000), is an international best-seller.



Vincent CervantesVincent Cervantes is a queer Chicano, speaker, writer, and activist. His work explores discussions around the intersections of religion, theology, gender, sexuality, and race. Since 2006, Vincent has traveled throughout North America to share his own personal story as an "ex-gay" survivor. His story has been shared through Details Magazine, The Tyra Banks Show, and other various media outlets. He is currently a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing his research on the areas of religion, gender, and culture. He has authored and contributed to several publications and has presented conference papers that highlight religious discourse surrounding the "ex-gay" movement. He recently completed an autobiographical memoir that is expected to be released next year. For more information, visit Vincent’s website,


Peterson ToscanoAs a gay man, Peterson Toscano‘s journey out of the closet has been long and complicated. After years of submitting to reparative therapy through counseling and even three exorcisms, in January of 1999 he finally came OUT and fully accepted himself as a gay man. Peterson began writing and performing one-person comedies shortly after this including  Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement. In 2007 he and Christine Bakke launched Beyond Ex-Gay ( Through a partnership with the US non-violent social justice organization, Soulforce and the University of California at Irvine, bXg organized and ran the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference June 29-July 1, 2007.Peterson has broadened his focus to include gender and transgender issues (Transfigrations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible) as well as racism, privilege, the environment and sexism (I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons Before the Second Coming.) A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers,) Peterson lives in Sunbury, PA with his partner, writer, Glen Retief. For more information see

Christine BakkeChristine Bakke is an ex-gay survivor who spent over four years trying to change her sexual orientation. In 1998 she started on her ex-gay journey and participated in an Exodus program, Living Waters, the "casting out of demons", and private reparative therapy. In 2003, she realized that while she had changed in many areas, her sexual orientation remained the same. She found that telling her story through words and art to be cathartic and healing. She has told her story in the pages of Glamour magazine, Good Morning America, and other media venues. Along with Peterson Toscano, she founded Beyond Ex-Gay, and is excited about journeying with other ex-gay survivors to find healing and true wholeness. For more information, visit Christine’s website, Rising Up Whole

Kevin Trimell JonesKevin Trimell Jones is a public health advocate who combines his passions for history, urban communities and social justice to promote dialogue and change. For the past ten years, he has organized around community and public health issues, and has worked with various individuals, communities and organizations locally and abroad. Professionally, he serves as a behavioral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division where he designs recruitment and retention strategies for clinical HIV vaccine trials. Additionally, Kevin is a national trainer with the Gay Men’s Health Leadership Academy, a co-founder of the Black Gay Men’s Leadership Council and the founder of the Black LGBT Archivists Society of Philadelphia, an organization that strives to provide opportunities for creating, documenting, preserving and exhibiting Philadelphia’s Black LGBT history. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and Masters-level graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts — Amherst and the University of Pennsylvania. Kevin was born in Saginaw, MI, grew up in Detroit, MI and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Darlene BogleDarlene Bogle was an assistant Pastor in the Foursquare church, while leading an Ex-gay ministry for almost ten years. She was asked to resign both positions when God changed her heart and overwhelmed her with His unconditional love. She has appeared in the film documentary, God and Gays-Bridging the Gap; has authored or contributed to 5 books, dispelling the message that change is required or desired from God to be a healthy member of the faith community. She has partnered with Soulforce; Beyond Ex-Gay, and other Christian ministries with a message of God’s love and acceptance. She stood with Michael Bussee and Jeremy Marks three years ago to issue an apology to the Gay community for their harmful message as Exodus leaders. Darlene is active is social justice work around the country and works with her Partner Becky to further the message of God’s unconditional Love for all His children. They live in San Jose California and attend the First Congregational Church-a UCC fellowship. Darlene can be reached at

Christine RobinsonDr. Christine Robinson is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies in the Department of Justice Studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Kansas. She has published peer-reviewed articles, presented conference papers, written an outline article, and published a scholarly book review on issues related to the ex-gay movement. She is a 2009 recipient of the Monette-Horwitz Trust Award, honoring individuals and organizations for their significant contributions toward eradicating homophobia. She has also been honored with the 2009 Christopher L. Gatesman Service Award, the 2009 Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award by the Office of the President at James Madison University, and in 2007 the blossoming Professional Award by the society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

Gloria CasarezGloria Casarez never planned to work in government, but in 2008 she joined forces with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to handle lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) affairs on behalf of the city’s residents. In 1995, Casarez began work at the LGBT Center of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1997, she moved on to a position at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI), where she ran a program for LGBT youth. Two years later, she took over the reigns as executive director, where she increased the organization’s outreach, tripled its budget and created the first transgender-led services in Philadelphia as part of its peer-based programs. As a government director, Casarez continues to work on various projects to improve the lives of LGBT people in Philadelphia, including ensuring that municipal agencies provide services fairly and equally, advancing pro-LGBT legislation and training school faculties on how to support queer-identified students. 

J MasonJ. Mason is a highly engaging Black/Gay/Trans/Queer facilitator and performer based in Philadelphia. Having been doing work as an educator since their first job as an assistant instructor, while still a freshman in high school, Mason has been conducting trainings on various topics for over 10 years. Combining multiple learning styles, a social work model and the sheer sense of joy invoked from sharing information Mason believes that in order for an audience to internalize the information you are presenting, they must understand how it affects them and the networks they are a part of personally. Holding a B.A. in Multicultural Relations from Arcadia University, Mason is currently serving as the Education Specialist for The Bryson Institute of The Attic Youth Center. To date, Mason has trained thousands of providers and community members on various issues concerning LGBTQIA youth in spaces such as church communities, elementary schools, domestic violence shelters, medical agencies, juvenile justice organizations, foster care programs and others as part of a quickly growing list of expertise.

Amanda Lee GenaroAmanda Lee Genaro is a 25 year old, Hard-of-hearing, bisexual, sober woman from Indiana. A respected Bi activist, she currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Amanda Lee had her first run in with Soulforce during the first Equality Ride in 2006 when they came to demonstrate at North Central University. After the  Ride visited Amanda Lee came out, and was expelled from North Central, just two months before graduation. Amanda Lee participated in the 2010 Equality Ride, where she led the stop at Southwest Baptist University, and also a direct action at the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, MO resulting in a first-ever meeting between Soulforce and the Assemblies of God leadership. Amanda Lee works to raise awareness around issues of Bi-phobia and Ableism (among other topics), serving on multiple committees and panels in both Indiana and Minnesota. 

Jallen RixJallen Rix, Ed.D. ACS, is Associate Professor at The Institute for Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. He is a Board Certified Sexologist by the American College of Sexologist. He teaches and maintains a private practice in San Francisco and Palm Springs. Growing up as a Southern Baptist, he was taught that spirituality was heavenly but sexuality was from the devil. While obtaining a B.A. in creative arts and a minor in theology, he also went to great lengths attempting to change his sexuality from gay to straight in an ex-gay ministry — to no avail. Jallen’s first book, Ex-Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abusewas just published by Findhorn Press and it tells of his journey out of sexually oppressive religion and reparative therapy to find heath wholeness and happiness as a gay man.


Sponsored in part by
COIL Foundation
COIL Foundation