Friday, August 14, 2009

Patrick McAlvey, Ex-Gay Survivor

Posted August 13th, 2009 by Wayne Besen

Last week, Truth Wins Out released a video by ex-gay survivor Patrick McAlvey of Lansing, Michigan. He has spoken out on local radio and will join me on Culture Shocks radio with Barry Lynn TODAY at 4PM (ET). I hope you will tune in and listen to the live broadcast on the Internet.

Transcript as follows -- and as always, feel free to use:

Patrick McAlvey: It was devastating and it confused and isolated me, I didn’t know how to process what I was thinking and what I was feeling and how to still have any sort of self-esteem and feel good about who I was, with the knowledge that this desire, that is beyond my control, is somehow sinful and wrong.

I think it does a lot of damage to people’s mental health

[I] picked up the phone and called the founder and director of the ministry, in sixth grade, and he had just spoken at my middle school youth group that year.

His name is Mike Jones, he’s the director of corduroy Stone [a referral ministry of Exodus International].

When I found out I could change, I mean, it was the only hope I could hold onto, ’cause I was so scared and felt very alone, so.

No, I didn’t tell any family or friends, I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and school, and didn’t think it was a safe thing to tell anybody.

In middle school, after I called Mike, the guy who ran the ministry, we started emailing regularly and exchanging letters and talking on the phone occasionally.

Well I distanced myself from Mike sometime in early high school, and really had very minimal contact, he sent a couple letters, but I had very minimal contact until I was 19. And so when I was 19 I was kicked out of a missionary training school and forced to move back home with my family, and I was kicked out because of my attraction to men, and so in that time, I was sort of in a crisis mode and was very low, very depressed and just trying to make sense of my life and mostly of my attraction, so I contacted Mike again, and we started meeting regularly.

That night he suggested we go over to his friend’s house so that we could do “holding therapy.” So we drove together to his friend’s house and had an hour where I was instructed to lay in his arms, chest to chest, and not talk, it was just an hour of silent holding and he told me to feel the strength of another man, smell the smell of another man, feel the security of another man’s arms. And it was supposed to replace, or fill a void that I had from some unmet childhood need.

I thought the holding therapy was very strange, and it made me uncomfortable, but I was willing to try anything, and trusted Mike.

Afterwards, he wanted to know if it felt good, if I had felt safe, and he said the he enjoyed it.

He would initiate prolonged hugs.

I responded with nervous laughter to a lot of his questions, but, again, I was not as skeptical as I should have been, just because I was so desperate for an answer.

As part of the therapy, he asked how large my penis was. He asked if I shaved my pubic hair. He asked about the type of underwear that I wore. On one occasion he asked me to take my shirt off and show him how many push-ups I could do, which I did not do, and he wanted me to describe my sexual fantasies to him, and the type of men I’m attracted to. And one time he asked me to rate my own attractiveness, on a scale of 1-10, with separate scores for my face, my hair, my body, and then an overall score. And then after I scored myself, he assigned scores for my attractiveness, each category, and I remember that my hair got the best score and my face got the worst score.

As part of the therapy, he had me come over to his house, and he rented the movie of the play Equus, and he had us watch it together, in his home. In the movie there was full frontal male nudity, and it made me rather uncomfortable to be watching it with him, but it was his idea, and afterwards he wanted to talk about some the dynamics of the play and then also how I felt about seeing the naked actor.

Well, he thought it would be a good idea to learn about home repair and maintenance, those types of things, used tools a little more often. And one time we went to a play together, again, as part of the therapy, and he had me pay for the tickets for the play that we went to, as part of my payment for receiving therapy from him.

I never felt like I was changing, I never saw a change.

We had a discussion and I told him that I wasn’t going to be coming. He said that he was scared for me in that--he reiterated many of the myths he had told me earlier about being gay, that no one was happy who was gay, and that the gay lifestyle was all about drugs and alcohol and random sex and everyone who was gay had STD’s. So, he said that he was scared for me because I was moving toward acceptance of my orientation.

I think that I’ve been damaged in a lot of ways by what Mike did and what the people who support him, or the people who even just allow him to be around, and continues to do what he’s doing. They’ve had an enormous impact on me and, there were years through middle school and high school where I just really came to hate myself, to loathe myself. I didn’t trust anyone, and didn’t allow anyone to get close to me, because I was terrified they might find out secret and that they would think less of me, so I spent many years locked in my room, crying by myself and it just--for no reason, for no good reason. If I had had a fair representation, if someone had told me that it was possible to be gay and happy and have sustained healthy relationships and families and everything that straight people have, then I could have avoided a lot of suffering.

And so I chose to finally embrace the person I was, including my orientation.

And I know there are a lot of people are confused and scared and aren’t sure what to do, and in that situation it’s easy to be taken advantage of and it’s easy to fall for a lot of the false information…

I would like to tell the man who did my ex-gay therapy, that he was wrong, and that the happiest I’ve ever been in my life is when I finally accepted myself. And I would encourage him to consider doing the same thing, and I would tell him that he is doing a lot of damage, and I would want him to know how much damage he’s done in my life, and how much sadness and hurt he’s caused, that could have been completely avoided if he was honest with me, and with himself, about his orientation, my orientation, and the fact that neither of them were going to change.

Needless Misery


William said...

I notice that on the corduroy Stone web-site there's a section entitled testimonies, but Patrick's testimony doesn't appear there. I wonder why.

libhom said...

I already had heard that there was a lot of sex going on at "ex gay" conventions, but I didn't know sexual harassment was going on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sirs or Madames

I am doing some preliminary research for director Ron Davis (currently
finishing up a project for HBO-see his website for trailer on a possible documentary on the Ex-Gay
movement. My credits include DIAGNOSIS BIPOLAR: Five Families Search for
Answers (HBO); I CAN'T DO THIS BUT I CAN DO THAT: A Film for Families
About Learning Differences (HBO); God is the BIgger Elvis (HBO-not as yet
released). We are not interested in a biased, exploitative or
sensational view of this subject, but rather, a chance to present
individuals telling their stories through which the viewers may draw their
own conclusions. This is a very sensitive topic, and also one where there
is much fear, lack of understanding and misconceptions. We would like to
try to allow people to tell their stories and to try to help, through
those stories to make the subject more accessible and human.

I'm very interested in Patrick McAlvey's oped. I believe it was posted in 2009-
2010 I would love to be able to speak with him, were you amenable to
contacting him /forwarding my message to him. My e-mail is as above


Nancy S. Talcott