Support builds as LGBTQ groups call on Orange County to ban conversion therapy

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: (L-R) Heather Wilkie, Andrew Chang and Eric Rollings are among the community leaders helping to ban conversion therapy in Orange County. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | A petition calling for the ban of so-called gay conversion therapy for minors in Orange County has been launched on the website Change.org.

The petition, which can be found at ConvertToLove.org, has the support of local, state and national LGBTQ organizations including Equality Florida, Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA), One Orlando Alliance, The Trevor Project and the Zebra Coalition.

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Petition launched in Central Florida demands Orange County ban conversion therapy

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | A petition calling for the ban of so-called gay conversion therapy for minors in Orange County, Florida has been launched on the website Change.org.

The petition, which can be found at ConvertToLove.org, has the support of local, state and national LGBTQ organizations including Equality Florida, The Trevor Project, Zebra Coalition, Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA) and One Orlando Alliance.

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9.24.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

“It’s not going to stop ‘til you wise up.” That’s the song, the notoriously tear-dredging anthem of internalized polar angst penned by Aimee Mann for the film Magnolia nearly two decades ago, that was dragging my internal jukebox into the ground this morning before work. No, it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or a cop, or a former child star, or a dying television host, or a survivor of sexual abuse, or a frog falling from the sky – though none of those were lost on me in various moments of central casting, hanging out by the craft service table of existential self-mythology. I’ve been down. I am out. I’ve moved up.

We all have, in many ways. Or so you would think. I don’t want to pussyfoot around the issues of rising ships and incremental gains at this point, because that’s something that implies an apathy that doesn’t necessarily ring with truth: not in this guy, not in this paper. Yes, it is important to mind our tempers as we watch prospective politicians toss our names into the gutter in order to gain base-minded cheers in election years, just as it is important that we scream from the tops of our lungs (and/or social media fingers) at the injustices still lying before us, sometimes in the simple code of Facebook speak.

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A convenient truth: Former president of conversion-therapy church Exodus International publishes a book, apologizes

By : Billy Manes
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There’s a sly production moment, a flash of informed camerawork, during a remarkable 2013 special on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, “Our America with Lisa Ling: Special Report: God and Gays,” (still on YouTube). A look of disbelief caught in frame.

Former reparative-therapy icon Alan Chambers, in full-court apology mode with wife Leslie at his side (they married in 1998 and have two daughters), tries to make sense of more than a decade of heading up conversion-therapy church Exodus International, which was located in Central Florida, with a mea culpa. He was wrong, he says, as he stares into the faces of a gathered gaggle of former patients (for lack of a better word). He came to OWN to sit in front of that jury who, he says, haven’t had their fair shake in contributing to the conversation on his “side” of the argument, which, of course, is the side of the Christian right. It’s a weak apology, really, one that came only a couple of months after his notorious public statement, and the subsequent statement from the Exodus camp, that the ministry was over. It was all a big mistake, apparently. The same message that was sent to the victims of Exodus at their most vulnerable stages of development, he now admits.

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Overheard in Orlando: Alan Chambers’ book, Sonique and more Mojoman

By : Anonymous
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Totally Exodus
Former Exodus International president Alan Chambers has written a book with his wife, and they’re inviting you to a release party at the Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park on October 2.

After 12 years of serving as the president of Exodus, Alan Chambers and the board closed the nonprofit that was geared to Ex-Gaying the Gays. Since then, his bio claims he’s made great strides towards building relationships with the LGBTQIA (your acronym is growing!) community and has encouraged the global church to do the same. The book is supposed to tell his story: a committed believer who has same-sex attractions, an author, a husband and a father.

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Former Exodus International headquarters sold

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – After being on the market since December 2012, the Orlando headquarters of Exodus International, Inc. have been sold to a private entity.

The sale comes after the June 2013 announcement that the world’s largest “ex-gay” organization, which has spent nearly 40 years providing “reparative” therapy to thousands of Christian gays seeking to live a “righteous” life as a heterosexual, would be shut down. Former Exodus president Alan Chambers publicly apologized to the gay community for any damages the controversial ministry may have caused.

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Thinking out loud: Must we forgive the ex-gays?

By : Abby Dees
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AbbyDeesHeadshotWhen Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus “ex-gay” Ministries publically apologized for the hurt he has caused LGBT people, I forgave him. There are few things more powerful to change attitudes about LGBT lives than religious leaders publically sharing their personal journeys toward understanding.

No need to flagellate him for past wrongdoings; he’s here now. Let’s look forward.

My fellow LGBT commentators haven’t been so eager to hand out forgiveness to anyone who asks for it. Look no further than the comments sections of LGBT media reports on the apology to see a litany of the psychological and spiritual torture that Chambers and his ilk have perpetuated, however well-intended his apology. Their issue with Exodus wasn’t that they simply disagreed with the message, but that the message caused real harm, even death. In light of this, how could I have been so willing to let it all go and move on?

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Watermark interviews former Exodus figurehead Alan Chambers

By : Susan Clary
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Alan Chambers has spent the last dozen years trying to “cure” homosexuality in the name of Jesus Christ as the executive director of Exodus International. It was his own personal story of setting aside gay feelings to marry a woman in the name of religion that inspired his desire to empower others to do the same.

Last month, the Winter Park native went on national television to offer an apology for those efforts and for hurting followers in the process. He said he was shutting down the world’s largest “ex-gay” organization, which has spent nearly 40 years providing “reparative” therapy to thousands of Christian gays seeking to live a “righteous” life as a heterosexual. Responses have ranged from bewildered to elated.

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8.1.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185Working on the cover story for this issue of Watermark, I was reminded of my own journey toward the acceptance of my sexuality. Like so many, I was told that gay people “choose” who they are because of a blatant disrespect for God.

Even though in my heart I knew that was a ridiculous claim, the message was preached so often that eventually, I believed it. In middle school, when I first noticed other young men-and those hunky men on television-I kept telling myself to quit “choosing” to fantasize about these icons of masculinity. For a short period in college, I ignored my feelings and focused my energy on a Christian campus group. I hoped that activity would help distract me from the men on campus long enough to find that “nice girl” who would steal my attention and my heart.

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Exodus International shuts down, apologizes to gay community

By : Jamie Hyman
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Exodus International is sorry for nearly four decades of insisting LGBTs can simply pray the gay away.

The Orlando-based ministry shut down June 19 and Exodus president Alan Chambers issued an apology to the gay community:

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