Gay and Lesbian Connection

Support and Acceptance for the Gay and Lesbian Community

Former Ex-Gay Leaders Join Movement To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

August 1st, 2014 by Admin

“We all got together and said it’s time to produce a statement that is not a statement of apology, but a statement on our beliefs on how conversion therapy harms people.”

As advocates mount a national campaign against the practice, several former leaders of the ex-gay conversion therapy movement are now coming out in opposition to conversion therapy, or efforts to turn gay people straight, BuzzFeed has learned.

Nine former ex-gay leaders, from organizations like Exodus International and ministries like Love in Action, have signed onto a letter in partnership with the National Center for Lesbian Rights calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy and saying that LGBT people should be celebrated and embraced for who they are.

“At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these ‘ex-gay’ programs, we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters,” they said in the letter. “Together we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy. We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBT youth.”

The former ex-gay leaders, many of whom worked at organizations involved in the practice for several years, say they “know better now.” And many of the organizations they were involved in have shuttered or rebranded, like Exodus International, which very publicly announced it would shut down last summer. But gay conversion therapy is still practiced in many parts of the country, according to the NCLR.

Many of the signatories on the letter have previously spoken out against — and in some cases apologized for — supporting and advocating for gay conversion therapy. But for some included, it’s the most public statement they’ve made since renouncing the practice, like John Smid, who was a member of Exodus International and who served on its board for 11 years.

“We all got together and said it’s time to produce a statement that is not a statement of apology, but a statement on our beliefs on how conversion therapy harms people,” Smid told BuzzFeed. “We felt like we needed to make that statement.”

Smid said he experienced the harms of gay conversion or reparative therapy firsthand — enduring what he described as the damaging message that gay people are somehow “broken and sick and that they need to be repaired,” he said. Leading medical and psychological associations, such as the American Psychological Association, have discredited and criticized gay conversion therapy.

“In my own life, that message kept me trapped in a cycle of believing that I was emotionally ill and incapable of having a healthy life until those things are fixed,” he said. “For over two decades, I lived in that mind-set. That’s why reparative therapy is so damaging. That was the message that I received and that I taught in my involvement with Exodus and Love in Action.”

On Monday, Yvette Cantu Schneider announced via GLAAD that she is sorry for her work in the ex-gay and conversion therapy movement, “and is now fully supportive of LGBT people.” She, too, has signed on to the letter in support of banning gay conversion therapy efforts.

The former ex-gay leaders coming forward to unite in opposition the practice comes as LGBT advocates such as those at NCLR and other organizations are pushing for a movement against gay conversion therapy, including in state legislatures. Just this month, Michigan state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a bill that would ban conversion therapy for minors.

“This is about the civil rights of children,” Zemke told BuzzFeed. “A lot of children look up to adults and follow their advice blindly and innocently. They’re kids — they don’t know any better in some cases. As lawmakers, we have the responsibility to protect those kids from things proven to be harmful and this is no different. This is protecting the right for kids to be kids, whoever they are.”

Zemke said he is seeking support from lawmakers in the chamber, particularly among members of the Republican majority, to whom he points out that GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed similar legislation into law just last year. Action or progress on the bill, though, likely won’t happen until later this fall, Zemke said.

However, recent efforts to ban gay conversion therapy for minors in some states have fallen short. Last month, GOP leadership in the New York State Senate blocked such legislation and in April, a similar bill was defeated on the floor of the Illinois House.

Either way, advocates and other critics of gay conversion therapy, hope to expand the debate over the practice coast to coast. The letter from the former leaders comes as part of NCLR ramping up its #BornPerfect campaign, which it launched last month.

“We are committed to protecting LGBT children and their families from the severe harms caused by these dangerous practices,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said in a statement. “These practices have been thoroughly discredited by every major mental health organization, and yet, every day, young lives are wrecked. We intend to stop the practices once and for all.”

Category: Acceptance, ex-gay ministries | No Comments »

Student’s Coming Out Essay

January 16th, 2013 by Admin

A student comes out in an essay.  Check out this beautiful exchange between a teacher and student.

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SF Giants Make “It Gets Better” Video for LGBT Youth

June 6th, 2011 by Admin

For years, the Giants have proven that they sincerely care about their community.

In the last year, it has been great to be a fan of the San Francisco Giants. Celebrating in the streets of the Mission District after the team’s World Series win last fall was awesome. The pride that the city has for its baseball team — often referred to as underdogs and freaks — is heartwarming. And now the Giants have become the first pro sports team to make an “It Gets Better” video in support of LGBT youth. The Giants are taking a giant (no pun intended) step forward by becoming the first pro sports team to support the It Gets Better Project, which attempts to provide hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers in their quests for respect and acceptance. …Others who have sent such messages include President Obama and members of the cast of the hit television show “Glee.”To see the Video Go to:

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Are You Still in the Closet?

June 12th, 2010 by Admin

Coming out to oneself can be a confusing and difficult process with several hurdles to cross.  First, there’s making the discovery that you are gay.  Then, there’s coming to terms with your same-sex feelings.  Next, it’s wondering, am I the only one with such feelings? It’s challenging for sure.  Society may be more accepting of gay people than ever before, but there is still a stigma attached to same-sex attraction, and of course, the biggest obstacle for most people is the fear that their families won’t be accepting.   That happens, but people can change.  A favorite quote from Carol Lynn Pearson:  When dogma collides with reality, when the people involved are those you love, you see with different eyes. Even unaccepting parents can begin to see things differently with time.    

 If you are at the point in your process that you are ready to come out, there are lots of books that can help you and your parents.  Also, for support check out to find a chapter near you.    

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The Rest of the Way

May 10th, 2010 by Admin

The Rest of the Way: A Coming Out Story for Parents and Gay Children by Enid Jackowitz is now available at Malaprops Book Store and Cafe in Ashville, NC.  Hear Enid speak about her journey from rejection and homophobia to acceptance and advocacy at Malaprops on Monday, August 9, 2010 at 7 PM.

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A Tragic Story with a Positive Outcome

April 19th, 2010 by Admin

Janice Langbehn and Lisa Marie Pond were setting sail on a vacation cruise with three of their four children in February 2007.  The cruise was a celebration of their 18 years together as a couple.  But, before the ship left port, Pond suffered a massive stroke and was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH) in Miami.

Because she was not considered “Family” Jackson Memorial administrators refused to allow Janice into Mary’s hospital room.  It was tragic that the hospital’s narrow definition of “Family” kept Janice from her beloved partner of 18 years at such a crucial time when she so needed the comfort of her family. Left alone for eight hours Mary slipped into a coma and died. It’s hard to believe that people could have been so callous and uncaring to allow that to happen.

This tragic incident was the catalyst that changed Jackson’s policies and procedures regarding LGBT families.  In a move that sets a new standard for Florida hospitals, Jackson Memorial Hospital has adopted a comprehensive set policies and procedures that respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families.  Thanks go to Equality Florida for their work in helping to ensure that LGBT families are respected, protected, and supported. JMH CEO, staff, and administrative leaders are working closely with the LGBT community to upgrade hospital policies and training procedures with the goal of making Jackson a model for how hospitals should treat gay and transgender families and patients.

Just days ago, President Obama sent out a memo stating in part, “Gay and lesbian Americans are “uniquely affected” by relatives-only policies at hospitals.  They are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives—unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.  In his memo the President asked the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would prevent hospitals from denying visitation rights to civil partners, effective immediately. 

 …And not a moment too soon.

 “It gives me and my family some comfort to know that by sharing our story we have helped to change Jackson’s policies for the better.”- Janice Langbehn

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It’s Elementary

March 24th, 2010 by Admin

For anyone working with kids—here is a great resource.  It’s Elementary.  This amazing documentary film should be mandatory for teachers to watch.  Children have questions.  This film gives adults ways to talk with kids about prejudice toward gays.  I saw it years ago and loved it.

It’s Elementary takes cameras into classrooms across the U.S. to look at one of today’s most controversial topics – whether and how gay issues should be discussed in schools. No political debate here.  The film takes the point of view of the school children. At its heart are inspiring scenes in which elementary and middle school teachers find creative ways to confront anti-gay prejudice.

It’s Elementary is the first film of its kind to address anti-gay prejudice by providing adults with practical lessons on how to talk with kids about gay people. Hailed as “a model of intelligent directing,” It’s Elementary shows that children are eager and able to wrestle with stereotypes and absorb new facts about what it means to be gay or lesbian.

Since it aired on more than 100 public television stations in 1999, It’s Elementary has fueled a growing movement of educators and parents — gay and straight alike — who are committed to preventing pervasive homophobia and anti-gay violence. The film shows what happens when kids in kindergarten through eighth grade discuss lesbian- and gay-related topics in age-appropriate ways. It’s Elementary models excellent teaching about family diversity, name-calling, stereotypes, and community building.

It’s Elementary has won numerous awards, has been acquired by nearly 3,000 educational institutions, and has received widespread acclaim from educators, policymakers, parents and religious leaders.  Check it out!

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Book Review for The Rest of the Way

March 1st, 2010 by Admin

The Rest of the Way

by Enid Duchin Jackowitz
Create Space Publishing
Reviewed by:
Dave Parker, PFLAG National Board of Directors
Past President of PFLAG Transgender Network
Recipient of the Human Rights Campaign Legacy Award 2010

What a wonderful book!

The Rest of the Way refers to the Talmudic story many Christians think of as the Prodigal Son.  In the Talmudic version, when the king asks his son to come home, the son replies that he cannot travel that far.  The king responds, “Then come as far as you can, and I will meet you the rest of the way.”
This book is about Ms. Jackowitz’ journey the rest of the way when her older son comes out to her as gay.
There are a number of books about coming out by gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender people telling their stories.  There are also a number of books by therapists and other professionals dissecting the struggles most gender variant people go through.  The Rest of the Way is more about how coming to terms with the author’s son’s gay identity leads the author toward much greater awareness of herself.
Like many of us, Ms Jackowitz’ life was constrained by her need to meet other people’s standards.  This need is deeply ingrained in all of us.  We learn from our earliest awareness that some actions and attitudes are accepted (or demanded) in our social environment while others are taboo.
Accepting her son’s reality meant giving up many of those acceptable attitudes and accepting many of those she was taught were taboos.
The Rest of the Way takes us along on her journey.  It is one those of us who love our children must also travel.  Our journeys require a great deal of thoughtful insight into our own needs and recognition that we cannot accept changes in someone else without changing ourselves.

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Book Available at Borders in Orlando Area

January 24th, 2010 by Admin

The Rest of the Way: A Coming Out Story for Parents and Gay Children, by Enid Duchin Jackowitz is now available in the Orlando area at Borders at the Winter Park Village. In telling the story of how her son’s coming out effected her family, the author takes us on a journey from homophobia and rejection to a place of acceptance and advocacy.  People from over 30 Countries have visited the author’s website.  

 For more information and to read Testimonials check out  

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Teen To Talk About Coming Out on NBC’s Today Show

January 23rd, 2010 by Admin

Check out the NBC’s Today show, on Thursday, January 28, 2010 for a piece on children who come out in middle school. 

When he was thirteen and in the 8th grade, Richard Walsh came out to his parents and a few close friends.  Richard said, “I started to notice I was different when I was in the 6th grade, and I wasn’t thinking the same things the boys in my class were,” he said, adding he began saying something to people because he felt like a liar. “My parents were very accepting …and they’ve been very supportive of me, as well.”


But at school, things didn’t go well.  Richard said he was teased and called derogatory names.  “Middle school was difficult after I came out because everybody (at that age) is still trying to piece themselves together,” he said.


When Walsh got to high school, he decided he wanted to be part of a solution for harassment in the schools –not just for the gay students, but for all the students. As a result, he helped form a Gay Straight Alliance group and became active in the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) –a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students — to raise awareness and promote tolerance of everyone.


After high school, Walsh intends to continue his work as an advocate for the gay community

To learn more about Chillicothe High School’s Gay Straight Alliance, go online to

The NBC “Today” segment featuring Richard Walsh is expected to air between 7:30 and 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.



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