That October day is one that will forever be etched in my memory. I remember going into the Love In Action office, waiting to be checked into the program. I remember my first meeting with my counselor Tommy. And I remember meeting with the other guys who were in the program. I was scared, not only because I thought something was wrong with me, but because I felt that I had let my family down because of my “struggle”. Growing up in a religious home, I had always been taught that homosexuality was sinful and against what God wanted, and with the reality of it staring me in the face, I knew that I didn’t want God to be angry at me. I also wanted to keep my parents approval, for my worst fear was letting them down (something I knew they felt and which they had said on one or more occasion). My heart-attack surviving grandfather told me that the day that he found out about my “struggle”, he was so hurt that he started to have chest pains. His wife, my grandmother, probably my closest family member, expressed that when she found out, she felt deep pain that I was going through this “struggle”. I literally had no idea of what to do; but I knew that in order to keep those who I loved in my life, I would have to go into Love In Action and try to turn straight.
Those two months were probably the worst two months of my life, even though I went back in May of 2007 for an additional 6 months (which will be explained in more detail). I went to the Love In Action campus every day from 8:30-5 for those two months, and when I was not on the campus, I was secluded at a home my parents had rented. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without my parents accompanying me, and even then, I had to get Tommy’s approval for anything that I did. I could not even go running – one of my favorite things to do – outside in the neighborhood where we were staying because the “temptation” to act out on my homosexual urges would be too strong.
During these two months, as well as when I was sent back in May, a part of my “therapy” was writing what was known as a “moral inventory” or MI. In these MI’s, I was told to write about any a homosexual temptation that I could remember – or situation that caused me to want to “act out on my homosexuality or homosexual fantasies”. After writing these MI’s, I would have to either discuss theme with the group of guys (and gals) who were also going through the program or my counselor. in these “sessions”, my MI’s would be analyzed to figure out why I felt the way that I did, and how, if I encountered a similar situation in the future, I should respond. The cause of my “attempted acting out” in these MI’s was also analyzed to see if anything in my emotional past had caused me to desire the sexual and emotional fulfillment of a man. Every day I had to listen to lectures by the “counselors” at Love In Action who detailed why I felt the way that I did. They said that I had a “passive” father and a domineering mother, that my masculinity had been stripped away from me by my mother, and that I needed to have some positive and healthy same-sex friendships. This, they said, would assist me in overcoming my “same-sex attraction”.
But none of this worked, I still felt attracted to men, and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t getting “better”. I was told that homosexuality was not the way that God wanted me to be and that it was “abnormal”. I didn’t want to be abnormal, so every day I faithfully wrote my MI’s, sometimes even two or three a day, in order to understand why I “struggled with homosexuality”. But nothing seemed to work. “You must not be taking it seriously” my counselors told me, “You must not be submitting yourself fully to God”. Finally, after two months – the full length of the Refuge program – I “graduated” from Love In Action, still just as confused and still just as scared that I was abnormal and that I would hurt and lose those that I loved.
Kyle Luebke is an author and public speaker with an interest in LGBT issues, energy policy, and the Canadian-American relationship. Having experienced the pain of reparative therapy, Kyle attempts to use that experience in his writing to speak out against the false information that permeates the dialogue on gay rights. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys reading, hiking in state/provincial parks, camping, and spending time with his husband.
Be sure and check out his blog : An Enduring Vision: One Guys View of LGBT issues, Energy Policy, and Canadian/U.S. Politics