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Some friendly suggestions for former anti-gays, former ex-gay leaders and reformed homophobes by Michael Bussee:

(1) First of all. Welcome. We are glad you have seen the light and are now allies. We really appreciate that you want to help.

(2) Now, go slow. We know you are excited, but wait a bit — maybe a year or two. Stop to ask LGBT people how you can do the most good. Don’t assume you know what LGBT people need.

(3) Take the time to really listen to the stories of LGBT people, especially the ones you hurt (directly or indirectly) by preaching an ex-gay/anti-gay message.

(4) Listening to the suffering you contributed to can be rough. It’s natural to get up-in-arms and try to explain away the hurt by saying things like “I meant well” or “I was only trying to help”. Even though it’s normal, stifle the urge to defend yourself. Just listen.

(5) If you do decide to start a ministry, do speaking gigs or try to sell a book about your change of heart, make it clear to your audience that any and all proceeds of your work will go directly to LGBT charities to end LGBT bullying and homelessness. People are likely to be offended if you make money off of your former homophobia.

(6) Consider joining forces with organizations that are already doing good work. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. We know you’re excited and eager to undo the damage you caused, but it’s useful to talk with others who are further down that road.

Michael Bussee was one of the originators of the ex-gay movement. In the 1970s, while working as a telephone counselor at Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, California, Bussee co-founded the Ex-gay Intervention Team (EXIT) and later hosted an unprecedented conference of ex-gay ministries at which a handful of ministry leaders, along with approximately 60 delegates, voted to form a loose coalition called EXODUS. However, within a few years, Bussee began to doubt the efficacy and ethics of the ex-gay message, left Exodus and eventually began to speak out about the tremendous damage that results from the anti-gay message and related practices such as Conversion Therapy. Today Bussee is a retired Marriage and Family therapist, who devotes much of his time helping LGBT people heal from the trauma they faced from Christian anti-gay messages and practices.

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