Massachusetts Department of Public Health official Alison Brill lent the department’s name late last year to an ex-gay activist program which offered to teach evangelicals how to “love and care” for suicidal gay teen-agers — by giving their families “hope.”
A PDF flyer for the project invited evangelicals to an event that was free of input from mainstream psychiatrists or psychologists. The event was sponsored by Massachusetts ex-gay activist Bill J. Henson Jr., who heads FOTOS Ministries, an ex-gay advocacy group.
Brill is the only presenter who appeared in a non-religious, professional capacity. She is a community suicide prevention coordinator, and her position with the state is used by the ex-gay organization to imply state approval of its ex-gay ideology and its potentially harmful advice to parents and churches regarding suicidal youth.
Instead of referring families and evangelical clergy to reputable mental-health professionals, the ex-gay event flyer boasted:
FOTOS Ministries helps the evangelical community love and care for gay people in the church. Many teens struggling through sexual and gender identity issues wrestle with suicidal thoughts. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for all 10-14 year olds and the 2nd leading cause of death for all 15-24 year olds. Gay teens make up a sizable portion of these deaths. What can you do? Join us for this FREE seminar to learn more…
The flyer boldly promised attendees that they will witness “Personal Stories of Those Who Suffer” — presumably persons who identify as “ex-gay.”
The location of the seminar was kept secret.
Tom Lang of Know Thy Neighbor, a Massachusetts-based pro-equality organization, says that when he called Brill about her involvement, “she refused to discuss this with me. Evidently no one from the LGBT community knew about this AND she says ‘at least Henson does it with love.’ I told her, ‘Same message, different packaging.'”
The same flyer promised additional two ex-gay events for evangelicals in January:
Family Care: Helping evangelical families of GLBT loved ones transition from helpless to hopeful. We must love our GLBT family members where they are today. Gain biblical insights that will equip you for effective care. You are not alone…
Relational Orientation Counseling: Healing the relational “orientation” between parents and gay teens. Learn how to transform your church counseling. Stop demanding change and start healing relationships…
The events follow a typical “ex-gay” activist pattern of talking TO evangelicals ABOUT LGBT people — never allowing healthy LGBT people to speak for themselves and never acknowledging that LGBT people are qualified to lead religious, political, and professional communities.
Since then, Henson has expanded his media outreach, receiving free publicity from Associated Press “news” articles such as this one dated May 12. The article leaves Henson’s ridiculous claim about his own orientation undisputed: that he is no longer gay, even though his wife is the only woman in the world whom he is attracted to.
We have yet to see Henson or his events tell families that change does not happen; that most ex-gay activists later admit they had never changed; that ex-gay ministries’ claims about the “cause” of sexual orientation have been discredited; that LGBT people are entitled to be religious leaders, not followers; and that every mainstream U.S. mental-health organization agrees that ex-gay therapy is harmful.
Instead, we see someone who prolongs the suffering of youths by misleading their families and churches.