When Michael Bussee and other Exodus International co-founders and early members admitted that Exodus’ reorientation counselors had failed to change their sexual orientation, one might expect Exodus to have compassionately asked what it had done wrong, help counselees find competent therapists, and take responsible action to ensure that any future counseling actually worked.
And considering that Exodus boasts that it supports families and friends, one might expect that Exodus helped Bussee’s parents, siblings, and wife adapt.
That’s not what happened.
Bussee’s siblings kept their kids away from him and deprived his mother of a family Thanksgiving dinner. His mother felt worse than when his father died, and said she wanted to drive her car off a cliff. Bussee’s sister said she would pray that God makes him miserable for the rest of his life — just as Exodus president Alan Chambers and Focus on the Family activist Mike Haley do today. Bussee’s wife and her church sought to prevent him from having any custody.
Exodus exiled Bussee, and continues to exile whistleblowers and to threaten counselees with ostracism and prayers for damnation.
How Exodus treated Bussee then, it continues to treat people today:
In terms of Exodus’ response, I got this very loving letter from Frank Worthen of Love In Action telling me that I was cursed, I was an anathema, that I had forfeited my salvation and he ended the letter with very graphic descriptions of the flames of hell that awaited me and he said that his heart was going to be grieved to see me pushed into the fiery pit by the angels on the final day. He’ never apologized for that.
A small group of fellow Exodus ministry leaders came to my house and sort of begged me to turn back. And I told them that there was no turning back, that I had never changed, that I was never really ex-gay and I was just accepting the truth about myself. But they made that one attempt, I think they felt biblically obligated to plead with me one last time but then after that nothing.
So when [my partner] Gary and I left we were pretty much abandoned.
Support is slowly building from LGBT groups and affirming therapists for people who are abandoned by Exodus — but no one tells them that.
I didn’t get a warm welcome from the gay community because I didn’t know there was a gay community to become a part of so it was a very isolating kind of experience. I’ve talked to people who are considering, even now after 30 years of marriage, after presenting themselves as ex-gay that are considering coming out and leaving Exodus, but they’re terrified of that abandonment they know they’re going to experience. And they’re terrified of the rejection by family and friends and it’ a real fear.
Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin