Undercover at an “ex-gay bootcamp”

Lucy Bannerman’s article in The Times Online describes a few days spent at a camp run by Exodus International, an organization that believes it can help people to “find freedom from homosexuality through the love of Jesus Christ.” Exodus and similar groups are popular on the Anglican right.

The article quotes Peterson Toscano, a performance artist who performed at one of the “Lambeth Fringe” events at the recent Lambeth Conference.

Peterson Toscano spent 17 years and £20,000 in the US and UK trying to suppress his identity as a gay man. “It is a far more subtle seduction over here,” he says. Toscano claims that therapists in Britain – who he says tried to exorcise his gay demons in Kidderminster, in the West Midlands – nearly drove him to suicide. “There is no question about that. I became severely depressed and contemplated suicide on several occasions,” he says.

Toscano, who now runs the Beyond Ex-Gay support group, believes that, far from being living proof of being a changed man, [Exodus] is simply promoting celibacy by stealth.

“You walk out on this cloud of ex-gay glory,” says Toscano, “but you end up intimate with no one, becoming more and more isolated until it’s just you alone on this little ex-gay island … so many people are hurting and living this half-life.”

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