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Reorientation Process


[Extract from]

For many people, change happens when they effectively do two things.  First, one needs to deal with the root issues of homosexual attractions. These are the negative and damaging events and dynamics of childhood, such as sexual abuse, rejection, deficits in our relationship with our parents, shaming, etc.  The past often continues to affect today.  While what happened cannot be changed, how it affects us today and how we understand what happened can change.  Second, as the root issues are being resolved, unhealthy patterns of living need to be undone and replaced with new thinking and new behaviors.  If for years we have lived in certain ways, which were influenced by the hurt and pain of childhood, those ways will have become habits or patterns, automatic ways of doing things and of responding. Often, these patterns will have been reinforced by fantasy and masturbation.  If they are unhealthy habits, they need to be unlearned and new ways of living and responding need to take their place. describes the process of change as follows:

Change happens in the three areas of behavior, fantasy, and attraction.  The goal for a person who wants to change their sexual orientation is to experience a decrease in homosexual behavior, fantasy and attraction, and a corresponding increase in heterosexual attraction.

As change is a process, it is important to realize that change in one area may happen sooner than change in another area.  While we can make choices about what we do and what we think about, we have less control over feelings and attractions.  For example, J. chose not to be sexually active any more, and thus his homosexual behavior ceased, even though he still was attracted only to men and had fantasies about them. Subsequently, as he started working through various issues, he began to notice some attraction to women, even though his attraction to men had not yet changed.  Much later, he began to find men less attractive than before.  Do not be discouraged when one area starts to change and another does not - this is normal.

Things get worse before they get better.  This is a reality that many of us have experienced on our journey out of homosexuality, and it is important for a person starting on the journey to be aware of it.  As we begin to work through difficult issues from the past, there is often much pain to face.  Things may seem worse simply because we are starting to face past issues which before we ignored or denied.  If we are used to dealing with our pain by drowning it with alcohol, sex or other addictions, we can expect the temptation to drown the pain to be stronger than before we started to face it.  As well, this journey of change involves talking about sexual issues, which can be arousing in and of itself.  This is normal. Over time, discussion of sex will become more matter of fact.  When things first get worse instead of better, do not despair or give up. Continue to work through your issues and find freedom and resolution. Put extra support in place - let a close friend know what you are feeling, attend a support group, talk with someone who's been there.

Sometimes it will seem like nothing is happening. In the process of change, there will be times when nothing is happening.  This may be because we need a break after doing some hard personal work.  This may be because there is something blocking further progress. If you feel that you are on a plateau and that you may be ‘stuck’ at this place in the process, talk to someone about it.  Often another person can be instrumental in helping us identify what is preventing further change and what can be done to overcome that block.

There are some important resources that will help in the process of change.  First, close friends whom you trust and who accept you as you are, and with whom you can talk about difficult personal issues related to your same-gender attraction. You cannot do this alone.  In particular, straight same-sex friends can help you to understand that you are accepted as a man or as a woman by those who have no sexual interest in you.  Second, accountability mentors can help keep you true to your goals.  For example, if you have resolved that you do not want to buy any pornography but still find it a temptation to do so, this person can ask you regularly whether you have bought any, encourage you to stick with your resolve and, when you do give in to temptation, help you examine why you did.  Third, well-run support groups are a safe place for sharing honestly and openly, learning more about homosexuality and meeting with others who share your goal of overcoming homosexuality.  There is much to learn from others who are on a similar journey to yours.  Fourth, individual counseling can be very helpful in working through some of the more difficult issues.  Whereas support groups provide more general information and support, counseling is an opportunity to focus on your particular situation in detail with someone who is equipped to do so. Choose a counselor carefully, finding out their perspective on change and homosexuality and what kind of experience they have working in this area.  Do not be intimidated by counselors who attempt to discourage you or influence your journey to a path other than the one you choose.  There are many good therapists who will support and affirm your journey. Keep looking until you find one.  Fifth, educate yourself with the many resources available.  There are good books, articles, and newsletters which you can read, web sites to browse, and conferences to attend.  While information does not by itself produce change, it can give greater understanding and insight.  We particularly recommend talking to those who have left homosexuality and reading their stories.[i]

No surprise, FreeToBeMe place great importance on turning our lives and will over to God:

We have found that the path out of unwanted homosexuality is a profoundly spiritual one.  Some of us experienced this as a significant religious conversion or spiritual enlightenment where we felt God's deep love for us and guidance for our lives.  Others experienced it as the spiritual peace that comes from emotional healing, from loving and forgiving ourselves and others, from breaking down walls that have long prevented us from accepting the love of others, and from learning to really trust God, sometimes for the first time in our lives.  This peace, joy and connection to God grew as we began to heal emotionally, build brotherly relationships with other men, surrender all forms of lust, and embrace a new identity as a heterosexual man.[ii]

Ex-gays explain some of the changes likely needed in order to heal:

We opened our hearts to a newfound willingness to do whatever it might take to make our lives right with God…and whatever he might guide us to do.

We started to accept and trust the many witnesses of others who had experienced change for themselves. As we did, we found new hope that change was indeed possible, rewarding and worth the effort.

We stopped trying to change through our own will power, without God's intervention - or, at the other extreme, stopped begging God to do all the work of changing us, without our having to do anything different or learn anything about ourselves in the process. Instead, we began working a spiritual program that many of us found can be summarized in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs (although each of us went about these kinds of spiritual steps in somewhat different ways and through different faiths): ‘We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.’ (Steps One and Two) ‘Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him’ (Step Three), and ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Humbly we asked Him to remove our shortcomings.’ (Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven) ‘Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out’ (Step Eleven).

Most of us joined a faith community of some kind to enjoy spiritual fellowship and mentoring in our continuing efforts to yield our will and our hearts to God.  To strengthen us, we used individual and group prayer, meditation and study and pondering of ‘wisdom literature’ that we held as scripture.  Humbly reaching out to God for help was usually an early, vital and ongoing part of our healing.  It was not the end.  Most of us still had much work to do to overcome our self-destructive behaviors and our estrangement from other men and from our own masculinity, as well as other emotional issues that had caused our homosexual desires.  Change was not as simple as ‘praying it away,’ no matter how much faith we had, as long as we remained trapped in fear, distrust, isolation and hurt, unwilling to do the painful work of healing our inner lives and our relationships with others.

But a renewed spiritual life became the fuel that powered our journey and showed us the way - a journey to a new identity, a new way of being, and a new life.[iii]

Most ex-gays broke off ties to their homosexual pasts. They discontinued homosexual relationships and habits, threw away destructive books, magazines, videos and other materials, and took themselves out of tempting environments.   They made every effort to stop feeding the lust with new images and fantasies. Some mapped out their lust cycles on paper to help recognize events, feelings and stresses that often triggered lust and longing for male comfort.  They shared this "map" with mentors and identified practical steps to break the cycle.  Rather than trying to STOP destructive behaviors and thought patterns, they sought to proactively REPLACE them with new, healthier ones: rather  than fighting lust, we learned to surrender it to a Higher Power, asking God to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

We sought to replace sexual feelings for men with healthy brotherly love for them and a more godly view of ourselves as men.

When tempted, we learned to pick up the phone and call a mentor, admit our struggles, and connect with the reality of brotherly love in place of the fantasy of homosexual lust. Over time, many of us found that this authentic connection became more satisfying than lust. We practiced other new ways to respond to our lust triggers, such as physical exercise (especially with male friends), meaningful emotional connection with men, therapeutic massage, prayer and more.[iv]

Ex-gays came to recognize and respect their legitimate needs for physical and emotional bonding with other men and began to work proactively to fulfill these underlying needs rather than resist them.  They developed a deliberate, proactive program to ensure this hunger for male connection was "fed" regularly with healthy "food," instead of suppressing it until so starved for male affection and affirmation that they would do anything to feed it.  They determined to keep getting back on our feet no matter how many times they "fell," convinced by faith and the experiences of others that as long as they never gave up, eventually they would break free of the cycle of lust.

This process is definitely not about will power, although will power can help one escape from individual temptations.  According to FreeToBeMe:

Real healing from lust comes not from willpower but from ‘heart power’ - the power of the heart, rather than the mind, to effect powerful change.  This change of heart results when we foster healthy desires, come out of secrecy and become completely honest about our thoughts and actions with trusted mentors, feed our souls with the unconditional love of God and brotherly love of others, and consistently work to surrender our will to God's.[v]

So what could be so wrong with such healing reparative therapy, if it is what an individual wants?  That it is politically incorrect in today's society and the source of considerable ire for the GBLTQ and pro-gay heterosexual supporters only reveals the hypocrisy of identity politics.


[i] FreeToBeMe,, 2/22/01.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.