Friday, October 8, 2004

A documentary entitled “I Do Exist” debuts this weekend, just in time for National Coming Out Day on Monday. The 48-minute film showcases the lives of five former homosexuals and raises the idea that change from a homosexual to a heterosexual lifestyle is possible.

“In psychology and society, there’s a lot of doubt about whether this transformation is possible,” producer Warren Throckmorton said. “I worked with a client, who is no longer gay, who said to me, ‘Tell them that I exist’ … The film describes how this transition into a new heterosexual life is possible.”

Schools, colleges, and churches nationwide will show the film over the weekend to offer an alternative message of National Coming Out Day, a movement launched by homosexual activists in 1987, which argues that the only healthy response to same-sex attraction is to declare a homosexual identity.

“I Do Exist” opens with on-the-street interviews from average Americans answering the question, “Can homosexuals change?” Five former homosexuals share their stories of moving away from the homosexual lifestyle.

“Research has shown that a great majority of people in their lifetime have had same-sex feelings,” Mr. Throckmorton said. “Most people in our culture think that ‘what I feel is what I am,’ but it’s an individual’s decision whether they act on [these feelings] or not.”

Mr. Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, is featured in the documentary, along with Mark Yarhouse of the Regent University Department of Psychology and Robert Spitzer, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

Mr. Spitzer, who played a pivotal role in removing homosexuality from the psychiatric manual of mental disorders in 1973, has since come to believe that individuals can change from a homosexual to a heterosexual lifestyle.

Many avid supporters of National Coming Out Day aren’t receptive to the idea that homosexuals can change their sexual orientation.

Wayne Besen, author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the ‘Ex-Gay’ Myth,” said Mr. Throckmorton is releasing the film as a “sad, sick sequel to the 1998 million-dollar ‘ex-gay’ campaign. [Mr. Throckmorton] is hoping that Americans have amnesia.”

Mr. Besen, a researcher for the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual advocacy group, was assigned to monitor the “ex-gay” campaign in 1998 — a high-profile national print and television ad campaign led by a group of 15 conservative Christian groups, which preached that homosexuals could change.

John Paulk, who appeared in the 1998 ex-homosexual ads, was photographed in a homosexual bar in 2000, after claiming to have walked away from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.

Mr. Paulk wasn’t the first ex-homosexual to return to this prior lifestyle, Mr. Besen said.

“The founder of every ex-gay ministry in America has proved to be an extraordinary failure. The two founders of Exodus International, [the world’s largest ‘ex-gay’ organization], divorced their wives to move in together; the founder of Homosexuals Anonymous was accused of illicit behavior by his clients. … After seeing a parade of failures, lies, and fraud, why should we believe the guys in this film?”

Mr. Throckmorton says the public should look past these failings among previous ex-homosexual leaders. “These failings don’t invalidate the people in this film who have chosen to stay on this path [of heterosexuality],” Mr. Throckmorton said. “These are people who are determined that this is what they want to do and be for the rest of their lives.” There are currently more than 45 places scheduled to show “I Do Exist” between Oct. 8-11. None are in the Washington area.

“We just want to present an alternative through personal testimonies that will hopefully raise discussion and awareness.”

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