Controversial Conference Aims to Turn Homosexuals, Straight
By: Ariana Duarte & Charlene Lee
Organizers of a controversial conference say it's possible to turn a gay person, straight.
Randy Thomas says he knew he was gay` when he was just ten years old.
"I was one of those kids that just, you know, got stereotyped and labeled really early," said Randy.
But when Randy was 24, he became a Christian. That's when he says he began questioning the homosexual lifestyle.
"I really evaluated, you know, what I had believed in as a gay man, as compared to what I was learning in Christian culture. I just decided to follow the biblical world view," said Randy.
So for the past 16 years Randy has been living as a straight man, denying what he says, are his natural impulses, and even dating women.
Today, Randy is Vice-President of Exodus International, an organization that claims to help "free people" from homosexuality through the power of prayer.
"This is about supporting people who are making the decision for themselves, or at least investigating for themselves and the options that they have," said Mike Ensley, of Exodus International.
But Mike Martinez, founder of Queer Fresno says, being gay isn't a choice, and offering "options" isn't a realistic answer.
"Getting anyone to change or to fit in to a box, or to fit into what you feel like their life should be like, really isn't love. You're really starting into the grounds of abuse," said Martinez.
Still, Exodus International insists its ministry is based on love, and Randy says their three-day conference isn't about changing people's preferences, just whether or not they act on them.
"While I didn't choose to have the attractions, I certainly do have a choice in what I do with them," said Randy.
"It's just as ludicrous as to say for you as a heterosexual woman, you can be heterosexual, but you can never have sex, or never have a meaningful relationship or love your husband. It's ridiculous," said Martinez.
And despite obvious controversy behind the conference, Randy says he hopes at least one person in attendance will choose to follow the path he did, 16 years ago.
"Just dialogue with us. We're offering our point-of-view. We're offering our experiences and our valid testimonies," said Randy.
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