Metro Weekly

‘Ex-gays’ visit DC to complain about LGBTQ rights, not visit recently reopened gay bars

Ex-gay group "Changed Movement" will protest restrictions on conversion therapy, refute trans equality, and definitely not visit gay bars.

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Ex-gay “Formers” visiting D.C. in 2019– Photo: Christian United

A cohort of “ex-gays” is descending on D.C. this weekend to apparently complain about conversion therapy bans and LGBTQ rights.

The “Changed DC” tour will see the anti-gay activists, who claim to have renounced their sexuality or gender identity, visiting the District until June 8. Activities will include a prayer meet, a “Freedom March,” and definitely not visiting the city’s LGBTQ bars, which coincidentally were recently allowed to reopen at full capacity.

The activists — who certainly won’t be planning to go to Pitchers, or dropping by Green Lantern, or meeting up at Trade — claim to have “left LGBTQ because we wanted to.”

As part of the Changed DC tour, which won’t include opening Grindr or Scruff while alone in their hotel rooms, they will be protesting against bans on conversion therapy — a widely debunked and harmful practice that claims to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

The “ex-gays” will also be protesting transgender people, whose rights are currently under assault in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country, as well as the Equality Act, a landmark piece of legislation which would codify nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people into federal law.

The group is demanding a number of “rights” that it claims pro-LGBTQ legislation will remove, including the right to “follow one’s religious convictions away from LGBTQ identity,” the right to “shape one’s own sexual identity without political indoctrination,” and the right to “publicly declare alternative views of LGBTQ experience without being labeled a ‘hate group.'”

“I didn’t want to live life as a gay man. I was tormented by suicidal thoughts and was unfulfilled. The talk therapy I received when I was a minor saved my life,” Ken Williams, co-founder of CHANGED Movement, said in a statement.

“I wanted a different way forward and my sexual desires eventually changed. I have been married to my wife for 15 years. We have four children together,” Williams continued. “Today I am connected to thousands who left LGBTQ behind. SOGI legislation takes away our rights to freedom of religion, speech and equal treatment by promoting LGBTQ identity as the only way forward.”

Fellow co-founder Elizabeth Woning said the activists had come to DC to “appeal to Congress to focus on human dignity, not identity politics.”

“We are Christians with LGBTQ in our past. Many, like us, have changed,” she said, ignoring the countless other former “ex-gays” who have since come out as gay and denounced conversion therapy. “We left LGBTQ because we wanted to. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms we have the right to live out what we believe. Fair treatment in America shouldn’t rest with one’s social identity, like LGBTQ or even religious beliefs, but with respect for the dignity of every person.”

It’s not the first time the group has visited D.C. to protest equality. In October 2019, a group of “Formers,” as they have branded themselves, came to the District to complain about the Equality Act.

Curiously, the group visited the city at a time when Republicans controlled the Senate, blocking the Equality Act from passing.

It begged the question as to why a group of people who claim to no longer be LGBTQ felt the need to visit D.C. at all — particularly on Halloween, when it would have been incredibly easy to slip on a costume and pass unnoticed in one of the many LGBTQ parties occurring that week.

Last year, the United Nations urged a global ban on conversion therapy, labelling it “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” and saying it “may amount to torture depending on the circumstances.” In December, more than 370 religious leaders from around the globe called on lawmakers to ban conversion therapy.

Research has found that conversion therapy more than doubles the risk of suicidal ideation among gay and bisexual adults, while transgender people subjected to conversion therapy as children are four times more likely to attempt suicide.

In addition, a number of former “ex-gay” leaders, who touted the efficacy of conversion therapy in attempts to force others to undergo the practice, have since come out as gay and decried the practice, admitting the harm it can cause to LGBTQ people.

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