Our culture wants to stick this label on us; even the Federal courts have actually used the “ex-gay” label when enumerating the kinds of sexual orientation to which non-discrimination laws apply. But for many of us, “ex-gay” may be true, it doesn’t feel like who we are.
Positive self statements
“Ex-” is a negative label. When we do our emotional work, one thing we learn is that emotions don’t really understand “not”. We learn that one core need of any man is to be affirmed by other men. This involves making value statements. Frequently, we’ve believed statements like “I’m stupid.” or “I’m not good enough.”, or “I’m fat”, or “My muscles are too small to be a man” or other shaming statements. Because the wounds we have are at the core of who we are, “not” statements can’t provide something we can hang on to and say “ah, that’s me”. The limbic system does not function as a complex web of logical statements, as the pre-frontal cortex does, it works on general association. I.e. one thing is kind of like another, they are associated. So when we are looking for something that “feels like it fits”, we need positive statements. Instead of encouraging us with negatives, like “You’re not fat.”, what we need to know is something worded in a positive way, such as “You’re fit” or as the case may be, “your body is masculine in appearance”, which is actually far more applicable to what’s going on inside than the actual body-fat percentage.
For some of us, “ex-gay” isn’t even true, because we believe gay is a socio-political label, not a “way to be”, we never applied that label to ourselves, but many did. For the ones who have decided not to continue in the gay lifestyle, “gay” itself becomes a negative label. Bottom line, identifying ourselves as something we are not, and as something we have chosen not to be is not psychologically-healthy. We need our identity to be positive.
Asa result, even though our culture wants to tag us with it, “ex-gay” is an undesirable label for most men in that category.
Why we need labels
There are tons of men who don’t like boxing themselves in with labels. I personally don’t have any problem with labels: without them, we couldn’t communicate; words are labels. Some men don’t like that as a label, deciding to only take on the label “child of God”. That’s their choice. When I label a project such as this, I want to be clear and effective at getting the message out. Labels need to be both accurate and precise. Accurate means true, precise means communicating only what we intend, not over-stating or understating the meaning. As an engineer, my primary problem with spoken and written English is its huge imprecision. Scientists and engineers have an agreed-upon method of specifying precision, while psychologists do have very precise statements of conditions, causes, effects and therapies for eroticized same-sex attractions, just look at that phrase, it literally doesn’t fit in a google ad-words title line. We need something short, sweet, precise, accurate, and as a website address memorable.
A Little History
I would love to say that my initial thought was to take “ex-gay”, reverse both words, and come up with “recently straight”, but that’s not how it happened. It actually stemmed from Nicolosi’s term “ever-straight”. I supposed that if I couldn’t claim to be “ever-straight”, I might as well put up the next best thing, maybe not “ever”, but “recently”. It stuck; pretty well, it seems. I was quite shocked no one had ever used the term. I loved that it turned out to be a rephrasing of “ex-gay” into two positive terms. It’s a cogent label, means what we intend.