Dear Mr. Chambers and Exodus International:
We all know people who simply can’t apologize. We know others who hem and haw and struggle with the words before finally blurting out a lame “I’m sorry” that can feel less than heartfelt.
There is an art to apologizing.
An apology should acknowledge the wrong that has been done. It should include an assurance that whatever occurred will not happen again. And, perhaps most importantly, an apology should be authentic.
To be honest, I haven’t thought about Exodus International in years. The mission of your Christian ministry, to convert gay people to heterosexuality through prayer and counseling, has long ago been discredited. The reparative therapy that your ministry practiced would be a laughingstock, had it not damaged the lives of so many people.
But now, as President of Exodus International, Mr. Chambers, you have done something profoundly right. You have personally apologized, and your organization has apologized, for “years of undue suffering” that your work inflicted on gays and lesbians, their families and our community. And you have announced that Exodus International will cease to be.
Your apologies acknowledge the pain that your efforts have caused. Your willingness to close Exodus International, and form a new ministry that will build bridges with the gay community, is an action that needed to happen. Mostly, though, it is the tone of your apologies that I appreciate. They seem heartfelt and authentic.
Mr. Chambers, you and the Board of Directors of Exodus International, have helped to close a sad chapter in the history of the gay rights movement. Although new “ex-gay ministries” are already being formed, the shutting down of Exodus International marks the next step in recognizing that homosexuality is not something that can be “cured.”
You are to be commended for you action, Mr. Chambers. While some people will not be able to accept your apologies, many others, including me, do so gratefully.