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February 24th, 2008


I’ve never been so busy in my life over a weekend, which is why I haven’t been posting.  But it’s been exhilarating.  And these people, these decent, good-hearted courageous people, have provided a much needed tonic to my chronic anger.  To witness so much pain and emotional anguish, so many raw wounds, and still see such essential human decency shining though it all, is astonishing at times.  I could never loose my belief in the human status after this weekend.


John Holm, Jacob Wilson, Peterson Toscano, Daniel Gonzales and Brandon Tidwell,
before entering the Love Won Out Conference. All five are survivors of various
forms of ex-gay therapy.  John, Peterson, Daniel and Brandon are holding collages that
depict their individual journeys through the ex-gay movement, which they presented
to Exodus conference organizers.  They were able to talk briefly with some of them,
before being ejected from the conference building.



Peterson, Branden, Jacob and John on their way back from presenting their
collages to the Exodus conference organizers.  No…Daniel didn’t get eaten…he
just walked quickly ahead of the others so he could get back to his video camera
to record the others walking back.

I feel so privileged to have been allowed, encouraged even, to photographically document the weekend events.  Yesterday, after the action at the Love Won Out conference, there was a gathering of ex-gay survivors at the Memphis gay community center.  My cameras were only conditionally allowed inside, as there was a real need to create a safe space there for people to basically spill their guts about what had happened to them.  (This is why I never made it as a newspaper photographer…I always ask permission first…)   But I was allowed to witness the event and I’m here to tell you what I saw and heard would make a brick cry, if not a fundamentalist. 
One wall inside the center was covered with paper, for the survivors to write little notes on, in an exercise called a "chalk talk".  It was a way of helping them get their feelings out into the open and to acknowledge them…something that is excruciatingly difficult for people who have been emotionally battered to do.  I was not allowed to photograph the process, for I think obvious reasons, but afterwards I was asked to record the little writings on the wall.  I actually had to get up and leave the room twice as, one after the other, the survivors stepped up to the wall and started writing, and I began to see it all coming out, so overwhelming was it.  If I can get permission to put some of what they wrote on that wall here I will.

4 Responses to “Survivors”

  1. Willie Hewes Says:

    Thanks for the pictures. I hope we’ll get to see some of the chalk talk writings, they are very moving.

  2. John Says:

    Bruce!  It was a privilege to meet you this past weekend.  What a weekend indeed!  Thanks for all the great photos; I immediately sent a link to this page to friends of mine who have been asking for details about the weekend.  Would love to see more photos when you get a chance!

  3. Bruce Says:

    The privilege was mine guy.  I’ll start sending you the private links I’m sending out to Peterson and Christine and Jim for all the stuff from the weekend shoot.  I have hundreds of photos so it’s going to take me a while to get it all out there, but I want everyone who was there to see it all so they can pick and choose from the entire shoot what they want to keep.  Later on I’ll make a public gallery of what I think are the best ones.

  4. Beyond Ex-Gay Memphis Wrap-Up | Ex-Gay Watch Says:

    […] Additional reflections on the weekend have been posted by Peterson Toscano, Bruce Garrett, Christine Bakke and Daniel Gonzales. […]

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