Here you’ve got buffoons who think that by religion they can change sexuality, hoping that they can change someone to become something “they” want them to be. Only if works that we change assholes into nice people (there are people who are born assholes), murderers, pedophiles etc. Better yet, gays need to form groups to do the same, to change a straight person to gay, just because we believe it’s better that way. Mind you, there are some straight men gays want to change.
How about leaving people the fuck alone and let them live their lives without forcing religion down their throats. Religion is a cult, it only exists because it’s there to have people falsely believe, by brainwashing them, that it in doing so it will change their lives, when in reality it doesn’t and only causes destruction.
Most religious people are kinda screwed up themselves. We can only pray.
It’s been close to 15 years since Darin Squire participated in Toronto’s Living Waters program, and he’s still putting his life back together.
Voices from the program still linger in his mind some days, hissing at him that he’s “a horrible person” for being gay, he said.
The 45-year-old knows that’s not true. But sometimes he struggles to truly believe it.
“They need to understand the depth of the damage this organization causes and the lives it destroys,” said Squire, who joined the program in the late 1990s.
Dave Lawson, a leader of Living Waters Toronto, defended the group by saying it does more good than harm: “I don’t know anyone in our program who has said they’ve been hurt,” he said. “I think it’s just important for people who want help for the issue that that help is there.”
A Star reporter went undercover inside Toronto’s Living Waters program for five months and received counselling for his gay desires, which were described to him as a “sexual addiction.”
Leaders guided participants through prayers to unearth the root of their “sexual brokenness,” a term that included homosexuality, infidelity and pornography addictions.
Therapies that attempt to “heal” homosexuality have been debunked by psychologists and progressive Christian churches for years, but the controversial Living Waters program still operates as a registered Canadian charity with the Canadian Revenue Agency.
For Squire, one of the most traumatizing experiences was the search for the supposed roots of his same-sex desires — a practice still common in the program today.
Squire said a leader directed him through childhood memories of sexual and emotional abuse growing up in London, Ont. The leader then linked Squire’s homosexual desires to the abuse.
“When they say you choose to be gay and you can fix that, they’re essentially saying, ‘You chose to be abused,’ ” said Squire.
“When you’re told that part of you is wrong and needs to be corrected, you start to question the rest of you,” he said. “It’s psychologically damaging and it becomes a part of you.”
For Squire, the inability to be “healed” made him feel as though his Christian beliefs weren’t strong enough. He had failed God.
After a year and a half in the Living Waters program — the end of a 10-year journey of denying his sexuality — Squire left the program feeling ashamed.
He said Living Waters indoctrinated him to believe that as a gay man he could be only three things: a prostitute, a pedophile or a recklessly promiscuous swinger.
“I was told there was no such thing as a healthy happy homosexual. They do not exist,” he said.
He accepted this supposed fate and descended into a self-destructive “depraved lifestyle,” he said.
“No one walks out of there and says, ‘It just doesn’t work for me.’ We walk out of there broken. People go in there unhealthy and come out unhealthier.”
But Living Waters wouldn’t let him go, he said. The program’s leaders followed Squire, showing up at his workplace and calling him incessantly to tell him that he had “fallen away from Jesus,” Squire said.
He eventually found solace in Toronto’s queer-affirming Metropolitan Community Church, which helped him reconcile his religious beliefs with his sexuality. However, he ultimately drifted away from the church and Christianity altogether.
“I’m deeply spiritual, no longer Christian,” he said.
A former leader’sregrets
Once a leader at Living Waters Toronto, Daniel Cranley says he wouldn’t recommend the program to anyone.
Cranley joined it around 2000. Then 23, he was referred to Living Waters by its founder and in-house psychotherapist Barry Lee, who gave him one-on-one therapy.
After less than a year, he started to be groomed for a leadership role. He began dating a woman and was put in charge of music.
With the help of Dave Lawson, who was himself just becoming a leader, Cranley led a group of four or five gay men who wanted to become straight. The program sent him to retreats and conferences in Alberta and Quebec, where he met dozens of other individuals like him stationed across the country.
Internally, he continued to struggle. His gay feelings remained unchanged — uncorrected in the eyes of the program. He was told he needed more faith.
“There were times where I said, ‘But I see happy gay couples all the time.’ And they would say, ‘It’s not real happiness. They’re covering up the pain and their sin,’ ” he said.
After three years, he started to realize he wasn’t going to change.
During a meeting with the program’s leaders, Cranley confided that he was still gay.
“I’ve got all sorts of healing from this group but my orientation hasn’t changed,” he remembers telling them.
The group members began laying their hands on Cranley’s body, praying for him. As he stood encircled by those who had supported him for four years, he expected them to “have rallied behind me, the way they always had.”
That didn’t happen.
A short time later, the co-ordinator told him he was “no longer conducive to the ministry,” Cranley said. He was asked to leave.
“It made me realize this whole changing process was entirely on me,” he said. “That’s where the damage lies: They are there to support you as long as you’re trying to change. The minute I made that shift to ‘my orientation was not changing,’ I was on my own.”
Cranley had come to believe he was internally flawed because he didn’t have enough faith to change.
But his falling out with Living Waters did not quash his faith.
Cranley had worked part-time at an Anglican church in Oshawa while attending Living Waters. After being told to leave, he found refuge within the church, and its priest became a mentor.
“I still cannot articulate why I maintained my faith throughout the process other than there was a certain God-given resilience. There was something about the process that made me say, ‘This will not destroy me.’ ”
With the priest’s encouragement, Cranley began pursuing Anglican ordination. He hopes to be placed at a church soon and leading a congregation of his own.
Looking back, there were aspects of the Living Waters program — the sense of a supportive community, healing prayers — that were beneficial, said Cranley, who is now 35. It allowed him to connect to God and to recover from the abuse he suffered as a teenager.
Still, he would never recommend Living Waters to anyone.
“If you don’t get the results then it’s your fault — it’s a problem with your faith. That’s the biggest problem with programs like that,” he said.
“That’s what leaves people angry as hell.”