Waymon Hudson

Another Horrific Tale of "Ex-Gay" Conversion... and How the Internet is Helping Fight Back

Filed By Waymon Hudson | July 06, 2009 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living, Living, Living
Tags: Bryce Faulkner, conversion therapy, ex-gay, Exodus International Ministries, Facebook

The request to join a new group came through my Facebook page. The group was called "Friends of Bryce", which could have been anything, but had a note attached that said "Please Help."

Bryce 1.jpgWhen I clicked over to the group, an all too familiar tale unfolded. According to the site, Bryce Faulkner, a young gay man from Arkansas, had gone missing after his parents had discovered he was gay. They had gotten into their college-aged son's email account and discovered messages between Bryce and his boyfriend.

The parents then gave Bryce an ultimatum- enter an extensive and severe "therapy" program or lose all their support for college and living expenses. For a young man from a conservative small town whose entire life, including his job, was tied to his parents, who had nowhere to go and no one to turn to, there really was no choice.

According the site, Bryce was sent to 14 week long conversion therapy camp and has not been heard from again.

If this is true, the most likely place that Bryce has been sent to is Exodus International, the "ex-gay" organization that claims to pray away the gay by using damaging "conversion therapy", or one of their many subsidiaries. They have been universally condemned by every major mental health organization in the world.

Even more sad is the information from the site that Bryce was planning on coming out and moving to be closer to his boyfriend before his parents discovered his emails and threatened to cut him off, which would leave him homeless and unable to provide for himself.

This tale of forced conversion, if true, is all too common still. But it seems that the internet is now helping give tools to the loved ones of those that disappear.

The family of Bryce's boyfriend has set up a webpage and Facebook group asking for help in finding Bryce. They are doing their best to find a way to contact him and give him the support he needs to get away from the horrors of Exodus, if that is indeed where he is.

They are trying to give him the option of deciding for himself and not being forced into this damaging faux therapy.

This type of exposure of the Ex-Gay Movement from all sides, whether it be the amazing work of sites like the Box Turtle Bulletin or Beyond Ex-Gay or user generated content like the "gay exorcism" video that went viral online, is helping expose the dangerous reality of conversion therapy.

Let's hope that these tools can help broaden the reach of those trying to help victims of forced conversion. Young minds like Bryce need to know there is a support system and a community that loves them.

Being forced into these horrible programs will have lasting damage on people like Bryce. We need to do everything in our power to continue to fight against these "ex-gay" groups and make sure we bring their damage to an end.

For more information on Bryce's situation visit: the "Friends of Bryce" Facebook Page.

Note: I'll be doing a lot more digging on this and other conversion therapy stories, so feel free to send me any information or tips you may have.


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The stories make me so sad. NARTH just released "research" that they claim is published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

It turns out that the "journal" is published by an unaccredited school that is better known for endorsing penis pills (you cannot make this stuff up).

http://www.tips-q.com/1064151-pray-away-gay-and-penis-pills

David's comment about right-wing religious organizations distorting terms like "peer reviewed" is a very worthy topic right now.
The right-wing "Think Tanks" like The Heritage Foundation and The House on C Street have been busy divising ways to combat gay people, socialism and information about Global Warming for a very long time now. The best they can do is to infiltrate and propagandize the mainstream media with misinformation that "seems" credible on the surface. Some of these organizations (mostly funded by mega-churches and oil companies)have been pretty successful at convincing people of things that are just flat-out lies. Things like "it's been proven that there is no gene in dna associated with being gay" and "it's been proven that cars don't really cause global warming".

The little "talking points" and quippy headlines is all they care about, because they know people will not take the time to verify or validate any of the information they produce. And ultimately, most Americans will truly believe anything they read if it coincides with their sociological or political beliefs.

The "whack-a-schmuck" strategy is hard to maintain. There is an oversupply of schmucks.

The current hyperbole/pants on fire champion is clearly hate crimes legislation where the congregation is reciting the mythology in unison.

Due to the Lombard fiasco, hate crimes is closely followed by pedophilia fairly tales.

After that, we get the whole pray-away-the-gay thing. Our best ally is an Evangelical Christian - Warren Throckmorton. Warren is becoming more of an advocate by the minute. He has a gay son. If there was one person who I would want Bryce's parents to speak with, it would be Warren.

Agreed.

Dr T didn't start out this way. But he's a decent human being, and gradually came to the realisation that those he was in with were not.

He's the genuine article, a Christian rather than a "Christian". A believer in being kind to one another, and a scientist too, who doesn't let his preconceived beliefs over-ride the facts.

I was incorrect. Dr. Throckmorton does not have a gay son. My apologies to all.

twinkie1cat | July 28, 2009 2:48 PM

Strange how having a close gay relative suppports either a flip, a shut up (Jerry Falwell quieted down after his nephew came out.) or an incongruous graft (Cheney). A loved one just softens them on up. Bring it home and bring them out. The one who didn't, and I am sure it is because he still has his eye on his political future was Newt Gingrich, who denied his gay sister when she came out. His campaign called Candace as "half-sister" but their Mama got on local TV in Atlanta and announced that, even though they had different fathers (how often does that happen?) but they had grown up together. Newt is from wealthy North Cobb County, one of the most conservative voting districts in America (also the home of Bob Barr) and the wart on metro Atlanta. Cobb is also the place where they lynched Leo Frank.

I don't know how common this knowledge is, but the Founders of Exodus fell in love with each other and left the organization years ago.

twinkie1cat | July 23, 2009 7:03 PM

The irony of all of this is that the founders of Exodus International fell in love with each other and left the organization years ago.

Watch Focus on the Family closely on this issue. They currently are airing a video on their website where and "ex gay" woman is interviewed and pushing their "Truth Wins Out" program which purports to convert people into heterosexuals. FOF is probably the most respected of all the hate groups because they also do good things for families.

Often these groups pick people who were not even necessarily gay as their spokespeople---Questioners (GLBTQ) who have had some gay experiences, not those who have known who they were for a long time. And of course members of conservative churches are particularly vulnerable. "Lay on the guilt and kill the queer", they say. Nobody wants to go to hell and they never hear the real messages of the inclusive love of Jesus Christ, but rather a works gospel that says you cannot come to Jesus without renouncing your "homosexual behavior". Of course they don't even accept that homosexual orientation even exists. No one is "born gay" to these groups and if you do tend to like the same sex, you must be celibate or you will turn into a homosexual. Watch them closely. With so many conservatives upset about the Presidential election they are scared to death and desperate to accentuate the things that divide us as Americans.

Sad, sad, sad. The tragedy of this sort of thing is a horror. I feel for these kids who get forced into these things.

To my knowledge, the only youth program that was affiliated with Exodus International (which is just an umbrella organization for a lot of little ministries - it does not run any kind of program itself) was the Love In Action program that Zach Stark was sent to in 2005. It is no longer in operation (well, they have a parents intensive weekend now, and still have an adult program). But he is not 18 yet, correct? If so, he is probably not at Love In Action. There are other programs out there, not affiliated with Exodus, but that follow the basic model and can do some real psychological and emotional harm. My thoughts are with Bryce and all those concerned. If there's anything we can help with over at beyondexgay.com, do let us know.

Christina-

Thanks for your offer of help. These folks are very concerned for Bryce. I know BeyondExGay has much more knowledge and resources in this type of situation, so I'd love to contact you offline and share some info with you.

Waymon, thank you for blogging about Bryce and for facilitating this discussion. Christine Bakke and I had a long talk recently about the various types of ex-gay survivors.

The vast majority of people who go to these programs do so as adults who willingly seek to "de-gay" themselves for all sorts of reasons. (Check out the article at Beyond Ex-Gay about the many that compelled me to go ex-gay--http://www.beyondexgay.com/article/whyexgay and here is he video with the similar info- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMPnxqmuq_U )

Some teenager, minors have been forced against their will to "therapists," ministers, counselors and even Christian camps. Although the Love in Action (LIA) Refuge for minors program closed back in spring 2007 there are other Christian boot camps around the US that offer "help" for all sorts of issues--drugs, alcohol, etc and sadly queer teens get sent to these to get straightened out.

College-age young adults like Bryce can get coerced by parents who threaten to withhold financial support should the child come out and not pursue an ex-gay path.

Of the well over 1,000 ex-gay survivors I have met in North America, Europe and the UK, this last category of college-aged folks coerced often come out least harmed. Since they are not fully invested in the process, and they are a little older than a younger teen, they typically have the inner resources to get through the programming and still maintain their sense of self. They often bring a healthy skepticism that creates problems for the folks running these programs.

Most likely Bryce is at the Love in Action Source program in Memphis, TN. It is close to where he is from, a residential program, and would have started a new three month cycle sometime in June.

The good news is that programs like LIA are wildly ineffective. The vast majority of people who complete the program typically come out. I have seen that among the college-age folks like Bryce, these not only come out but become serious queer activists as a result of their negative experiences.

No doubt these programs do cause harm and most people who have been exposed to the dodgy methods and theories need help in recovering. Living without the parental support can cause huge distress. Christine and I have met many of these ex-gay survivors who have been able to move beyond these negative experiences to live open and healthy lives.

We may not be able to do much to help Bryce at this moment. If he is at LIA, he has no Internet access, phone, etc. He is in lock-down, so likely is unaware of this conversation, but he will emerge, and I imagine when he feels it is safe to do so, he will contact his friends.

My mom before she died in 2006 asked me to do her a favor. She never forced me to attend LIA, but at first she thought it wasn't such a bad idea. She couldn't imagine anyone being happy and gay after all the grief she saw gay people go through in her neighborhood growing up in Manhattan.

My mom asked me to be gentle with parents when they don't yet get it. Usually they are not motivated by hate or intolerance but by fear and ignorance. Most parents simply want the best for their children and believe that by sending their child to such a program will help. My mom, once she discovered how awful the treatment was and how depressed it made me, understood that I would be best helped by being affirmed for who I was and accepted fully regardless of my sexuality.

I share this because I imagine folks are very angry at Bryce's parents. There is even contact info on at least one site with an encouragement to communicate with his parents. In reaching out to his parents, if you feel so led to do, please try not to make negative judgments towards them. Assume they love their child and want him to live a happy life. Tell them your story, your own journey. Help them to see that their worse fears will not come true if they affirm their gay son.

Check out this great interview with Jacob Wilson who went to LIA in 2005 at age 19. He gives an eye-witness account of what happened to him, how the brainwashing affected him and how he ultimately broke free from it. He now works as an activist in Iowa. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8uLkNefhkQ

-peterson
www.beyondexgay.com

Peterson, thank you so much for the information you have shared. It is heartening to hear that college-aged youth fair better in these situations, so we can hope for the best.

I'll be sure to pass along this amazing info to the boyfriend and his family. This is exactly what I was hoping for- people who had more experience and could provide discussion and advice on this tough subject.

Also- do you know of any camps in the Pensacola, FL area? It seems there was mention of this area before the communication lines with Bryce were cut off.

Again, thank you so much!

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 6, 2009 8:43 PM

Why are these "conversion therapy" institutions still legal? They need to be outlawed.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 6, 2009 9:17 PM

OK, when I was 19 and had "the conversation" with my parents I was in college too. He should have packed a bag and left the house on foot if he had certainty of his feelings. He should have phoned his boyfriend and said "pick me up" even if one is in California and another is in Maine. He is in his home town, surely he has friends who can hide him from "Miracle Mother & Fundamentalist Father" long enough for this to happen.

If these parents had seen a son with certitude and a spine who would stand up to them they would not have been able to do this to an adult. To compromise yourself for a job from daddy is unacceptable as an excuse. They are making their son into a whore for hire. To accept their intrusion into private communications with others is possibly a point of a lawsuit. Be prepared to walk away from everything and do so if you must. Live fearlessly or you will fear everything. I assume they are a well off family. This is an example of how it is better to have come from nothing.

Robert, While I agree with what you are saying in principle, I respectfully disagree.

The way that Federal Financial Aid is set up, this boy would not be able to get any financial aid for school, either, because they count your PARENTS income if you are under age 22 (I think, it may be older), unless you have been living on your own and can prove it for at least two years. They may, under some circumstances, approve you if you have been "independent" for a shorter length of time, but under no circumstances would they approve a kid who just got kicked out. They also would take his income (from the family job that he also would have lost) into consideration, and lowered his aid accordingly. And how would this young man have gotten a new job? Employers check references, and it is a good bet that the family business would not give him a decent reference, as a way to pressure him.

So while I agree with you in principle, the whole system is against a kid like Bryce.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 8:08 PM

Susan, we are dealing in unknowns here. We do not know if he even had a scholarship. His parents could easily have been too wealthy. Mom and Dad could have been paying for everything and the shiny car too. Pack a bag and leave if you are in an abusive situation. There is never a reason to accept abuse. Now that could cause hardships, but you cannot complain about those if you choose to endure others. This fellow obviously has another family that cares about him deeply and his parents could well come around and "grow up" a little themselves when they realize that by "saving" their son they have, in fact, lost him.

Or, they can choose to hate what they view as a "sin" but love the sinner. If Bryce is loved by his family they will also work to understand him.

LGBT persons have plenty of enemies and snide detractors. We are free when we decide we are free.

Stephanie | July 9, 2009 12:17 AM

My twenty-one year old friend - whose mother had died when she was eighteen and her father (who she saw maybe once every two years) when she was fourteen - had to obtain death certificates for both her parents along with tax forms and a letter from the state to prove she had no legal guardian before she was eligible for any sort of financial help (that includes loans). Never mind that her father left before she was even born and had no legal custody over her even when alive. My other friend, who had been kicked out of his house after reporting his step father for sexually abusing his underage sister, couldn't even get any support as the school demanded a note for his parents to prove he was independent of them financially. Proving independence under the age of twenty-two is a long and difficult process, especially if it's simply a cause of 'mommy and daddy cut you off'.

To be honest, if I had someone backing my education, I probably wouldn't be strong enough to say 'no' in this type of situation, either. Obviously, I can make no claims for Bryce, but I know in my own life that my future career goal is so important that I would probably rationalize most anything.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 9, 2009 9:22 AM

Stephanie, if it takes six years instead of four to get your BA, and you are working, and know that the rest of your life it is your accomplishment? If it takes extra time to get a degree and you worked your way through you are in excellent company. I got a scholarship for tuition only through academic success in high school.

Whether I ate or had a place to sleep was my own problem. My parents sent me $20.00 a month which by now is probably worth $40.00. I was working night jobs everything from janitor to desk clerk, but I was free.

twinkie1cat | August 1, 2009 6:19 PM

It is true that it is REAL hard for anyone under 25 to be declared an independent student by FAFSA and thus have their financial aid awarded based on their own income. However, sometimes they can get Perkins Loans, which have much looser requirements than Pell Grants. A lot of people have trouble getting aid because their parents are too poor to file income tax, are afraid to release the information, or are estranged from their children and don't want to assist them.

This was a Republican intervention, the more difficult road to student fincancial aid, that started during the Reagan administration. Not wanting to help the poor, he made application much more complicated and confusing with strict deadlines so that less educated parents would have trouble understanding the forms. High school social workers were often the only people who could understand the forms and if the student was already out of high school there was no assistance.

Summer of 2005 at the age of 55 I had to prove that I was an independent student to get aid for my second trip to graduate school because I had very little income being a Katrina survivor in a FEMA trailer! In fact the first semester I paid for myself when I got my recovery money from FEMA.

In my last job, I helped many young people apply for what is called a dependency override. This allows a college student under the age of 24 receive Pell Grants and other financial aid without the parents' income information. There is no minimum length of time a student has to have lived apart from the parents. A student's college or university makes the determination as to the granting of the dependency override, not the federal government. The student must write a letter detailing the reasons he or she is estranged from the parental units and state, (this is very important), that there is no contact with the parents. Many of the young people with whom I worked had been thrown out of their family homes because of their sexual orientation; all of them were granted dependency overrides. It is best to be honest and frank in the letter to the financial aid officer at one's school, (every institution has someone in the financial aid office who is in charge of dependency overrides); this is the only person who knows about the information contained in the letter and that info is protected by the same laws that protect a student's other vital information.

It's called a Title IV special condition and can change the student's status from dependent to independent. It should be noted that this would then apply to all T4 including campus-based grants and loans and college work-study (for spending money). Moreover, housing is part of the cost of education for financial aid purposes.

Having said that, I would guess that the issue is emotional more than financial dependency. Again, this is NOT a character flaw nor a failure on Bryce's part. It is parents who make children overly dependent.

I guess that I was lucky. My late mother (the perfect little old Jewish lady caricature) adored my partner. She even stopped referring to him as "shiksa." -;)

Robert, what a lot of assumptions you are making about someone you don't know.

I can tell you, having come from a fundamentalist family, it is hard to have the wherewithall to stand up against your parents, especially if you have been raised in a severely sheltered environment, where they are the authority on everything.

I don't know Bryce and have no idea if this is his situation, but it could have easily been me. If I had been a teen, and been forced out before I was ready (or before I had a "spine" or whatever else is necessary to stand up against parents like these), I could see myself in a camp and probably not even knowing how I got there, really. With enough pressure from my family (who were everything to me) and my church (who was the final authority on everything), who knows where I would have gone.

Does that mean I'm a weak person? No. Well, yes, at that time, perhaps. Was it my fault? No. If you've never been taught to stand on your own two feet and think your own thoughts, it's mighty hard to just up and start doing that because you've reached the legal age.

I'm 20 years removed from that age, and now have the courage of my convictions and a spine (and in fact co-founded an organization that takes on the ex-gay movement - beyondexgay.com), but it has taken me a long time to get here, and a lot of "unlearning" and healing from religious abuse and fear of my parents and God.

Unless you've walked in his shoes, perhaps all these assumptions are not appropriate. I think compassion and an attempt at understanding are, though.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 10:15 AM

Firstly, I had the wherewithal. Secondly from the information provided you are assuming they are fundamentalist when they could just be wealthy bigots. Third, I come from a generation where if you are old enough to be drafted you are old enough to know your own mind. Sorry if I seem a tough old bird, but "denial" is in Egypt. See my full response below.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 11:49 AM

Additionally I would add that if he loved his friend without question this would be a mute point.

So because you did it, everyone else can too?
Sorry, but that logic doesn't fly. You're making assumption after assumption about someone you know next to nothing about. I can't help but be a bit disgusted at the 'blame the victim' approach you're taking with this.
"If he loved his boyfriend, he wouldn't do this"...what if he loves his family too? Did you forget that little complication?
There's a whole list of reasons for him making the choice he made. Was it for the best? Likely not, but to blame him for being strong armed into it is downright awful.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 8:11 PM

Welcome to the Assumption Inn. Your room is ready, now get down on your knees and pray for ten hours a day.

These ex gay groups are nonprofits or no? There comes a time when one must walk forward on their own two feet. I hope this guy leaves this ex gay nonsense behind for acceptance of who he is. Are there stories of adults being held against their will. They sound like the moonies.

First of all, people need to be educated, so these things do not happen again. It is such a sad story, I pray he is found,and he will be healthy, and can live the life that he is comfortable with. We don't always have the choice as to how we love, and people should respect that. Life is to short. Others shouldn't dictate to you on your sexual preference, or bring harm to you....I am scared for this young man. God Bless Him!
Aunt Nancy

I'd go after his parents first and foremost. And the church they belong to. If there's one there has to be more...

I hope they find him before its too late.

Jeremy

Arthur Corbin | July 7, 2009 1:11 AM

Arkansas Online has a Bible Belt blogger, Frank Lockwood at 501.378.3471. I sent an e-mail asking for whatever information he might have.

Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline is 800.482.5964 (this may only work in Arkansas, did not check), though he may be considered an adult. Then adult protective services need to be contacted.

Arkansas Attorney General may be another contact.

Has then been verified?

He was starting college, so he is technically an adult, which makes the situation harder. While he may legally be of age, his situation makes him completely dependent on his parents and makes this type of forced conversion and blackmail possible.

As for confirmation, I have spoken to his boyfriend and the BF's mother. They are the only real sources of confirmation I have, but they are really worried and seem on the level. The BF comes from a same-sex household with same-sex parents, so they are really just looking for some way to get in contact with Bryce and offer him help and more options.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 9:38 AM

Christine, you are right, I do not know this person. I have walked 100 miles in his shoes in 1972, (long pre internet) more importantly I forbid my parents to send me money (until they were willing to accept me and my life) as working physically hard I could make my own. I was a founding member of Gay Liberation Front at Purdue University in 1972. I earned a college scholarship and was an official"Hoosier Scholar." Later I had a teaching fellowship that saw me through grad school at IU Bloomington. Summers I worked on a railroad track crew with people who could not read working in the dirt and muck. Importantly, I had friends along the way of all ages. I loved to listen to the advice and ideas of those who were older and had "lived it" rather than those who crept about in fear.

This is a legal voting age adult, not a child not a "kid." If he is not ready to stand up for himself there is little that outsiders can do. People can be dependent upon their parents, family, society, church or whomever for affirmation if they can find none INSIDE THEMSELVES. All I know about this young man is that daddy had a job waiting for him and mommy had hysterics at the thought that her precious child had fallen away from the "true" teachings of "god."

I am not condemning this young man, but he could very easily ruin himself and others. If he is unable, to connect with the love he has for his boyfriend and his true emotional state, perhaps he should be someone who marries a woman (seeking access to daddy's money)and create another generation of unhappiness it will have to be his choice. Welcome to country club society.

A bitter truth is that you cannot save everyone from themselves. I wish I could sugar coat that. I wish there were a way to transfer "smarts" like a plasma transfusion.

Rann DeStefano | July 7, 2009 11:21 AM

Robert you seem to have valuable experience and I appreciate what you have done but your attitude toward this is horrible. At least try to have some compassion and try to understand what may have been going on in his mind. You seem very judgemental. And feel free to not agree as this is my opinion of your posts and you don't have to agree.

I wish Bryce the best. He may not have stood up as strongly as I would have or Robert would have but he is now in a bad situation.

Well you are leaving out one unfortunate possibility. Some of the people that run these camps are not the nicest. Has anybody reported this case to the police as a possible murder? They need to interview his parents, find out where he was sent and then investigate the camp.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 12:13 PM

Rann, I only hope I am wrong and that his parents drugged him, put him in a straight jacket and hauled him off to some indoctrination camp. At least in that manner he would truly be a victim. Otherwise he will have a 14 week bible camp with extra benefits of sleep deprivation and maybe a water boarding on Sundays.

The reality is none of us know, but this is what "consciousness raising" is about. Have a plan and and back up plan.

I am regretful that my attitudes seem horrible to you and I would love to know your immediate caring solution that will solve Bryce's problem.

Lacking that solution I would like to wish everyone in the world the best because it means exactly as much as wishing him the best. I have said it before: "Deeds, not words."

An immediate caring solution would be to find Bryce and let him know he has options and people that are willing to help him. It is easy for young people to feel isolated and become blackmailed by parents who hold all the control over their lives- financially and emotionally.

Having been in contact with the supportive people in his life, it is very obvious that he was cut off from any help immediately by his parents and forced in to this situation. Whether you realize it or not, many in small towns don't have the means to leave or provide for themselves if they have been as isolated as this young man.

It is easy to say "you should be stronger" when we aren't in the situation ourselves. That's why there is such a high risk or suicide among LGBT young people- they get isolated and feel hopeless. that is the road his parents are putting him on.

Thank you so much for you comments. I agree with you 100%

I'll be the first to ask the impolite question: do we have proof that this is real? After the Laura's Playground message board hoax and the pregnant woman/miscarriage blog hoax, we can't be too careful.

I'm not saying anyone here is lying. I just want to know what people know. Has anyone contacted his parents?

Bryce's parents aren't answering anyone. I've spoken personally with the boyfriend and the BF's mother, both of whom seem honestly concerned about Bryce and what is happening to him (and their details are the same when I speak to them independently). Cases like this are hard to "prove", so I've been doing all the fact checking possible on a situation like this.

Thanks, waymon. That's what I needed.

I am reading a great deal of "blame the victim." Let's accept this at face value. If Bryce is too fragile to stand up to his parents that is neither a character flaw nor something within his reasonable control. There are just too many variables to make any judgments.

Accepting that premise, I am not at all sure what anyone can do about this situation. Someone suggested that we need to educate the public. If this guy's parents are fundamentalists, it is likely that he has been instructed his entire life to accept the "logic" god said it - that settles it. Has anyone ever won an argument with a fundamentalist? A Scientologist?

Furthermore, this isn't some kid lost in the teen gulag archipelago in Utah. Bryce is an adult.

Erich Riesenberg | July 7, 2009 3:59 PM

This is odd, he is described as a pre-med college student though his age isn't listed. Unless he was actually kidnapped I don't understand what anyone expects to do about it.

He and his boyfriend lives several states apart. Has to be somewhat self sufficient.

As Robert suggests, we can send positive messages of hope to Mother Earth.

What kind of animals treat their very own offspring is such a vile and disgusting manner?

It simply makes me wonder if God made a big 'oops' in leaving the protection of children to Heterosexuals.

Hello everyone. First and foremost, I want to thank Waymon for putting this out here for everyone. I am "the BF's mom". That being said, this is not a hoax, scam or anything blown out of porportion. Bryce is a fine young man and had a bright future ahead of him, until he decided to come out to his mom and dad. He actually didn't even have the option of coming out. He was "found out" by despicable means. Everything he had was in their name, the cell phone, the car, internet, he worked at a clinic his mom owned. She would call the cell company and tell them she forgot the voicemail password, which they would then reset for her in order to get access to his voicemails. His dad is a technician for the local cable company (inet) and installed a "tap" on the internet in order to get access to passwords for email accounts. They even got the password to an account that they didn't know that he had. Any mail that came to the house addressed to him was opened and scanned. He did rely on his parents for everything.
Now, to those who say he didn't have a spine... I know it seems superficial, but when your forced to choose between your family, financial security and being thrown into the streets (with absolutely nothing), 9 out of 10 times your family is going to win. That doesn't mean its the best thing to do, it just is what it is. And if this is truly what Bryce wants (which we do not believe it is), all he has to do is say so. The parents tried doing their own intervention for 2 days (Fri & Sat) before they shipped him off during which time he had been telling my son what had been going on.. reading scriptures out loud from the bible to his parents.. them telling him "God is punishing you"..etc. The day this happened, on Sun (he had been texting with my son, up until his mom took the phone away)he was begging my son to "promise to be there for him" "stay strong for him", etc. Then all communication stopped at 2pm. Then at 11:30pm, my son got a text from Bryces phone from Bryces mom telling him how he "needed to stay away from Bryce" and how she "hoped he was happy that he ruined Bryces life". My son texted back saying that if that was indeed the case, Bryce should call him himself.. that call never came. The next day he got a text from Bryce's sister saying that Bryce had been sent away and they he should leave him alone.
In closing, if we could find out his whereabouts, we could at least make sure that he is OK and do whatever possible to get him out and to saftey. The more people that spread the word the better our chances and for those of you that haven't seen the website, please stop by and read the story, please sign the guestbook so that if and when Bryce sees it he'll know there is a support network for him. We also have a "Friends of Bryce" group on Facebook.
http://savebryce.ergonomicalministries.org/

Thanks for sharing and commenting, Tonya.

I wanted to let you know that the reason some are skeptical is because of a recent reported hate crime/murder that was reported by a blogger on this site that turned out to be a hoax. Please don't take the harshness or skeptical nature of some of the comments to heart.

I think you lay out the situation very well and I hope we can get some way for you to contact Bryce and offer support & help.

To everyone else- please be mindful that situations like these may just be a blog post to some of you and you can discuss larger issues or motives without emotional investment, but it is a serious and painful situation to the people involved and to those with similar experiences in their past.

Part of being a community is to help and support each other.

This was my story EXACTLY when I came out to my parents in Mississippi except for the fact that I told my parents to go fuck themselves, was immediately thrown out of the house and out of the family, packed up a suitcase and jumped a bus to Florida the next day with NOTHING but a suitcase full of clothes, fear you could cut with a knife and a stubborn streak a mile long. I busted my ass to survive and twenty years later I'm still in Florida, married to the man of my dreams for over 15 years and raising our son together.

It wasn't easy but I stayed true to myself and I wouldn't change a thing.

Incidently, my parents came around after us not having spoken for over two years. I told them that their homophobia, and not my homosexuality, was the "sin" and that when they were ready to ask for my forgiveness they knew where I would be. Once they finally realized that I meant it they sought out help in understanding homosexuality and reconciling it with their religious beliefs. We now have a wonderful relationship. They've become different people in so many ways over the last 20 years. The whole episode made me a stronger person and it made them better people too. It's just a shame that such ignorance-based heartache continues to happen. It's so wrong and so unecessary.

To the young man from Arkansas, FIRST be true to yourself. Things may not be easy but anything less will leave you unfulfilled, unhappy and resentful.

Erich Riesenberg | July 7, 2009 7:58 PM

Amen to that and congrats. It amazes me gay men of all ages these days still have so much trouble accepting themselves.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2009 8:46 PM

Well said Zeke. You are my hero! From Tonya's description above his parents were actively and illegally spying on an adult. Surely this young man knew someone he could have gone to in his community. I cannot accept that he grew up in a bubble with no friends no alternatives and no one who could drive him to the bus stop in the next town.

Oh, and if you think it is even remotely likely that his parents will send him to the same school where he met Tonya's son I have an enrollment in "Trinity College" I would like to sell you.

If he is not strong enough I do not condemn him in any way, blame him or wish him anything but the best. This young man has to proceed at his own pace. The sooner he becomes strong enough the less harm they can do him. Having just "Compassion" is, to me, pointless unless there is a solution at the end of compassion. It is another way of playing the "Ain't it awful" game instead of reaching for a solution.

Waymon, thank you for posting this. Any young adults who read this site are well served by being aware of what can happen. I am sorry if any of my responses came off as unfeeling,(particularly to Tonya who sounds like a great person) but all of us have our own "trauma" story associated with coming out. We all have to make many inconvenient decisions in our lives and we become a better stronger person each time we make the decision that is true to ourselves.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 8, 2009 1:47 AM

And mom owns a "clinic?" I wonder what Arkansas licensing requirements are for the owner of a medical clinic who has committed kidnapping? Usually a felon cannot hold such a license. Anyone know in the case of Arkansas?

Tonya's description of the situation is harrowing, truly harrowing. Parents like Bryce's should not be allowed to reproduce themselves. Let us all hope he escapes whatever hell his parents have committed him to. Personally, I also wish ill on his parents: they're not in any way worshiping in any way that I'd consider Christ-like.

I've met a number of T people who've spent time in Jerry Leech's Crossover Ministries operation, and the only thing that leech's program achieves is the introduction of multiple neuroses and psychoses into the psyches of any person it's touched. I think the people that run those ex-glbt programs know they are the overheating oilburning rusty Chevy Vegas of psychology, and they should be shut down. They're kept alive not by any link to the message of Christ, but because of the link between so=called fundamentalist Christianity (which is really Paullism, not Christianity) and corporate manna.

I hope Bryce can get away and be with the person he loves.

As a question, why isn't being pursued as a criminal matter with the police, or at the very least as a missing persons case with the police? Bryce may not have been in a position to stand up to his parents, but the BF and his family are certainly in a position to report Bryce as a missing person and to report that they believe there was criminal action (blackmail/kidnapping/et cetera) associated with that.

That's why I wanted to post this- there are lots of options some of us might not think about or consider that can be explored. Thanks for the suggestions!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 9, 2009 9:33 AM

The problem is that state and federal prosecutors are reluctant to pursue parents dealing with their children under say 25 years of age. (Think of all the parents who intervene on the behalf of getting their kids off drugs for instance).

Now if he has crossed state lines it is a Federal offense IF Bryce will pursue charges, but his friend and his mom in Wisconsin would have no legal standing.

You might be right, but that's not a reason to try. File a police report and let them sort it out. The worst that happens is that the police say they can't or won't do anything.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 11, 2009 12:18 PM

In order to file a police report you need legal standing to do so. I am sure they know that in Wisconsin which is why they have gone to other means to try and reach Bryce.

I don't know of any ex-gay residential program in Florida, but that doesn't mean there isn't some counselor or ministry that doesn't take folks in. Also more and more the ex-gay thing operates under the radar as it has in the UK, where a Christian ministry that "helps youth in need" also provides a form of ex-gay treatment.

If you want to get even more encouraged, check out this short video about the 2005 protests of Love in Action when Zach, a 16 year old at the time was placed into LIA's Refuge program. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLaBkiP0-nA

These young protesters, many of them in high school, created such a positive atmosphere in all of their actions, even going out of their way to protect Zach and his family from the media who demanded to know Zach's last name and his parents' address. They taught the older queer activist community so many amazing lessons. They spoke a clear, strong message but also understood that they were dealing with humans on all sides of the issue.

From what I last heard Zach is in college and is doing well. Morgan Jon Fox screened parts of the film in Memphis last year including some footage of Zach speaking about his experience. I believe it is in post-production and will premiere soon.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0853155/

Anna Rose | July 8, 2009 6:37 PM

Has anyone tried calling his parents. A quick Google search on the mom's or dad's name in El Dorado brings up the same phone listing. Seems to me that people could start reaching out to them.

It's a possibility, Anna. I do want to be careful to not react to them negatively (and further reinforce their views of the LGBT community), like Peterson said.

I am looking at having someone who went through a similar experience contact them discreetly and see if any headway can be gained.

Very good idea and suggestion. Thanks!

The story is very upsetting and it is sad to me that he allowed his parents to rule his life. The material strings they wrapped around him kpet his spirit bound to them. He did have a choice though, it was a hard choice, but he did have a choice. He could have turned his back on his parents and stepped forward into a different life, more difficult financially and professionally but at least he would have kept his spirit in tact. It is sad to me that he allowed them to crush his spirit.

I can't help but to wonder, if this much fuss would be made over this kid, if he wasn't a tanned, generically attractive, white gay dude.

My thoughts are an outstanding "probably not".

The question you raise is a very convicting question which cuts to the core of GLBTQ culture and "community."

Our "community" and beyond, into broader mainstream culture, tends to show far less passion and compassion for minorities and older; the plain, homely, overweight, disabled, disadvantaged, mentally ill, etc. than what is typically offered up for the white, young, "attractive," slim, fit, well-to-do and healthy people who fit into the overall definition of what's generally considered "attractive" and "appealing..."

(Guilty as charged, myself! We really need to do some soulsearching on this...)

Hi everyone, I wasn't going to comment but after reading all the post's I feel compelled to inject a possible component here that I have not read as an option, speaking to the "spine" issue. Has it occurred to anyone that Bryce may have been lied to or been tricked into going willingly to such a place under false pretenses? This only comes to mind because that is what happened to me. I was tricked into "just going to talk with someone who can help." Thinking I was returning home after telling this individual 'I'm gay, I'm fine, and I'm happy' Under those pretenses, which I checked and double checked and looked everyone in the eyes, I reluctantly gave in and went only to find out after the second locked door and our "conversation" that I would not be leaving with my family.
This was a long time ago and not at Exodus but an Adolescent Treatment Program. Someone insightful earlier wrote that in their attempts to save him they will loose him is very true. After experiencing betrayal of this magnitude they did in fact loose me for a while, and I lost a piece of me. I have lived a good life but have really never been able to trust fully since. I feel it all over reading about these church sanctioned torture programs (that's what they are) and actually cried about it reading about Bryce. It never left me even though my parents and I were able to come to some terms with each other. At their separate deaths oddly, this is what was on my mind.
The last thing I wanted to point out, not that this is the case, but these programs prey on desperation, and need people to stay in service, so they go through great lengths to convince many parents that they actually can "fix" us gays, and often times the individual gay person is not the only victim.
Having said that you should be able to make a police report as a vulnerable adult to determine three things, that he is alive, that he is there willingly, and where there is. His vulnerability is that he is gay, coming out and scared, and without resources. In conjunction I suggest also getting a hold of your Rep. Tammy Baldwin who is openly gay and should take this up for you (and the rest of us) I hope this is helpful and I encourage everyone to open their minds a bit. No one but Bryce and his folks know what went down.

twinkie1cat | July 28, 2009 2:59 PM

This just shows the need for a gay "rescue organization" where a gay person who is in serious danger of being disowned if they don't submit to being reprogrammed can receive housing,counselling, education and financial support for an extended period. It would have to be well funded, but maybe as the recession ends it can be started.

Alot of AIDS got spread when young gay men were disowned by their families and, unequipped to support themselves, became prostitutes, either drag or boy.

Erich Riesenberg | August 11, 2009 1:57 PM

As you wish! Plenty of ways to actually help people alrady exist.

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/08/daniel_radcliffe_teams_up_with_the_trevor_project.php

There are emotional, spiritual and relational dynamics involved in this situation which cannot be neatly compartmentalized into Robert's narrow, judgmental, presumptive and rather arrogant matrix.

"wendy's" comments and suggestions are right on!

The extremely complex mix of history, emotions, love, influence (healthy and unhealthy, honest and manipulative) and relationship rooted to the soul's very core cannot be marginalized by presuming that Bryce (and other Bryce's in similar circumstances) are faced only, or even primarily, with a financial support dilemma.

Situations like this go way deeper than finances and college support. Regardless of how wrong it is to shun us, to drive us into "ex-gay therapy" and to take other hurtful and damaging actions against us, none of us are in a position to fault Bryce.

We CAN presume that Bryce and those like him are understandably confused, disoriented, torn and tormented by seemingly impossible-to-resolve conflicts and consequences with a diverse mix of loved ones (soulmate, parents, siblings).

Assuming that Bryce is a caring, loving, compassionate soul... he, like most of us, probably feels an innate desire to preserve blood/spiritual/emotional relationships -- even those which might a bit (or more than a bit) dysfunctional... even when some of those relationships are incompatible with others in the mix.

So, please, consider that there's likely deep-rooted torment involved in Bryce's situation (and in the circumstances of other Bryces' of our diverse community) before coldly and snidely relegating anyone you don't know into the convenient waters of "denial..."

Our world sees far too much "armchair quarterbacking" in response to situations which are far more complex than we could possibly know.

Bryce and those like him, whether 14, 18, 20-something, 30-something, or ANY coming-out age, should be embraced and supported; then encouraged to back out and away from the emotionally-charged chaos into a safe zone.

In a safe and healthy environment we can objectively and skeptically consider our own set of realities, choices and consequences without outside pressure, manipulations and agendas. We can seek out and be open to counsel and critique then; with a clear and complete presentation of facts to consider.

Anyone caught up in a situation like Bryce's should not be dishonored with such superficial, trite and cliché analysis and criticism.

Hopefully there will be rescue and recovery out of situations like this and opportunity for reflection on and consideration of the "should'a-dones" later.

We can also hope that others, who could be approaching situations like Bryce's, might read and digest these comments (even the not-so-helpful criticisms of Bryce) and find inspiration, encouragement and hope for seeking out objective, safe, no-agenda support systems.

Bryce... I am and many others are praying for your safe return. We hope and pray for your health, peace, restoration and empowerment soon... When you're back, safe and on a path to recovery, please let us know...

Final thought: in response to "This Southern F-----" ...the question you raised is a very convicting question which cuts to the core of GLBTQ culture and "community." Our "community" and beyond, into broader mainstream culture, tends to show far less passion for minorities and older; the plain, homely, overweight, disabled, disadvantaged, mentally ill, etc. than what is typically offered up for the white, young, "attractive," slim, fit, well-to-do and healthy people who fit into the overall definition of what's generally considered "attractive" and "appealing..."