Men and Woman Who Once Identified as LGBT Share Stories of Transformation Outside U.S. Capitol

Pulse nightclub shooting survivor Angel Colon speaks at a joint press conference outside the U.S. Capitol with the CHANGED movement and Church United on October 30, 2019. | The Christian Post

Men and women who once identified as LGBT shared their personal stories of transformation with lawmakers Wednesday after the House passed a bill earlier this year that would bar citizens from accessing counseling and therapies for unwanted same-sex attraction. 

Dressed in black T-shirts emblazoned with the word “CHANGED,” 16 formerly LGBT-identified persons from Church United and the CHANGED movement spoke at a joint news conference outside the U.S. capitol where they shared their stories with members of Congress and their staff, and urged senators not to support the so-called Equality Act if it’s ever brought to the floor for a vote.

“There are bills behind us that are going to take away our rights,” said Jim Domen from Church United.

Domen said he has dealt with same-sex attraction since the seventh grade and even identified as a gay man for five years, but today he’s married to a woman and has three children. He described his years in his former life as a search for love where he was so desperate that he did not care if his sexual partners had hepatitis or were HIV-positive.

“My two daughters and son don’t think I’m a fraud, they know that I’m real,” he said. “We exist. We are people who have changed.”

He and others stressed the importance that they should have the right to pursue counseling options in accordance with their faith, therapies that would be restricted under H.R. 5, the Equality Act — an updated version of the 1964 landmark civil rights legislation considered by many to be Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy — which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year. The bill is being pushed by LGBT activist organizations.

Domen emphasized: “I want to very clear about something, all of us here, we love, we absolutely love the LGBTQ community. We understand you. We know what it’s like. We’ve lived there, we’ve walked it. We’ve been from gay bars and back. We know the journey. We know the pain.”

As currently proposed, the Equality Act explicitly nullifies protections set forth in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Senate version of the Equality Act, S.788, which was introduced in March to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is not presently being considered for a committee vote — Republicans hold the majority — and will not make it to the floor for a vote.

The Trump administration said in May that the Equality Act is “filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”

Also Among those who spoke Wednesday was KathyGrace Duncan, who formerly identified as transgender — whose story of coming to faith and detransitioning was featured in The Christian Post’s 2017 series on transgenderism — and Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon, both whom survived the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016 that was committed by an ISIS sympathizer. Colon was shot several times and Ruiz was trampled as he fled the scene. Today the two men lead a ministry called Fearless Identity.

Liz Flaherty, who identified herself as a former lesbian, recounted how she was molested at age 6 by a family member, which she hid from her parents. Tormented and feeling alone from keeping that a secret, the anguish continued through her formative years as she was bullied by male peers. No matter how hard she tried she could not relate to men and came out as a lesbian during her senior year in high school, much to the confusion of her Christian parents who were pastors at that time.

“Even though they were confused they loved me, they didn’t reject me. They kept an open home to me. They didn’t kick me out, unlike stories you hear a lot of that saddens many of us who did have loving parents,” Flaherty said.

“I truly was in agony. I was agoraphobic; I was riddled with anxiety; I was depressed. I never wanted to leave the home. I was self-medicating through pornography.”

After losing both of her parents to cancer within a three-year period, Flaherty returned to her faith and decided to look for help in processing her traumas. She sought out a faith-based counselor who walked her through resolving her conflicted feelings.

“There was no promise to make me straight, there was just allowing room for me to question this dynamic of self-protection that I had put up through years of abuse,” she explained, noting that her attractions then shifted.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter