Michael Passons, a founding member of Avalon who left the Christian band 17 years ago, is opening up about his departure from the group.
The singer-songwriter, 54, revealed during Wednesday’s episode of Jonah and the Whale podcast that he was actually kicked out of the Grammy-winning musical act because he is gay. Recalling his exit to host Josh Skinner, Passons said that he was confronted by his former bandmates on June 30, 2003, to leave Avalon.
“Avalon showed up at my house and told me I was no longer in the group,” he said. “And it was all because of who I am.”
“They came alone, but they had been speaking with management and record label before they visited my home,” Passons continued, adding that he was “blindsided” by the decision.
A representative for Avalon did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The artist also said that he was “required to attend some reparative therapy sessions” prior to his exit, which like conversation therapy, is an attempt is made to try to make someone identify as heterosexual.
“That did not go well,” Passons shared. “After about a month, I said, ‘Look, I’m not going back to that guy. Let the chips fall where they belong.’ ”
“And it wasn’t long after that that a member of the group had begun to form an alliance with management, label and other members to kind of help speed up the process of me not being a part of the group anymore,” he said.
Passons recalled that former Avalon member Melissa Greene — who is now a pastor — was one of the members that showed up at his house, though he noted that they are now good friends after she “helped me through this season in my life.”
On Thursday Greene shared how proud she was of Passons and encouraged fans of the band to listen to the podcast.
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Gabrielle Chung