Radio #1: Rachel & David – The Emperor has no Clothes
Podcast – Sunday 13 April, 1pm, JOY 94.9 Melbourne
David Lograsso is an ex-gay survivor. Raised in a Catholic Italian-Dutch-Australian family, David becoming a member of an evangelical Pentecostal church around age 16. He entered the ex-gay world in his early 20s, eventually attending three different programs. However, he grew disgruntled with the double standards and double lives he was witnessing. By the age of 27 he had had enough and decided it was time to walk away and speak out about the negligible success rate and horribly damaged young minds he had witnessed. He lost most of his friends and experienced opposition from much of his family, however he managed to reconcile his faith and his sexuality with the help of a supportive network of LGBTI people of faith. He maintains a strong faith despite having experienced depression, the loss of his close friend Damien to suicide, and being estranged from his Christian community when he initially came out. David works as a hospital technician and lives in Melbourne’s north. He is a loyal Essendon fanatic and has family living interstate and overseas that he visits regularly.
Rachel Goff has worked as a tutor and guest lecturer at Monash University, as a group facilitator, a trainer and a counsellor at several queer organisations in Melbourne, and most recently Associate Counsellor at MGA Counselling Services. Rachel completed postgraduate research focussing on identity, faith and sexuality of Christian people who have participated in ex-gay programs, yet are able to maintain both their spiritual and gay identities despite wanting to change their sexual orientation. She has contributed to several edited publications on gender and spirituality. She is currently working towards a Master of Social Work. Rachel’s desire to enable the gay and Christian communities to engage in empathetic and healing dialogue has been demonstrated through her public speaking at the WayOut Youth Forum, youth events at Melbourne’s MidSumma Carnival, running professional development sessions for telephone counselors and Christian counselors on religion and the gay community, and in her role as counselor to the gay and Christian communities. Rachel is married to Ange and is a doting mum to their cat, Frankie.
With the recent shutdown of large ex-gay organisations like Exodus International and Living Waters Australia, you’d think the evangelical gay-to-straight movement was on its last legs. However, apart from celibacy or inclusion, ex-gay therapy is still the only response to same-sex attraction that evangelical churches have. Motivated by out-dated interpretations of theology and psychology – and often funded by its participants – the ex-gay movement is based on the seductive but toxic idea that same-sex attraction can be removed. Ex-gay has produced double lives, false success stories, broken families and a trail of suicides.
David Lograsso is an ex-gay survivor who has had enough of the lies and double standards of the ex-gay movement. He is joined by Rachel Goff, a researcher and counsellor who has helped many ex-gay survivors journey towards self-acceptance and wholeness.
Three years after David left ex-gay, a close friend and former ex-gay buddy Damien took his life. Through the grief, David’s community supported him to heal, forgive and speak out. His story is similar to those of other ex-gay survivors that Rachel encounters in her work as an expert counsellor and researcher. Rachel herself comes from a background of faith and has some valuable insights concerning the evangelical ex-gay movement and the prevalence of experiences like David’s.
The story of David and Damien appeared in two articles in Melbourne’s The Age – a high readership Australian newspaper – in 2012 and 2013. The first told their ex-gay survival stories. The second – exactly a year later – delivered the sad news that Damien had passed away.
The Inside Ex-gay project is dedicated to Damien’s memory.