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Exodus to Bondage

[whitespace] A local 'ex-gay' movement promises to help 'heal' Christians of homosexuality

By Kelly Luker

FOR A TOWN THAT PRIDES ITSELF on spawning the first Marxist-feminist mayor (Mike Rotkin), and calls itself the lesbian capital of the world, it's perhaps only a mark of eclecticism that Santa Cruz is also home to a hush-hush ministry dedicated to converting gays and lesbians to heterosexuals.

Keith D. is director of Grace Unlimited, a local organization that is part of a larger "ex-gay" movement within Christianity. It is a referring organization to Exodus International, which raised a firestorm of controversy with its full-page ads in major newspapers offering help to homosexuals who wish to overcome their "lifestyle."

Exodus describes itself on a website as a "Christian Organization dedicated to equipping and uniting agencies and individuals to effectively communicate the message of liberation from homosexuality ..."

Keith (who requested his last name not be used), says he desperately wanted that liberation.

"I was 24 years in the [gay] lifestyle, and frankly it was unsatisfying," Keith says. "It was bleak."

Keith says he was looking for a way to change and contacted members of a loose-knit group that preceded Grace Unlimited. In 1994, he took over as director of Grace Unlimited, which is now supported by the Santa Cruz Bible Church and Twin Lakes Church.

"It's our belief that homosexuality is something that is less than God's best for people," Keith says. But he wants to make it clear that his organization is only there for folks who want to change.

"People with my perspective have been portrayed by the media as hateful or rigid," he adds. "I want to emphasize that it's the position of Grace Unlimited that it's up to the individual how they wish to live."

For Keith, the "cure" seems to have taken. Sort of.

"I'm at peace and content, which I wasn't before," Keith says. But asked which gender he is attracted to, Keith hedges.

"When I was homosexual, the thought of a sexual relationship with a woman was nauseating," he admits. "But now I'm beginning to appreciate the shape of women."

And when he dreams and fantasizes?

"More and more, it's about women."

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From the June 23-30, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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