CAPITOL HILL—A number of former homosexuals and transgendered people gathered recently outside the U.S. Congress to say sexual identity can be changed, and their changed lives are proof.
Here are excerpts from their remarkable testimonies of change.
APRIL LOCKHART FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO:
"I am a former lesbian. I'm very passionate about this topic because I really embraced that life. I won't talk about how or why I went into that lifestyle. But I fully embraced it, and I was confident in who I was and I sought it out. I was a champion for the LGBT and I really even liked to just be out there and promote it."
"I had fully believed in this lie that gets perpetuated that people don't change, they can't change, and if you try to change them, it's detrimental to their health. And I just want to say that's a lie."
"I almost missed out on some of the best and most precious moments of my life. I wasn't going to get married. I wasn't going to meet my husband. I wasn't going to get to have my own children. This is not something that my mind was even open to. I didn't know that it was a possibility for me. And I stand before you now a changed woman. I don't struggle with same-sex attraction. It's almost like it never was for me. And so I would like for that lie to stop being perpetuated. It's just simply not true. People can and do change if they want. And we need to be allowed as free Americans to seek that out. Nobody has the right to tell you you can't be what you want to be. And I did want change. And through the power of God, the Creator of heaven and earth, this was able to happen. These days we're able to happen. These moments. And I'm a happy woman. I don't suffer depression. I don't suffer with anxiety. I don't drink myself into stupors like I used to have to."
LUIS RUIZ FROM ORLANDO, FLORIDA:
"For a long time, I was very broken and hurt. I found out that I was HIV positive because I was promiscuous. My generation would say a 'ho.' While I was searching for men, sleeping around a lot, I didn't realize that there was a man looking for me."
"And His name is Jesus. I was able to find a church where they loved me. And they taught me that my identity is not my behavior. My identity was not who I thought it was. But it was a child of God. So I stand here to say that I was a homosexual, a former 'ho.' And now I am a child of God."
KEVIN WHITT OF DALLAS, TEXAS:
"I'm a former transsexual, drag queen, and prostitute. I lived a life of much gender confusion, much abuse -- verbally, physically, sexually -- by my father."
"Over the years I had had probably 5,000 sexual partners because I was a sex worker. I hated myself. I hated the fact that I was a man. I never knew how to accept myself or truly love myself. And then about six years ago, someone invited me to church."
"And God began to change my life. Began to change my heart. And began to change my sexual identity, my gender confusion. And I began to heal from all those things."
"Change is possible. Because if God can change me, He can change anybody."
ANGEL COLON, A MASS SHOOTING SURVIVOR:
"My name is Angel Colon. I am a former homosexual. I am a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016. I was shot six times, sustained a shattered femur and suffered nerve damage. A day I will never forget -- a big turning point in my life. Even in the midst of chaos, I prayed and prophesied over my life that I would survive and live free. And here I am today, standing here with no pain, here in the Capitol with my Changed family. Many think I've made my decision to leave the LGBT community lifestyle because of the shooting. But I was desiring change way before June 12, 2016. Going through this horrible tragedy made me make the biggest decision in my life, which I'm very happy with. I made this decision a year after the Pulse nightclub shooting -- finding what was the most important thing in my life, which was finding my true identity. Which was in Christ. And today I stand here in the Capitol, sharing to the world that change is possible. Yes, I am known as a Pulse survivor, but I really want to be known as living proof that God does transform lives."
KATHYGRACE DUNCAN OF PORTLAND, OREGON:
"My name is KathyGrace Duncan, I'm from Portland Oregon and I'm a former trans-man, former transgender. Before I went to kindergarten, at a very early age like three or four, I believed that I should have been a man. I felt that I should have been a man. Dysfunctional family situations: my dad was very emotionally and verbally abusive to my mom, which told me that women were hated, women were weak and they were vulnerable."
"I was then molested by a family member which went on for two years, also confirming that women were weak, vulnerable and hated. At age 18, I finally surrendered and went into the lifestyle, took hormones and changed my name. From there, I began to live as a man. Two weeks later, I got saved. However, because I didn't hear from the Lord, I thought He was okay with my lifestyle."
"Four years later I was confronted by the church, and they asked me 'Who are you? Who are you really?' And at that point, I told the truth and said 'I'm a woman living as a man.' And the Holy Spirit blew into me. And I realized at that point I needed to go back to being the woman that He created me to be. The next day I started that journey out. Five years later -- it took five years for the hormone effects to really wear off -- and at that point, I crossed over and began to live fully as a woman. That was 26 years ago. And I have to say, I'm changed I'm free. I no longer struggle with the attraction to women."
ELIZABETH WONING, CHANGED MOVEMENT CO-FOUNDER:
"I was often suicidal or out of control. I came out during my early 20s and found solace and comfort in the LGBTQ community. They were my family. I was pursuing the path of an ordained pastor in the LGBT-affirming church movement when I began questioning my faith. That long journey led me ultimately to question my sexuality as a lesbian. Over time as my faith brought deeper emotional health, I also experienced an unexpected change in my sexual desires. Today I've been married to my husband for 14 years. I no longer experience same-sex desires and I no longer have symptoms of bipolar disorder. I've seen the restoration I have in countless lives of other Christians. Our faith compels us to share what we have received. We simply want to offer a vision to those who feel conflict in their sexual orientation. But also to ask that America recognize there are multiple options for people who experience LGBTQ. People deserve the right to choose their own path and follow their religious convictions, especially in matters of their sexuality."
EDWARD BYRD OF WASHINGTON, DC:
"I was born to a mother who had me at 15 years old. My home was very dysfunctional. It was abusive. I actually have seen my father put his hands on my mom. It left mental scars and emotional scars in me. It got to the point where my dad ended up abandoning us, and that left me really, really sad. As a young child, I can only remember wanting to have a relationship with my father. And him continually not showing up and being there. It was very tragic to me. So I grew up with a single mom. She was one of my only influences. And I was the guy who was not into sports. I was not going to get dirty, I was like 'that's not for me.' I want to dance and I want to sing and I want to be an actor."
"I never had the desire to be a homosexual. But it wasn't until people began calling me homosexual, it wasn't until they began planting these seeds and saying, 'Hey, you like hair, you like to dance, you over there with the cheerleaders instead of the football players. You're a homosexual.' And so that began to create curiosity. I already suffered emotional wounds from my dad not being there, that abandonment, and I was looking for male affirmation."
"For most of my teen years, I was abused by a close family member; physically abused, which led to more pain and more hurt. And so I dived into the lifestyle. I really gave myself over to promiscuity. By the time I was 18, I was stripping, I was into living the nightlife, drinking every night, partying from Sunday to Sunday."
"I knew there had to be more. And then I encountered the love of God. And He came and radically changed my life. The person you see here today is not the person I used to be. I am changed, I am fulfilled, I am living my best life. I'm smiling and I'm dancing and I'm loving life. And I want to tell the government that you cannot make decisions that will block people who were like me, who needed to change and who want to change, to find freedom."
CHRISTOPHER SIMS, WAS TORTURED BY HIS PARENTS:
"I'm a person who formerly had a same-sex attraction. When I was very young in New York City, my father – who is a pastor – raped me. And when I got to kindergarten, my mother and my father decided to take me out of school. And I was taken out of school for a total of eight years. And during that time, I was tortured by my mother. My mother was very hurt by men. So any sign of masculinity was a trigger and a threat to her. I can remember her beating me with a wire hanger until I was bloody and putting alcohol all over my body as I stood in front of a mirror. And I learned at that moment that I could not be masculine. I learned that I had to be effeminate. I had to emulate my sisters to avoid triggering her and so that I could survive."
"By the time I was 18, I had been living in Alaska for a year. I had been through foster care. That was a time where the things that I had suppressed began to manifest themselves through pornography addiction. By that time I had a restraining order. I was in anger management. I was in counseling for PTSD. And I had a measure of gender dysphoria. And it was also that year that a friend who was 18 decided to force me to go to church. I wanted nothing to do with church. But when I went to that church, I saw something in those people's eyes that I had never seen before. I saw a God that my parents did not tell me about. Those people in that church – they didn't hate me or anything. They loved me. I saw life inside of them and I wanted that freedom and that life. The love that I saw inside of their eyes convicted me of the error of my ways. And I remember for three weeks just telling God how sorry I was for all the wrong that I had done. And He said 'Christopher, I love you.'"
GREG QUINLAN, PRO-FAMILY NETWORK FOUNDER:
"I grew up in a dysfunctional American family like most everyone else. But my father was emotionally, physically, verbally abusive. I'm the oldest of four children, and he took his venom out on me…and his rage. I was eight years old and my dad was…it was an autumn day kind of like this…my dad was working on the car in the driveway, and he was about to explode. And I knew I was going to be the target of his venom. I just looked at him and said, 'You hate me, don't you?' He looked back at me as he took the Lord's name in vain and laughed, 'Yes, I hate you.' That wasn't a revelation. That was like 'Yeah, I knew that.'
"Then at 10 years old, the neighborhood boys found their dads' Playboys. You see, Hugh Hefner was my first molester. I was introduced to porn, and I became instantly addicted. At 10 years old, I was sexually active with boys in the neighborhood."
"My father, on his death bed, the night before he went into a coma, said to me…I said, 'Bye, Dad. I'll see you tomorrow.' He said, 'Bye, Greg. I love you, Greg.' I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. The very man who told me he hated me now told me he loved me. From that point on, that was my journey: when I finally forgave my father, that's when the same-sex attraction started to wane. That's when it started to leave. There are so many people trapped in homosexuality who want out, that have stories so similar to everything you've heard here. And standing right here on this stage is proof that homosexuality doesn't have to last a lifetime. Ex-gays, formers, ex-trans, prove that change is possible."
These folks came to Capitol Hill to warn Congress is considering legislation banning some counseling that could lead LGBTQ people out of those lifestyles. They're leery of legislation they feel discriminates against former gays and transgenders. They said they oppose HR5, HR3570 and Senate 2008.
PASTOR JIM DOMEN, CHURCH UNITED FOUNDER:
"I was in the lifestyle for five years, and I was so desperate to love and be loved, I didn't care if my partner was HIV positive and Hepatitis C positive. Thankfully, I was protected and I didn't get any of those terminal illnesses. Yet, June 8, 2002, an incredible experience happened to me. Jesus transformed me. I chose to go the route of Christ. I chose to change my sexual identity. I needed help to do that. I chose to follow my faith, my belief in the Bible. I received professional counseling, psychiatrists and psychologists, as well as pastoral counseling. And bills like HR5, HR3570 and Senate 2008 would not have allowed me to get the help that I needed. Or anyone on this stage or anyone who wanted to change their sexual attraction or behaviors. I dealt with same-sex attraction since the seventh grade. No one ever forced me to change. No therapist. My parents did not. My pastor did not. My heart, my mind -- I chose to change."
KEN WILLIAMS, CHANGED MOVEMENT CO-FOUNDER:
"Our rights are being threatened in America. Governors think that they know better how I should identify sexually than I do."
"Apparently, we're inappropriate. It's okay for everyone else to choose their sexual identity, but not with us because we're not going with the narrative. How disrespectful of us not to go along with the narrative. Well, with all due respect, what gives you the right to decide what I'd like to pursue with my sexuality? Why in the world would you or someone sitting with a gavel or someone in an elected office decide what therapy I should or should not be able to get?"
ANGEL COLON, MASS SHOOTING SURVIVOR:
"This morning I want to tell the US that the Changed movement loves gay people. America needs to hear there is a diversity of experience. We just want our rights as well."
ELIZABETH WONING, CHANGED MOVEMENT CO-FOUNDER:
"We have chosen a different route for our lives. And in following that path, either through professional counseling or faith-based discipleship, we've obtained levels of fullness and fulfillment that most assume is impossible. We've all experienced a life-altering change that has impacted our sexuality. Many of us are in happy marriages to our opposite-sex spouses. Some even would say they no longer experience any same-sex attraction. Several of us have de-transitioned. We no longer identify as LGBTQ. And many, many people upon hearing our testimonies of fulfillment are seeking what we have."
PASTOR JIM DOMEN, CHURCHUNITED.COM:
"All of us up 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. And we're not telling you that any of you have to change. But if you've ever thought or needed help or desired to change, we would want to talk to you."
For further help or information contact Changed Movement.