Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pray the gay away?

Portland Fellowship

"My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight.” - Eudora Welty

My role as a journalist is to introduce readers to people they may not see. Usually that means 'parting the curtain' on marginalized communities, but occasionally it also means delving into the lives of those on the other end of the fringe. Right now, Oregon and other states are considering a ban on conversion therapy for young people. As people in Oregon testified, they frequently spoke of one local group, Portland Fellowship. I called them up, and they were very open to having a story done. They shared their workbooks and personal stories. The result is a story that's a different focus for me. Check it out:

The world has changed since Portland Fellowship, a nonprofit that aims to deliver people from homosexual desire, first opened a quarter century ago.

Gays and lesbians are more widely accepted across the country. Other "ex gay" leaders have given up the fight -- and in some cases apologized for their earlier work. President Barack Obama has called for an end to conversion therapy for children.

And Oregon lawmakers are poised to ban the practice. Although the bill they're considering wouldn't impact Portland Fellowship, much of the testimony in favor of it has focused on the Southeast Portland organization.

Executive Director Jason Thompson does not care. Business remains steady, he said, and the need is still there.

"Even if the world goes completely pro-gay and gay marriage is the law of the land, people will still come here because they live according to a different system, a different faith, a different priority, worldview than the world," Thompson said.

Portland Fellowship doesn't promote hate, he said. It promotes love.


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