Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Scars That Remain After Exodus, International

Sure, the Hebrews crossed on dry land, in Technicolor.
But please remember--the Egyptians left behind had 
to endure and survive in a homeland bereft of crops, 
livestock, fresh water, and the firstborn of each family. 
No one was left untouched. (notes

Humans have a bad habit of making an exodus only after there has been plenty of violence, misery and loss of life to go around.

At least we're consistent.

And of course the "misery" factor goes both ways--the misery extends to those who leave and to those who remain.

For example, here are two lesser known exoduses (is "exoduses" a word?) located within 150 miles of Chely Wright's hometown:
  • During the 1840's, about 70,000 Mormons walked (you read that right) to Utah to find religious freedom. This was preceded by the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, which took place about 100 miles northeast of where Chely Wright grew up. It was bad--about 10,000 Mormons had their homes, possessions, livestock and guns confiscated. Although only 22 people died of gunshot wounds, untold numbers died of exposure or torture. As war usually goes, both sides did nasty things to each other, leaving scars that lasted the rest of their lives. (Notes)
  • During the 1870's and 1880's, about 50,000 African Americans left the southern United States, and relocated specifically to Kansas. Of course, many more moved to other states, but Kansas was home to several intentional, planned communities comprised of former slaves. This group, known as the Exodusters, purchased upwards of 20,000 acres, forming well-organized, well-run, pleasant small towns. One of them still technically exists, called Nicodemus, Kansas. (I say technically because it has a population of only 59 people.) This particular exodus was preceded by the American Civil War--I will spare you the details of how every American on the continent suffered during that one. We suffer to this day because of that war. We are not over it yet. (Notes)
Recently, another Exodus went down--an organization you may have heard of called Exodus, International. (Notes) The news cycle has moved on, but I am just now blogging about it because I needed to avoid certain first-hand memories, both piercing and acute. My years in ex-gay therapy were...well...hard to write about. Humiliating. Cruel. Often pitiful.

I have heard Exodus International described as a "suicide mill." That description is not an exaggeration; indeed it is quite plausible. We'll never know how many lives have been ruined, stripped bare like an Old Testament plague, by ex-gay therapy.  How much addiction, self-loathing? How many misguided marriages? Unfulfilled lives? Countless suicides?

And as with every other exodus in history, the misery is wide and enduring. Straight family members who endorsed groups like Exodus International are left to live out their days, knowing they had a role in the suffering of their loved one.

That is a pain will never go away. Never.

Until our generation grows old and passes on, the scars of this exodus will remain.