Group defends ex-gay billboard after online backlash

Posted at 11:36 PM, Sep 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 12:19:20-04

One billboard has many Waco residents outraged.

The billboard at 19th and Reuter reads, “Ex-gays prove change is possible.”

The sign is sponsored by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX). The group describes themselves as a support group for people who are working to overcome same-sex attractions.

Reverend Charley Garrison of Central Metropolitan Church Central Texas first saw the billboard on Facebook.

He believes the message in the billboard is potentially harmful.

“Ex-gays implies there’s something wrong with gay, lesbian, and transgendered people,” Garrison said.

Garrison believes that the billboard lacks acceptance those struggling with their sexual orientation.

"I understand why someone would be drawn to that sort of billboard. Ex-gay therapy does not do any good and in fact, can do harm in increasing the suicide rate in the LGBTQ community," Garrison said.

David Pickup, a licensed psychotherapist and board member of PFOX said many people have the wrong idea of PFOX. One the biggest misconceptions comes in the conflation of Conversion Therapy and Reparative Therapy.

Pickup explained that the therapy he offers and supported by PFOX is reparative therapy.  This therapy is for people who believe their same-sex attractions stem from distressing experiences.  

"The people who are criticizing this, they are automatically assuming for everyone homosexuality is genetic or inborn. Because they are assuming this about everyone they are hurting a lot of people who have traumatic causes for their homoerotic feelings. So that's why need billboards like the one in Waco that tell the truth,” Pickup said.

Pickup maintains there is little to no scientific evidence that homosexuality is a genetic trait. He said reparative therapy has no intentions of ‘making’ homosexual people into heterosexuals, but seeks to address unresolved emotional issues.

Reverend Garrison shared the billboard with friends, many of them expressed wanting to take some sort of action. Some suggested putting up a billboard in response.

As Garrison researched how much the sign would cost, he felt his money would be better spent creating an event.

Rev. Garrison is planning an LGBTQ pride event. He has already received a lot of responses from people looking to volunteer.

"I believe there are a lot of people who share my opinion that there is nothing to be fixed. So what I was hoping for was a response that could celebrate the LGBTQ community instead of trying to fix it,” Garrison said.

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved.