(Photo: It Gets Better Project via The Christian Post)
A former homosexual who had denounced the "It Gets Better" campaign, which is aimed at providing a support system for LGBT youth, is taking back his criticism.
In a surprising move, Exodus International President Alan Chambers stated Monday that he was wrong to condemn the campaign's use of the beloved "Toy Story" character Woody to further the pro-gay campaign's cause.
"I reacted because I hate when iconic children’s heroes are used to further what I perceive to be adult causes," Chambers stated in a blog post. "With further reflection and thought, though, I have to admit that I was wrong to question their marketing strategy without expressing my full support for what is the heart of their campaign – encouraging LGBT teens to choose life."
The "It Gets Better" campaign was launched last year following a string of suicides among youths who identified as homosexuals. The campaign has gone viral as celebrities and U.S. leaders, including President Barack Obama, have contributed videos telling LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) youth who are victims of bullying that "it gets better."
When the Pixar character Woody was brought into the campaign earlier this year through Google Chrome's video, Chambers expressed disappointment.
"Children all over the world, including my two children are fans of ‘Toy Story’ and to see a character like that endorsing something that at this point children have no need to know about, it’s disappointing,” he told The Christian Post in May.
Chambers is considered one of the leading international speakers on homosexuality issues. He leads Exodus International, a worldwide ministry aimed at helping those struggling with homosexuality find freedom from it through the power of Jesus Christ.
As someone who struggled with same-sex attractions while growing up, Chambers said he was bullied from 6th to 9th grades.
"It was humiliating, stressful, unfair and sheer torture, at times," he recalled. "I hated who I was and I think that was in large part due to my perception that everyone else hated me. Bullying doesn’t always physically kill, but it does almost always emotionally kill."
With that said, Chambers took back his criticism and lent his support to the It Gets Better campaign on Monday, saying he cares "more about a kid choosing life than whether or not he or she embraces a gay identity. Life comes first."
He maintained that he is not caving to pressure, though he expects to be accused of it.
"Living out our biblical convictions means fighting for the lives of young people at all cost," he stated. "Can any of us actually say we’d rather our teens, neighbors, friends or complete strangers kill themselves than be gay? I certainly can’t.
"Regardless of where someone falls on the debate over sexuality, I hope we can all agree to move the issue of bullying and suicide, especially where kids are concerned, to a non-polarized, non-politicized and non-divisive issue."
He also stressed that Christians should be the first to defend and protect kids who are being bullied.
"The truth is that God gave us the freedom to choose the life that we want to live and death is the end of that choice," Chambers highlighted.
"What I discovered as an older teenager was that those few years when I was bullied didn’t accurately reflect who I was. The names that were hurled at me were careless and ones that God would never say. We serve a great God who created us for more than we often settle for, but He never belittles us for the decisions we make, even if those decisions don’t line up with His best for us."
Chambers is married to his wife, Leslie, and they have two children.