A former gay rights activist's "coming out" story about his path to becoming straight and his experience of a personal encounter with God has drawn skepticism, prompting the ex-gay to attempt to set the record straight.
"[I]t wasn't internal homophobia that caused my so-called 'hatred' of my own homosexuality. It was God," said Michael Glatze, former editor of Young Gay America magazine, who recently announced in a column that he is now a heterosexual.
After nearly two decades of identifying himself as gay and leading gay rights activism and Young Gay America magazine, Glatze left all of that and homosexuality itself after experiencing what he called a "very personal" encounter with God.
"In my story, I became acquainted with a very personal God whom I spoke to and who told me that I was beautiful, and that everyone else was – and is – too," he said in a follow-up article Tuesday titled "Confessions of a former 'gay rights' leader."
"In my story, I had a good relationship with God that got richer as I spent more time with Him. In my story, God is my best friend."
Amid criticism from pro-gay individuals who reject his claim that homosexuality is death and that people can change, Glatze made it clear in the Tuesday column that his "healing from homosexuality" is true.
"[M]y story becomes a story of healing from homosexuality, which I write in order to 'set the record straight' about the notion that people can't heal from homosexuality. That is not true. People can heal. I did it.
"I stand today a healed man," he said.
While Christian media have hailed Glatze's transformation, an ex-gay watchdog criticized the evangelical groups for rushing in to validate Glatze's testimony.
The skepticism of the validity of Glatze's story arises from his religious affiliation. In an interview with Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a noted expert in sexuality counseling, Glatze had confirmed a report that he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the LDS church or Mormon church, earlier this year
"Given the crucial nature of Glatze's religious experience to his testimony, how can evangelical leaders continue to hail Michael Glatze as an ex-gay success story without implicitly endorsing his religious beliefs?" posed Ex-Gay Watch.
For the most part, evangelicals do not consider Mormons a true branch Christianity. Many of them recognize the Mormon church as a cult.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of America's pre-eminent evangelicals, recently argued that Mormonism rejects what Christianity affirms and affirms what orthodox Christianity rejects.
"It is not Christianity in a new form or another branch of the Christian tradition. By its own teachings and claims, it rejects that very tradition," he said.
In Glatze's latest testimony, however, he says "I became a Christian."
And in regards to how exactly he came out of homosexuality, he said, "a lot of that is private."
Glatze has had various religious experiences, according to an e-mail he wrote to The Christian Post. He has had "samplings" from everything from Tao to Buddhism, Hindu and Christianity.
"One in a situation like mine (liberal, Ivy League background, part of an 'agnostic' crowd) spends a lot of time trying to find Truth," he stated. "It's a hard thing to find."
But he stresses that "Jesus, however, is what, ultimately, changed me."
Glatze had found truth in the Bible and, as many Christians believe, said the Bible condemns homosexuality. "That much is obvious," he said.
Mormons, however, have been criticized by most Christians for also following the Book of Mormon - a book that Mohler argued contains a different Jesus than traditional Bibles who is "not the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, or the one through whose death on the cross we can be saved from our sins."
When asked about the specifics of his baptism into the Mormon church, Glatze did not immediately respond.
Nevertheless, he indicated absolute confidence in his latest column that he never wants homosexuality to return and went further to call it "gross."
"My story is that now I know the Truth about homosexuality. And my story is that now I'm going to do what I can to fight it."
Correction: Wednesday, July 11, 2007
An article on Tuesday, July 10, 2007, about a former gay rights activist's "coming out" story, rendered incorrectly the official name of the Mormon church. It is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not the Church of Latter Day Saints.