Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

When Is An Apology Enough (or not)?

I am sitting here pondering the power and/or worth of an apology.

Wondering when something that is deplorable beyond any measure of reason has been apologized for…is it ever really accepted? Should it be?

What has this subject in mind is a blog entry I just read from Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International.

Yeah, THAT place.

The hateful organization that pushed the Ex-Gay/Gay Reparative Therapy crap onto untold numbers of victims.

What I read was an apology from him to the LGBT Community.

I feel like I am in Bizarro world.

Right off the bat, the apology seems heartfelt. It seems to be pretty detailed. It seems to be given honestly.

And, tbh, if I knew NOTHING of the source…I’d be inclined to accept the validity of it. Inclined, though not a member of the LGBT Community, to ‘accept’ it.

However, I DO know about Exodus International. I have read plenty about the harm they have done to the LGBT Community. How they are responsible for deep wounds, lasting scars, and likely, the loss of lives. How their ‘cure’ (/eyeroll) for homosexuality was nothing but hateful mental torture foisted upon innocents.

What has me in my head a bit is while I, indeed, not a member of the LGBT Community…I can relate to those who were harmed by Exodus International. I can relate to the struggle to deal with a seemingly heartfelt apology. I can relate to the inability to accept it…while at the same time being near crippled with relief at seeing SOMEONE from such a hatefilled place offer it.

When I was a kid I was locked up in a ‘rehab’ program for several months. I do not want to get into the details of why or the lasting damage it caused me and my family…but, it was over 25 years ago and I still have nightmares. The program was shut down by the government years ago…shut down for being an evil torturous place rife with child abuse.

A couple years back I was being masochistic and I googled the program. I was reading random blogs and articles from survivors…and I came across an apology from a former staff member. Next thing I knew, I was sobbing. Deep, wracking sobs.

I will never forgive that place. I will never forgive those on staff. I will never forgive Nancy Reagan or any of the other power hungry torture supporters that promoted the program (many hold positions of power in the GOP TO THIS DAY). And I will never forgive the man who wrote the apology.

I do, however, thank him for it.

Just seeing someone (OTHER THAN THOSE WHO WERE HARMED) acknowledge the damage that that fucking program did helped me heal a little bit.

So, here I sit. Wondering if any of the LGBT victims (yes VICTIMS) of Exodus International actually accept the apology. Actually forgive the harm done. If so, they are better humans than I am.

I wonder, though, how many are just thankful to see it acknowledged by someone responsible for it. Thankful for a certain type of validation…the sort that comes from the source of the pain.

I hope that it brings some amount of healing to those who greatly deserve it.

Any thoughts?

(I still think Exodus International is an organization of hate…so, please do not read ANY of the above as any sort of excusing of their actions)


  1. slksfca

    …run by a conservative religion, and back in my day (the ’70s) they were still inflicting electro-shock “therapy” on young men who were gay. It was while I was there at school that I met my first boyfriend and we were both terrified of being caught, so we both dropped out of school and moved to California.

    It took me a long time to come to terms with this traumatic interruption of my education, but I did find forgiveness. I had to, for my own peace of mind, otherwise the bile would have utterly destroyed me.

    Exodus International is truly vile, but I sincerely and deeply hope that all their victims can also find forgiveness for their own sakes.

  2. Kysen

    both ends of what I expected to ‘hear’ are presented.

    Both are valid. I even agree with both.

    But, in this situation…and in regards to my situation…I admittedly tilt towards louis’ assessment.

    I found that while I could not (and will not) forgive those involved in what was done to me…I was, in time, able to accept that it was done…and that nothing was going to change that fact.

    I learned to accept that it was done TO me…that it was not because of me. That I could decide to let it have control in my life or not…but, that it was MY decision. It took many years, but, I chose to no longer let it hold power in my life.

    I’m perfectly content in my life…and feel no need, at all, to forgive those who harmed me. If and when that changes, I will re-evaluate.


  3. HappyinVT

    But now I’m glad I didn’t.

    For me, though, it isn’t about the apology it is about the actions after.

  4. PadreJM

    First of all, whether or not one who has suffered oppression or victimization accepts an apology, or even responds with forgiveness, is such an intensely personal decision, I find it impossible to generalize.

    Second, the LGBT community is so diverse that I cannot even conceptualize the notion of a unified congregate response, even absent the question of what such a response “should” be.

    Finally, my response to the apology in question is definitely informed and molded by my Faith, which also includes a profound respect for primacy of individual conscience, and so I can’t impose it on anyone else, nor judge them for deciding differently.

    In my youth I suffered ill-conceived, futile, and torturous “treatment” arranged by my parents and administered by professionals.  It was not conducted under the auspices of Exodus, but it might well have been.  The damage, and agony, was long-lasting.  I was able, eventually, to come to terms with the events, and the ramifications.  Ultimately I came to a point where my personal healing felt incomplete as long as I harbored ill will toward the perpetrators.  I needed to address that, and the result, although it was not initially what I sought, was to come to a place of forgiveness.  Others may very well find other paths to freedom, healing, and peace.  I can only testify to that which was mine.

  5. Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

    Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.

    Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.


    If it is as “simple” as releasing negative feelings, anger, toward someone who has harmed you, I think many people can get that far. If it means moving farther, with some generosity of feeling, frankly I don’t think that’s necessary for a healthy acceptance of what’s happened and ability to move forward.

    Personally, I get over anger pretty easily in general, and sometimes too easily for my own good. And I don’t hold many grudges. However there are a few.  

  6. Kysen

    from the Exodus International site:

    Exodus International to Shut Down

    “Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

    “a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical”….to say the least.

    Interesting turn of events.

  7. HappyinVT

    (and my first reaction when I read the apology earlier) …

    how far we’ve come that such an apology was issued in the first place.

    Just hope tomorrow sees some great news on the legal front from SCOTUS.

  8. ChurchofBruce

    I forget. That’s healthier for me. I deal with it, and then it gets pushed aside.

    But if certain people should deign to remind me, and then ask for my forgiveness for the evil things they did to me, they will receive the one-fingered Italian salute.

    My young-life tormentors were individual, not institutional–I was severely bullied. Nope, no forgiveness. I actually ran into one of my tormentors in adulthood. We looked at each other from about 10 feet away. There was that moment of recognition–and then my eyes narrowed, and my lip scowled. And this bully quickly realized that I was no longer the smallest kid in class–far from it, I’m 6’3″ and built like a football lineman–and that I wasn’t looking at him in any kind of friendly recognition.

    He beat feet before I could even launch the Salute. I was rather disappointed.

    CoB, World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist in Holding A Grudge 😀

  9. iriti

    I think so much hinges on our understanding of forgiveness. To me, forgiveness has three aspects: releasing the other, releasing ourselves from the anger, and forgiving ourselves when we are the one who harmed.

    Releasing the other, to me, means willingness to move past what happened and toward an establishing or rebuilding or relationship. It’s the kind of forgiveness I might give a loved one who harmed me, is genuinely sorry and with whom I want to continue to have a relationship. This is the type of forgiveness around which I put boundaries.

    Releasing myself means that I put aside, to the best of my ability, my bitterness and anger towards the person involved and move on with my life. It’s a personal matter that acknowledges the harm done but realizes that the hard spot in my heart harms no-one but me. It doesn’t involve any intent to excuse or release from responsibility, just to let go of the anger.

    Neither one is easy, the second often harder than the first. With some harm the pain and bitterness can run so deep that either may feel impossible.

    I do believe an apology is critical to the third, forgiving ourselves. And this, like releasing our anger at others, may sometimes be necessary to moving on with a healthy life.

    But everyone’s different, and handles their life experiences in their own way.

  10. But, like everyone, I have been wronged in a variety of ways. Usually, they get settled in short order. I know who did it. I am glad to have their acknowledgement with some sort of apology. I feel validated that I was and am ok.

    Some don’t ever get settled. One never has a chance to face those who are responsible for the pain. We struggle, sometimes with great difficulty, to reach that self validation. The struggle can take weeks, months, or years. It may never come. Like someone said above, it is all so varied and personal. Yet, our mind is constantly processing what happened. It tries to help us feel better, even though we aren’t aware of those feelings.

    Then, something happens. We read an article. We hear a song. A comment is made. Something reaches in and flips a switch in our mind that illuminates our feelings about something that might have happened years ago. If we are lucky, we see that we have moved ahead and that pain is in the past. We are not feeling the hurt sharply any more. It isn’t gone. It is not forgotten. But, it is in a place and form that we can accept and move on with our lives.

    Peace to each of you.

  11. anotherdemocrat

    I speak only as an ally, as a witness to the harm, not a direct victim of it, so my word only has secondary value.

    A heartfelt apology is a beginning. They now need to be as active in working for good – for the mental well-being of those they harmed and for equality under the law for all citizens – as they did the opposite, for as long as they did the opposite. They must at least try to repair the harm they did.

  12. bfitzinAR

    as traumatic as the victims of this evil place.  But again for me, if the apology is sincere, the person is probably beating on him/herself – said person would not have made an apology without coming to a life-shaking realization that a deadly dearly held faith was not only wrong, it is evil.  That brings its own punishment and leaves me free to not worry about it as it moves the person making it from the category of “evil” to the category of poisonous snake.  I don’t wish it harm, but I also don’t want to be in any kind of contact or even within miles of him/her/it.  (The “blessing for the czar” is called for – “May God bless and keep the Czar – far away from us.”)

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