"I Do Exist" DVD Asserts Change IS Possible for Homosexuals
- Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
- 2004 28 Sep
Run Time: 48 minutes
Director: Jim Kragel
Producer: Dr. Warren Throckmorton
Just in time for “National Coming Out Day,” a movement launched by gay activists in 1987 after a march in Washington, D.C., comes a DVD that discusses the possibility of reorientation for those who experience homosexual tendencies.
“I Do Exist” is a documentary that delves into the lives of five former homosexuals and asks whether change is really possible. And, while the film clearly answers the question in the affirmative, it nevertheless steers clear of stereotypes that have, at times, been embraced by Christians.
The real answers, this film seems to say, may not be easy. They’re certainly not what we’re hearing from the prevailing culture, but they may not necessarily be what we’ve heard in church, either.
With observations from Dr. Warren Throckmorton and Dr. Mark Yarhouse, professors of psychology; Dr. Robert Spitzer, a clinical psychiatrist; and Arthur Goldberg, a former homosexual who is now an advocate for change, the documentary explores some of the ways in which people begin to identify themselves as gay, and how they often then transition into a homosexual lifestyle.
Without pointing to any one factor – or any overarching cause – the film also analyzes whether it is really possible to come out of a gay lifestyle and experience legitimate heterosexual feelings.
“The conventional wisdom that people are born gay is simply not consistent with the research,” says Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and producer of the film.
Five former homosexuals share their stories of moving away from the homosexual lifestyle – fully and completely, with no looking back. They speak with an honesty and self-awareness that is astonishing, and a candor about their struggle that is highly appealing.
One seminarian described how she had finally admitted that she was involved in a lesbian relationship to a close friend. The friend stopped the car and said, “This is not who you are.”
At the time, the woman said, it felt exactly like who she was. After all, she had been acting on her homosexual feelings for 10 years. But the moment was a pivotal one and the words stayed with her, prompting her to eventually embrace change.
Another person described the creation of his gay identity as being a “process of elimination” whereby he had come to realize the need for fitting into “one of several predetermined categories, of which homosexuality was one of them.”
All agreed that as they gave into their urges, it became easier and easier to identify themselves as homosexual, especially with a culture that was collectively encouraging them to do so. One former homosexual talked about shaping his entire life around his newly-adopted identity after coming out of the closet.
“Everything started revolving around my feeling comfortable with my gay identity,” he says, which prompted him to modify everything about his life, including the people he socialized with and the activities he engaged in as well as his choice of books, movies and music.
Spitzer, who was previously against the idea of change for homosexuals, says that he was forced to revise his conclusions after speaking to large numbers of people who had changed their sexual orientation. Significantly, he says, all reported that they had changed not only their interactions with the opposite sex, but also their sexual fantasies and even the source of their arousal.
Interestingly, most of these individuals reported a high level of frustration with mental health professionals, including Christians, who almost unanimously told them that there was nothing they could do to change. That teaching tended to drive them even further away from the possibility of change, they say.
Yarhouse makes an interesting point when he discuses the prevailing myth that it is somehow harmful to our identity if we live according to beliefs, such as religious ones, that differ from our urges and desires, as if doing so might damage us. The research, he insists, proves that quite the opposite is true.
The influences on the formation of gay identities are varied, the film says, and include everything from childhood sexual abuse to cultural disinhibitions about sexuality. In essence, there are no easy answers, because every individual is unique, just like every story.
“I Do Exist” is a unique, highly-recommendable resource that will be appreciated by churches, para-church organizations and ministries as well as individuals.
For more information about "I Do Exist" and a list of nationwide launch events featuring showings of the film, please visit www.idoexist.net.