The beginning of the end came with those two words, in a press release on Wednesday from Alan Chambers, the longtime leader of the world's most prominent "ex-gay" ministry. Since the 1970s, Exodus, in line with its conservative reading of the Bible, had taught that homosexuality was unholy and that through counseling and prayer, you could change your sexual orientation. But critics said that Exodus's core message--one of its longtime taglines was "change is possible"--and its embrace of "conversion" therapy did enormous emotional, spiritual and psychological damage, perpetuated outdated stereotypes and wholly wrong theories about the origins of homosexuality, and even led to countless suicides.
The breadth of Chambers's apology was unprecedented and startling (you can read the whole text here). For many people, though, it wasn't enough. Dan Savage, creator of the It Gets Better Project, tweeted, "Alan's work destroyed people. Sorry is nice, I guess, but it won't raise the dead." LGBT activist Daniel Gonzales added: "'Sorry' also requires you stop what you're doing that hurts people and is wrong. Exodus hasn't stopped.'"
A few hours later, on the first night of the organization's 38th annual conference, Chambers announced that Exodus would do just that: shut down and start something new. Shortly after he left the stage, he called me and we talked for 45 minutes about his journey to this place, making amends, and where he goes from here.