I attended People Can Change's Journey Into Manhood program 3-4 years ago (AKA "cuddle the gay away"). Since then, I have come out as bisexual and couldn't be happier! Feel free to ask me almost anything, with a few exceptions:

  • I signed a basic non-disclosure agreement before going, so I'd like to keep my identity secret (no questions about location, when it was, etc...). I doubt they'd take legal action (or that they even could), but I don't want to deal with that potential headache.
  • I respect the other men who attended too, so please don't ask anything that might reveal who they might be.

Otherwise, AMA! Aho!

EDIT: Wow, major Freudian slip there. I most definitely meant "gay-to-straight camp." Sorry for any confusion!

EDIT 2: Back now! Wow, this thread kinda blew up with questions! I'll try to answer as quickly (and thoroughly) as possible. :)

EDIT 3: Guys, this has been a lot of fun, but I've gotta head out now. Thank you for hearing my story with such an open mind, and thanks for the great questions! I think I learned a thing or two about myself in the process as well. Hope everyone has a fabulous evening!

Comments: 3301 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

roastedbagel2873 karma

A straight-to-gay camp would be fabulous.

exgay_throwaway2251 karma

Perhaps we should add that to the Homosexual Agenda? Lure straight kids into gayness through the majesty of summer camps!

HxCurt1572 karma

Is there ever gay sex between fellow campers? And what is the weirdest thing you ever saw or heard there?

Also, in your title, did you mean Gay - to - Straight?

exgay_throwaway2248 karma

Damn, that's what I get for posting right after I wake up from a nap. Yeah, I definitely meant gay-to-straight. :)

There was a camp staff member in each room, so there was no hanky-panky to be had during the camp itself. We also signed an agreement not to have sex with each other after the camp, but I'm sure many have broken that one.

Probably the weirdest thing was a session to help us deal with the issue of femininity. We all closed our eyes, and when we opened them, the camp staff had filled the room with bras, panties, tampons, etc.... It was supposed to trigger an emotional response from us, but all it did was make me giggle.

lituk1456 karma

What methods did the camp use?

exgay_throwaway2000 karma

They did quite a lot, but I'll try to summarize the main ones:

  • Healthy Holding - Basically, fully-clothed cuddle time with another man. Based on the belief that same-sex attractions come from a legitimate need for non-sexual physical touch.
  • Clearing - If you felt a physical attraction to another camper, you went through a process of identifying what attracted you to them, what the "legitimate" (aka non-sexual) need was beneath that attraction, and what you could do to meet that need in a non-sexual way.
  • Carpet Time - This was done a few times with different themes (attacks against your masculinity, bad encounters with women, etc...). Basically, you would find a memory where something bad happened that "influenced your same-sex attractions." They'd ask questions to try and stir up your emotions and self-beliefs around the memory, then would give you a way to confront that belief in a "masculine" way (hitting a punching bag, yelling at someone playing the role of your mother, etc....).

campbjm061305 karma

What was the procedure if two dudes got hard during the "healthy holding" sessions? I have to imagine that this issue woud "arise"...

exgay_throwaway1331 karma

They actually did talk about that. Basically, they said to not worry about it, that it was sometimes a response of physical touch, and to just ignore it until things "settled down."

campbjm061545 karma

I can hear the walkie talkie convo between the counselors now: "Uh yeah we got a code boner in cabin 4 during the healthy holding session." "Sending in the hose now, will douse with cold water. We should have this under control in under 5 minutes".

Thanks for responding, as a follow up, what are we talking about here, hugging? Laying in a bed together? Back Rubs?

exgay_throwaway906 karma

Basically, the way a father would hold his child (I think they've since renamed it to "father-son holding"). Sitting in a guy's lap, resting your head on his chest, that kind of stuff. There was actually a list of "acceptable" holding positions to make sure we didn't cross the line into something sexual.

froop1557 karma

Even with your explanation, I can't imagine how this could possibly turn a gay man straight. That's like saying snuggling up to tits would turn a straight man gay. Now that's a camp I would go to.

exgay_throwaway1970 karma

Yeah, it pretty much taught me that I really like cuddling with guys. :)

rachelitis1173 karma

What is your general opinion of the program?

exgay_throwaway2170 karma

Honestly, 90% of it was really good. It's based on the belief that Same-Sex Attractions come from traumatic childhood events, so a lot of the camp is based around confronting those and allowing healing to take place in a safe environment. I got some good stuff out of it, and ironically, it's partially because of the camp that I gained the confidence to come out.

shellfishlover1122 karma

What's you opinion on Estonia?

exgay_throwaway538 karma

The only thing I know about Estonia is that Pauly Shore pretended to be from there in Encino Man. It's sad that I remember this....

CrazyCapitalist162 karma

Nonono, That's where they said caveman Brendan Frasier was from. I'm straight and I'd fuck him.

exgay_throwaway27 karma

Damn, I could've sworn it was Pauly Shore (note: I haven't seen the movie since it was released in theaters). I too would do all kinds of naughty things to Brendan Frasier....

bearlife746 karma

What's your opinion homosexuality and t being a choice or not? Do you thinks its different for other individuals? Also is the camp you went to religion focused? I've heard most are, but could be misinformed.

exgay_throwaway1390 karma

I definitely don't believe it's a choice (with all we have to deal with, who in their right mind would choose to be anything besides straight?). Whether it's purely genetic, a combination of nature & nurture, or something else, I don't know and don't really care. The fact that we can't choose is all I need to know.

The camp is secular, but they do suggest that the process is easier if you have some form of faith. The majority of people there were Mormon, Catholic, or Protestant, but there were a couple of Jewish and Muslim men there too.

MisterTactful1854 karma


You can't change what makes your dick hard.

exgay_throwaway222 karma

Deep words, these are. :)

tazcel120 karma

How many people did they have per 'session'? And how many 'coaches' were involved? Have any idea of how many people would attend such a camp over one year?

exgay_throwaway193 karma

There were around 30 at the one I went to, with probably 10 or so coaches/staff. I have a feeling that's pretty much the norm. There had already been over 50 camps by the time I went, and that was 3-4 years ago. They're probably pushing 100 by now.

Belaires105 karma

Demographically, what were the men (and/or women) like? All races, body shapes, ages, etc?

exgay_throwaway190 karma

It was really all over the board. Most guys were probably in their 20's and 30's, but there were several there in their 60's or older.

psychgirl88714 karma

How did you end up at the camp?

exgay_throwaway1144 karma

A friend from church recommended it to me after I confided in him that I was struggling with homosexual attractions. He'd been a few years earlier, and said it had helped him tremendously. I was pretty skeptical before I went, but I decided that if there was a chance of "breaking free" from my attractions, I'd like to give it a try.

Fake_Unicron251 karma

Have you been in touch with the friend since?

ETA: or any of your other fellow campers?

Thanks for doing this btw.

exgay_throwaway390 karma

Thought I responded to this earlier, but I guess it didn't go through.

I came out to him and several of my fellow campers a while back. They were generally supportive (in the "I don't agree with you, but I respect you" sort of way), but I haven't heard a word from them since. The few times I've run into them in my goings-about, it's been really awkward.

Foxythekid629 karma

Is anyone going to question the fact "Journey into Manhood" sounds like a quest to get dick?

exgay_throwaway1374 karma

That would be "Journey onto Manhood." ;)

allthisbooze538 karma

You came out as bi? you're less gay now, what happens if you go through it again?

exgay_throwaway1429 karma

Pretty sure I've always been bi. For a long time, I thought straight and gay were my only options, though. It took me quite a while to realize it was okay to enjoy both tuna and sausage. ;)

mime454452 karma

Are you still religious? Do you still think that being gay is wrong?

exgay_throwaway1045 karma

Yeah, I still believe in God, although I'm much more open-minded about him than I used to be. I guess I'd identify more as a universalist Christian now (basically, God loves us no matter what, and we're all going to Heaven).

I don't believe there's anything wrong with being gay now, and if I could flip a switch and be 100% straight tomorrow, I wouldn't do it. I'm really happy in my bisexuality now. :)

LovefromCanada428 karma

What kind of food did they serve there?

exgay_throwaway1102 karma

Really delicious food, actually! Ex-homos are apparently really good cooks!

insane_moose406 karma

Is there anything you hated doing at the camp camp? Were there drills, watching sport, etc?

exgay_throwaway724 karma

Not really. I honestly liked most of the processes (especially the cuddling!), and got some good stuff from most of them. The only thing I didn't really like was the overall "being gay is unhealthy and destructive" vibe that came from everything. The founders of the group claim that they have nothing against homosexuality, and that Journey Into Manhood is just an option for those who voluntarily want to leave it. The general feeling from most of the guys there is quite different, though.

Sil369205 karma

did anyone voluntarily leave?

exgay_throwaway440 karma

Sorry, I meant "voluntarily leave the gay lifestyle." Nobody left the camp while I was there, and there was actually a part on the application that asked if you were being pressured to attend by an outside source. I assume they wouldn't accept anyone who was, but I don't know that for sure.

Boumboumme332 karma

Was any of the monitors a Ben Affleck-like hot beefcake?

exgay_throwaway605 karma

Not among the monitors, but there was one camper who I would've pounced on in a heartbeat, given half a chance. ;)

AlmostEntirely303 karma

Do you know the program's success rate? I.e., How many people "became straight", and how many of them "went back" to being gay?

exgay_throwaway582 karma

It's on their website somewhere, but they claim a pretty significant number (over 50%) of men experience a significant reduction in same-sex attractions. I have a feeling a lot of that is self-delusion or repression, though.

CLDBL00DED264 karma

What's in that little tan pouch?

exgay_throwaway410 karma

"Magic beans"

A lot of the camp was based around the allegory of "Jack and the Beanstalk" as a story of a boy becoming a man.

enderwiggin1135200 karma

As a person who is struggling with being gay and Jewish (fun stuff, I know), I'm curious if you know of anyone who did benefit from such a thing... Is there anyone who is now straight (or even bisexual)? I know a few Rabbis who recommend these things and, while I don't have the money, funds, or courage to go to such things, I'm curious as to how useful they even are...

exgay_throwaway623 karma

Personally, I couldn't recommend it to anyone for the purpose of becoming straight. The success stories I've heard have almost all basically been "I'm still attracted to men, but I'm dealing with it better now."

Believe me, I know the feeling of "If I could do anything to change this, I would," but I now genuinely believe that there's nothing wrong with being gay, and thus nothing that needs to be changed. It took me years to understand that (I'm in my 30's now, for the record), but life has gotten a lot better since then.

You've got a rough road ahead, for sure, there will be some really good times that come out of it too. Some people won't accept you for being gay, but the ones who do will be incredibly awesome. The fact is, gay or straight, Jewish or Christian or Atheist, you are an outstanding person, and I truly believe that God loves you just the way you are.

IrateBarnacle170 karma

Do you feel the leaders there did it out of hate/intolerance or just legitimately believed that homosexuality doesn't exist and those who are, are confused?

exgay_throwaway377 karma

I actually met one of the founders (Rich Wyler) there. He was a really cool guy, and I think he genuinely believes that he's helping people with the program. There's definitely some thinly-veiled hate/intolerance among some of the staff and other campers, but I don't see that at all in him.

i_believe_in_pizza40 karma

How many of the people who run the camp are 'ex-gay' themselves?

exgay_throwaway86 karma

All of the staff are. One of the prerequisites of going is having attended the camp yourself.