Melissa Fryrear, the longtime senior analyist on gender issues at Focus on the Family, resigned her position in April. A self-proclaimed ex-lesbian, Fryrear was a leader in Focus’ efforts to teach gay people to go straight.
Carrie Gordon Earll, Focus’ senior director of issues analysis, told me Friday that Fryrear resigned “to pursue speaking opportunities.”
Fryrear held a high-profile position at Focus. Part of her job was to talk to the media about Focus’ controversial stand on homosexuality.
Focus contends that people are not born gay but become gay due to factors in their lives. “Homosexuality is likely caused by a complex interaction of psycho-social, environmental and possibly biological factors,” Fryrear told me in March. “We hold to the developmental view.”
Fryrear, 43, often spoke at Christian events of her battle with same-sex attraction. According to Fryrear’s account posted on Exodus International, an organization in the U.S. dedicated to turning gay people straight, she was involved in gay relationships until the late 1980s, when she became interested in Christianity. But while studying the Bible, she learnedthat Scripture says homosexuality is a sin. Through Exodus referrals, she started counseling sessions to learn to deal with her same-sex attraction.
“I immediately involved myself in the support groups, one-on-one counseling, reading literature and resources and attending conferences,” she writes. “I began to learn the various factors that contributed to my same-gender attractions: my perceived rejection of my biological mother and father, my perception that my adoptive mother was distant and stoic and that my adoptive father was emotionally absent, sexual molestation, sexual experimentation, with both sexes, during my preteen years, understanding the schemes of the devil, and dozens and dozens of lies I believed about everything. I began to take responsibility for my own sinful beliefs, choices, and behaviors. Most importantly, though, I began to learn about the Holy Trinity and to form a relationship with each person.”
You can read her Exodus testimony here.
Fryrear was the director and often keynote speaker of Focus’ Love Won Out, a seminar held in various U.S. cities several times a year designed to help people overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. But budget constraints led Focus to drop the Love Won Out program, Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said in November. Love Won Out was then subsumed within Exodus International.
Fryrear is perhaps best known for what she said several years ago at a Love Won Out seminar in Birmingham, Ala. “Having talked with hundreds of homosexuals, I have never met one that had not been sexually violated in his or her life.”
Several times a year Exodus sponsors a mammoth seminar in various U.S. cities; its next is in June in Irvine, Calif. Exodus also sponsors dozens of workshops each year at U.S. churches.
In the past, Fryrear has spoken at Exodus events, but she is not listed as a speaker for the Irvine event. A spokeswoman at Exodus told me today that, to the best of her knowledge, Fryrear will not be speaking at any upcoming Exodus events.
Attempts to reach Fryrear at her east Colorado Springs home have been unsuccessful. Having learned of my attempts to contact Fryrear, Schneeberger told me Saturday that she won’t speak to me.
Has Fryrear had a change of heart toward faith-based reparative therapy, leading to her resignation?
A ministry colleague of Fryrears doesn’t believe that is the case.
Karen Keen, who operates an online site called Pursue God, writes on her blog that in conversations with Fryrear over the years she’s expressed a desire to “pursue other ministry opportunities not related to homosexuality.”
“I am happy she has moved on,” Keen writes. “Just because we have a homosexual background doesn’t mean we have to spend our lives being spokespersons on the issue. Who we are is so much more than that.”