April 07, 2020

For one woman, religion an exodus

Jane Boyer came back in.

She had been attracted to women ever since she was a little girl growing up in a small French Catholic community in Maine. But after she came out, she taught herself not to be a lesbian with help from Jesus, she said.

She grew up in an abusive home, with two alcoholic parents. “Homosexuality isn’t about gay rights or the latest scientific research” on whether it’s innate, she said. “It’s about people who are hurting and looking for unconditional love and acceptance.”

So while some lesbians define the last 20 years in part by the gay rights bill that has been debated by the Legislature for that long as well as the strengthening of the gay community as more and more people have come out, Boyer sees in the last 20 years the growth of another movement. Exodus International offers “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.”

For 20 years, Boyer has been married, trying to ignore her feelings for women, then trying to accept them, as other people counseled her to do. She was scared by “the powerful attraction … intense emotional attachment for women,” and felt guilty, confused, alone. “I was living a double life,” she said.

When her husband confronted her about her relationship with a woman, she decided to change what she felt.

“I was born an alcoholic,” she said, chemically predisposed to become dependent on liquor because of her parents. “Twelve years ago when I walked into detox and asked for help, they could’ve said, `There’s no help for you. You have to live your life as a drunk.’ What if the medical and scientific community decided that just because alcoholism is inborn, therefore we can say it’s normal and therefore we refuse to treat it? The bottom line is — there is a moral absolute.”

And people can choose to quit, she believes.

She is studying medicine and is the director of Amazing Grace Ministries in Portland, an Exodus referral agency that sponsors support groups and workshops for people who are “growing out of homosexuality and cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That faith can provide the support and closeness for which some people rely on the close-knit gay community, she believes. “Emotional wounding is not who you are,” Boyer said. “When I had an encounter with God in my heart, then I felt that lesbian love was a lie and a counterfeit.

“There may be people who feel that I am repressing my feelings,” she said. “If that’s the case, I would recommend it because my life is better now than it ever has been. There’s no comparison — I would never go back to that.”

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