Mark Culligan Shares Journey of Exit from Homosexual Lifestyle as Speaker for PFOX’s Safe Exit Program

Mark Culligan Shares Journey of Exit from Homosexual Lifestyle as Speaker for PFOX’s Safe Exit Program

Safe Exit Equips Churches to Help Those Struggling with Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions and Gender Confusion

For Immediate Release
March 30, 2015

CONTACT
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, or Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com

RICHMOND, Va.—Mark Culligan never had a straight male friend who supported him and loved him for who he was.

That all changed when Culligan found a church and a pastor who knew how to respond with love to his story of journeying away from the homosexual lifestyle.

Culligan is one of several speakers committed to the Safe Exit program from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX, www.pfox.org), the nation’s leading advocacy organization that offers love and support to families and friends of individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusion and also supports the ex-gay community.

“So many like Mark are looking for places of acceptance and love,” said PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs. “And they expect to find it in a church. But some churches, by their own admission, are ill-equipped to deal with the complex issue of homosexuality, gender confusion and unwanted same-sex attractions. Through the Safe Exit program, we are helping churches open their doors to those struggling and seeking—just like Mark’s church did for him.”

Today, Culligan, of Tampa, Fla., is founder and director of New Hearts Outreach, a ministry for those whose lives have been affected by homosexuality. But his story began long ago—as an 8-year-old boy whose father punished him by whipping him over a pair of missing pliers. Once the tool was found, Culligan said there was no apology from his father, but that incident stayed with him for life.

“That whipping, that scene, that family scene, was instrumental in my making a vow to withdraw totally from the company of Dad,” Culligan says in his video story on the PFOX web site. “I wanted nothing to do with him.”

In high school, Culligan says he was called “gay” and “queer,” and subsequently had his first homosexual experience in college. Some of it, he says, “felt right, so I began living the homosexual lifestyle as a college student” and did so for the next 20 years.

“Speaking for myself,” Culligan said, “my experience in the gay lifestyle was addictive. You were motivated to go on this hunt, and it never was enough—you always wanted more.”

A good friend told Culligan that the way to fix his problem was to “find a good woman,” so Mark tried—not once but in two marriages, and both were wrought with baggage. Once Culligan made the decision to leave the homosexual lifestyle, he found an ex-gay support group in Tampa. There, he was told that his problem was not sexual, but relational. And through the group, Culligan learned more about discipleship and becoming a student of the word of God. He also learned that he could receive God’s love without having to do anything to earn it—unlike how he had found “love” throughout his life. God’s love was a gift—and it was free.

“God accepted me with my story and my wreckage and my mess,” Culligan shared. “The Lord said through Matthew Chapter 11, ‘Come on down, Mark. Come on down. I accept you. I want you to be my child.’ And, boy, I ran.”

Culligan added that he didn’t know God intimately at that point, and he experienced feelings of anger, especially when his homosexual temptations were still present. But three years into his journey, Culligan’s supportive pastor asked him to share his testimony on Palm Sunday at his church. After his time in front of the congregation, Culligan said two burly, married men approached him, took his hands and told Mark they wanted to be his support system. All three wept together.

“I felt the acceptance of straight men for the first time in my life,” Culligan recalls. “This was a life-defining moment that only God could have ordained.

“There are people who are sitting in churches right now who are struggling,” he added in PFOX’s online Safe Exit video, “and because of the preaching, because of the attitude of the church, they don’t dare share their struggle with their pastor.”

Safe Exit offers curriculum, expert speakers and ongoing support to churches that want to open their doors to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, and to support those who’ve left the homosexual lifestyle. Culligan, along with others, will share their personal stories as Safe Exit speakers for interested churches.

Griggs says thousands of men and women with unwanted same sex attractions and gender confusion make the personal decision to leave behind their former gay identity and often approach churches for help in their journey.

Besides Griggs and Culligan, other Safe Exit speakers include:

  • John and Donna Lawlor: After experiencing childhood hurts involving an abusive father and subsequent divorced parents, John entered the homosexual lifestyle. He shares his powerful testimony of leaving that lifestyle.
  • David Pickup: A licensed marriage and family therapist in California with extensive background in talk therapy who serves as president of the International Institute for Reorientation Therapies.
  • Chris Delaney: An ordained minister through International Ministerial Fellowship who has full-time ministry experience through Channels of Love to those infected/affected with AIDS; he has also worked with Agape Outreach Ministries and founded Joseph’s Coat Ministries, which reaches out to men and women struggling with same-sex attractions.
  • Denise Shick: An author and the founder of the ministry Help4Families.org, who grew up with a transgender father.
  • Melissa Ingraham: A licensed mental health counselor in New York who works with women on depression, anxiety, confusion, gender identity and unwanted same-sex attraction issues; she also previously identified as a lesbian. Melissa is the wife of ex-gay ministry leader Garry Ingraham and the mother of two children.
  • Garry Ingraham: The executive director of the Love & Truth Network ministry in New York. Love and Truth Ministry works to equip Christian leaders to develop safe and transformational environments for the vast majority of Christians experiencing relational and sexual brokenness. Garry struggled with same-sex attractions and pornography addiction throughout his life.
  • Dave Edwards: After experiencing childhood scars involving an absent biological father and an abusive step-father, David spent seven years in the homosexual lifestyle.
  • Bonnie Morgan and Phyllis Trapp: Identical twins, one who lived as a lesbian and one who did not; Bonnie found healing when Phyllis introduced her to a Christian music program.
  • Flo Hubbs: Lived as a lesbian for 14 years; she received healing through an evangelist and a support group of women; Flo’s testimony is featured on the PFOX web site, and she currently leads a PFOX group in Illinois.

Most of the speakers’ stories are featured on the PFOX web site. Churches interested in finding out more about Safe Exit can visit www.pfox.org/safe-exit/.

PFOX is a national non-profit organization that supports families and educates the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. PFOX supports an inclusive environment for the ex-gay community and works to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals by conducting public education and outreach to further individual self-determination and respect for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

PFOX believes that every person seeking positive life change needs the love and support of family, friends, the community and the church and strives to offer a place for help, a place for truth, and a place for ex-gays to participate in the conversation about same-sex attraction. PFOX families love their homosexual child unconditionally, believing that true love is granted in spite of our differences by treating each other with kindness and respect. Each year, thousands of men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave a gay identity through gender-affirming programs, including counseling, support groups, faith-based ministries and other non-judgmental environments.

For more information on PFOX, visit its web site at www.PFOX.org, its Facebook page, its Twitter feed @PFOX4U, or email info@pfox.org.

 

 

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization with a mission to support families and educate the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. PFOX is committed to helping parents and friends of gays who want help, hope and community, and exists to provide education and support. PFOX works to provide understanding and acceptance of the ex-gay community.

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To interview a representative from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, or Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, or at media@hamiltonstrategies.com.