A “Love Won Out” Makeover?

Jim Burroway

April 16th, 2007

Update: My bad. Bill Maier did give his talk on same-sex in Omaha.

The recent “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus last Saturday in Omaha had a few changes in its normal line-up. The most notable change was Dr. Joseph Nicolosi’s absence as lead-off speaker. Nicolosi, the outgoing president of NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), typically gives the first talk of the day, “The Condition of Male Homosexuality.” That talk was instead given by Joe Dallas, who runs Genesis Counseling in Tustin, California. Nicolosi had also previously spoken on the “Prevention of Male Homosexuality” as a breakout session. It looks like that has been replaced by another talk by Joe Dallas, “Raising Healthy Kids In An Unhealthy Culture.”

It’s too early to know what all this means. This may be fallout from Nicolosi’s stormy CNN appearance a few weeks ago. Focus and Exodus are very media savvy and I imagine Nicolosi’s performance probably didn’t go over very well. There may be other tensions as well, as Nicolosi hews to a more clinical line in his talks, in contrast to the more unabashedly faith-based messages of Focus and Exodus.

On the other hand, this may wind up being nothing more than a simple scheduling conflict. While I doubt that, only time will tell.

I don’t know what Joe Dallas said at Omaha yet, but I hope to soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made some changes to Nicolosi’s talk. Having heard him speak on other topics at Love Won Out in Phoenix two months ago, I expect his talk is likely to be a bit “kinder and gentler” than Nicolosi’s. He’s certainly a much more gifted speaker. And if this change in the line-up is permanent, then it also raises Dallas’ profile at Love Won Out. He may have not only led off the conference first thing in the morning, but he probably closed it as well with his usual talk, “How Then Should We Respond?” Both talks are important highlights of the conference.

Other changes of note: Nancy Heche wasn’t there to give her usual talk, and Bill Maier didn’t give his talk on same-sex marriage. (He didn’t show up at Phoenix either). Both are She is still listed as conference speakers on Love Won Out’s web site — as is Nicolosi — so it’s still unclear if any of these line-up changes are permanent.

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