A Way Beyond the Rainbow

#31 - On Support Systems: "Homosexuals Anonymous" and the 14 Steps

October 23, 2020 Robert Gollwitzer and Waheed Jensen Season 3 Episode 5
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#31 - On Support Systems: "Homosexuals Anonymous" and the 14 Steps
Chapters
0:38
Episode Introduction
1:32
A Little Bit About Robert
4:30
Mission and Vision of HA
6:23
The Fourteen Steps
28:45
Issues Targeted Within HA
34:36
Services Provided
40:00
Joining HA and Finding Sponsors
42:33
On Sexual Ethics
45:11
Further Resources
47:33
On Effectiveness and Critiques
56:33
Final Messages from Robert
1:05:25
Ending Remarks
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#31 - On Support Systems: "Homosexuals Anonymous" and the 14 Steps
Oct 23, 2020 Season 3 Episode 5
Robert Gollwitzer and Waheed Jensen

In this episode, Robert Gollwitzer from Germany joins me as a guest speaker and talks to us about Homosexuals Anonymous and the 14-step program.

How are the 14 steps different from the 12 steps, and what do they entail? What is the focus of Homosexuals Anonymous, and how does it help individuals struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? These and other questions are explored in this episode.

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

- Homosexuals Anonymous website
- Robert’s website
- Joe Dallas’s website
- "The Search For Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes" by Robert McGee
- "Reconciliation" movie

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, Robert Gollwitzer from Germany joins me as a guest speaker and talks to us about Homosexuals Anonymous and the 14-step program.

How are the 14 steps different from the 12 steps, and what do they entail? What is the focus of Homosexuals Anonymous, and how does it help individuals struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? These and other questions are explored in this episode.

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

- Homosexuals Anonymous website
- Robert’s website
- Joe Dallas’s website
- "The Search For Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes" by Robert McGee
- "Reconciliation" movie

Waheed  00:38
Assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh, and welcome to a brand new episode of “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, this podcast series dedicated to Muslims experiencing same-sex attractions who wants to live a life true to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. I'm your host, Waheed Jensen, thank you so much for joining me in today's episode. Today's episode is the fifth episode in our series on support groups. As you guys remember, in the previous episode, Chris from Melbourne, Australia, joined us and talked to us about 12-step programs in general and the sexual recovery programs. And in today's episode, Mr. Robert Gollwitzer is going to be joining me all the way from Munich, Germany, to talk to us about Homosexuals Anonymous and the 14-step programs. So let's get started, inshaAllah.

Waheed  01:32
Thank you so much for joining me, Robert.  

Robert  01:34
Thanks for having me, Waheed.

Waheed  01:36
Thank you! All right, so, we have so many things to talk about. But the first thing that I would like to address is for the audience to get to know more about you. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you have come to where you are right now? 

Robert 01:48
I'm from Germany, I came to Homosexuals Anonymous in 2004. Actually, I never wanted to join an ex-gay organization. I've never even heard about that. But at that time, I've had about, let's say, 20 years of gay life behind me. And I was pretty much at the end of the rope. I was suicidal. For the first time in years, I started to pray again, which was completely new for me, after decades. At first, nothing really happened, there were no Hollywood choirs, no church bells ringing, nothing. But then I watched a news broadcast, sort of, an Evangelical one, and they gave me - they had a thing called Hope Line. I went there on the internet, and they gave me a link to Homosexuals Anonymous. Now that was the first time I ever got in touch with an organization like that. And I was pretty mad at the beginning. There were things I've never even heard about here. I went to NARTH, Exodus, all those organizations, I've never even heard about those other points of view, even from a scientific point of view. And the thing that shocked me most was the life stories of men with same-sex attractions. I thought there are people on the other side of the globe, and they have the same life story that I have. How is that possible? If that's so normal, good and whatever? So at the end of the day, I felt like, “Okay, it didn't work my way, so why not give it a shot?” And I did. And it changed my whole life. 

Waheed  03:33
Right. That's wonderful. I'm really happy to hear that. Okay, so our focus today will be about Homosexuals Anonymous (HA). So, can you tell us about how the idea for HA came about, how did it start? 

Robert  03:46
Well, it started in the mid 70s, founded by Colin Cook and Douglas MacIntyre. I was fortunate to get to know Douglas MacIntyre in person in 2006 in Pennsylvania, we’ve been very good friends ever since until he died. That was sort of a mixture between the traditional 12-step programs and an additional two steps, and the whole thing being adapted to people with same-sex attractions. It is not a conversion therapy program, it is simply a self-support group for people who have same-sex attractions. That's all. Period. 

Waheed  04:29
Okay, wonderful. And before we were talking about these 14-steps in detail, can you tell us a little more about, in general, the mission and the vision of HA? 

Robert  04:39
HA was always something different from all the other ministries, that's why I joined them. I started a ministry of my own, Jason International, back then. First, I wanted to join Exodus, but something struck me about HA. HA has always been different in the sense that it's been always family. It's not just been about offering seminars, programs, whatever, it's been really family, to me and to many others. We've not been kicked out when we fell, we’ve been taken back with open arms, always, when we wanted help. As for the local groups, that's really been a very emotional and family-like thing, at least here in Germany, and I think also in other parts of the globe. They did not just exchange information or news or whatever, they've been like brothers here. They've spent also time in private, we went on hikes, we had dinner together, we did a lot of things together, we gave calls to one another when somebody was in trouble. Maybe that's the reason why we're still around and others have closed ever since. Besides, of course, Douglas MacIntyre, who, still to this day, is the man with the greatest faith that I've ever met in my whole life. He brought people that we kicked out of the program, because we couldn't handle them anymore. 

Waheed  06:23
So let's talk now about the 14 steps, you said that it follows the 12 steps from the conventional 12-step programs, but there are two additional steps. Can you explain to us those 14 steps? 

Robert  06:35
Yeah, I can go through them if you want to. It starts with pretty traditional ones. The first one would be, “We admitted that we're powerless over our homosexuality, and that our emotional lives were unmanageable.” That's pretty much the step that's traditional for all those step programs, and for all sort of whatever change you want to undergo in life. Some people never reach that step. They won't even be there after years and years and say, “Well, I've tried pretty much everything, nothing works.” And they've never even come to the point that they admit that they are powerless, that they have a problem. If you still think you have everything under control, if you can manage everything, so what's the point? You don't need any help. Nothing will ever change. And then comes the second one which reads, “We came to believe the love of God, who forgave us and accepted us in spite of all that we are and have done”, which, in some other programs is just a Higher Being or whatever you might call it. Our program is not just for Christians. It is a Christ-centered program, and people who join it should at least be willing to work with it, but if you're not Christian, we have Muslims among us, you can and should work with those parts of the program that you feel comfortable with. So it's not a prerequisite to be Christian, but at least be open. Third one would be, “We learned to see purpose in our suffering, that our failed lives were under God's control, who is able to bring good out of trouble.” Now that's kind of twofold. First, lots of people who come to us have undergone suffering in their lives, like physical, verbal, emotional, sexual abuse, whatever. Then there is what also psychotherapists like Gerard Van Den Aardweg pointed out, the theory of self-pity, that comes under that roof. Meaning that when a child, when a baby feels unloved, and I say “feel”, because it doesn't matter if it’s loved, if it feels unloved, he or she will still, for some time, try to reach out to his parents, or the people who raise him or her. But if that doesn't work, he or she will start kind of pity in himself or herself, and start to shower love on him or her, so that it gets some sort of love. That's very tragic, very pathetic, and very, very sad. That goes on into adult life, without the people being aware of it. So even as adults, I’ll give you one example: when I greeted our guys in our local chapter and said, “How are you doing today?” They would say, “Oh, you wouldn't believe how terrible this week was! I am so bad!” And they would always come with that whining attitude. Sometimes I'll have it pointed out to them and say, “I just, for once, I want to hear everything was fine!” 

Waheed  09:54
Right! Exactly. 

Robert  09:55
That's why I started doing exercises like, “Let’s just think about what went well during the week, what we should be thankful for.” And who would have thought, sometimes there were things that went well! Number four would be, “We came to believe that God had already broken the power of homosexuality, and that He could, therefore, restore our true personhood.” Now, this doesn't talk about homosexuality from a scientific point of view, like, you know, the genetic, whatever you might call it, program behind it. That's more like, homosexuality as a sign of a broken man or a broken woman, like we all are broken people in front of God. And we should not go to God whining and asking Him to take away that from us, but to start realizing that we are free, the only thing that hinders us from true freedom is the will that it can be done. Then come two steps that led me to a totally different way of looking at myself. Number five reads, “We came to perceive that we had accepted a lie about ourselves, an illusion that had trapped us in a false identity.” Now, for me, I was raised in a very traditional environment in northeastern Bavaria, I was raised like, I don't know, 200 years ago, like people were raised there, very traditional. Sexuality did not exist. Homosexuality, of course, did not exist, either. Nobody ever talked to us about sex, and homosexuality just did not exist, period. I've never even heard the word. So, I always thought, I don't know, I was somebody from planet Mars thrown on this planet with some sort of weird disease. And it's not that people were talking bad about it, it just did not exist. When I finally entered the gay scene, I thought like, “Okay, now I can finally be who I truly am!” During the years, I've witnessed many guys who came in for the first time, still shy somewhat, and still, you know, normal looking, whatever you might call that. And during the years, they changed. They changed in the attitudes, the way they talk, they walk, the looks, their exterior, whatever. And even in my gay time, I thought like, “Okay, that looks weird to me.” And there was the “Well, finally, I am my true self.” And even back then I thought like, “I don't think so, that's not your true self.” And it wasn't my true self, either. It was a very distorted version of myself. But I only came to understand that years after I had left that scene.

The next one would be, “We learned to claim our true reality that, as humankind, we are part of God's heterosexual creation, and that God calls us to rediscover that identity in Him through Jesus Christ, as our faith perceives Him.” That reminds me of when I was in Pennsylvania, in the National AJ Conference with Douglas MacIntyre, he started his talk by saying, “How many gay people are in the house?” and we all raised our hands. And he said, “No! Not a single one is here.” And I thought like, “Okay, this guy has some serious alcohol problem! I’m at the wrong conference, you know, what's going on?” And he started explaining that step to us, that, you know, we are not gay, homosexuals or whatever, we are part of God's heterosexual creation. Yes, some of us have same-sex attractions, for whatever reason, even if they’re genetic, doesn't matter. You still are regular man and regular women who happen to have homosexual attractions. That was totally new to me. From that moment on, I stopped seeing myself as gay or homosexual, running around and telling everybody, whether or not they wanted to hear it. That was sort of part of my life, but my life was more than that. Up till then, my whole life focused around “being gay”. So, besides, the words homosexuality as well as heterosexuality were instituted by the same man in the 1800s, they did not exist before. When somebody asks me today, “So what are you now, are you, like, do you have heterosexual attractions, do you still have homosexual attractions?” I'm always saying, “I'm Robert. What's your problem?” 

Waheed  14:57
That’s an amazing answer! Perfect. 

Robert 14:59
No importance whatsoever to me. Okay, number seven would read, “We resolved to entrust our lives to our loving God and to live by faith, praising Him for our new unseen identity, confident that it would become visible to us in God's good time.” For me, that meant, after years and years being in the gay scene, in a time where it was still very wild, where nobody cared about HIV or anything else, where many also famous people ran around in the gay scene, and then somebody told me, “Well, you're not homosexual.” So I understood, “Okay, whatever I am, that was a very distorted version of myself I had,” not because somebody else told me that, but I came to understand that, and I thought, “Okay, but what am I?” Back then, I was I think 36, and I thought, “Okay, now here I am, 36 years old, I have no clue what a man is, who I am, what my identity is.” That's a little pathetic, right? And, in that moment, to trust God and say, “Well, I don't know where this road is taking me, and it's very hard to go, but I just go one day after the other, one step at a time.” And trust Him to say, “Well, You promised me that You would take me through, I'll go through it.” So, it's hard, but it's doable. 

Number eight is, “As forgiven people free from condemnation, we made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, determined to root out fear, hidden hostility, and contempt for the world.” Okay, now, as a gay person, I always had that attitude, “I am gay, whoever doesn’t like it can kiss my butt. I'm good.” I had my own moral ethical code, which, of course, I defined, so it would suit me. Now, taking a step back and thinking, “Okay, you know, I always blamed my family, the world, my environment, for whatever happened in my life.” And I thought, “How about myself? I wasn't a saint, either!” And now starting to look at myself, what's going wrong there and all the negative feelings, the hatred, the bad attitudes, that's a very hard thing to do, and telling somebody else… Ooh! That's hard to do. Number nine would be, “We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs and humbly asked God to remove our defects of character.” Now, that's the logic consequence of the step before. The gay parades - over here, they are called like Christopher Street Day or something like that. First, they were called gay pride parades than “Pride Parade”. That's interesting, because pride is one of the worst sins in Christianity. It's behind every other sin, because you think you are God, and you say what's right and wrong, what’s good and bad. Of course, you always win, because you’re always good then. And now to swallow down all of that year-long pride and to say, “Okay, I have some wrongs too, and I'm telling other people, and I am asking God to remove them.” Oh, God! That's hard. 

Number 10 would be, “We willingly make direct amends wherever wise and possible to all people we had harmed.” That was probably one of the hardest things to do. Back then, I broke almost all contact with my family, especially with my mother, my father was already dead at the time. I thought like, “Okay, they don't like my way of living, then, so, leave my life!” But the thing is, you cannot just spit on those persons who bore you, who raised you, who loved you for decades. You cannot just say, “It's my way or the highway.” Other people have a right for their opinion too, and they're not hating you just because they're having a different opinion. And to now understand that, and go back and say, “I was wrong, please forgive me.” Holy crap! That was hard. And that's why we wrote it in there, “wherever wise and possible.” Sometimes it's not possible, because even if you want it, the other side maybe doesn't want it. They say, “It's so much wrong. I don't want to see you anymore.” Or sometimes it's not wise, you know, when the person, for instance, is in a very bad, physical or mental state of health, there's no point in upsetting him or her just because you want to feel good afterwards. So, just let it be and be the best version of yourself until God closes the whole thing. But with my mom, it took years and years and years and years, but we forgave one another. In my childhood and youth, a lot of bad things happened. I was traumatized a couple of times. I'm not blaming my parents for all of that, but very bad things happened. I'm not going into detail. But yeah, that also had some physical, some mental consequences, which cannot be undone. That just happened. But still saying, “I forgive you, and please forgive me.” I'm glad I did that. And I'm also very thankful that I was able to take care of my mom in her last living years. She was very sick for 30 years. And I was able to take care of her, to be on her deathbed, to bring the family together and pray over her in her dying hours. That's something you can't thank God enough for, because that heals a lot of wounds. 

Waheed  21:27
May she rest in peace. 

Robert  21:30
Yeah. Even like, I brought one of her sisters, and they always fought like cats and dogs, but when that sister saw my mom lying there in a coma, with the tubes in the lungs and everywhere, she said, “She did not deserve that.” And she started hugging her and kissing her, and laughed and told stories. And we all sat around, told stories and laughed a lot, till the nurse came in - it was the intensive care unit - and she said, “I’ve never seen that. Usually nobody comes, and when somebody comes, they don't have that attitude!” And my aunt turned around and said, “Well, she was part of us in her living years, why should we leave her alone now?” And we just kept on, you know, having fun. 

Waheed  22:16
That’s beautiful. 

Robert  22:18
What a way to go! Number 11: “We determined to live no longer in fear of the world, believing that God's victorious control turns all that is against us into our favor, bringing advantage out of sorrow and order from disaster.” I never thought that that could happen to me. Like I've been so full of negative emotions of really bad things that happened to me or that I did to others. And that that could ever change and something good could come out of that, I never expected that. Number 12: “We determined to mature in our relationships with men and women, learning the meaning of a partnership of equals, seeking neither dominance over people nor servile dependency on them.” Now, whether or not gay or lesbian people want to hear it, especially gay man, that's very common in the gay world, you know, in my point of view, a very immature way of relating to one another. Very often, partnerships that are just not equal, you don't have two people on one level, oftentimes there’s one person that is up and one person that is down and emotionally clinging to the other. Like, “I can't live without you,” or like even sexual or beyond sexual dominance and civility among them going on. That's way beyond a healthy and mature relationship. And it isn't for nothing that the average gay relationship lasts a lot shorter, and is a lot less monogamous, than the average heterosexual relationship. Now gays celebrate that, “So what?!” Well, not “So what?!” because that's not very healthy for you. And I've always seen that in my gay time, you saw a gay couple coming into a gay bar, that were together, but both of them already started screening the environment if the grass was greener somewhere else. Even then I thought like, “Okay, if you're so happy among the two of you, why do you have to do that?” Even in the long-term relationships, they oftentimes just have partners on the side. So what's the point of being together?

Two more steps, “We sought through confident praying, and the wisdom of Scripture for an ongoing growth in our relationship with God and a humble acceptance of His guidance for our lives.” That's, of course, for the people who believe in God, which are most of the people who come to us. For me, that was completely new. Yes, I was raised Christian. But I've been away from the faith for decades. And now they asked me to go to a church service every week to start reading the Bible on a daily basis. I've never read the Bible, period. I just opened it somewhere and thought, like, okay, whatever. But I did it. And I still remember the first time I went to a church service, I sat there, I still knew the whole process, of course, and then afterwards, I thought, “Okay, am I supposed to do that every week now? That was boring like crap!” But, as it turned out, it wasn't so boring, once I understood what was going on. Okay, and the last one is also like the AA 12 steps, it reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening, we tried to carry this message to homosexual people with a love that demands nothing and to practice these steps in all our lives' activities, as far as lies within us.” That's very important for all of us, not just to reach out to homosexual people, but to reach out to people, period. But, of course, especially people with same-sex attractions, with a love that demands nothing. I always get to hear from Christians, “Jesus loves you, but he loves you too much for you to say…” - if there's a “but”, a “but” always kills everything before, if you’re saying “but”, forget the things you've got there before. When Christ saved the life of the prostitute that was about to be stoned, he saved her before she could even say “beep”. He saved her before she could say “I'm not going to do this again.” Yes, he told her afterwards, “Don't do it again,” but that was not a condition for him to love her. And that's what we do. If somebody falls in our program, he falls. So, we’re helping him get back up again. That's not a failure. If you're working with alcoholics - I'm not comparing homosexuals with alcoholics, it’s just an example - if you're working with alcoholics, people now understand that the nature of addiction is to fall, that's a normal thing to do. You're not a bad person if you fall, which is different than some other programs. Also, being pure, not having sex and all of that, that's not a goal for us. It's very wrong to see this as a goal, that's, at best, a means to a goal. But not to do something is not a goal. That's like, you know, if I tell you now, “Don't think of a rose elephant, don't think of a rose elephant…” What are you thinking of? 

Waheed  28:00
You will think of a rose elephant! Exactly. 

Robert  28:03
And you haven’t thought of one in your whole life! Always to think of, “I'm not supposed to do this. I'm not to…” That's holding you captive, if you do that. That's complete nonsense. We're not always thinking about, “We're not supposed to do this. We're not.” Some do that, but you shouldn't. You should think about the things you should do. If you’re always recalling the things you shouldn't do, you’ll never find freedom. What’s the point?

Waheed  28:33
Right. Hundred percent. 

Robert  28:35
So that's our program. 

Waheed  28:45
Okay, so now that we have spoken about the 14 steps, can you tell us about – so, in addition to the things that you have mentioned, in terms of spirituality and helping each other, what are the issues that you target within HA? What are some of the, you know, common themes that you find among members? And who is your target audience in particular?  

Robert  29:04
The things that we often find, and which I was very surprised to hear, is the relationship usually with the same sex parent. I've never heard that before when I didn't hear about ex-gay ministries, I didn't know that. But once I started hearing all those life stories, I was so surprised that I wasn't the only one. My father and mother weren’t able to… Now, he was there as a youth, he was forced to go there. And the thing is, for men, if they go there in war, they have to pull the emotional plug in order to survive, else you can’t survive. But the problem is, you can’t plug it in as easily afterwards. So the whole generation afterwards had real big problems relating to their fathers, especially the sons. They were emotionally not accessible; neither was his father. I love him, and I still do. And he loves me. But as to relating to one another, he had to go to a farm, he was sent to a farm to work there at the age of nine, because his mother died. And he lived like in the Middle Ages there, he never knew what love is. But, back then, I didn't understand that, of course, so many of our members have that problem. They oftentimes, as many people with same-sex attractions, they have mental problems, which we do not treat, like anxiety problems, depression, which do not come from discrimination - it's very unscientific to point out one factor among many others that could contribute to a depression or anxiety disorder, that's not science, that's crap. No therapist would say such a thing. They also have problems with being impulsive. Like, “I want to have sex now, so I'm going to have sex now.” That's a very immature way of dealing with your sexuality. And once they have some beers, whatever, they don't care about protection or anything either anymore. So that's a very dangerous thing. And what existed already in my time and is even worse now, people are getting the kick, you know, and next time, you want a higher kick, and you do more extreme things. And then people use drugs. But here you have young fellows, probably also girls that are using them, I don't know, I guess meth or whatever else to boost that even more. So you have those kinds of problems, you sometimes have problems in dealing with life, in general, with relating to other people, especially family members, with finding your way in life, or just a purpose in life. Yeah, they feel there is more in life than just having fun, and of course, they are also very insecure as to what being a man is all about. And they're not the only ones, heterosexual men are too. So, of course, over here, our target is more men right now, but there are also groups for women. Also, which has been new to us, we were surprised to see that in the last years, many Muslims come to us, especially in our Skype program. People from Kuwait and other countries are joining us, Iran at the moment, that are finding it impossible there and highly dangerous to talk to anybody there, even if you say you don't want to live out or act upon this orientation, they still stay “Well, if somebody hears that, you're done, they kill you.” Of course, we are helping them. And also people in general that don't really believe anything, that's also new. Also, priests, that's a very new thing, the number of priests that are seeking our help is rising and rising, because they have nobody in their own church, pastors, or whatever, that they can talk to. Their own churches are becoming more and more gay friendly. So, when they say, “Well, for myself, I'm not judging anybody, but for myself, I don't want to do this. I don’t want to live on my desires.” So we're not changing their orientation or anything, you know, we're just given them pastoral care, Christian counseling, and helping them to live the life they want to live, and not forcing our views on them, but it's very significant that they don't find anybody else. And they tell us stories that are shocking and heartbreaking. It's happening in their churches there with the people that are over them. 

Waheed  34:33
Right. That sounds wonderful with the work that you're doing. So, can we talk a little bit more about the services that you provide? So can you give us examples? You mentioned Skype calls, so I'm assuming there's also real life face-to-face gatherings. Can you tell us more about that, what services are offered and what kind of chapters or networks you have around the world? 

Robert  34:54
Well, at the beginning, HA was like Alcoholics Anonymous and just had local chapters. That has changed. And also, besides the local chapters there was nothing, of course no political affiliation, they just didn't go to the outside, period. That has changed over the years, we offered online programs, because there are many people around the globe that don't have any other possibility, or even people in your area that just don't want to be seen, or whatever the reason might be. That's grown and grown and grown. Of course, we still have local chapters in many countries also with ministries that are affiliated with us, like Jason International or the Catholic mission Miserere Nobis. But, now with the coronavirus time, of course, the Skype meetings are the most popular. We offer them once a week, at the moment, we are planning on doing it more times during the week. But at the moment, it's once a week, and they're very popular, you usually have people from around the globe taking part, sometimes different religions, it's also surprising. We already had on invitation of a local Imam a seminar in a mosque in the United States, where Douglas McIntyre prepared with the Quran, with somebody that taught him about the Quran and the Bible, and they shared both there, which was completely new, that has never happened before. We are giving talks in public if wanted to, talking in political state convention, in radio stations, TV stations, churches, of course, whatever environment they want to have us, even though we are very cautious with the media, because usually they just want to have us as a scapegoat. At the moment, it's becoming more and more difficult with the anti-conversion therapy legislation, and of course, nobody wants to have anything to do with us.

Waheed  37:12
And in terms of the services that you provide, it focuses on support and spiritual support, and following up with the members who've joined? 

Robert  37:21
Not just that, we also offer our help for family members, for people who just want to know, for church people. Like at the beginning, I thought like “Okay, that’s only for people with same-sex attractions,” until other people started calling and contacting us. For instance, wives who called us and said, “Well, my husband/family father just left, and he left us behind, and the whole world is clapping their hands now saying, ‘Oh, what a wonderful thing, he’s finally following his orientation and finding his true meaning of blah, blah, blah, blah’”. She said, “Well, I'm calling you because I want to know more about that. But he also made a covenant with me. We have children, what about me? I have sexual needs, too! I have emotional needs, too! Nobody's clapping their hands for me.” Or an old woman who called us, she owned a farm, a huge farm and ran it with her son, with many cows and a lot to do. And from one day to the other, the son left. And she said “I knew he was having those attractions, I never condemned him for that.” But she said, “We still have to take care of the farm. He just left and I'm, as an old woman, standing there now and have to take care of it all. And the whole world is clapping their hands for him. What about me?” We found out that there is an organization here in Germany for women that are married to men, where they did not know before they had same-sex attractions, and she told me something like, she guesses the number of those men in heterosexual relationships is around one million. I don't know if that number is true. But after what she told me, and she's been in there, obviously for quite a long time, it makes sense to me. And it's shocking, because you can’t blame society for that, that's your own thought, your own decision. There are parents that come to us, not because we're supposed to make their gay son straight, but because they just want to know more. They're just getting those gay propaganda arguments, and they just want to hear another perspective now. And there are a lot more in that direction. 

Waheed  40:00
Let's now talk a little bit more about the signup process and how we get in touch with HA. So let's assume I would like to join Homosexuals Anonymous, how do I do that? How do I sign up? How do I get verified? And how do I get admitted? 

Robert  40:13
Well, you can go to a local chapter, of course, which is not so easy at the moment with the coronavirus, but they exist. You can join us on Facebook and on vk.com. You can join us through our homepage, if you want to join the online program, or simply by sending an email to us, which you can also do through the homepage: homosexuals-anyonomous.com, or you send me: [email protected] And then you will get a short introduction to the program, you have to admit if you want to join us to those points there, and then you're in. And then you're taking part, if you're in the online program, in the discussions there, you get a weekly step study that you can work with. And if you want that, you can take part in our weekly Skype program. 

Waheed  41:11
Brilliant. Thank you. So I will add all of these references and the resources that you mentioned in the episode description so everyone can access them. Can you tell us a little bit about sponsors? So does HA have sponsors like other 12-step programs do? And if you do, then can you tell us more about how they function within HA? 

Robert  41:30
Well, that's an office taken from the traditional 12-steps groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous. Yes, they do exist in the local chapters, if they're big enough. But, as I just said, the whole development went back from that, also due to the coronavirus. In the online version, of course, you don't have that, in that sense, even though the people are still bonding among one another. If a local chapter is big enough, you would have a sponsor, but the whole thing is organic, it's developing. And that's a good thing. It doesn’t stay like it was at the beginning, it’s developing and developing, form follows function. So, we're glad it's happening this way. We’re learning all the way, we're learning every day, every week, and we're glad we're still around. 

Waheed  42:30
Absolutely. And I hope that this continues. If I were to ask you, what are the sexual ethics that HA abides by? So for example, if we look at Sexaholics Anonymous, their sexual ethics is, you know, we only approve of sex between a man and a woman within a marriage context. So this means no pornography, no masturbation, no same-sex behaviors or intercourse. What about Homosexuals Anonymous? 

Robert  42:57
Well, that's interesting. In HA, as I just said, you're not focusing on the things you shouldn't. Yes, we're talking about that. But we're not telling people, “If you're part of HA, you're not allowed to do this.” That's like focusing on the things you shouldn't do, the brain doesn't understand “No”, it just focuses on the thing itself then. So we explain to them why something else can be beautiful. You know, if you tell people, “You're not allowed to masturbate,” they will try for a while until they can’t hold it back anymore, and then they will do it and feel guilty. What's the point? Douglas never wanted to discuss about masturbation and those things. But if you tell them what's happening if you masturbate, that it's becoming harder for you, because the brain does not make a difference between a real sexual intercourse and just a fantasy, that it will become harder for you, and that if it's your plan to get rid of, for instance, a sex addiction, you will make it a lot harder if you keep on masturbating, and that not masturbating is possible. But we don't judge that person then, if he did it. And also, with marriage, yes, we're talking about the beautiful thing of marriage, and why it is so beautiful, why God wanted to have us being married with a man and a woman. If you tell somebody, if you make them understand why something is good and beautiful, he will want it. But if you tell him, “You're not allowed to do this!” How does that sound? So we're here to help, but not to condemn. That doesn't mean we condone of those things. But we think that it's better to make somebody see why something is good, to come to a common understanding of what's good and truthful and right, and then following it, because it's good, than just to tell him, “It's wrong, and I'm telling you just because I care, period.” 

Waheed  45:09
Yup, this makes perfect sense. If I were to ask you, what are some books and resources that you would recommend to the audience members who are listening, to learn more about HA, or also to learn more about, for example, SSA, or anything that you have found helpful in your own journey? 

Robert  45:28
The books that usually our members read are the books by Joe Dallas, for instance, he has written quite a number of very good books, you'll find them on joedallas.com. We’ve been in contact with him over the years. Also, Robert McKee, The Search for Significance, an extremely helpful book if you're dealing with self-worth problems, which many of us are. But, in general, yes, we are recommending those resources. A DVD that would be extremely helpful is “Reconciliation”, the best film about same-sex attractions that I've ever seen. But we also tell them, “Go away from focusing on same-sex attractions.” There are people who are making it a habit, a living, of running around, reading books, watching DVDs, going to self-support groups, going to counselors, whatever, due to their same-sex attractions, they're always caught in their past then. Get a life! Viktor Frankl, a famous psychotherapist who has been in a concentration camp, he pointed out the meaning of finding a sense and purpose in life, and he said that you always have the freedom to decide freely, even if you're in a concentration camp. So, find a purpose in life. Many things happen because you don't have one. So we're helping people to usually find and seek their potential, not just the resources, but also the potential they have, what they can do with their special gifts. And then, step-by-step, go away from their past, their “being gay/homosexual/blah, blah, blah”, and seek a life out there. 

Waheed  47:33
If I were to ask you, how effective has Homosexuals Anonymous been, in all of the years that you've been there, how far has it helped? And the other question would be, any downsides or disadvantages that you have seen? 

Robert  47:50
That's very interesting. Usually, the media ask us “What's your success rate?” That's always funny, because I tell them, “Depending on what?” Our goal is not to turn gay people into straight ones. Our goal is, if you're Christian, to become more like Jesus, to follow Jesus Christ, and if you're not Christian, then according to your own freely-chosen goal, maybe find a life beyond just going to the gay scene and acting upon your gay orientation, whatever. If you want that, we're not forcing you. But just as I said, you know, finding your potential, finding a meaning in life. So, in that, there is no success rate. Yes, there is a success rate, if you measure the percentage of same-sex and heterosexual orientation, but we've never done that, and we will never do that. So what's the point? That's like saying, “If you're Christian, what's your success rate if you're a pastor of a Christian church?” What do you mean “what's your success rate?” My followers and believers will always still keep on sinning each and every day. That doesn't mean they're not Christians. But as humans, we will sin, so our success rate is not measured in the percentage of orientation, or this or that way. Our success rate is like finding our potential, reaching our goal and having somebody there that walks that way with us. And in that, I can say, there have been hundreds over the last years that I'm thankful to be able to say, “I walked that way with them.” It’s like you have children, you know, you walk with them over the years, and then you see what's coming out of them, how their life changes. It's just beautiful. We've had people from all different backgrounds, also, you know, famous people, whatever. And, like one of them that just comes to my mind, when I got to know him in first half of the 2000s, he was just separated from his wife and family, because they found out that, after decades, they caught him in some homosexual acts and even some illegal things going on, whatever, and his wife went after him with a knife! And I flew over to the States and met him there, he was living on a farm back then, there was a shed on the farm, and he had a little room up there. And we worked with both sides, and that was a very hard thing to do. But I was so happy when, after a couple of years, both of them flew to Munich and visited me here. I was so happy, you know, aside from that whole gay stuff. That's just a wonderful thing, the family is back. Yeah, there were wounds. That guy was in Vietnam, he was abused as a child, there were a lot of things going wrong in his life. But now they're together again. 

Waheed  51:21
That’s beautiful! 

Robert  51:22
Or you see somebody who says, like the one person I met, he said, “I still have those same-sex attractions. Yes, I admit that. But I'm a grandfather now. If I look at my wife, my children, and my grandchildren, I know why I did all of that. And I'm not regretting it a single day.” Who am I to tell him that, “Well, you should have followed your true inclination”? That’s crap! If he wants to live another life, and the wife is happy with that, why not? What's the problem? Why are gay people so scared of that? Because if one person finds true freedom and happiness, whatever, doing that, then they don't have an argument anymore, saying, “Well, you have to follow your genetic code, blah, blah, blah.” That's also from a scientific point of view just nonsense. Beside the fact that there has not been found such a genetic code yet, it wouldn't change a thing. Because, first, we're not slaves to a genetic code. Even if you have a genetic code, that does not mean you are forced to do something. Gay people would scream now if I would compare that to others, but just take that thought to a logical consequence: there's a lot of things going wrong when people have a certain genetic code. If you call something natural, normal, morally acceptable, just because you have it in your genetic code, that's complete nonsense. Neither are you forced to do that. And now with epigenetics, the whole thing has changed completely anyways. Epigenetics says that it's not just the genetic code that counts, it's also the environment and many other factors. The environment, for instance, decides whether or not a gene will be activated, or even shut down for good, or if a new gene will be built. So, it's also the other way around. The environment can also cause a change of a genetic code, which will be passed on - I'm not sure - I think until the second or third generation, and that makes sense, because they found out, when there was a famine, for instance, the bone structure of the women, as far as I remember, changed then and things like that. That makes sense. Because nature says, “Okay, there was a problem, we have to adjust in the next generation so that people survive.” So just to say that there's a gene, and therefore you have to do this, that’s Stone Age science. 

Waheed  54:07
Right, exactly. What about the downsides, or any, let's say “disadvantages”, or any things that maybe you found disappointing in your experience with HA? 

Robert  54:23
I've never met a single one up till now. I find that always interesting when people say, “Well, if you take part in those programs, you get mental problems, blah, blah, blah.” Yes, I'm trained in psychology and psychiatry and all of that, but I'm not claiming to be an expert. I would never say that. But still, I've witnessed many, many people, not a single one had any negative consequences, to my knowledge, just because he took part in our program. Plus, those people [who make such claims] have never been in our programs. They're always talking about us without talking to us. So, I don't understand. Yes, a lot of people with same-sex attractions have also mental problems. But that’s a totally different thing, that has nothing to do with us. There are many reasons for that, one of them might be because we are more sensitive, and for that, we’re more prone to and receptive for mental disorders. There can be a lot of reasons for that. But just to say that, because you don't like something, it has to be harmful, I always find that interesting, because if you go to the homepage of the Robert Koch Institute here, that's the institute that records diseases, like at the moment the coronavirus. There you see, for instance, sexually-transmitted diseases, and among them, the percentage of MSM (men who have sex with men). Now, a tiny percentage of the population has a huge percentage of those STDs, how can that be? That's not society's fault, that's your fault. So, obviously, that kind of lifestyle seems to look a little dangerous, on average. Whereas, you know, all those arguments that what we're doing is so and so, that's, I don't know, I can’t talk about others. But that's such nonsense. 

Waheed  56:33
If I were to ask you a personal question, so how has HA helped you personally, as Robert, how have you benefited from it? 

Robert  56:40
Without HA, I would have never found my potential, my purpose, my sense in life. It has helped me also mentally, with a lot of mental problems I had. I’ve seen that there is a life out there beyond just being gay, beyond just jumping from one man to the other, and just having a job on the side just to make a living. Now, I found true fulfillment. My work, at my job, I studied theology, I passed a lot of professional trainings, spent thousands of hours in professional trainings. And that was just awesome. Back then, that would have been a waste of time for me, because, you know, I would have been more interested in running after men. I'm not saying that all gay men are doing that, but I was. And I think some more are. So I'll be forever thankful to them. 

Waheed  57:41
That's wonderful. 

Robert  57:42
And I got to meet a lot of men and women that I wouldn't have met otherwise. I flew to the US, I've got to know people from around the globe that are wonderful, wonderful people. So if people are judging us without ever even having talked to us, how can you do such a thing? And how can politics, church, everybody run after [i.e. follow the footsteps/agree with] those gay activists? I don't understand that. 

Waheed  58:14
No one does, honestly. It's just the way it is, unfortunately. We know you're very outspoken, and you're active with HA, and anyone who googles you will see you, you're quite outspoken when it comes to all of the work that you do. So one question that comes to mind is, what are some challenges that you face, whether it's within your own family or the community in Germany, for example, or with the media? What are some of the backlash or the challenges that you have faced so far? 

Robert  58:50
At the beginning, I was rather cautious. My mother was still alive, so I also had to think of my family, for instance, if I go out there to the media. My mother used to live in a small town. She would have had to face the repercussions then if I went to the media, so I wanted to avoid that, I was very cautious. Even now, I'm cautious in accepting any invitations or media - I do them, but the only times I really face discrimination was not as a gay man, but as an ex-gay man! That's very funny! Plus, we’ve changed a lot now in how we approach that whole thing. Back then, you had the ex-gays and the gays, and in between was a huge gap. I've always tried to get over that gap. My goal, I started a ministry, for instance, which addresses gay and ex-gay people. My dream would be that there are counselors, doesn't matter if they are gay or ex-gay, who counsel people according to the way they want to be counseled. If an ex-gay person, for instance, goes to a gay counselor, he will still get the same treatment that he wants, that would be my goal. I tasked a professional training in journalism, I interviewed people just to make our whole network bigger. For instance, there was a cause of a right-wing politician some two, three years ago, that was haunted by the media, because they found out in a secret Facebook chat what he spoke there. First, I thought back then, if you’d be on a gay platform, you would be surprised how gay people check. Anyways, they found that out and they treated him like a pariah, like a monster. Then, people wanted to interview him. And he refused. And then I approached him, I told him who I was, and he was totally open for that. And I interviewed him, he granted me the interview. And I wanted to get to know the person behind him. And he also was open for the ex-gay idea, which totally surprised me. And I got to know the man behind that, and I'm still friends with him. So I want to enlarge that network. For instance, years ago, there was a gay Christian couple come in to visit us. We had dinner. Afterwards, they told me, “Everybody in our community judged you and talked bad about you. We, as Christians, thought we at least want to give you the chance to talk to us, we've never even talked to you, how can we say you're bad?” And afterwards, they said, “Well, in fact, you're pretty okay!” And I said, “So are you!” And for the first time, in their circles, they wrote a positive article about an ex-gay ministry. And so, at the moment, it's hard for us, because people are always afraid that they might be seen in the context of conversion therapy if they talk to us. It is dangerous, very dangerous for us. The law is, you can be fined up to 30,000 euros, and/or go to jail up to one year, not just because you made conversion therapy, that's nonsense, that's just, I don't know, I've never even met a person who did that. Maybe some handful of very disturbed persons, I don’t know. But they know that's not the reason they made that law. But also, if you make publicity for it, and that's the interesting point, or you make connections with somebody who does. Because if I stand in front of a church community and say, “The Lord has helped me find freedom,” that could already be seen maybe as making publicity for conversion therapy. So that's a very tough thing. Yes, we have changed the structure of our homepage, and on and on a little bit, even though we've never even done that. But we're not just deleting everything and going to disappear, just because the law is out there. But it's very dangerous for us. We also have outreach to New Zealand, that area, to many other countries, to people in Africa, in the Middle East, in Canada, the USA, Europe, many other countries.

Waheed  1:03:36
That's brilliant. God bless all of your efforts. My last question would be for you, what are any last words that you would like to give the listeners who are listening to you today? 

Robert  1:03:47
Sometimes people think churches, political parties, whatever, if they're going after conversion therapy, that's not a bad thing, that should be done. No, they're not going after conversion therapy, as such, they are going after everybody who has a different opinion than the gay activists’. If you think that's none of your problem, you'll be very surprised, because after that, comes something else, and something else, and something else. And at some point, you'll be living in a totalitarian state. And you'll be very surprised that there is nobody anymore that helps you, if you want to speak out. So stand with the people who are open in their opinion, in their faith. Science is not free, if it's becoming political. And that's the worst thing that can happen. Don't let a tiny minority of gay activists take over the whole state and tell you what to think, what to do and what not, by abusing science and many other things. Use your brains, that's why the Lord gave them to you. And as last words, pray for us. 

Waheed  1:05:08
Beautiful. Thank you so much, Robert. I really appreciate your time. And it was such a pleasure and an honor to have you. Thank you very much for your time.  

Robert  1:05:16
Thanks for having me. 

Waheed  1:05:25
And with this, we have come to the end of today's episode. I hope that you guys have enjoyed it and learned from it, inshaAllah. I will put all of the references that Robert was talking about in the episode description, so make sure you check that out with all of available links in there. In the next episode, inshaAllah, Mr. Richard Wyler from the States is going to be joining me to talk about Brothers Road and the different journeys, like Journey into Manhood, and others. Until then, stay safe and healthy, and I look forward to talking to you in a couple of days’ time. This has been Waheed Jensen in “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh.

Episode Introduction
A Little Bit About Robert
Mission and Vision of HA
The Fourteen Steps
Issues Targeted Within HA
Services Provided
Joining HA and Finding Sponsors
On Sexual Ethics
Further Resources
On Effectiveness and Critiques
Final Messages from Robert
Ending Remarks