Rev. Kent Philpott was a key player in the birth of the ex-gay movement.
In the mid 70′s, there was a growing movement to recognize the civil rights of gay men and women. There were challenges to sodomy laws, pride celebrations, and open politicians. Even the way in which gay persons were percieved changed; “Gay” came to be an adjective of what someone was rather than the older term “a homosexual” which suggested what someone did.
It was in this time and place of transition, around 1973 in the San Francisco bay area, that a preacher, Philpott, first decided to bring together gay people who had conflict with their religious upbringing into a support group for overcoming their shared “affliction”. The outgrowth of this meeting became Love In Action which was probably the first ex-gay ministry. (Later LIA joined with EXIT, Outpost, EAGLE, Metanoia and other new ex-gay groups springing up around the country in what eventually became Exodus.)
In 1975, Philpott took the stories of participants in his group and published The Third Sex?: Six Homosexuals Tell Their Stories, the first ex-gay testimonials. As with many such testimonials, ultimately none of the six had actually become heterosexuals. However, the readers across the nation did not know that and this book caught the attention of Christians seeking a solution to the “homosexual problem”.
One of Philpott’s ex-gays – known in the book as “Ted” – was John Evans. John later wrote an article describing his early involvement and ultimate disillusion.
On May 5, 1979, I, along with the three women in the book, sent a notarized letter to Logos International, the publisher of The Third Sex? The letter informs them that the claims in the book were 100% false. We demanded that he stop publishing the book immediately.
As is the usual response to former ex-gays, their objections were ignored and the book continued to be printed and distributed.
As time went by, Philpott played a lesser role in LIA and gradually disappeared from any form of leadership in the ex-gay movement.
Now, however, we find that he is ready to return – at least in some limited capacity. According to the Marin Independent Journal, Philpott’s church, Miller Avenue Baptist Church in Mill Valley, CA, is starting a Homosexuals Anonymous program.
It is interesting that Philpott’s church is selecting HA rather than an Exodus affiliation, but I hesitate to read too much into that choice.