Sy Rogers is an American Christian pastor who was formerly part of the ex-gay movement.
His childhood was a story of tragedy, injustice, and rejection. Not only were his mother and father separated from each other, the young Sy was separated from his father also. His mother was an alcoholic and her boyfriend sexually abused Sy. When his mother was killed in a drunk driving accident Sy was sent to the Midwest and raised by women. As Sy tells it, “Being detached from my father the only people raising me were women, the affect I picked up in conservative Midwestern culture caused me to become sharply aware in childhood that I didn’t measure up to the standard. … I grew up in a culture where I was further punished for not measuring up. Most of my classmates did not mistreat me, but there was that dedicated handful who made my life difficult and convinced me that I was gay. … So you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand how I ended up in the only place that afforded me acceptance – homosexuality.”
“And having been molested and having been exploited, having experimented, I wound up there and lived everything from the promiscuous gay lifestyle while in the Navy in Honolulu in the seventies to later becoming involved in a gay church where I was the best man at one of Hawaii’s first gay weddings in the late 1970s. So then I decided that while in college back in the American Midwest that maybe the way to have a happier life was to have a sex change.” “Well my gay friends in Hawaii who had gotten married to each other, I wrote them an anniversary card, and they wrote me a letter saying, ‘don’t let everybody else tell you what to believe about heaven, hell, and homosexuality. Do your own research into the Bible and if you do you will discover what we have: the teachings of the gay church sounded really great, but as we read God’s word objectively He leads us in truth, and we felt convicted and convinced that the teaching from the gay church is an error … We’ve left our gay marriage and our lifestyle and we are now born again and praying for you.’ Ya, well that wasn’t my reaction. I thought they were stark raving mad. I knew born gay, can’t change, shouldn’t need to, gay is good, and so I was offended with their new found faith and I decided my way of being born again was through a sex change.
Rogers, who as a young man had lived as a woman and begun the process of arranging to have sex-change surgery, credited his conversion to Christianity for igniting personal growth and a new-found security in gender identity which enabled a shift in his sexuality to heterosexual. As he states in his personal story, “My goal was not to be straight–it was God”. He married a woman he met in a Bible-study group, began to identify as heterosexual, and they reared a family together.
In 1988 Rogers, then 30, a married father, living in Florida, self-describing as a former homosexual and former transsexual, told a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times that the ex-gay movement was not anti-gay, “If you want to stay gay, that’s your business,… But the bottom line is, you have a choice to overcome it. You can change. “The goal is God–not going straight. Straight people don’t go to Heaven, redeemed people do.”
During Rogers’ involvement in the mid to late 1980s, Exodus International had offices on five continents and declared that “all homosexual relationships are sinful.” In conducting a speaking tour in 2008 Rogers’ message included “Happily, homosexuality can be turned around,… Homosexuality is out of tune with religion; it is not what God planned for human sexuality.” Writing in The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, gay rights advocate Wayne Besen argues that during the AIDS epidemic “some men were literally scared straight – or at least into making the futile attempt,” bringing a degree of momentary success to Exodus International.
Rogers is portrayed in the 1993 documentary One Nation Under God. In 2016, The Daily Beast reported that Rogers’s ministry had moved away from the ex-gay message many years earlier.