Melissa Ingraham, Former Lesbian Now Living Her Dream

Melissa_IngrahamRICHMOND, Va.—A former lesbian who is now a counselor found healing, restoration and, ultimately, a “safe exit” from her same-sex attractions, and today, she is dedicated to helping others do the same.

Melissa Ingraham is a licensed mental health counselor in New York who works with women who struggle with depression, anxiety, gender identity confusion and unwanted same-sex attraction. She will be one of the featured speakers at the third annual Safe Exit Summit, a two-day conference in October co-hosted by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX,, the nation’s leading advocacy organization that offers love and support to families and friends of individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion.

“PFOX is honored to welcome Melissa Ingraham to the upcoming Safe Exit Summit,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX. “Her story of finding love, healing and true change is an encouragement to others. She understands the struggles of unwanted same-sex attractions, and I know her bravery and commitment will help many. All of our passionate speakers will be invaluable to other families with similar backgrounds and experiences. And their words and personal stories will help motivate churches to become safe exits for those who have left the homosexual lifestyle or are envisioning a new and different life for themselves.”

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In her personal story featured on the PFOX web site, Ingraham says she grew up with anger against her father for leaving the family and also against her mother for not confronting him. She said she saw her mother as a weak, passive doormat and, “I really wanted nothing to do with that.”

Her attitude toward her father and brother was generalized toward all men—that they used and abused women. And she came to the conclusion that her femininity was a liability. As she got older, her group of open-minded, anything-goes friends questioned her about dating women. She eventually did meet her first girlfriend in a gay bar.

During that time, her first exposure to Christians came when the AIDS memorial quilt was being displayed, and protestors held up ugly, disrespectful signs. When she revealed to her identical twin sister, who was also a Christian, that she thought she was a lesbian, Melissa was convinced her sister would tell her she was going to hell. Instead, her sister said that Melissa’s way of life was not God’s plan for her, but that she loved her anyway.

Melissa went with her sister to a missions conference where a workshop on sexual wholeness was featured. The speaker told his story about leaving the homosexual lifestyle and offered a prayer of salvation, which Melissa prayed along with him, and, “It was like this burden was lifted.”

Ingraham’s husband, Garry, is the executive director of Love and Truth Network in Maine N.Y., which helps to educate the church and others about those who struggle with sexual identity. Garry had also struggled with same-sex attractions as well as pornography addiction throughout his life.

The Safe Exit Summit is set for Oct. 2-3, 2015, following September’s Ex-Gay Awareness Month, in Washington, D.C. The event will feature a legislator education day on Capitol Hill, for those who are in support of ex-gays and individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, so they may visit their legislators and share information with them.

Friday Oct. 2 will feature a time of praise as well as a viewing of the video “Such Were Some of You,” produced by Safe Exit Summit speaker Dr. David Kyle Foster and followed by a Q&A with Foster and the Rev. Stephen Black. Then on Saturday, Oct. 3, numerous expert speakers will address several issues to encourage, educate and edify church leaders, family members and friends, as well as those struggling with gender confusion and unwanted same-sex attractions.

Serving as the keynote speaker for the Safe Exit Summit will be Dr. Michael Brown, one of the most respected conservative voices in America and author of the new book, “Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Eight Principles for Long-term Cultural Change.”

Brown is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. Since coming to faith in 1971 as a 16-year-old, heroin-shooting Jewish rock drummer, he has devoted his life to fostering awakening in the Church, sparking moral and cultural revolution in society, raising up gospel laborers for the nations and reaching out to his own Jewish people.

He is the host of the nationally syndicated “Line of Fire” radio broadcast, the president of FIRE School of Ministry, and a professor of Bible and Hebrew Studies at several leading seminaries. Brown has preached in more than 25 nations and is the author of 25 books and numerous scholarly and popular articles. He has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors and gay activists on radio, TV and college campuses. Read more about him at or view his columns for The Christian Post.

Several other top-name speakers will also be featured at the Safe Exit Summit:

  • Rev. Stephen Black has worked in pastoral-care ministry as an ordained minister and with International Ministerial Fellowship for over 25 years with First Stone Ministries. He teaches in the local church, serves in one-on-one pastoral care discipleship and weekly support group sessions, and helps to provide freedom conferences and seminars.
  • Dennis Jernigan, who will lead a special time of worship at the conference, is known primarily for his worship music, and his songs have been sung widely by the Body of Christ since the early 1990s. He has written hundreds of songs and authored many devotional and self-help books, fantasy novels and children’s stories. He shares his story of leaving a homosexual identity through his music and is convinced that with God, nothing is impossible.
  • Charles LiMandri is President and Chief Counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund and recently defended the New Jersey-based counseling group JONAH in court. He is double board certified in pre-trial litigation and trial advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He specializes in religious liberty issues.
  • Christopher Doyle is a licensed professional psychotherapist and co-founder of Voice of the Voiceless. He is also the Director of the International Healing Foundation, a non-profit organization that since 1990 has helped thousands of individuals and families struggling with sexual orientation. As a published author and expert in adolescent sexual health, as well as a former homosexual, Doyle has spoken to international audiences and had his work published in numerous outlets.
  • Denise Shick’s father identified as a transgender woman, which greatly impacted her childhood and adolescent years. Later, her life was transformed through her faith. On his death bed, Shick’s father said his transgender lifestyle didn’t provide the fulfillment he sought. Shick founded, a ministry for those affected by gender confusion of a loved one, and her story is featured on the PFOXweb site.
  • Rich Wyler is the founder and director of People Can Change, a nonprofit, peer-led support and educational organization of men who seek to resolve, diminish or make peace with their unwanted same-sex attractions. He is also the founder and co-creator of the life-changing “Journey Into Manhood” experiential personal growth program and has compiled the book, “Then & Now: How My Sexual Attractions Have Changed.”
  • Dr. David Kyle Foster struggled with pornography and other sexually addictive behaviors before his salvation in 1980. He is the author of “Love Hunger: A Harrowing Journey from Sexual Addiction to True Fulfillment,” has served as an adjunct professor at several schools, has spoken on five continents, and has appeared on “The 700 Club,” “The Dr. Phil Show” and “The Coral Ridge Hour,” among others. Foster founded Mastering Life Ministries in 1987 and is also the producer and host of “Pure Passion,” a TV outreach to equip the church to minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness.
  • David Pickup is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California with extensive background in talk therapy. He serves as president of the International Institute for Reorientation Therapies and is on the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). After being sexually abused at a young age, Pickup experienced same-sex attractions that lasted throughout much of his life. He later participated in authentic reparative therapy that he says helped saved his life.
  • Jayson Graves is a Christian psychotherapist specializing in sexual addictions recovery and unwanted attractions. His experience comes from working with youth, in community mental health and men’s ministry, and he has also worked with couples, individuals, young adults and teens in private practice. Graves is the founder and director of the international telephone counseling ministry, Healing for the Soul.
  • Ben Spratling was once exclusively attracted to other men. Raised Southern Baptist, he was confused by what he was taught in church about his feelings. But he pursued change for his attractions, a journey that took 11 years. Today, he’s committed to the Recently Straight project—a web-based TV show reenacting the stories of men who have changed from gay to straight.

According to Griggs, research, along with the personal experiences of ex-gays like those featured at the Safe Exit Summit, has shown that homosexuality is not innate and that change is possible. Visitors can also listen to personal stories of ex-gays who share about their lives and their decision to change.

Griggs added that thousands of men and women with unwanted same sex attractions and gender confusion make the personal decision to leave their homosexual lifestyle and identity, and seek support and help from churches in their journey. Churches interested in finding out more about Safe Exit, a program that offers resources and expert speakers to help them open their doors to the ex-gay community and those struggling with same-sex attractions and gender identity confusion, can visit

Those traveling to the Washington, D.C., area for the Safe Exit Summit will be connected with the host hotel upon registration, Griggs said. The hotel—close to the conference site—is offering attendees a discounted rate, a free breakfast and other amenities. Registration for the two-day event is now open. Co-hosting the Safe Exit Summit with PFOX is Voice of the Voiceless and Equality And Justice For All.

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.

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