Sergio Viula, a former leader of the “ex-gay” movement in Brazil, now says he was deceiving himself.

In a candid interview with the blog The Flying Teapot Project, Viula said he began having sex with other boys at the age of 12.

“I actually had relationships with gay guys, but I had never assumed I was gay, as I used to think it was something temporary. My first relationship was as early as the age of 12, with a little older boy, and in secret, of course,” Viula said. “It lasted two years, though.”

Viula is a co-founder of the evangelical “ex-gay” group Movement for the Healthy Sexuality (Movimento pela Sexualidade Sadia) (MOSES). The group evangelizes at Gay Pride parades and festivals, handing out leaflets that feature the stories of former gay men and lesbians who have converted to heterosexuality.

“Ex-gays don't exist – it's pure self-suggestion,” Viula said. “I started going to church and noticed that homosexuals don't know how to deal with their 'difficulties,' due to lack of orientation by their leaders, so I decided to found the Movement for the Healthy Sexuality, with Joao Luiz Santolin and Liane Franca. That was when I started saying – at very opportune moments – that I was ex-gay.”

“Today I know that I was deceiving myself. But back then, I thought that every sentiment or attraction was a mere case of 'temptation' and that it could be overcome with prayer and dedication to God.”

Viula, who left the ministry after 7 years in 2006, added that members continued to have gay sex even as they proselytized their message of conversion.

“Nobody really quit being gay. There were relationships even within the group, between an activity and another, they would always find time for that.”

(Related: Former “ex-gay” leader John Smid admits: Never met an 'ex-gay.')