A gay man has accused his former
Baptist teacher of sexually abusing him for three years in an attempt
to turn him straight.
Jeff White, 32, alleges that after
coming out to his parents at the age of 14 they enrolled him in a
Christian ministry program that promised to “cure” him of his
According to White, he attended weekly
“counseling” sessions from 1996 to 1999 led by teacher Steve
Barnes. During the sessions, Barnes routinely raped the teenager in
an attempt to convince him that being gay was more painful than
suppressing his sexual orientation.
“He would rape me because I was gay
and because it would make me hate men and make me change,” White
told gay weekly The
The school, Bethel Baptist School in
Walls, Mississippi, is run by Bethel Baptist Church, where Barnes is
currently an associate pastor.
Last week, the National Center for
Lesbian Rights (NCLR) helped White file a complaint with the DeSoto
County Sheriff's Department.
“After growing older and witnessing
so many who are still harmed by the church and by efforts to correct
homosexuality through traumatic and damaging tactics like the ones
used against me, I finally realized that it is my duty to stand up
against those who have harmed me,” said White in a statement
provided by NCLR. “By speaking out against the wrongdoings that
were committed within the walls of Bethel Baptist School, I hope to
shed light on the darkness that is so easily hidden within the
church, and to help ensure that no one else suffers the pain that I
had to endure.”
White is the executive director of the
Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, the state's first LGBT center.