Former leader of Orlando 'gay cure' ministry says he's sorry

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ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. —

A central Florida-based Christian ministry that used to claim it could cure homosexuality is shutting down.

Alan Chambers, former leader of Exodus International, told Channel 9 Thursday over the phone that he finally knows the damage he's done.

After four decades of trying to convince gays and lesbians across the country that his Christian ministry could cure them, while masking his own attraction to men, Chambers said his Orlando-based ministry is closing its doors.

"I'm very, very sorry for where we have contributed to, um, that pain," Chambers said.

Chambers, who is married to a woman, first issued his apology in a letter.

He wrote that he's caused trauma, stigmatized parents and omitted his ongoing same-sex attractions to men.

Local LGBT leaders said the move is long overdue.

"I've had personal friends that went through this program that suffered shame, embarrassment. They had to go through counseling," said Randy Stephens of The Center Orlando.

After hours of searching for the group and its members, WFTV found their building in Altamonte Springs, which appeared to have been shut down for quite a while.

The doors were locked, the lights were off and the parking lot was empty.

Members of the gay and lesbian community said they think the closure is symbolic of a greater culture shift.

Chambers said he's finally breathing a sigh of relief.

"I'm not tormented. I feel free being able to be exactly who I am," Chambers said.

The former headquarters is for sale. A flyer in the doorway advertised a sale price close to $1 million.