Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ex-Gays: A Dumb Idea

I'm afraid we tend to joke about "ex-gays' here on this web site. Well, c'mon, you straight people, try to imagine it in reverse -- what would it take to make you gay?

You see?

But "some people" have determined that being gay is a terrible horrible thing, and some poor people who actually are gay believe them. And then they hear about these places that'll change them, and they go there, and ... well, let's just say it usually doesn't work.

We shouldn't joke about it, but, people, it's just such a Dumb Idea.

The fact is, this is very very serious to some people. I can't really imagine it, but some people live in a world where the very worst thing that could ever happen is that you would be gay. My thought would be, it's time for people to get over it, but sometimes your group is incapable of that, they're not going to get over it, you're the one that's going to have to change. And that would mean, basically, you have to pretend you're something you're not, you have to look for love in all the wrong places, and, eventually, you'll have to pretend you found it.
The Conservative Christian organizations that are increasingly targeting teenagers and young people with "ex-gay" conferences and therapy are deceiving parents, teens and the public about the effectiveness of their efforts, according to a report released Thursday by a gay rights organization.

The report, "Youth in the Crosshairs: The Third Wave of Ex-Gay Activism," claims that organizations working to help people overcome same-sex attraction could be sued because they cause harm instead of accomplishing what they promise.

"There's no evidence that conversion therapy actually works, but there's a growing body of evidence that it can be extremely harmful and unethical," said Jason Cianciotto, a study author and director of research for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in New York, the organization releasing the report.

No such lawsuits have been filed.

The report highlights a 2002 study of several hundred people who underwent conversion therapy. Twenty-six of the 202 interviewed said the therapy was successful, although only eight of those said they didn't experience any "slips" or have to employ coping mechanisms to counter same-sex attraction. And all but one of those eight worked in ex-gay counseling.

Almost 90 percent of the other interviewees reported long-term harm: depression to the point of attempted suicide or strained relationships with family and parents. Report: 'Ex-gay' therapy claims deceptive

Now, I'm reading this, and thinking of being around in the sixteen hundreds or whatever, and seeing headlines that say, "Report: Earth Not Center of Universe." And not, like, the week Copernicus figured this out, but many years later. It's like seeing a Post headline tomorrow that says, "Saddam Not Linked to Al Qaeda."

It's not news.

The idea that you can change your sexual orientation is a sad hoax. Turn it around, put yourself in the situation ... did you choose at one point?
But the president of the largest ex-gay organization in the world said the report presented "opinion and certainly not fact."

"I really think the core of their problem with us is a fear-based mentality," said Alan Chambers, an ex-gay who is president of Exodus International, in Orlando, which acts as an umbrella to about 250 ex-gay groups worldwide.

"If people like me exist," Chambers said, "then they weren't born like this (gay). Change is possible or could be possible."

Chambers claims there are "hundreds of thousands" of ex-gays, his evidence being the nearly 400,000 phone calls the organization receives each year from people seeking their help. Exodus plans to release its own research on conversion therapy later this summer.

You know. You read those lines and thought the same thing I thought. Either 1.this guy was not gay to begin with, or 2.he's pretending. He is a monkey-monk at a big organization, that's a pretty good gig, gets lots of TV time, he's not like Joe Blow ... woops, sorry ... on the street who just likes guys and wishes his church would understand. It turns out that just about everybody who ever says they "used to be gay" has a paid position at one of these organizations. They give speeches, they go on TV, they put their faces on billboards ... and then somebody takes their picture kissing a "colleague" in a gay bar somewhere.
... The American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics oppose this kind of reparative therapy.

An attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said organizations like Exodus International could be liable for damages caused by the therapy if they are using methods outside accepted bounds. Depending on local laws, the groups could also be liable if they don't do what they promise or if they advertise falsely, said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda's deputy legal director.

Really, ok? It's not funny.

But it's just such a Dumb Idea.

You might be gay, you might not be. Either way, whatever, you have a choice. You can go for guys, you can go for girls. What do I care? You're a guy, you go for guys, maybe that's how you are, maybe it's just a goof. What do I care? If that's how you are, you can listen to what everybody else thinks you should do, or you can follow your heart. What do I care?

Some people make such a big deal out of it -- I shouldn't joke about it, but it's just so dumb.


Blogger Bill Ware said...


You're right. It's funny that people might think they can change sexual orientation. At he same time, it's not funny when we see the harm that this does.

"The American Psychological Association as well as other associations of professional social workers and educators warn that any attempt to change a person's sexual orientation can be harmful, even fatal. The dissonance that is created by any attempt to change an essential part of one's being can lead to depression, suicide and other forms of self-destructive behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse."

Please see the rest of my post on this important subject.

March 04, 2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

It's not funny at all to those who are trapped in this cycle of bigotry. Every story I have ever heard about somebody trying not to be gay has been tragic, and I hate to trivialize it by noting what a Dumb Idea it is all the way around.

But ... sometimes you just gotta say things out loud.

I mean, just think, somebody's bright idea is that gay guys should marry women. That ... is ... real ... smart.


March 04, 2006 8:00 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

You don't really expect Christianists to stand up for women, do you? Even their women don't stand up for themselves.

March 04, 2006 9:17 PM  
Blogger Bill Ware said...


Have you read this tragic 19 year odyssey of a fellow trying to become ex-gay. Scary stuff...

March 07, 2006 10:36 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...


I spent 43 years trying to become an "ex-male," when all I really needed was someone to explain the truth to me (that I wasn't male from shortly after conception) and allow me to be myself.

Ignorance always causes tragedy.

March 08, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank you bill ware for sharing this valuable first person account of a 19 year struggle to change sexual orientation.

Mr. Mahieu's letter to the editor about the Love Won Out tour describes the consquences of failing to change his sexual orientation after a long hard struggle as follows:

"After nineteen years of doing everything offered by the Transformational Ministry movement to be 'cured' of homosexuality my sexual orientation had not changed in the least. Although I entered into a heterosexual marriage I was not straight or 'cured' I was just a gay man married to a woman. I spent 15 years in that marriage trying to make it work, living a well-intentioned lie. I ending up emotionally devastated, filled with even more self loathing, guilt and suicidal ideation as there was no way be straight (heterosexual). The alternative, I was told, was eternal damnation. When I confessed I was not able 'to change' I lost my entire social world, was disassociated from my own business, lost my biological family and was shunned by all the 'loving' fundamentalists I had surrounded myself with for my entire adult life. That is not love: it is hatred and bigotry wrapped in a sugar coating of piety and justified by a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture."

He also reminds us that American Psychological Association President Rodrigo Muñoz, M.D. said, “'There is no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation.' He added that 'there is, however, evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive.'”

Reparative and conversion therapies are dangerous and unethical religious practices. They should not be included in the MCPS health education curriculum.


March 10, 2006 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Reparative and conversion therapies are dangerous and unethical religious practices."

Prior to this, you've been saying these are unethical as psychological therapy.

Are you now crossing another line and saying that this type of religious counseling shouldn't be permitted?

March 10, 2006 10:34 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I said, "Reparative and conversion therapies are dangerous and unethical religious practices. They should not be included in the MCPS health education curriculum."

Previously I pointed out Richard Cohen, coconspirator with CRC, wants PFOX's "voice and views incorporated in the new [MCPS] sex ed curriculum."*

PFOX's "voice and views" about sexual orientation are religious and should not be included in the MCPS health education curricula.

I see you still haven't managed to cross the threshold of your closet of anonymity.


March 10, 2006 5:34 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

*Richard Cohen, Public Comment to MCPS BOE, 7-6-05


March 10, 2006 5:35 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Are you still reading down here, Anon?

"In 2002, researchers Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder recruited 182 men and 20 women for a study on the negative effects of reparative therapy. They found that 176 subjects said reparative therapy was harmful, while 26 said it was successful."


This study found that among people undergoing reparative therapy, 6.77 claim to be harmed for every 1 who claims to be helped. And unlike the Spitzer study where there was only a single assessment interview, there were follow up assessment interviews in this study.


March 18, 2006 4:45 PM  
Blogger churchNstate said...

The statements here seems to say ex-gays do not exist and acknowledging their existance is dumb. Having known several ex-gays, I have observed how depressing it is for ex-gay people to hear others declare they don't even exist.

March 18, 2006 5:01 PM  
Anonymous PasserBy said...

cNs, as far as I'm concerned, in American society people have the right to fall in love with whoever they want. There is no requirement that they be consistent over time, and it's nobody's business if they are or aren't.

There is no doubt that some people go from having relationships with people of the opposite sex to people of the same sex, and vice versa. The quality we call "sexual orientation," though, is not something that can be changed through will. It might change, or a person may wake up to the fact that they are different from what they thought they were, but the idea that you can just decide to change your sexual orientation is pure wishful thinking by people who wish homosexuality would just go away.

Spitzer became convinced that a very small percentage of those who say they've changed their sexual orientation, actually have. It's not amazing that this could happen, but, even in that oft-quoted "study," change was rare. And of course a follow-up some years afterward would have been extremely interesting.

I have not seen the statement that "ex-gays" don't exist, I figure there are some, just like there are Siamese twins, idiot savants, and people who open beer bottles with their teeth. But ... the vast majority of those who claim they were gay and aren't any more are lying, at least to the public, and possibly to themselves.


March 18, 2006 5:17 PM  
Blogger Bill Ware said...

It is not psychologically healthy to pretend to be something you're not. Or as one of the posters in my office said:

Be who you is
Because if you be who you ain't,
Then you ain't who you is

Christianity can be a great force for good psychological health when it teaches that God loves us for who we are despite our imperfections or "sins," as demonstrated by the ministry of His Son. We acknowledge God's love for us by loving ourselves and loving others for who they are as well.

Reparitive or conversion therapies are the opposite of this. They teach people to deny who they are and try to be something they are not. This attempt at personality dis-integration, that is, trying to separate a person's basic human needs for love and affection from the behaviors that would satisfy these needs, is just the opposite of legitimate therapy practices which help a person toward a fully integrated personality, that is, one in which a person learns to satisfy their needs in an appropriate way.

Personality integration leads to a happier, healthier life. The personality dis-integration that reparitive or conversion therapy leads to produces the harmful effects that have been well documented in most instances. Practices that lead to personality dis-integration are clearly unethical as the American Psychiatric Association has stated.

Those who support these therapies on religious grounds also miss the whole point of Christ's teaching, that we love our neighbor as God does, just as we are, and thank heaven for that!

March 19, 2006 1:43 PM  

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