I was impressed with British journalist Patrick Strudwick’s report in The Independent, “The ex-gay files: The bizarre world of gay-to-straight conversion.” It was an important addition to the literature and I respect his work.
His reporting is an accurate representation of “ex-gay” therapy and echos the abusive practices I witnessed in my book, “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.” Strudwick began his article with the alarming news of the extent “ex-gay” therapy has spread in the United Kingdom:
According to a report by Professor Michael King of University College London, one in six UK psychiatrists and psychotherapists have sought to reduce or change a patient’s sexual orientation. And with the help of the American conversion therapy movement, practitioners here, along with a clutch of international “conversion” organisations, are becoming co-ordinated and unified. They plan to gain credibility, university backing and government funding. In some cases, the NHS is even paying for the treatment.
The journalist also made the smart connection between these programs and political power:
After the conference I look David up online. As I’m researching his practice and qualifications, I see a reference to Iris Robinson, the scandal-stricken Ulster MP who in 2008 famously compared homosexuality to child abuse. In an interview with the BBC, she mentioned she knew a “lovely psychiatrist” who “tries to help homosexuals to run away from what they are engaged in.”
Strudwick pointed out how they twist language to make it appear like homosexuality is a mental illness:
Like those at the conference, she doesn’t say “gay”; she only uses the term “SSA”.*
The writer highlights how these quacks ignore the inconvenient fact that homosexuality has not been listed as a mental disorder for three decades and mislead clients:
I ask how she (Lynne, the therapist) views homosexuality — as a mental illness, an addiction or an anti-religious phenomenon?
“It’s all of that,” she replies.
Lynne explains that it’s about “reprogramming” and going back into my early developmental stages. “Parts of you have developed but there is a little part of you that has stayed stuck,” she says.
Oh, like being retarded?
“It is a bit like that,” she agrees.
While these counselors like to pretend they are secular, Strudwick found they were really motivated by deep-seated religious motivations.
And then we (he and Lynne) pray. “Oh Father, we give you permission to work in Matthew’s life to bring complete light and healing into every part of his being.”
Finally, the reporter saw that many ex-gay therapists are self-loathing, delusional, barely repressed homosexuals, who are still very gay.
I tell him (David the therapist) that I had tried the standing-in-front-of-the-mirror-naked technique that he recommended, but, like the massage, it had aroused me. “I would be surprised if you didn’t experience sexual feelings,” he says. And with that he starts to “affirm” me.
“I think you’re a brave man,” he says. “I think you’re really strong in terms of being willing to look at your life and who you really are, and you also look as if you look after yourself in terms of your body. How do you feel being affirmed in this way by another man?”
The piece is also packed with a whose-who (Satinover, Bergner, Cohen etc.) of American quacks who are plotting with their UK counterparts to rip off the state by receiving public funds for their psychological voodoo. (No offense to the real voodoo)
Strudwick was so horrified by what he witnessed, that he set up a Facebook group to fight back. I just joined. According to the site:
We believe that the practise by therapists, psychiatrists and religious leaders of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation is damaging, offensive, immoral, unethical and ineffective.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
* Personally, I don’t like the bogus term “SSA”, which stands for “same-sex attraction.” There is no such thing as SSA and it is a manipulative attempt to separate LGBT people from their natural, inborn sexuality.
The term SSA is skillfully employed to make it appear as if fundamentalist bigots are not attacking the person , just their sexual feelings. It is a diabolical method of creating a medical-sounding term to deliver Anita Bryant’s hateful “love the sinner, hate the sin” message. At least Bryant had the courage to say what she believes and not hide behind euphemisms and phony pop psychology.