In recent years, so-called “ex-gay” ministries and conversion therapy have become hot topics and received widespread media coverage. This is not becasue of new scientific evidence that shows success on the part of these groups. Instead, the attention is a direct result of right wing organizations investing significant amounts of money and political capital to promote the idea that homosexuality can be altered through faith-based programs and therapy.
Opinion polls reveal that more people than ever believe that sexual orientation is a natural inborn trait that can’t be reversed. This has, in part, led to increasing acceptance of GLBT equality. Furthermore, the younger generation is the most supportive of GLBT rights, a troubling trend for the Religious Right, which is losing ground each year.
As a result of this changing landscape, opponents to equality, such as Focus on the Family, have embarked on major campaigns to convince America that ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy work. They have hosted major conferences, lobbied on Capitol Hill, advocated this belief in the media and created high-profile advertising campaigns promoting this viewpoint.
Unfortunately, their religion-based opinions are not backed by the scientific literature and are rejected by mainstream medical and mental health organizations. These groups say that attempts to change sexual orientation are ill advised, can be dangerous and there is no evidence that they work.
In spite of the evidence, ex-gay groups will usually ask a rhetorical question: “What harm is there in trying to change?”
Ostensibly, this sounds like a reasonable query, until one considers that programs intended to change sexual orientation have caused an extraordinary amount of harm. Indeed, the ex-gay experience can be so traumatic, that a group of victims joined together in June 2007 to hold the inaugural “Ex-Gay Survivor Conference.”
Many of these individuals said they wasted years of their lives, spent thousands of dollars and suffered mental duress as a result of attempting sexual conversion. Some victims even spoke of attempts at suicide. Clearly, trying to fix something that is not broken and cure a person that is not sick is not an innocuous activity and can lead to a significant amount of harm.
If you are thinking of entering ex-gay therapy, a parent of someone gay, a member of the media or just curious about the ex-gay industry, this website seeks to answer any questions you might have. I think you will find that ex-gay claims of success are misleading and the promotion of these organizations is just a cunning attempt to stigmatize and deny GLBT people equal rights.