Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Hoax of Converion or Reparative Therapy

From parentsociety.com column I write:

“Would anyone choose to be gay in this homophobic society?” It is a line that I’ve heard muttered in dead seriousness, as well as a comic opening line by more than one lesbian or gay comedian. Regardless of who said it, the truth should be self-evident: no one would choose to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) in this modern society, which — while making fast changes — has a history of discriminating against us. Underneath this question, the not-so-subtle proposition is raised: that being LGBTQ is a nurtured lifestyle that can be changed, since it is learned consciously or unconsciously, rather than a lifestyle that one inherits at birth. And if being LGBTQ is learned behavior, then LGBTQ can also be un-learned; in other words, a person can be made straight if he or she tries hard enough to change.
This debate of “nature versus nurture” is something I know well personally. When I was first aware of being gay, attracted to other young men my age — even prior to taking up my closet and later when living in it for 30 years — I tried aversive measures upon myself. For example, I would say a string of prayers, asking for God’s forgiveness if I looked at a man sexually. Or I would write out 100 times on lined paper: “I am not gay.” I knew other people who actually practiced cutting their forearm skin with razors, trying to link the pain of the cut with actually looking at a man. What many of us did was try to talk ourselves into not looking at other men or relate to men in any other way than friendship, with simple handshakes but no close body embraces or hugs. Counseling, prayer, perhaps some other aversive techniques could push the inner urge to be with men out of my life. Underneath it all was the assumption that if I didn’t act on my impulses to be with a man, then I was not gay. My desire to be with a man intellectually, spiritually, and physically — as other men are with the opposite sex — was simply something that I could grow out of or “un-learn,” if I tried hard enough.

More here: http://www.parentsociety.com/todays-family/same-sex-parents/the-myth-of-reparative-or-conversion-therapy-being-a-dad-who-is-gay-is-not-a-choice/

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