You have to love the timing. On the same day Ted Haggard – the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and vociferous anti-gay crusader whose lengthy relationship with a male prostitute brought about his downfall – was proclaiming he’s now “completely heterosexual” after three weeks of “ex-gay” counseling, Boston Legal aired an episode in which “Alan Shore, Denny Crane and Bethany Horowitz are hired to represent a judge who is suing a company for not delivering on its promise to cure” his S.S.A.D. A bogus “disorder” and the fraud of “ex-gay therapies” exposed, in fact and fiction.
When the Haggard scandal broke, Ted’s friend, confidant, and fellow anti-gay crusader James Dobson, whose Focus on the Family organization has its own faith-based “ex-gay” program called Love Won Out, almost immediately after agreeing to “counsel” Haggard. A day later he backed out of the “restoration.” Dobson’s stated reason: “I don’t have the time.” In explaining his decision on Larry King Live, Dobson said Haggard’s conversion “could take four or five years."
Right, Dr. Dobson. It takes years to brainwash people into repressing an essential part of their being, into denying their innate sexuality, and into becoming a drone for their oppressors.
Even other for-profit “ex-gay” advocates had doubts about Haggard’s speedy “transformation”:
“I do know that a three-week journey is not something reflected in my own life. ... It took me three years to change my personal orientation,” said Randy Thomas, executive vice president of Exodus International, which seeks to put gays on the “straight path” through biblical inspiration.
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Randy got a bit “sensitive” recently when tagged “ex-gay for pay.” Moreover, “the day after this blog post went up” and people began “pointing out the many issues folks have with Randy’s Exodus mission, he yanked public access to his web page.” Truth always stings “ex-gay” advocates.
As for Exodus International, psychologist Jeffry G. Ford was once the executive director of Outpost, an “ex-gay” ministry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He spent many years as a national speaker for Exodus International, which serves as a communications hub for “ex-gay” ministries. His firsthand accounts of the “ex-gay” sham, the damage and harm reparative, conversion and aversion therapies do have been published in peer reviewed scientific journals. His seminal study “Healing Homosexuals: A Psychologist’s Journey Through the Ex-Gay Movement and the Pseudo-Science of Reparative Therapy” appeared in The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy.
On July 28, 2004, Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez published a background story on Exodus:
The Florida-based group was inspired nearly 30 years ago in Anaheim by charismatic Christian leaders who declared homosexuality a sin. Just one problem. [The] two men who helped get the movement started were counseling gays to go straight when, lo and behold, they fell in love with each other. … The two men dumped their wives, abandoned Exodus, and wore each other’s wedding bands. …
Acknowledging and accepting one’s sexuality are major steps toward mental health and living an honest life of self-respect. Denying one’s sexual orientation leads to a disingenuous life of repression, witness the executive director of another faith-based “ex-gay” organization, Love in Action: “Rev. John Smid…is married to a woman and claims to have left behind ‘the homosexual lifestyle,’ if not same-sex attractions” [italics added].
According to the American Medical Association, “there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.” The AMA “does not recommend aversion therapy for gay men and lesbians.”
The American Psychological Association has stated that “groups who try to change the sexual orientation of people through so-called conversion therapy are misguided and run the risk of causing a great deal of psychological harm to those they say they are trying to help.”
The American Psychiatric Association concurs: “gay men and lesbians who have accepted their sexual orientation positively are better adjusted than those who have not done so.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”
Ex-gay therapies were publicly decried in 1999 as unethical by both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. The National Association of School Psychologists and the American Counseling Association concur.
The American Psychological Association held its 2006 annual meeting in New Orleans. As the Associated Press reported,
About two dozen protesters on Friday [August 11, 2006] marched for an hour outside of the American Psychological Association convention meeting in New Orleans to protest the organization’s stand on homosexuality.
The group, which was sponsored by the conservative ministry Focus on the Family, was protesting what it sees as the APA’s views on the immutability of homosexuality.
Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a Los Angeles psychologist and president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality [NARTH], said they disagree with the APA’s stand …
In 1974, the APA ceased listing homosexuality as a mental disorder. The protesters demanded that the APA change its current position.
Not getting anywhere with the APA or any other legitimate professional medical association, the “ex-gay” movement cooked up its own mental disorder: Same-Sex Attraction Disorder – S.S.A.D. – the bogus “disorder” featured in the Boston Legal episode.
One of the “disorder’s” first appearances was in a chapter of the 1991 book Homosexuality and American Public Life, edited by Christopher Wolfe. The tome was published by Spence Publishing which also features among its authors such ultra-conservative, anti-gay crusaders as Robert H. Knight, Phyllis Schlafly, Robert Neuhaus, and David Horowitz.
The author of the S.S.A.D. chapter in Homosexuality and American Public Life was Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a member of NARTH's “Scientific” Advisory Committee. According to Fitzgibbons, “The three most important risk factors for the development of SSAD in men are weak masculine identity, mistrust of women, and narcissism” and “The major conflicts that lead to SSAD in women are, in my opinion, a mistrust of men’s love, a weak feminine identity, or intense loneliness.”
Fitzgibbon’s claims were picked up, altered slightly, and became the foundation of Richard Cohen’s version of S.S.A.D. – “Same-Sex Attachment Disorder” – in his 2001 book Coming Out Straight, from vanity publisher Oakhill Press. Two years later Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for six violations of its ethics code that bars members from actions which “seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients, those that exploit the trust and dependency of clients, and for soliciting testimonials or promoting products in a deceptive manner.”
Deception is the essence of “ex-gay” therapies and the videos promoting them. It’s also the essence of Haggard’s “restoration.”
The whole “ex-gay” movement’s pseudo-science and the distorted religious dogma underwriting it are also deceptions. What it all comes down to is one group of people who will distort, pervert and use anything and everything to make sure another group of people can’t live their lives in peace and dignity.
Can there be any more pathetic raison d’etre?
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