One blogger's journey to undo his homosexuality, Part II

This thread over at the BBQ Pit started as a pointing out of a blog purportedly written by a young man chronicling his journey to become straight through his faith and other methods. It became a rather long, emotionally charged debate over the innateness (or lack thereof) of homosexuality and the value of therapy. With this in mind, I’m putting this in GD this time.

The reason my curiosity was piqued once more was this article linked from a blog I poked my head into. It asserts a study of some kind that “confirms” the value of conversion therapy, written by a psychiatrist who is touted as being not only one of the top in his field, but also one of the driving forces behind the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in America. The linked article touts this as definitive medical proof that homosexuality is completely mutable, if not a mental disorder, but considering the tone and political affiliations of the author, I’m taking this assertion with a rather large grain of salt. But that still leaves the issue of what this study DOES say, thus this thread.

Does anyone know anything about this study, or the man behind him, or about his apparent change of heart? Does this add anything of value to what reasoned debate there may be on this topic? IOW, is this something that anyone, proponents or opponents of such therapy, should be concerned with, or is it just propaganda?

The study by Dr. Spitzer is an interesting item in naive scientist being used for political purposes. One could argue Spitzer has been used by both sides at this point, but to focus on the matter at hand… his study.

It has serious errors in its methodology and how the media has reported what it truly says.

First: the methodology. As opposed to a random sample, crucial in any study, Dr. Spitzer allowed Exodus International (a large clearing house for smaller reparative therapy organizations) and, I think, NARTH to refer him people. In short, he allowed them to hand-pick the people he studied. Major flaw #1

Major flaw #2 is he only interviewed these candidates over the phone. Multiple studies have shown that people will more readily lie over the phone than in person. Thus, most reputable studies will be done in person to reduce the chance. We must also consider the increased risk of people lying in light of flaw #1 and in light of how sensitive this subject would be to anybody, but most especially those who are part of the “ex-gay” movement. There was no check to prove that what they were saying was true, nothing to confirm each person’s assertion.

These two flaws leave gaping holes in even the assertions he makes, which are far more tentative than the media reported.

The media came in, saw that Dr. Spitzer asserted some gays could change their orientation to straight, and immediately broadcasted the news “GAYS CAN TURN STRAIGHT!!” Which is not even waht Dr. Spitzer said.

The findings of even this skewed and flawed study indicated that a small handful of people reported a change from homosexuality to heterosexuality. A small handful of a group selected by two organizations whose very funding depends upon treating desparate gay people with no confirmation on the Doctor’s part that they were in fact randomly selected reported that they had changed. Everyone else in even this skewed group reported either no change, bisexuality, or a celibate life with homosexual feelings still intact.

The short answer: it’s not acceptable scientific practice and the data that came out of it is highly suspect.

Has this thing even been peer reviewed and published in a reputable journal? Because not only is its conclusion, as reported by the media, utterly false, but it sounds like the methodology was totally crap, too.

Par for the course for the anti-gay movement. Those who oppose gay equality are evil, and will not shy away from stooping however low they need to in order to harm innocent gays and lesbians. Causing gays pain and bringing suffering on sexual minorities is an obsession with these monsters, and the day the last of them dies and gays are truly free will be a day worth celebrating the world over.

The issue is, spectrum, that Dr. Spitzer does not hate gays and lesbians. His actions in the 1970s were part of the key shifts that caused homosexuality’s removal from the DSM as a mental illness. If not for him it is quite possible that such an injustice may have taken decades further to excise from psychological textbooks. That is part of why his study gathered so much credibility around it after he published. I consider him a fairly well-meaning scientist with a streak of attention-mongering and a naivete complex, not some loathsome beast.

Anyone who supports the gay reparative movement, particularly in such a sloppy and unscientific way as you allege, hates gay people with their actions, regardless of any opinions they may hold. His “study,” if you can laughably call it that, does violence to me by giving aid and weaponry to people who literally want to destroy me, obliterate who I am, cast me out of American society and deny me forever equal rights under the law.

Every good thing he’s ever done in his life? Meaningless, if his survey causes so much as one more innocent gay person to put themselves back into the living death of the closet, which is what reparative abuse does.

And how much damage did the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the leading psychological associations do? More? Less? More. So very much more. It enshrined the right to discriminate, the right to subject not just those “willing” but every gay person legally available to the same very mentally and physically horrible treatments we see being used today by organizations like NARTH. To discount the fact that this man very nearly single-handedly put an end to all of that because he made one bad judgement call (which he has since withdrawn quite a bit from) is bigotry as well.

Life is not black and white. Good people can do bad things just as bad people can do good things. By the entirety of their actions shall you judge them and then only sparingly.

His current actions will lead to a renewal of those bad old days, if popularized. They’ll lead to an effective anti-gay genocide where every homosexual is forced back into the unbearable hell of the closet or stripped of equality under the law. That’s the end goal of NARTH, of Exodus, of the Christian conservatives: the destruction of homosexuals as a unique form of humanity. And now he’s aiding them. Abetting them.

To me, those Christian monsters and their reparative movement is far more dangerous than any terrorist in an Afghani cave, and he just gave them a nuclear weapon.

They’ll bring it back. They’ll bring it all back, that’s their end goal. If they’re not opposed by everyone with a soul, everyone with a heart, everyone with a conscience, they’ll bring it all back. And now Dr. Turncoat is giving them ammunition.

No, it is self defense. He is helping those who want me destroyed. I will not forgive that, anymore than I will forgive anyone who supports the Anti-Gay Amendment.

This issue is. You’re either on the side of acceptance and equality for homosexuals, or you are an agent of evil who is supporting a religious crusade to destroy a totally innocent category of human beings.

Spectrum, what about people who oppose homosexual marriage. Are they agents of evil?

I’m seeking to destroy myself? Amazing.

In every thread, including this one I hope you note, I have opposed so-called reparative therapy as ineffective, harmful and absolutely unnecessary. I don’t see that position changing in the future. I will spend the entirety of my life, if need be, fighting the flawed thinking and horrible bigotry that makes the “ex-gay” movement flourish.

There’s a difference between that and what you’re doing. You are just as rabid as Fred Phelps in handing down your condemnation from on high. I ask “how dare you?” There are many good people deluded into thinking that the reparative therapy movement can make them or other people better, people who truly don’t see any other way for themselves or their loved ones because they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes. Many of them are even in positions of authority in this movement and it is not nor should it ever be our objective to simply heap more ignorant judgements down on them from afar. If we are truly good people, we seek to teach them better, not spit in their eye. Spitting just confirms their belief that you and I are wicked creatures.

I am a strong person. I am a brave person. I have stood up in front of audiences in complete opposition to the very fundamental of who I was and tried to teach them otherwise. The moment I am most proud of was not a moment where I stood thundering in righteous fury, shouting down anathemas upon their heads, but a moment when I was able to take that anger and redirected it into showing how horrible, how useless and painful discrimination is. And it worked. To this day I believe that was the finest three minutes of my life and if I do nothing else from here to the day I die then I can die knowing I made the world, in some small way, better for having had me present. I can die knowing I spread understanding instead of more hate.

Fighting fire with fire leaves no one with a home. They spit, you spit back, they point at you saying “look they spit at our righteous judgement”, you say “you bigots started it” and NOTHING HAPPENS. You wanna know when change happens? It’s when Bob the Gay Guy sits down with Ted the Christian Guy and just talks about the weather, his life, the latest news… and Ted realizes Bob is actually kinda a nice guy. I have seen it happen dozens of times and I believe it is those thousands, millions of conversations rather than diatribes that will in the end find us in a world that no longer fears and hates gay people.

To a lesser degree, of course they are. They support anti-gay discrimination, and that is the most pernicious evil currently at work in this country.

Priam, you ask me to sit down and chat with people who want to kill the core of my being. That I cannot do. If that makes me evil, then I’m evil. I’d rather be evil for the right purpose than give those worthless sons of bitches a chance to hurt me again.

Re marriage, I can see your point re civil ceremonies, but re Christian marriage I can see the point of the Church, since marriage is premised on a man and a woman. Would you accept states that passed legislation for homosexual marriage but permitted the Church to refuse to accept homosexuals from marrying?

It is not the place of the state to require any religion to do anything which violates is principles. Just as the state cannot require teh Catholic Church to ordain women, it cannnot and should not require those religions that do not recognize sacramentally the validity of homosexual marriage to perform them.

I want religion and the state separate, I don’t want either dictating such fundamental issues to the other.

Allow me to go out on a limb here:

IMO, those people who oppose the right of gays to live their lives with the same rights as everyone else–including the right of civil recognition of their marriage–fall into one of three categories.

  1. Those people–probably a majority–who just haven’t given the matter much thought but who were raised conservatively and react to the “icky!” factor.

  2. Those people who have extremely low self-esteem and, in order to feel good about themselves, need to denigrate and persecute someone else as being even worse. Blacks are off-limits now so gays are it. After gays win equal rights, it may be…who knows? Left-handers?

  3. Those people who detect hints of homosexual leanings within themselves and, because of their upbringing, hate it. This is the psychological ploy of “projection.” The easiest way to attack what you hate in yourself, without actually physically harming yourself, is to attack it in someone else. These individuals are the most virulent, activist homophobes. The obvious example is Anita Bryant; google for her current position on the subject.

Note that there is a great deal of overlap between Category 2 and Category 3. Perhaps they should be grouped into one category with a range from moderate to extreme.

Now, to give my bottom-line response to bodswood’s question to Spectrum:

No, I don’t think any human being is inherently evil, even [name excised for fear of invocation of Godwin’s Law]. Human beings aren’t evil…but all human beings perform evil acts, in various gradations, through weakness and ignorance.

A psychologist’s rule of thumb: If an individual is expending large amounts of emotion, energy and money promoting a particular cause, look for his interior motivations. In what way is this making him less unhappy in his daily life? If you apply this to proponents of making other people suffer, you’ll find some insight into their situation.

spectrum, I’ve started a Pit thread . Nothing too vituperative, but I’m requesting your presence.

(To nudge things a little back to the study…)

Priam: Thanks for the info. But given these flaws, and this particular doctor’s history, I’m somewhat concerned about the quote in the link that says that Dr. Spitzer believes that mental health specialists should try to stop condemning conversion therapy. If Spitzer truly wasn’t saying that such therapy has total merit, why’d he say this in the first place?

Mayhap the doctor believes it can work in some situations. I certainly believe that there are many cases of psychological homosexuality, not biological. Condemning all therapy is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Maybe in cases where childhood sexual abuse or whatever other circumstances lead to psychological homosexuality, therapy can help. There are people who are uncomfortable with their homosexuality, it isn’t something you have to like.

Those who are “uncomfortable” with their homosexuality need therapy to come to accept who they are – not psychological abuse aimed at destroying a core facet of their being. To support reparative therapy in any capacity is to support an eventual genocide against homosexuals. There is no middle ground: you either support the rights of homosexuals and oppose reparative abuse, or you support the elimination of gays through abuse, electro-shock torture, psychological battery and self-deception.

There is no middle ground on the issue of reparative abuse. None whatsoever.

I disagree entirely.

(Let the records show that I consider myself about 70% hetero and 30% homosexual and practice so according)

If someone was sexually abused as a child, they need therapy. I agree, maybe not aimed “destroying a core facet of their being,” but within the community, there are people who are gay, then there are people who are gay. It can sometimes be obvious when someone is acting out of psychological mechanisms instead of biological ones, and yes, there is a difference.

I don’t think that it is fair to rule out completely therapy for reversing psychological trauma leading to homosexuality. I do not think that it should be used commonly, and certainly not forced on anyone. But there are some cases where it may be appropriate, and I think THAT is what the doctor means about not ruling it out entirely.

Is most homosexuality biological and therapy to “reverse” it pointless and, in some cases, cruel? Yes.

Are there cases where homosexuality is induced by trauma and therapy to reverse it can save someone from a life of depression, shame, and self-loathing? I think so.

I would NEVER condone someone living a lifestyle they are not comfortable with, especially sexually. Even in adults, sexual acts can have profound psychological impact. I agree that many people could use therapy as a tool to accept their new lifestyle, but this requires their acceptance and can take quite a bit of work. I’m not saying that the “reverse” therapy should be used on anyone uncomfortable with their sexuality who requests it, but it CAN be useful in certain cases where severe psychological trauma may be a causing factor AND the person is uncomfortable with themselves. Kind of like shock therapy - it is still used, and it can be effective, but it takes approval of 2 doctors and is a HUGE deal.

Nothing is cut and dry simple 100% true for everyone, and ruling out ALL of this therapy is folly for those poor people who may need it. It is medically shooting yourself in the foot.

Sorry it took me so long to return to this thread. Truly arguing makes my stomach hurt.

Three problem with what you say Zagadka. First is that there is no scientifically gathered evidence indicating that reparative therapy as it stands today provides any sort of long term effect on one’s sexual orientation.

Second is that evidence does exist indicating such therapy can cause serious depression, anxiety, and even lead to suicidal tendencies.

Third is that no evidence exists (to my knowledge) showing that anybody’s sexual orientation has anything to do with psychological trauma.