Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gay Conversion Therapy and Ex-Gays...A Brief History

A few days ago, I read a blog by The Divine Grace. It was an open letter to the gay community about their lackadaisical attitude about gay and lesbian concerns. In the blog, there is an interview between Lady Bunny (organizer of Wigstock) and Larry Kramer (playwright and author of "The Tragedy of Today’s Gays"). I will add a link to the blog at the bottom of the page.

Larry Kramer seems to think that young people today, are passive about lesbian and gay issues. I believe that they are this way, because gays have less stigma attached to them, than in previous years. Although we still have a long way to go, we have not come full-circle. I believe it is necessary to learn from history, because as the saying goes…"Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

It’s important for the younger generation of gays and lesbians to know about their own history. Many of today’s gay and lesbian youths are clueless about topics such as Stonewall, Ex-Gay Ministries, Evelyn Hooker, The Well of Loneliness, Anita Bryant, The Mattachine Society and a myriad of other topics. Although, I have been lazy about current events recently, I want to get back into activism, and teaching gay youth about our history, and what it means to be gay in America. So, I have decided to write at least one blog a week, covering a new topic about gay culture or history.

I would like to begin by telling you, that I have a great appreciation for B-movies and cult films. A lesbian friend of mine, told me to watch the movie "But I’m a Cheerleader". Yesterday, I found the film and watched it last night. It was a very comical film about a cheerleader, who’s parents send her to a gay deprogramming camp. I decided today to do some research on Ex-Gay ministries and their deprogramming centers.

Although the film presented these "camps" in a very funny and exaggerated light, I found through research that even though the film was funny, it wasn’t far from the truth and that is a sad thing. Did you know that an Austrian endocrinologist, named Eugene Steinach thought that men could be cured of homosexuality, by transplanting testicles from a straight male, into a homosexual male? Later, in concentration camps, homosexuals were subjected to experiments, where their testes were replaced with artificial ones that released hormones in prescribed increments to cure them of homosexuality. Steinach’s research was considered to be flawed because most of the patients’ bodies rejected the new organs and was subsequently thought to be ineffective and harmful. Nazi experiments were said to have killed several patients and cured some. However, it is now believed that the homosexuals that did survive, said that they were cured, only in hopes of being released. Sigmund Freud’s beliefs that homosexuality was often the product of early childhood upbringings, was later accepted by the medical community to be the cause of homosexuality.

Much, much later, in 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker published a research paper called "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual". In her studies, she found that homosexuals who lived an overt homosexual lifestyle, were no different or abnormal than heterosexual males in terms of pathology. She was the first person to say, that perhaps homosexuality is not a sickness at all. And if it’s not a sickness, then why cure it. Eventually, this paper leads the American Psychiatric Association, to omit homosexuality as a disease or disorder from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders in the 1970’s. Critics said that the change was brought about by pressure from gay supporters, but in a referendum vote the APA’s decision was upheld by a 58 percent majority.

Another thing that I found interesting in the movie "But I’m a Cheerleader", was that a lot of the techniques used by the ex-gay camp in the movie, are similar (if not identical) to the techniques used by today’s religious ex-gay ministries. In the movie, participants are encouraged to date other members of the opposite sex, have sex with members of the opposite sex, marry and have children, and shock aversion therapy. In the movie, participants in the camp do funny things like practice gender roles. They have classes for women in the art of scrubbing floors, and changing diapers. For the men they have classes on how to fix cars and play football. They even have a final step, in which members graduate by demonstrating a sexual encounter simulation with opposite sexed members. This all sounds very funny to us and the movie makes it downright comical to think that an institution would actually teach these things, but the irony is this.

During research I found that as late as 1991, a sex therapist named Joseph Nicolosi formed an intervention plan for homosexuals, in which male participants are forced to exhibit the following behaviors in order to condition them for heterosexual transformation.

1. Participate in sports activities.

2. Avoid activities that are of interest to homosexuals, such as art museums, opera, symphonies.

3. Avoid women unless it is for romantic contact.

4. Spend time with heterosexual men, in order to learn to mimic heterosexual male ways of walking, talking and interacting with heterosexual men.

5. Attend church and join a men’s church group.

6. Attend a reparative therapy group to discuss progress or slips back to homosexuality.

7. Become more assertive with women through dating and flirting.

8. Begin heterosexual dating.

9. Have heterosexual intercourse.

10. Enter into heterosexual marriage.

11. Father children.

Seems a lot like the movie if you ask me. The sad thing is that these people are serious and the movie is not. Some gay youths today, do not understand that this was and is a very real thing for some people.

For centuries, doctors and religious groups have tried to "cure" homosexuality. Everything from showing male patients pictures of naked men and shocking their genitals (shock therapy), to doctors using vibrators and dildos on women to cure them of lesbianism and sexual frustration. Homosexual people have been raped, maimed, and sometimes killed, in attempts to change their sexuality, simply because society frowns upon it.

Thankfully, due to the works of Evelyn Hooker, many accredited institutions frown on aversion or reparative therapies and programs designed to change one’s sexuality.
The American Psychiatric association has gone so far as to say that, these therapies are ineffective and harmful. American Psychological Association says that the conversion therapies are "certainly discredited" Out of all participants it has only been found that success stories offer only patients that have abstained from homosexual urges, but are still attracted to the same sex. Other accredited agencies who denounce conversion therapy...

American Medical Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Counseling Association
National Association of Social Workers
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of School Administrators
American Federation of Teachers
National Association of School Psychologists
American Academy of Physician’s Assistants
National Education Association

Interesting Facts about Ex Gay Ministries and Conversion Therapies…

Did you know that...

Ex-gay leaders Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper (co-founders of Exodus International) came out of the closet and got married in 1974. They quit the group and along with other Exodus leaders came out as gay and issued a formal public apology for their roles in the Exodus Ministries in 2007.

In 1962 one of the cures for homosexuality was giving the patient vomit inducing drugs, while playing audio tapes of men having sex and surrounding the patient with glasses of urine. The theory was, that gay men would be so sickened by homosexuality, that they would turn to women for relief.

A cure from the 1970’s, involves doctors suggesting that their patients masturbate intensely to homosexual images, and at the point of ejaculation, switching the images to heterosexual images.

Link to the Divine Grace Blog...Click Here!

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