Australian TV documentary: “Gay Conversion”

I blogged about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio program regarding ex-gay programs on August 22.

The 20 minute video is now available on the ABC news website. The documentary features much more than the radio interview, although the radio interview has some material not in the video. Click here for the broadband streaming video. The link to the website above has options for Real video and Windows video for dial-up and broadband.

There is a footage of Love Won Out, Love in Action, Richard Cohen, Focus on the Family, SoulForce, and Wayne Besen. Forgive me, if I have forgotten anyone…

UPDATE: I have wondered where Wayne got the subliminal recording that is supposed to reorient sexuality. Thanks to this ABC mini-documentary, I found it. It is done by a guy named Barrie Konicov at PotentialsUnlimited. Scroll down to Gay and Unhappy? I wonder how many of Shidlo and Schroeder participants got something like this and called it reorientation therapy.

50 thoughts on “Australian TV documentary: “Gay Conversion””

  1. This thread is not done, apparently.


    I believe the CDC has many groupings associated with their study of HIV.

    One such grouping is African Americans, intraveneous drug users and so on.

    I am sure you are familiar with the site: but I will post the link here

    It appears that cases of are increasing for teens and young adults “AIDs incidence increased for the following age groups: 13-14, 15-24…”

    The actual numbers indicate a growth of about 300 cases or a 10% increase for this population of HIV/AIDS diagnoses. A small but important goup. There are multiple ways to contact HIV/AIDS, the most common being high risk sexual behaviors.

    The lifetime survivability of HIV/AIDS is increasing, however, life expectancy is significantly lowered for those who contract HIV/AIDS. If adolescents are impulsive (they are) and risk-taking (they are) then high risk sexual behavior is likely to have lifetime consequences for them. The exposure rate of an impulsive, risk-oriented adolescent and young adult is of concern, since this group is the most vulnerable.

    Protecting them is kind. Your previous post suggested that those who were promiscuous were not your concern. Your anger at me has clarified you position. I think teens and even young men are our concern.

    David Blakeslee

  2. If you we’re talking about membership of a tennis club, that’s surely true.

    If we’re talking about being gay, as such, not.

    But as being gay also involves tennis clubs, or not, it’s not so defining if one talks about that “gay lifestyle (c)”

    Although, we do — of course — hold membership drives too. Just like the tennis club. Most of the small appliances in the kitchen, and near all of my wood-working tools, have been acquired through our very success in this area.

    /looking for a rolling eyes icon.

    PS and who on earth mistook you for a desperate housewife? We did warn you not to go whipping up a batch of your famous scones without drawing the curtains first, didn’t we?…

  3. I agree you should speak up grantdale. For the reasons you cite and more, I am often a rare voice saying that lumping all gay people together is a losing political and moral strategy. To be consistent, we should not make one’s sexual attractions or behavior the sole definer of group membership. This is exactly contrary to what most of us say we believe. Further, I would not want to be defined by the stereotypes of Desparate Housewives or the frat boys at Penn State. However when people do this to gay people, this is exactly what is invited in return.

  4. Warren,

    I will clarify the abuse the David didn’t just imply, but laid cause to.

    The CDC stats are quite clear that within this current generation an entire slab of men are becomming infected in their early 20’s. This is tragic.

    However, David claimed — confusing the period of HIV to AIDS with period of HIV infection to notification – that this meant (older HIV infected) gay men were infecting teenage boys.

    That is so far from the truth, but so close to the most vile of anti-gay beliefs, that we will not tolerate it.

    We will also not tolerate being told we do not care. We cared, long before you or David did.

    As a final thing we will not tolerate — it is, being told what gay “really” is. We need no education on that. We have told you that before. This time we told David. I doubt David could educate us, in any fashion — knowing his educational background — but he may learn a great deal if he was to listen.

    We have no desire to temper his anti-gay religious beliefs. They are his own, and he will answer for them. They should, frankly, have no bearing on our lives. But we will not remain silent when David (or anybody as equally ignorant) accuses us — and gay men generally — of being careless, ignorant, or child molestors.

    We are none of those. Yet we suffer the consequences of some people assuming that we are.

    And so, we speak up. But you know that.

  5. David,

    I like your list. I would also add

    9. Forbidding discrimination in all services, requirements, recognitions, or benefits provided by federal, state, or local governments.

    Also, I’m not sure as to the practicallity of number 5 for either gay or straight youth.

  6. David,

    I also like your list and Timothy’s suggested addition.(I also admire your tenacity! Thanks for your persistence.) And, although #5 may be the most difficult, I share your concerns. Could we broaden that one to include safer sex practices if they can’t restrain? I am alarmed at the increase in teenage mothers and fathers along with the teen risks of AIDS. It’s obvious that young people have a disdain for latex. In my day, you carried one in your wallet as a ‘badge of honor’; nowadays, they seem to laugh at them.

    Warren: if the other bloggers seem interested, perhaps we could discuss each point as a new thread and see what kind of consensus we could come up with. There might indeed be value to a consensus opinion from an unlikely mix such as the bloggers on your site.

  7. Jim,

    Thanks for your persistence, and that of grantdale and tim.

    However miniscule (or imaginary) the middle ground is, it is worth seeking.

    Whatever facts we share, misunderstand or distort, they are here for others to see and to reflect upon.

    Part of this dialogue has to expect misunderstanding, I think, in order to move toward understanding.

    A short-list of proposed common ground:

    1. Ethical Therapuetic Practices.

    2. Protecting Gays and Lesbians in Public and Private settings.

    3. Forbidding discrimination in employment and housing.

    4. Access to quality sex education (not advocacy education)

    5. Encouraging delay in sexual expression (heterosexuals also) into early 20’s.

    6. Building a consensus on the scientific literature on Same-Sex Attraction (a general title).

    7. Protecting all groups (gay and straight) from sexual exploitation.

    8. Encouraging the bonding of love as an expression of empathy and devotion with the behavior of sex.

    Others may suggest a better shorter, or longer list.

    David Blakeslee

  8. “It seems you are fighting ghosts and assumptions and not interacting in a true dialogue.”

    nope. I was simply applying your clarifications to your original statement.


    I attempted to post some information addressing your other point about promiscuity in young gay men aged 18 to 25 but it got held up. I think it is because it had links attached to source documents. So, here’s a brief rundown without the sources:

    From the CDC: roughly 40% of gay men age 20 to 24 had 2 or more male sex partners in a year. This compares to 34% of straight men who had 2 or more female partners. The numbers of gay males age 15 to 19 who had 2 or more partners was so small as to be undetectable (straight was about 20%).

    This indicates that gay men ages 15 to 24 are not significantly more promiscuous than their straight counterparts. Any discussion of gay promiscuity that hints, suggests, implies, or claims that gay youth are much more promiscuous doesn’t seem to hold up to the facts.

    From NIH, roughly 1 in 200 gay males age 15 to 24 contracted HIV in a year. Yes that is terrible and horrifying. But it does not rise to the level of requiring inclusion in every discussion about gay people.

    Your claims of concern do not seem to be matched by your knowledge of the facts. This causes me to doubt your sincerety and suspect that your compassion may not be sincere but is instead based on a desire to negatively portray gays. I hope I’m wrong.

    I would love to have reasonable and effective dialog resulting in a meeting of the minds. Truly. But it is frustrating, David, because you seem to believe so much of the anti-gay propaganda that is created and disseminated by NARTH and others with an anti-gay political agenda.

    It’s hard to have a conversation with someone who brings up things that have no relevance to my life whatsoever. If we were discussing a film about Christians and I suddenly said “well, it didn’t discuss Christian husbands beating their wives”, you’d be justifiably mystified. It would have little relevance to the topic and would demonstrate an unreasonable bias. And if I thought that Christian men generally beat their wives, it would show a willful ignorance on my part. Even if anti-Christian media suggested it was true, this would not justify my believing it when there was ready evidence to the contrary.

    Please consider that assuming negative things about gay people is as equally offensive. And bringing them to a conversation as though we all share belief in these myths is (sorry) laziness on your part.

  9. Is this thread finally winding down? If so, here are my thoughts.

    I had a rather frank discussion on the Bridges Across board about a year ago on the pitfalls of language. We were discussing the Saddleback AIDS initiatives in So. Cal., and I pointed out that it was fraught with difficulties because of the deep level of mistrust — a mistrust on the gay community’s part that in my view is very well earned. History provides us ample reasons to be suspicious.

    And I mentioned how unintentionally ill-considered choices of terms can cause the whole thing to break down. I think we’ve seen that here in this thread.

    The discussion had a great start, but the simple term “lifestyle” threw everything in disarray. I believe it is perfectly predictable — that word is a red-hot button, and once uttered, is not easily forgotten or forgiven. I also believe that many who are not gay may not know this pitfall. (I don’t know whether Dr. Blakeslee understood it or not.) And yet, it’s too bad that a single word can cause so much damage — to the listener and to the speaker both.

    I, of course, believe that Grantdale and Timothy made some very strong points, ones which I think Dr. Blakeslee would be willing to concede. I believe also that Dr. Blakeslee offered some very valid concerns that, if couched in different language, are concerns that we all share.

    I also believe there is room for common ground on these concerns if we can all take a step back and listen to each other — and be really committed to learning from each other.

    Maybe on another thread, we’ll have a better opportunity for a “do over” with the lessons we learned here.

  10. Thanks Tim, good to hear from you again.

    Your points are well taken.

    In terms of “significant percentage,” that is your term, again.

    I am not sure how we can have a discussion about what we actually say when you and other continue to INSERT what I MEAN between the words I actually say.

    It seems you are fighting ghosts and assumptions and not interacting in a true dialogue.

    In the mean time, I will continue to be more precise in hopes we can talk thoughtfully about the concerns we may or may not share: including, but not limited to, unethical pscyhological treatment of men and woment with same-sex attraction.

    David Blakeslee

  11. David,

    Let’s discuss your use of “the gay lifestyle”. It seems to have morphed over the course of the discussion.

    First, it was in complaint about the visual footage that introduced gay people. They showed gay concert goers:

    “Finally, the authors of this piece introduce it by showing gay men at a concert. It is a legitimate piece of journalism to explore the consequences of the gay lifestyle in New York and other metropolitan areas.”

    Your position on this entry was that a depiction of gay people should show the consequences of “the gay lifestle”.

    In your next entry “the gay lifestyle” had become a set of assumed behaviors:

    “persons… who have constructed a … part of their lives around a set of behaviors that include multiple sexual partners, sometimes anonymous, sometimes unprotected, sometimes many on the same night”

    Although it isn’t stated, it’s pretty clear that you were thinking that some significant percentage of gay people engage in unsafe, anonymous, sex orgies.

    In the next entry it’s a subgroup and is really about:

    “The persistent HIV infection rate in young men age 18-25.”

    So what you meant was that instead of demonsrating gay people with video of gay people attending a concert, you think they should have shown a subset of 18 to 25 year old gay men engaging in unsafe, anonymous, sex orgies.


    And you wonder why it is that gay people find it difficult to believe that you are not motivated solely by animus. You wonder why we think NARTH is vitriolic.

    But I will agree with one thing you said:

    “So much of this fight seems to be about creating caricatures of opponents rather than really meeting people.”

    Yep. Caricatures – like promiscuous gays.

  12. David,

    Considering that you are here all full of concern, you are amazingly ill informed. Before this conversation continues on this path, let’s get some facts straight.

    The CDC report released last year gives some limited but useful information about sexual activity of gay people.

    For those who engaged in only same-sex activity in the past year, multiple partners were statistically invisible for men under 20 (by contrast 21.8% of men in this age had two or more female partners in the past year). This does increase to about 40% of young gay men 20-24 who had more than one male partner in the past year – which I concede is more promiscuity than the 34% of heterosexual males who had two or more female partners.

    Also, the NIH reports less than 5,000 cases of HIV transmission per year in persons aged 15 to 24. There are roughly 19 million young men that age which translates (using CDC numbers of 2.3% gay and 1.8% bisexual) to roughly 1 million gay or bisexual males aged 15 to 24. (It isn’t broken out for ages between 15 and 19)

    Yes it is tragic and horrifying that 1 of every 200 gay youth are infected each year. And due to insufficient information, the ratio may actually be much worse. But if you are trying to paint young gay men ages 18 to 24 as rampantly promiscuous, this doesn’t seem to be the vehicle.

    Next, let’s take the statement “If someone is diagnosed HIV positive, there is some lag time between exposure and diagnosis. That means many in the 18-25 year old group are being exploited in their mid to late teens, probably not by their peers.”

    The lag time is 3 months, not years. And there is no reason whatsoever for “probably not by their peers” other than bias. It is only “probable” because it is what some choose to believe. Other than predatory fears, there’s nothing to suggest that sexually active young people are being preyed upon by “folks who are older”.

    David, if you want to talk about HIV infections and promiscuity, fine by me. But to suggest that you are “concerned” when you don’t even have your facts straight sounds more like smugness, finger pointing, and false compassion to me. I hope I’m wrong.

  13. Grantdale:


    Point scoring?


    It seems that attempts to raise potentially common concerns and create a common ground around multiple issues that effect the safety of gays is more difficult than I thought.

    I have no doubt that you are involved in multiple ways to assist the gay community, I am not demanding a justification by you; you responded to a previous post by citing your monogomy and and implying that others were making “their choices.”

    I am suggesting the the still arlarming rate of HIV diagnosis in a remarkably young age group is quite troubling.

    Since you did not respond to the troubling nature of this directly, I attempted to focus our discussion more precisely by talking about brain anatomy and that some in this age group (teens) are engaging in high risk activities, perhaps with folks who are older (3, 5, 8. 12 years?) who should be providing caring and loving supervision.

    I think the experiences(prejudice, devaluing, demeaning) and the distrust is so deep that even touching certain important topics creates problems between us.

    I had hoped participating this this blog would encourage a fair sharing of ideas and perceptions and goals. To weaken unecessary polarization and work for the common good where we can.

    I still think it is possible.

    David Blakeslee

  14. grantdale: There are actually many differences between Wayne and Richard. You identified just one, albeit a very important one and I agree with it.

    My comparason was on a slender point: absolutistic statements. Always possible versus never possible. Drescher won’t even go that far, nor will Nicolosi go as far as saying it is always possible.

    Wayne is correct to criticize Richard and others who make no effort to nuance their claims or methods. However, he would be more persuasive if he were more nuanced in his statements.

  15. I am not sure what you mean by the speculations about abuse, grantdale. My thought about abuse is that for both gays and straights, childhood sexual abuse is strongly related to promiscuity so abused gays would be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior as would straights. Gays are more likely to be abused in their families than children who later identify as straight so there might be a somewhat higher rate of risky sexual behavior but I do not see sexual identity as being the main variable there.

  16. David,

    Don’t even dare go down that path. Either of them.

    That type of fear-mongering, and the gross attempt at manipulation, is contemptible.

    Unlike you, we were once 18-25 year old gay men. Those years also happened at the height of both AIDS hysteria and the brutally callous campaign of fear and neglect directed at gay men by you good people.

    Unlike you, none of this is a point-scoring exercise for us. We were there, and we still are because of the younger guys we know. Your comments are made even more obscene because you attack us, oblivious to whatever we have personally seen and felt during that period. But you also don’t care, do you?

    Your wild speculation about childhood abuse bears no relation to the facts, but is all too typical of NARTH style: baseless, unresearched, and intentionally made for but one anti-gay purpose. Go and get the figures. A mindset that regards a 25 year old man as a child itself beggars belief.

    We’re certainly under no obligation to explain to you all that we may be involved with today. But I can guarantee it is more, and more productive, than yourself.

    We do not expect you to retract your comments, but that post is shameful.

    Young gay men deserve better, and you’re obviously not capable if this is an example of what you dish out to them.

  17. Grantdale,

    Are you thinking about the subgroup of promiscuous gays (especially ages 18-25) who continue to contract HIV and other STD’s at an alarming rate? What do you say about them?

    Think about it. The age group 18-25 is late adolescence and early adulthood. The brain is still undergoing a huge remodel first begun as the brain moved from concrete operations to formal operations (abstract reasoning). During this remodel the brain is more subject to emotion and is more likely to be impulsive. Now pay attention to the notion that this is a male brain, wired for risk-taking.

    It is meant to reward exploration under ideal circumstances, it is a recipe for injury in the absence of loving, competent, supervision.

    As my example many posts ago suggests, this age group is especially vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation…or don’t you care? Have you ever been lied to, exploited or manipulated? I am sure you have, as have I.

    If someone is diagnosed HIV positive, there is some lag time between exposure and diagnosis. That means many in the 18-25 year old group are being exploited in their mid to late teens, probably not by their peers. People are not providing “loving, competent supervision.”

    Think about it Grantdale. You really don’t want to abandon these vulnerable people, do you?

    They many not be monogamous, like you and me, but they are persons of eternal worth.

    David Blakeslee

  18. Grantdale, welcome back.

    You seem to view me quite narrowly as a NARTH member…you are thinking I see Haley, Cohen and the rest as experts? This is troublesome.

    I meant E-X-P-E-R-T-S.

    That would include credentialed folks on any side of this issue, including Dreschler. It could have included the president of the APA or the AMA or Division 44.

    The absence of credentialed, scientifically published, nationally and internationally recognized experts makes the show extraordinarily weak.

    I don’t care if the E-X-P-E-R-T-S support NARTH’S or EXODUS’ or EVERGREEN’S position on ‘conversion therapy.’ But I do care if the general public is going to invest 20 minutes of their time on a topic in front of a TV that has an expert group associated with the topic, that such experts should be interviewed.

    Haley is an advocate, as is Besen. Cohen is a self-help therapist that specializes in one population using, as I have described, odd, outmoded techniques…

    You must think I only want experts on the show who endorse NARTH’s opinion…how myopic of you.

    Can we lighten up on the simplistic understandings?

    Regarding “Jerusalem Syndrome” you misunderstand again: 1 man since 1968, an Australian, has actually connected all the paranoid dots in this “threat.” If it is true that “hundred occur each year” how remarkable that there is no concomitant rampage of delusional violence. Like I said, one in a kazillion.

    If they are bashing Muslims on this site with similar simplistic formulations, I find that upsetting too.

    To elaborate further, much of infotainment news is fear based and creates a reactive fearful viewer who feels temporarily soothed because now “at least I know the risks (although before the show I never new anything about his subject).” Fear and the news are long-term, monogamous spouses. It is meant to sell more than it is meant to inform. Consumers have been trained over the years to seek external stimulation, fear and then soothing. News programs call this educating the public.

    It is not, it is another form of manipulation…it is wrong and obscures thoughtful and intelligent analysis for fear mongering.

    David Blakeslee

  19. And Warren thought this thread was slowing down! 🙂

    I feel ‘out of my league’ with many of you guys. You are more well-read and closer to the issues than I am. BUT, I do hear a question and concern that David has raised REPEATEDLY. We can debate and hash out our differences of opinion till the cows come home BUT do we share a concern (and can we have some impact) on issues other than psychotherapy that threaten the lives and well-being of gay men?

    Mike B has given some momentum to impacting gay-bashing and hate crimes. I hope he makes further progress when he meets with both Exodus and NARTH in the near future.

    But, what about the threat of AIDS? Can we as a group representing both sides of the issue impact this issue? Gay men, and especially young gay men, are among the most vulnerable to this life threatening disease.

    Abstention from sex eliminates the risk. Monogamy and committed long-term relationships certainly help to reduce it. But, is there more to be said?

    Way back when, when I was involved in ‘ex-gay ministry’, I tried to help churches see that AIDS was not an ‘out there’ problem. I had clients who were not promiscuous, who believed that homosexual behavior was sin and, therefore, would not pursue a relationship. BUT they would slip. And, when they did, it was usually in the riskiest of ways…parks, rest-rooms and other ‘anonymous’ ways.

    I believe that some were so conflicted that they actually pursued the health risks. Others were so naive that they believed their anonymous partners when they said “oh no, I’m clean, I’ve just been tested.” And, they never carried condoms because that would mean that they were ‘PLANNING to fall’. So, although they had very infrequent ‘dalliances’, the ones that they did have were exceptionally high risk.

    Young men have similar naive thinking coupled with raging hormones and a sense of invulnerability. In many instances, they haven’t settled down to one partner and many are shopping for “Mr. Right” or the perfect trick. The gay bar culture tends to foster these notions.

    How can we help to keep these men healthy and alive beyond their span of youthful exuberance and exploration? Can we? Do we have a moral responsibility to try to do so? We are a group that manages to have mostly civil and thoughtful discussions although we represent some views that are diametrically opposed. I believe this unique forum fosters ‘outside the box’ thinking and that perhaps we COULD contribute some fresh input into the war against AIDS.

  20. *** repost. fingers crossed 🙂


    David, apologies for taking so long to get back. Workload. Looks like a few have had their own comments anyway, but here goes…

    DAVID: But, you must admit, that it is a euphemism of sorts for some who are gay and enjoy being promiscuous. What is your label for those…is it wrong to attempt to identify them as a subgroup?

    I admit no such thing. It is used as a euphemism by a certain segment of the population. It is used preferentially by anti-gay and highly religious people.

    The phrase is indeed intended to suggest a dissolute, promiscuous life. However it is also directed at all gay men (less so lesbians) regardless of how they live; including both of our boring, domestic, monogamous 15-years-together selves.

    What is my label? A label would be “slut”, but in places such as this I’d use “a promiscuous gay man”. Adjective + Noun. Clear, simple and not open to misinterpretation. Except perhaps the promiscuous bit, keeping in mind the old saw that most people interpret “promiscuous” to mean “people who have had more sexual partners than myself” 🙂

    (To pick up on something Warren said: we also didn’t suggest your use of the term was derogatory. We said it was a meaningless phrase, and one that pegged you to a social group and suggested poor knowldege of the subject. The jury remains out…)

    DAVID: That being said, what is your term for persons of eternal worth, whom God loves just as much if not more than me, who have constructed a small or large part of their lives around a set of behaviors that include multiple sexual partners, sometimes anonymous, sometimes unprotected, sometimes many on the same night?

    The first part, you will find, we shall remain a mystery on as far as our views are concerned. For the second part, see above: “promiscuous gay man”.

    DAVID: I think this group, whatever its size, within the gay community poses a serious and longterm risk to eachother (and to members of the larger group) and are a much greater health risk than “gay conversion” therapy creating suicide.

    I don’t think there is any doubt that the likelihood of acquiring an STD etc is directly related to the number of sexual partners one has. Outcome = (Risk at an encounter) x (frequency of encounters) if you prefer it. The risk per encounter may be reduced by, say, use of a condom. The frequency of encounters may also be reduced, easily.

    We can also add, willingly, that getting drunk every night, doing drugs (esp IDU), hanging around with a bad crowd, failing to settle down and establish roots, etc etc etc are also not — we’d suggest — likely to offer a rich and fulfilling life. Gay or straight.

    But, to be perfectly frank: a sub-group of promiscuous gay men — whatever its size — presents no serious or longterm risk to myself (or many others). They only present a risk to those who have sex with them.

    DAVID: If we are going to discuss risks to gays, lets be thorough and open-minded. Surely that is something we can agree upon.

    Fine by me.

    Starting with the fact that STD-free, monogamous gay couples present no risk to themselves, or anyone else for that matter. We may wish to follow that by encouraging gay men and lesbians to structure their sexual lives around such a relationship. Heck, we may even wish to recognise such relationships as a way of encouraging such behaviour… just as we do with heterosexuals.

    Again: being gay, and being sexually active, poses no risk to me or people like me. The risks we face are from those who are anti-gay. We’ve also been fortunate enough to live at a time when the social strictures have lessened, and at a time when gay men and women no longer face gaol or forced institutionalisation. We’re not crippled by self-doubt or self-hatred, and we’re no longer considered criminals.

    And I’m really not sure what you’re banging on about with Foreign Correspondent. Or if you actually did review the programme.

    Each year, dozens of visitors are diagnosed with the psychotic disorder known as “Jerusalem Syndrome” – first described in the 1930s by a Jerusalem psychiatrist, Heinz Herman. Dr. Herman had noticed that during visits to Jerusalem, some Christians and Jews developed a very unusual behaviour pattern. The syndrome is now claimed to afflict about 100 people a year.

    That’s from the blurb. Or the transcript. The medical authorities in Israel think 100 per year — dozens are diagnosed — and you’ve somehow converted that to one Australian man from 1968? You’re not making much sense at all David. The programme was about the risk posed by delusional, possibly psychotic, religious people at a time when the religious, social and political polarizations are increasing in leaps and bounds.

    Again, I doubt you’d have little problem with the programme if it had been focussed on the threat posed by delusional, possibly psychotic Muslims. Foreign Correspondent has had more than enough to say about them over the years, you’ll be pleased to read. This particular segment discussed their Christian and Jewish counterparts.

    Anyway, maybe the very Christian friendly story from Lithuania for this week — “Hill of Crosses” — is more your speed. (Or, perhaps, just one more example of religion-as-manifestation-of-asperger syndrome???)

    DAVID: The segment is quite weak scientifically on a topic where there is a plethora of scientific information.

    Now this I did LAUGH at. The science of gay conversion???… oh, that’s right: you’re a NARTH member.

    They interviewed Richard Cohen, Mike Haley and John Smid. The last I heard all three present themselves as “experts of gay conversion”, scientific and medically accurate even. I presume your statement indicates you do not believe that they are?

    You know, if there actually was any science and they had avoided it you might have a point. But I think the absense of it in the programme actually does accurately reflect the state of the gay conversion scientific knowledge. Zip.

    Who would you suggest as a gay conversion expert?

    Finally (at last).

    Tempting as a visit to Berkeley does sound, for a number of reasons, I can assure you we have more than enough loons within walking distance from where I’m sitting.

    And if I don’t feel like walking anywhere, there’s always online blogs… 🙂

  21. WARREN: The documentary does what much research on change does: Lumps incompatible and at time ridiculous methods together and calls them all conversion therapy. I believe they call this a straw man argument.

    No. That is called lumping together all that present themselves as conversion therapy. Like it or not, Richard Cohen — and I presume he’s the one you’re most pained by — tells people he does conversion therapy and claims to be successful at it.

    Perhaps you don’t regard some as conversion therapy, but that is not how they are marketed. I don’t blame a journalist for being confused by what is or is not. If a journalist asks the professional body, they would be told none of them are known to be. (I don’t blame the hapless client either.)

    We return to earlier posts… it is “you” that need to pull the teeth of people like Cohen, not “us”. He doesn’t listen to “us”. When “we” raise the concerns, we’re accused of “hiding the truth”.

    Perhaps the next Exodus ad campaign should be less directed at confirming the false beliefs of anti-gay straight people about “gay conversion” and better directed at the bad “therapists”?

    Just a suggestion 🙂

  22. So, welcome Jim,

    I think I have addressed the “gay lifestyle” issue multiple times. It is not a matter of promiscuity and moralization (gays and straights are promiscuous, I have documented such above), it is a matter of frightening vulnerability to HIV. Gays, age 18-25 remain alarmingly vulnerable, as opposed to heterosexuals. Again, God loves them as much as me, so how can we love and protect them? It seems it has stopped mattering: context and clarification seems to matter little, but welcome, Jim.

    I think I have addressed the term “vitriol.”

    I think that I have made a somewhat important point that the authors of the segment on conversion therapy were certainly not interested in science and seemed to be agenda driven. In that regard this piece is “so much wasted energy.”

    I think I have provided substantiation, albeit weak, that they may even be religiously intolerant.

    What I can’t seem to get a reasonable response to is a repetitive question I a posing: Are we concerned as a group about all the risks to health and happiness for gays, or only those which center around the practice of psychotherapy?

    There is great potential for good if we can align around multiple issues.

    Maybe it is too early for such a suggestion. Maybe someone with more credibility than I should pose it.

    David Blakeslee

  23. I would like to make another comment if I may concerning the “gay lifestlye”

    Re: What is your term for persons of eternal worth, whom God loves just as much if not more than me, who have constructed a small or large part of their lives around a set of behaviors that include multiple sexual partners, sometimes anonymous, sometimes unprotected, sometimes many on the same night?

    The term I would use is someone who has constructed a large part of their lives around by such behaviors. You wll notice that gay or straight has nothing to do with those behaviors. Think about it.

    And if you really think that this describes my lifestyle as a gay man, then yes, don’t be surprised if people are furious at making such a slanderous remark about people you don’t know. Because I believe you DO understand that if I used the term “straight” lifestyle to describe someone in similar terms, the vast majority of Americans would have legitimate grounds for offense.

    Unless, of course, you are, in fact, willing to describe the heterosexual lifesyle as that which is practiced by “persons of eternal worth, whom God loves just as much if not more than me, who have constructed a small or large part of their lives around a set of behaviors that include multiple sexual partners, sometimes anonymous, sometimes unprotected, sometimes many on the same night?” — who happen to be straight.

    Then maybe I’ll grant you the point.

  24. The documentary does what much research on change does: Lumps incompatible and at time ridiculous methods together and calls them all conversion therapy. I believe they call this a straw man argument.

    What I am amazed about still is the relative lack of effort to define things better on the part of either “side” of the issue.

  25. BTW, take a look at this popular psychology article.

    It appears that men overestimate the number of sexual partners:

    “When asked the question, ‘how many partners have you had in your lifetime?’, two-thirds of women said they knew precisely and reported an average of 6.2. Men on the other hand were twice as likely to say they had no idea and on average guessed 11.9.

    Brown said this result was most interesting.

    “Every time a man has sex with a woman, a woman has to have sex with a man. So either there are some very lucky joes out there or someone is not getting their numbers right,” Brown said.

    Also, take a look at the Durex 2005 global survey on sexual practices here:

    Industrialization, medical technology and the sexual revolution may change the way we think about sex, detaching it from love.

    David Blakeslee

  26. I am not sure what the actual numbers are for heterosexual promiscuity when it is compared to gay promiscuity, compared to lesbian promiscuity.

    Evolutionary theory 😉 might hold that the more relational a man is the more likely he is to successfully procreate. Since women seem to value monogomy (need a man around to provide for the children they raise), a man who sees sex as connected to relatedness is more likely to get repeatedly laid…by the same woman ;D.

    If anyone knows the actual comparative numbers between populations, it would add more power to this conversation.

    David Blakeslee

    David Blakeslee

  27. Thanks Ed. You have caught one of my objectives for this blog.

    As for the gay lifestyle, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a man while in Honolulu a couple of years ago. In passing, I said I was from the mainland and he said, why do you call it the MAINland. He wasn’t joking. He said, you are from one of the continental states. So I learned something I did not know about how those on the island thought about something I had taken for granted.

    I have avoided the term “gay lifestyle” because I never did understand which lifestyle was being referred to. I have know people with SSA who have never been with someone of the same sex but think of themselves as gay. I suppose that is their gay lifestyle. However, I know my friend David, and I believe wholeheartedly that he did not mean anything derogatory.

    I could say more but I think the subject is winding down.

  28. What a thread! I’ve become addicted to this blog-site since I was told about it a month or so ago. I’ve been sipping my morning coffee and thinking how much I appreciate this site AND all of its contributors. I find it just short of amazing that intelligent and thoughtful people from ‘opposing’ viewpoints manage to discuss their differences with such civility. I’m NOT being sarcastic. Thanks to all for providing such thought-provoking discussion.

    I often find myself ‘chewing’ on a tidbit of wisdom or insight for days at a time. And, I take pleasure in the realization that sometimes those tidbits are from a poster who agrees with me but often they are from someone ‘on the other side’. Sure sounds healthy to me!

    Sometimes the thoughts aren’t exactly new to me but the poster says it in a way that adds a freshness and broadens the scope. I honestly can’t think of another forum where these particular discussions happen with such candor, respect and civility.

    Several thoughts are chewable from this thread but I especially took note of Craig’s comments re gay promiscuity and its relationship to male sexuality in general. I know a man who wondered if he was really gay or bi because he had had a number of gay experiences. What I saw was a genuine ‘sexual opportunist’. I believe that he really was basically straight but found that there were less ‘hassles’ involved with ‘doing it’ with a guy. He didn’t have to play the ‘all evening seduction game’ and, more importantly, when ‘it’ was done, it was done. No morning after phone call, no flowers, no discussion of a future relationship. Sex with no strings attached is very appealing to many men whether they be gay, straight or bi.

  29. Regarding labeling and identifying. The social sciences requires some “grouping” in order to understand members under study. That is regardless of religion, gender, orientation and so on.

    So, Mike, I agree that there are all sorts of gays and straights and that we cannot simplistically understand them according to stereotypes. I do think that there are large groupings (those with same-sex attractions) made up of smaller groupings (those who identify as gay or lesbian, or formerly gay or celebate). There are people who are compulsively promiscuous (both heterosexual and heterosexual). There are those who are vulnerable to HIV (homosexual, bisexual, IV drug users, heterosexual). And so on and so on and so on.

    I do, think, however, that as social scientists we have a necessary obligation to group people in order to understand them by their similarities and their differences to others.

    I think if we breath and persist in communicating we can come up with a constructive, collaborative vocabulary to address common concerns.

    Or, we can be outraged, confront, condemn and the withdrawal in self-righteous indignation. That is a short-lived pleasure.

    It is up to all of us.

    David Blakeslee

  30. “The question “can gays change”? is a very troublesome one. The annswer depends ENTIRELY on what you mean by “gay” and what you mean by “change”.

    Also, the question implies that there is something WRONG with being “gay” and that “good” people would (and should) TRY.”

    The question doesn’t necessarily imply anything, unless you want it to. I’ve had late night marijuana sessions with some gay friends discussing whether orientation can change, and yes, that includes both gays AND straights. Nothing is implied as you say in those discussions.

    However, I do understand that our culture is set up in a way where being gay is undesirable and considered an aberration, and where being straight is the norm, therefore when one asks if “gays can change,” another person may get overly sensitive and uncomfortable about it.

    Speaking ethically, I would agree that no one has to do anything that they don’t want to. As a libertarian, I suscribe to the theory that Joe the gay neighbor can do whatever he wants in his bedroom, with his husband, as long as it doesn’t direcly negatively affect me.

    RE: “Gay Lifestyle”

    The so called “Gay Lifestyle” here in the the area I live in Boston does indeed conform to the negative stereotype. Its unfortunate, because the straight people around me here only get exposed to these types of gays, and they fall into the trap of stereotyping all gays as being drugged out, queeny sluts.

    Regarding the negative stereotype: there may be some truth to the assertion that gays are more promiscious. After all, MEN in general, whether gay or straight, I believe, in large part, think with their private parts. Therefore, in a gay community filled with just men, and no women–who require their potential suitors to jump through more hoops–we can expect more people having sex with each other more often, due to man’s nature.

    But I don’t think that necessaily has to do with being gay, I think it has to do more with the opportunity i.e. there is a like minded man like me who wants what I want so I take it. In fact, if women thought the same way as men in this respect, I’m sure the heterosexual men would also behave just as promiscously.

    I dunno, the above is just a thought experiment. It seems to make logical sense to me.

    PLEASE don’t flame me if you find what I said offensive, as I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    AND, the rule of exceptions applies. I DO understand that NOT all men think one way, and NOT all women think another way. I”m only going by generalities.

  31. Chris: read the post above, I have clarified to include “subgroup.” Perhaps that is not enough of a clarification.

    Your post seems to be a reaction to your perception that I view all gays uniformly. The activities I describe apply to the term “subgroup.” You assume I view all gays the same, I do not. Words like “subgroup,” “some,” and so on are attempts to add nuance.

    The original term, “lifestyle” may have been so alarming to have obscured from your view my attempts to qualify.

    Or,perhaps, you find offensive any attempt to name a group or a subgroup by a set of behaviors. Some people think identifying people this way tends to dehumanize them. I can understand that too; although as I said, I have many labels I wear tolerantly even if they run the risk of dehumanizing me.

    If we cannot tolerate misunderstandings or treat others with respect as they attempt to create a common vocabulary about our joint concerns then we have little to talk about.

    The larger issue I am attempting to raise, but we are too busy shouting about terms, is: The persistent HIV infection rate in young men age 18-25. It poses a great risk to a vulnerable population. I met a man recently who was diagnosed HIV positive as a 18 year old. That is beyond tragic, since he contracted it as a minor, who was looking out for him?

    Conversion therapy poses risks which can and should be corrected, my concern is other risks remain even greater despite much education and prevention measures. The Band Still Plays On…children and young men are being harmed.

    Why can’t we talk about both things? I think once we get the terms all sorted out and listen to each other we’ll find that we agree on much more than you think.

    David Blakeslee

  32. Mr Blakeslee:

    The phrase “THE gay lifestyle” needs to be retired because their IS NO SUCH THING! Fact is, there are MANY different “gay lifesytles” — just as there are many straight ones.

    None of the gays I know live the same “lifestlye” — some are stable, mature homebodies and some are methed-out party boys. Some never go to bars and some practically LIVE there. Some are monogamous. Some are not. Some call themselves “gay” and some HATE the term.

    None of my straight friends have the same “lifestyle” either. Keep in mind that human beings are tremendously VARIED — because God is the God of variety. Notice that he didn’t make just one kind of bird or snake.

    Lumping everyone together (whether gay or straight) is neither accurate nor intellectually honest. It only conufuses the issues and leads to hostility and misunderstanding.

    PLEASE, PLEASE define your terms — don’t just throw out emotionally-laden labels and assume that everyone knows what you mean.

  33. The question “can gays change”? is a very troublesome one. The annswer depends ENTIRELY on what you mean by “gay” and what you mean by “change”.

    Also, the question implies that there is something WRONG with being “gay” and that “good” people would (and should) TRY.

    The question reveals the questioner’s underlying bias, since no one asks (or seems to care) what “causes” heterosexuality of if it can be “changed”.

    No one asks, “can straights who are unhappy lose their straight feelings and develop gay ones instead?”

    Without defining our terms first, the debate becomes meaningless.

  34. David Blakeslee-

    I find your explanation–that you used “gay lifestyle” as a shorthand for promiscuity–incredibly more offensive than I normally find the term.

    To say “THE gay lifestyle,” as you did in your post (although I added the emphasis), implies a lifestyle lived by all openly gay people.

    While sexual promiscuity is certainly part of some gay people’s lives, it is by no means a universal trait.

    I myself came out five years ago, after 30 years spent in “the ex-gay lifestyle.” In those five years, I have met gay people with every variety of sexual behavior–from those who are basically celibate to long-time monogamous couples to couples with more open sexual relationships to the wildly promiscuous. I know gays who spend every night in a bar, and many, many more who absolutely hate bars and almost never enter them; those who cruise for sex on the internet and those who abhor casual hookups.

    Moving to other “lifestyle” traits–I know gays who are highly conscious of fashion and design, and others who are total slobs. I know many who hate sports and others who love sports. I know gay policemen, gay politicians, gay teachers, gay journalists, gay bureaucrats, gay postal carriers, and gays in every other type of career you can imagine.

    I have yet to find one single “gay lifestyle” that would encompass all the gay people I know–just as there is not one “straight lifestyle” that matches all straight people or a “black lifestyle” that fits all African Americans.

    So yes, it is generally offensive to stereotype gays as all sharing one “lifestyle.” But to then define that lifestyle as constructing “a small or large part of their lives around a set of behaviors that include multiple sexual partners, sometimes anonymous, sometimes unprotected, sometimes many on the same night”–that’s moving beyond offensive to purely hateful.

  35. regarding vitriol:


    n 1: (H2SO4) a highly corrosive acid made from sulfur dioxide; widely used in the chemical industry [syn: oil of vitriol, sulfuric acid, sulphuric acid]

    2: abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will [syn: vituperation, invective] v 1: expose to the effects of vitriol or injure with vitriol 2: subject to bitter verbal abuse.

    If you re-view the film, I don’t think you can observe anything at the LWO or LIA settings that justifies the sort of prepartion the civil rights participants are recieveing.

    Regarding Joe’s joke, it is wrong in so many ways, but it is not vitriol. I have spoken to him many times recently about this joke, we’ll see if he stops.

    Regarding people laughing at his joke: we all know that laughter has many meanings, from surprise, to wholehearted agreement, to nervousness. Laughter alone is not a clear indication of vitiol in the audience.

    Regarding the science of SSA at LWO conferences. It is narrow and incomplete in places, in other places it is quite thorough and accurate. It could be better and ought to be improved; but it is not vitriol.

    I chose the word carefully, because of the comments made in the civil rights class were preparing people for “vitriol,” An actual activity which the authors of the video did not demonstrate existed at the two locations (LWO and LIA) they reported.

    David Blakeslee

  36. Urrggh, grantdale.

    Let’s get at it here. I am open to other phrases than “gay lifestyle,” I groaned inside as I typed the phrase, knowing it is fraught with difficulties. But, you must admit, that it is a euphemism of sorts for some who are gay and enjoy being promiscuous. What is your label for those…is it wrong to attempt to identify them as a subgroup?

    I think we must come up with some term to differentiate the set of beliefs that create such a life. I have to put up with being called a fundamentalist, or an evangelical or a shrink. I breathe, I take it in, it is a marginalizing set of terms only as long as all the innuendo associated with such terms fits me, and most do not. In the years that follow, I think even fewer will.

    That being said, what is your term for persons of eternal worth, whom God loves just as much if not more than me, who have constructed a small or large part of their lives around a set of behaviors that include multiple sexual partners, sometimes anonymous, sometimes unprotected, sometimes many on the same night?

    I think this group, whatever its size, within the gay community poses a serious and longterm risk to eachother (and to members of the larger group) and are a much greater health risk than “gay conversion” therapy creating suicide. Even so, I will continue to work make sure that “gay conversion” therapy is modified to be more ethical, more helpful and to lower the risks associated with it.

    If we are going to discuss risks to gays, lets be thorough and open-minded. Surely that is something we can agree upon.

    To repeat, give me a better term, I’ll use it.

    It would be unethical and shortsighted to have a onesided argument about the risks posed to gays.

    So, lets get to it about all the risks posed to gays and lesbians. Some of those risks are from a hostile society (overt and manipulative), some of those risks are from behaviors that individuals choose.

    Regarding your admiration for ABC Australia, again, I will return to my original post. The segment is quite weak scientifically on a topic where there is a plethora of scientific information. How can you call this quality?!?!? After watching it, I wondered what else they had available, and very quickly found this frankly odd piece called “Jerusalem Syndrome.”

    My Gaawd! They had to go back to 1968 to find a man who might have carried out their theory who was from Australia. The filaments of their associations are so weak that they appear to be projections of their fears, rather than legitimate, newsworthy concerns.

    Think about it, how many people visit the middleeast each year?!? And they found one case in 38 years that might fit their theory. What are these odds (a kazillion to one)? Furthermore, they only found one person in the whole city of Jerusalem who was actually delusional according to their model. The only good part of this story is they actually interviewed experts, unlike the Gay conversion story!

    Grantdale, go to Berkeley (the place of my birth) some time. You can count the number of delusional people shouting odd things on the corners around the University by the number of blocks there are around the University. The ratio compared to this Jerusalem Syndrome piece has to be 6:1.

    I’ll look forward to the ABC special on that, and the thin association to how liberalism is posing a terrible threat to higher education.

    No, I know my worldview is selective as is yours and everyone’s. But, I think I have applied a bit of deductive rigor to my analysis, not just reflexive comment.

    Again, I am open to other terms and cringe, knowing the phrase “gay lifestyle” is fraught with difficulties.


    David Blakeslee

  37. Anon — I’d prefer to be talking to Craig. He at least, like us, identifies himself.

    Spitzer said not such thing. You are wrong.

    Perhaps the fact he’s not religious impressed you — but you failed to understand that Bob Spitzer thinks this applies to — perhaps — 3% of people. He does not think “gay can change”: he said if: IF it occurs, it is “rare”. That is his opinion.

    (Feel free to verify that, with Warren.)

    Second, there is no “gay lifestyle”.

    You may ASSUME what it means, but… feel free to describe this “gay lifestyle”. Please, tell us what this is. Exactly.

    I expect you to be accurate. And, as we are gay, I also expect you to give a description that includes us. So, go ahead and describe us big guy…

    David Blakslee at least puts his name to his comments. He can also answer for himself, I believe.

    I await your description of this “gay lifestyle”.

  38. Grantdale, you should know very well that Dr. Spitzer, who thinks some homosexuals can change their orientation, is an atheist and has said so clearly.

    Also, what ‘gay lifestyle’ means depends on what the person using it intends it to mean. Rather than insisting that it is meaningless, you might be kind enough to ask David Blakeslee what he meant by it.

    I’d recommend that you spare us the snideness of informing people that using that expression reveals a great deal about their world view: I doubt that Blakeslee is embarrassed by his ‘world view’ or feels any need to conceal it.

  39. Grantdale–My bad. It was Clinton Anderson (Director of the Gay and Lesbian Division). I agree that there hasn’t been any good evidence about the changing orientation. Its the responsibility of the ex-gay people to put it out there, in a responsible, scientific fashion.

    Nevertheless, I don’t understand Anderson’s logic entirely. He states that sexual orientation (NOT sexual behavior or sexual identity) CAN change naturally outside of the therapeutic environment. My beef is the distinction he makes here. After all, is it a stretch to assume that therapy of some sort cannot help hasten whatever natural change might eventually take place?

    Of course, the therapy would have to bring about changes in the person that in turn, allows him to experience the world differently.

    From a gay friendly website called
    “yestergay forums”, the self identified queer man stated that his orientation when from gay to bi due to changing life experiences. This is a fair statement on his part, though in the back of mind, it would appear at least in theory, properly executed therapy could have at least hastened this change (he stated that his homosexual side started to die down when he finally grew up).
    But of course changing his orientation was never his wish…so that is a non-issue.

    There is the issue of informed consent when it comes to these sorts of things…but that is a whole can of worms.

  40. Craig, I think you are referring to a comment by Anderson; not Koocher.

    People change all sorts of aspects about how they live, all the time. Including sexuality. But it is a leap of faith to go from knowing that to proclaiming that any therapy — let alone reparative therapy — can cause those changes. There is no evidence that such therapy works.

    Hence, please do not confuse a comment like “reparative therapy works for nobody.” (Besen) or a “there is no evidence” (APA) with a general one about some people changing aspects about their sexuality.

    There is also nothing significant between “never” and “rarely”, at least if you are talking about the overwhelming majority of gay men and women.

    People also rarely climb Mt Everest. Or rarely grow over 7 feet tall.

    Apart from those few unique individuals, “rarely” does indeed mean “never” for all practical purposes.

    Unfortunately, anti-gay people assume that ALL gay men and women should not only aspire to be Edmund Hillary; but actually can be Edmund Hillary.

    They see conflicting viewpoints about whether it’s “never” or “rarely”… and assume this therefore means “anyone”.


    Warren, there is one major and important difference between Besen and Cohen.

    Only one of them declares themself to be a therapist. Only one of them has a professional responsibility to clients in therapy.

    Oh and, different person to the above, the fact that only one happily mixes with both gay and straight people as a personal friend.

  41. Urgh David… there are some Christians who do indeed “go crazy” in Jerusalem (or are drawn to that city because of). Perhaps your own religious perspectives etc don’t allow you to see –clearly — how irrational some Christian people get over their religion?

    The same fears, of course, may be said about some Muslims. (note: some). I doubt that fears about similarly highly religist and irrational Muslims being open to manipulation by militant groups would be likewise described as “paranoid”.

    You should know, should acknowledge, that there is a long history of highly religious people being open to political manipulation. Christians included.

    Foreign Correspondent itself is a highly respected journal of the ABC, the public media network funded by the Australian government. It doesn’t have a “world view”, and broadcasts a vast range of opinion. Even a short trawl through all the F.C. stories should have made that clear to you (let alone examining the output of the ABC as a whole).

    There is no “world view” connection between the two stories. To imagine one is itself wandering into the paranoid… 🙂

    The fact that only the highly religious seem convinced by exgay claims — with all others being rather sceptical — is not Foreign Corresponent’s problem. Only those who wish that a gay sexual orientation can be wilfully changed seem to be convinced that it actually can be. The rest of us are still waiting to be convinced.

    As for “I didn’t see any vitriol at either the Love Won Out conference”… perhaps email Warren on that. You may have missed the laughter that greets Nicolosi’s standard “joke” about a brain-damaged baby being better off that one who grows up to be gay.

    And that’s before we even get to the “science of SSA” pushed at Love Won Out. Frankly, there is none. They promote a one-sided, stereotyped and plain ignorant view of homosexuality and gay men and women. Perhaps if you were the target the vitriol would be more obvious.

    (PS also recommend you avoid future use of “gay lifestyle”. Apart from being meaningless, it identifies a great deal about the user’s “world views”, and their lack of experience.)

  42. For perspective you need to view the “Jerusalem Syndrome” on the same site. The authors of these segments seem to have let their worldview create exciting and destructive scenarios about Christians going crazy in the mideast and being manipulated by militant groups.

    It’s all really paranoid…and provides a useful context for the “Gay Conversion” story.

    David Blakeslee

  43. throckmorton,

    Have you read the article on the NARTH website by Koocher (APA president) where he states that he believes orientation CAN change, but just that it hasn’t been proven that THERAPY can change it?

    It would seem that the current president’s views are at odds with gay activism, as well as the mission statements of the APA (after all it says sexual orientation is “not changeable,” where as Koocher says that it is, in plain english).


  44. “Gay Conversion” segment is above the “Jerusalem syndrome.” These are legitimate topics for the press and media. But is should be of some interest to us that there are two segments on this site examining Evangelical Christianity. In the second segment, mental illness is introduced as a consequence of believing in an “end times” doctrine.

    Having felt manipulated by past Christian leaders using “end times” doctrine, I am no advocate for using this as a means to persuade people to follow Christ.

    But, and it is a BIG BUT, it appears that the pathologizing of a group is being done by this site toward people of faith. Watch it and see what you think.

    David Blakeslee

  45. OK, I just saw the video and have a few thoughts.

    The ending is quite strong/persuasive. It is its own piece of reparative work, only this time trying to find a happy ending to Brokeback Mountain. This time the cowboys end up riding off in the sunset together.

    I should add that the old argument, “Do you think we would want to be this way?” Is less pursuasive when the show spends 19 minutes devaluing and marginalizing those who wish to explore the possibility of change. It is like it is a threat that some people can change. I don’t doubt the cowboys experience and don’t need to. Why do the authors need to doubt the experience of former gays?

    Painfully one-sided. Those who care about doing reparative therapy are all “ex-gays” who are somehow making money off this…

    To be fair, the show should have asked, how much money Mr. Besen makes as a Gay Advocate. He deserves all of it, he is a very hard worker, but to be fair…

    Very sympathetic stories about people being harmed. We should explore how harm is done to others in the name of God and Therapy. This has to stop.

    Wild attributions that all gay suicides are due to internalized homophobia and attempts to change. This is similar to obese people being created by fast food, or people choosing Christianity because it allows them to think simply. Suicide, for gays and straights, is due to a variety of issues.

    Very weak on the science of SSA. Remarkably weak for a 20 minute segment. This makes it mostly an advocacy and sympathy piece. How hard would it have been to interview someone with a published record on the topic? How is this a public service?

    Finally, the authors of this piece introduce it by showing gay men at a concert. It is a legitimate piece of journalism to explore the consequences of the gay lifestyle in New York and other metropolitan areas. Some gays may ultimately find it empty, meaningless, hopeless and despairing. Suicide is not the only risk to the gay man…to imply that reorientation therapy is the chief risk to a gay man is, again, simplistic to the point of endangering.

    Regarding Cohen, he is what he is: sincere, over reporting possible outcomes, using odd, outmoded, unproved techniques, but apparently getting some results. Again, why not interview someone published who practices more conventional therapies? That would create legitimate tensions for the audience and interfere with the authors agenda.

    Finally again (OK, I realize I am saying that for impact…), Mel White has compelling story and it was good that it was told. But the civil rights class he was teaching was apparently about preparing participants for standing up to hateful Christians in some future setting. I am sorry, but I didn’t see any vitriol at either the Love Won Out conference or the residential program in Tennessee.

    So much of this fight seems to be about creating caricatures of opponents rather than really meeting people.

    Such a waste of energy.

    David Blakeslee

  46. Craig – Wayne must have missed the social psych lecture in college on persuasion. If you are speaking to an audience of your friends and supporters, then you should not give the opposing point of view any credence. If on the other hand, one is speaking to a hostile or undecided audience, one is much more persuasive if one acknowledges arguments from the other side and especially notes the points of either uncertainty or commonality.

    And you are certainly correct, never is different than sometimes or even rare (as Spitzer and Drescher believe). Absolutistic statements like one can never change or one can always change invite skepticism and can be easily falsified. In this regard, Cohen and Besen are kind of parallel characters in this arena.

    Wayne did have some slick B-ball moves. Maybe he and Richard should play a game of “OUT” to settle things.

  47. Here is Dr. Drescher’s comment on that point:

    “Despite our differing interpretations of his study, both Dr. Spitzer and myself are of the opinion that there is a small group of people whose sexual orientation can change, sometimes even without any therapy. But neither of us believe that everyone’s sexual orientation can change. To claim that everyone can change or that everyone should change is simply not true. To scientifically argue for that position in opposition to gay and lesbian civil rights is not only a misuse of Dr. Spitzer’s study but a travesty of science itself.”

  48. Wayne Besen, in answer to a question about whether people can change, states that “reparative therapy works for nobody.”

    this is in conflict with Jack Drescher (a reputable psychiatrist) who believes that a SMALL minority of people can change (but the risk is high).

    The difference between “never changing” and “sometimes changing” is significant, to say the least.

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