Year in review – Top ten stories from 2006

As much for my own reference and recollection as anything else, I compiled this top ten list of stories from 2006. Since I am the only voter, the list is subjective and regular readers might arrange them differently or think I should have included another story over one of these. I am interested to hear any reactions along those lines. They are arranged in the order of the interest the story seemed to create here on the blog, not their actual importance in the real world.

I first note the topic which is a link to all relevant blog posts and then describe the story briefly. It’s been an eventful year, eh?

1. Gerald Schoenewolf’s NARTH article – This issue was reported widely on blogs as well as the mainstream press and seemed to generate the most interest of any of the issues I blogged about. The article on political correctness, Dr. Schoenewolf’s angry defense, and NARTH’s handling of it (removed it from the website but then allowed Dr. Schoenewolf to defend it) figured prominently in my decision not to attend the 2006 NARTH conference and the resignations of David Blakeslee and Ned Stringham from NARTH’s Scientific Advisory Board. A popular YouTube video also came about as a result. I wish a better and wiser 2007 to NARTH.

2. Richard Cohen’s media appearances – This series of posts garnered much interest from readers, with critics of ex-gay efforts delighting in Mr. Cohen’s decisions to take his reparative drive theories and techniques to the mainstream media. His appearances bewildered and divided people who support those who seek to live out conservative views of sexuality. I severed ties with PFOX over the matter due to Mr. Cohen’s association with them.

3. Joseph Berger’s NARTH article – This story preceded the controversy over Dr. Schoenewolf’s article. Reacting on the NARTH website to a San Francisco Chronicle article, Dr. Berger said that gender variant children might do well to face teasing in school in order to move them toward reality. With encouragement from Exodus and others, NARTH issued a retraction and removed the article. Much damage was done however, as Dr. Berger’s article was repeatedly and at times erroneously referred to by opponents of the Palm Springs Love Won Out conference.

4. Ted Haggard’s resignation – I did quite a few posts on this sad story and was quoted in a Denver Post article regarding the aftermath. Along with the revelation of fellow Colorado pastor, Paul Barnes, the disclosures of Rev. Haggard have prompted many in the evangelical world to reflect on how the church responds to homosexuality.

5. The return of the co-founders of Exodus – About half way through the year, I began receiving emails from Michael Bussee. Michael, one of the co-founders of Exodus International, took exception to my account of the early days of Exodus. Through some spirited and pointed exchanges, Michael and I forged a good connection via the blog and email. These exchanges eventually led to the establishment of wonderful discussions with other early movers and shakers (e.g., Robbi Kenney, Ed Hurst, Lori Rentzel) including helpful reflection on the term ex-gay.

6. Re-evaluation of the term “ex-gay” – As an aspect of the co-founders of Exodus discussion, Exodus Executive Director, Alan Chambers publicly expressed his desire to retire the term ex-gay. The discussion that ensued about the term took many tangents including the common ground discussion and built on an earlier post about what change of sexuality means. At present, it seems to me that the discussion is taking a break for the holidays. I hope to see these topics revived in the new year.

7. Swedish pheromone study and press coverage – The study was certainly news in itself as the Swedish team led by Ivanka Savic, found large differences in how the brains of lesbians and straight women were activated by what the researchers proposed were pheromone-like substances. I got involved by noting the incorrect reporting of the study from both the Associated Press and the United Press International. After I made several contacts with Dr. Savic and then the wire services, both the AP and UPI issued corrections.

8. APA President Koocher’s remarks about client self-determination – In an APA town hall meeting, guest blogger, David Blakeslee asked APA president Gerald Koocher for guidance in helping religiously conservative people who were in conflict over same-sex attraction. Dr. Koocher raised some eyebrows with his answer and subsequent clarification, published on this blog. This exchange led to an invitation from Dr. Koocher to submit my sexual identity therapy framework to the APA for a review. The entire APA convention and a NARTH inspired protest led to several posts, including the comments of APA luminary Nicholas Cummings.

9. Sexual identity therapy – I launched a blog dedicated to providing a framework for mental health interventions with people in conflict over same-sex attractions and chosen values and beliefs. The guidelines differ on several key points from gay affirmative and reparative therapy models. Related to this topic, the paper, “I am not a reparative therapist,” generated much discussion.

10. Abortion and mental health articles – In January, I wrote two articles regarding mental health consequences of abortion. These reports featured interviews with David Fergusson, David Reardon, and Nancy Russo, all prominent researchers in the field. The impetus was a report from David Fergusson’s team demonstrating some mental health risks associated with having an abortion. The interviews and attention to this topic led the APA to remove an outdated public policy information page from their website (NARTH, take note). The page is still being updated but is archived here. These reports were, as far as I can determine, the most widely distributed pieces I have written. Over 15,000 news sources worldwide ran one or both of them.

Honorable mention – The birth order effect research by Anthony Bogaert and subsequent research reports that did not find such an effect occupied my time and several posts. Research from Bearman and Bruckner and most recently the research of Frisch and Hviid found no support for the birth order effect in large and varied groups of respondents. Other issues such as the Equality Ride, Brokeback Mountain, the 60 Minutes report, Gay or Straight?, and the Foley debacle were also important. But one must stop reviewing sometime and say thanks to those who read and comment here.

Happy new year!

17 thoughts on “Year in review – Top ten stories from 2006”

  1. As for “stories of the year,” I was surprised to read your listing. As someone involved, these haven’t even crossed my radar or my colleagues. Perhaps it is all in the eyes of the beholder….and after all…it is your blog.

  2. I must agree with Bussee and the anonymis’ choices for story of the year. Mainly because… well, you know why.

    My humility is my best asset. I’m very proud of my humility. 😉

  3. I applaud both of you for the stand you took relative to the Berger and Schoenewolf debacles. NARTH has a lot of work to do to restore what (very little) cridibility it may have had before these articles, posted on their official website, came to light.

  4. Michael,

    I don’t think homosexuality needs to be reclassified as a mental illness for my point to be made. I think over time encouraging clinicians to be nuanced in their approach to same sex attactions and to include religious value systems in that in that process is potentially the biggest story of the year.

    I do not require that gay activists abandon their agenda or that gay affirming therapists abandon their work. So, I think, it is potentially very even handed. If the APA does change to acknowledge diversity in this area it will be a 3-7 year process and we will only know I was right after the fact.

    Regarding NARTH. It is a big story and a credit to Warren’s integrity that he took it head on and dealt with a lot of fall out because of it that many readers here know nothing about.

  5. Hands down, the story of the year is NARTH’s posting of two offensive and inaccurate articles on their website and then the poor handling of them.

  6. Oops! My apologies for the numerous typos, above, My vision is still not completely restored. Thanks for allowing me to post.

  7. I disagree. I think the APA event was a thinly veiled attempt to get the APA to re-classify homosexuality as a mental illnes and to acknowledge NARTH as a “scientitic” organization. No such luck. The APA (wisely) refused to budge on either point, repeating that NARTH had NO good scientific basis for reparative therapy and that such therapy may acytally do harm top clients.

    In repsonse to the NARTH/EXODUS protest, the APA reiterated that clinicians have an ethical responsibilty to make clients aware of BOTH these points — while at the same time affirming a client’s “right to self-determination”. By the way, I have never suggested that clients don’t have a “right” to try reparative therapy. But the fact that that they HAVE a right doesn’t MAKE it right. Every gay person I know has gone trough some period during which they were unhappy being gay and desired some sort of change. That proves nothing, except the teriible negative impact of social and religious prejudice.

    In my view, those who benevolently volunteer to help such gays “change” are just prepetuating internalized self-loathing. I believe their altruism is misguided — based on a misinterpreation of Scripture and their own religiouys/pilitical bias. AFter decades of trying, there is still NO good evidence that any therapeutic approach has actually switched a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. Even EXODUS admits that “Ex-gay” doesn’t mean “ex–homosexual”. (Joe Dallas)

    The story of the year was the defection of Throckmorton and Blakeslee (among others) for NARTH’s poor editorial judgement and stubborn refusal to take full responsibility for its outrageous “experts” (Berger and Schoenewolf). They still have not made it right. I suspect they will try to re-write 2006 and claim it never happened. SHAME on NARTH for the blunders of 2006.

  8. I think the biggest story of the year, over time, will be the protest at the APA convention, coupled with Koocher’s acknowledgement publicly that religious practice is an important variable to consider when dealing with Same Sex Attraction.

    Changing the ethical guidelines around addressing Same Sex Attraction to respect religious beliefs is a huge leap forward in making clinicians more thoughtful when they intervene with their clients.

    For this to be the biggest story of the year, APA will have to change. And I think they will (hat tip to Dean Byrd and NARTH for organizing the event at APA; hat tip to Warren for developing a thoughtful rationale for the ethical treatment of unwanted SSA).

  9. I have hard copies of the Berger article as it originally appeared on the NARTH website — as well as a copy of the “sneaky re-write” version NARTH posted shortly after the objections were raised and before removing the article altogether. Ex-gay Watch and Wayne Besen, I am sure, would also have copies.

  10. Does anyone know where I could find the Berger and Schoenewolf articles that were removed from the NARTH website? They are gone without a trace and no longer in cache at Google.

  11. I also want to thank you, Warren, for your integrity, your intellect and your compassion. It was a privelege to be able to join the discussions and to learn from others — on both sides of the “gay issue”. It was good to reconnect with Robbi Kenny and Ed Hurst.

    I especially appreciated the opportunity to clarify what I meant when I referred to Gary Cooper and myself as “two of the original co-founders” of EXODUS. Many have accused me of lying or twisting the truth. There was no deception. The fact remains that, even though Gary played a behind-the-scenes role, he worked as hard (or harder) than the rest of us in helping to establish EXODUS in 1976 through 1979. I miss him very much.

    Again, thanks, and best wishes for a wonderful 2007.

  12. Dr. T.,

    Just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that I thank God for you. I know you have prayed specifically for me/us. Just knowing you are “there” is a comfort.

    love and grace,


Comments are closed.