Bishop Gene Robinson discusses change therapy

Ex Gay Watch posted a link to an interview with Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson that covered many topics but included several of recent interest to readers here. He specifically says that he had twice weekly reorientation therapy in his younger years.

He says it worked but didn’t work at the same time.

Q. Did you feel it (the therapy) had worked, or did it just put you in denial?

‘It didn’t work, and it almost never works for people who attempt it. I guess I did think it had worked. I suspect it didn’t make the same sex feelings go away, but it certain worked in that I felt ready emotionally and spiritually and physically for a relationship with a woman, so it certainly made that part of myself possible. And so when I entered into a relationship with the woman who became my wife, it was full of integrity – I wasn’t pretending to be something that I was not. And yet within a month of meeting her, I shared that all of my primary relationships had been with men, that I had been in therapy to make a heterosexual relationship possible, and that I felt I was in a good place to do that.’

Speaking descriptively here not prescriptively, many people in the ex-gay movement might characterize their results very similarly (same-sex attractions remain but opposite-sex attractions develop), but would consider this outcome a success. An unasked question in the interview was what changed in his thinking, beliefs, or values that led to the mutual decision to end the marriage.

Read the whole article; in my opinion, it is a candid and fascinating interview.

11 thoughts on “Bishop Gene Robinson discusses change therapy”

  1. Jayhuck,

    Yes, I understand – my question is this though, was his decision to end his marriage one that he WANTED or one that he felt he HAD to do? From what he wrote, I discerned that he WANTED to be married to a woman and have children and a family and did that – then he went to counseling and made the decision he could no longer stay married. It just makes me sad to think he could not have what he really wanted. In regards to him being happy now – I hope he is but question why he entered a facility for alcohol rehabilitation if all was so well.

  2. Ann,

    I don’t think it was a matter of not knowing what to do, I think he was trying to be who he was – who he believed God has made him to be, and not try to change that. I believe he came to an understanding that homosexuality is not a sin, and that made all the difference for him. He also seems MUCH happier now. Personally, I think he’s a great man! 🙂

  3. I’m wondering what Gene Robinson’s thought process was toward the end of his marriage. He states that he was in a good marriage for a long time. Did he feel he had no choice because the feelings for ssa never went away? If so, I’m also wondering what would have happened if he went to a therapist that was not reparative driven but rather more in line with SIT. It seems to me that he did not want to end his marriage but felt he had no other choice. He was recently in an alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his alcohol addiction.

  4. Michelle,

    I do think a process like this can help tremendously with straight people. I think it is a very good idea to investigate one’s purpose/motivation/ideas or ideals for selecting a mate.

  5. Sez Salmon:

    I must admit I’m straight but maybe a process like this could help someone struggling with SSA.

    I think the term you are looking for is “conditioning”, and while conditioning is no doubt a part of the picture, the overall literature that I’ve read suggests that it is simplistic to think that conditioning is all that there is to the picture.

  6. Elasticity of attraction exists, even inside of a single sexual orientation.

    I’m a straight guy and back in college I took Life Drawing for several semesters. Women would disrobe and we would draw them. A few months went by and I noticed something that is probably obvious to everyone else. Female hips are remarkably different from male hips. Other than genitals they are the single biggest difference in our anatomies. Once I noticed this rather large and consistent difference I became sensitive to it and started looking for it.

    For some reason my ridiculous discovery turned a shapely woman’s hips from ho-hum to extremely attractive. That feeling has never left me. I didn’t decide female hips were beautiful but somehow learning about them made them beautiful. I must admit I’m straight but maybe a process like this could help someone struggling with SSA.

  7. Go Eddy! 🙂 Just a little cheer for you since I’ve not had time to read through those comments as you have!

  8. Lots of interesting reading in both links. This time I got through ALL the comments on XGW but only about 80% of the British blog.

    I don’t think I’d use the word ‘success’ but it does demonstrate that some level of change and adjustment may be possible for some people. The problem, of course, is that there’s this other person…the one you’re ‘trying out’ heterosexuality with. LOL! If you do things ‘by the Book’, it’s mostly talk and theory all the way up to the wedding day! How’s that for a little extra wedding day pressure??

    But, back to Gene’s story…I’d also like to know what changed in his thinking, beliefs, or values. Since I’ve been hanging out here in ‘open-minded land’, it’s the part of the story that intrigues me most.

  9. It seems to me that much of what Bishop Robinson describes (at least in terms of sexual attraction) merely reinforces the idea that bisexuality is more common than one might imagine.

    That is to say that many more people may be bisexual to some degree, although their practice and identity may well be either gay or straight.

    The experience of “change” is then more readily explained as a natural ability to vary one’s behaviour within the bounds of some (as yet) unquantified parameters.

    For example, Bishop Robinson may well be bisexual, but slightly more towards the homosexual end of a spectrum than he is heterosexual. In a sense, we then see a certain degree of elasticity of behaviour, even though underlying attributes appear fairly fixed. (or are at least reported as such)

  10. …many people in the ex-gay movement might characterize their results very similarly (same-sex attractions remain but opposite-sex attractions develop), but would consider this outcome a success.

    I assume you’re speaking specifically about the time in his life when he decided to marry. Given the children that he loves and the fact that he and his former wife have remained friends, it’s possible that he may not regret his decision to marry at the time. Or maybe he harbors some regrets. It’s hard to tell.

    But I somehow doubt Bishop Robinson will appear on an Exodus billboard anytime soon. 😉

  11. I don’t know how they’d ever expect it to “go away” when they spend all their therapy time talking about it. Just my humble opinion: abstinence goes farther than just the physical realm – though thanks to the continued permeation of such things into our media culture, such would be a daunting task. What else is knew for Christians though.

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