Former ex-gay leaders in Australia renounce ministries

Today’s Sydney Star-Observer reports on 5 ex-ex-gays who have denounced their former programs. I was struck by the mention of discipline in the arsenal of techniques.

Many former leaders believed that homosexuality was a choice, including Vonnie Pitts, the former leader of Living Waters, an organisation that conducts disciplinary programs for those pursuing “sexual wholeness”.

I don’t know much about Living Waters. Readers who do, what could she be referring to by the use of the term, “disciplinary programs?”

The emphasis on rigid gender roles sounds sadly familiar:

After attending Australia’s first ex-gay program in 1972, Anthony Venn-Brown spent 22 years trying to change his sexuality.

The program, he said, was about “modifying your behaviour to become more masculine”.

“You were never allowed to work in a kitchen – that was women’s work,” he said. “You were always doing maintenance work and manual labour outside … and they also removed any articles of clothing from my wardrobe that they believed were not masculine.


“They believed you should have a good, strong male role model because your father was emotionally distant. Therefore they gave me a minder, who would be with me 24 hours a day and who would make sure I was behaving myself.”

Theories have consequences and thus it is important to stay true to the data and to be tentative where the data are not very clear. Dubious theories of sexual orientation development can lead to dubious practices — as is illustrated here. I may have mentioned this before on this blog, but this reminds me of an illustration Ariel Shidlo gave at the 2000 APA convention when he and Michael Schroeder presented their data on harm from reorientation. He noted a young man was asked by his reparative therapist to give up a piano scholarship because piano playing was too feminine. He gave it up but, of course did not lose his attractions to men. The client however, was angry and frustrated.