Another Reparative Therapist Unrepairs

David Matheson was a well known defender and practitioner of reparative therapy for many years. He founded Journey Into Manhood with Rich Wyler. JIM was inspired by New Warriors Training Weekend and the Manhood Project. The Manhood Project and their weekend getaways came to the public eye after several bad experiences by several men who attended the events. One committed suicide and directly attributed his mood decline to the Mankind Project.

The premise of Matheson and Wyler was that gay men don’t experience themselves as masculine. Due to lack of masculinity, they are attracted to men instead of women. JIM seeks to provide members with masculinity building experiences along with lots of hugging and touching. Ultimately, the foundation for their work is in the psychoanalytically influenced work of Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi. They believed gay people were attracted to others of the same sex due to a reparative drive which propelled gays to seek the love they missed from their same-sex parents. Theoretically, if a gay person could get non-sexual connection from same-sex peers, the deficit would be filled and heterosexual longings would naturally emerge.

In practice, this hasn’t worked out well. Numerous former ex-gays have become ex-ex-gay. For instance, John Smid once ran Love in Action, an ex-gay camp in Memphis. He is now married to a man. Randy Thomas was number two man at Exodus who is now dating a man. Most recently, Matheson has announced that he is living as a gay man.

Matheson’s announcement will surely send shock waves throughout the small reparative therapy community. He has been one of the most articulate defenders of gender affirming counseling and reparative therapy. After about two decades of being at it, he is still gay.


34 thoughts on “Another Reparative Therapist Unrepairs”

  1. In my personal experience with diagnosed childhood GID, masculine association is a good treatment, it totally cured me (I intentionally pursued masculine straight men for friendship, the same exact kind I was most attracted to and over time it made me appreciate being male, it totally worked and integrated my identity). I did this decades ago, I think I was reading Nicolosi at the time.

    Didn’t do anything for the SSA though, not one bit. It got rid of my romantic interest in men, I have no such feelings anymore, but the physical attractions have not changed one bit, and that’s after 16 years of unbroken religious celibacy. I think the physical attraction imprints permanently at puberty. I remember at the beginning of puberty being equally attracted to both sexes – I literally stared at a man and a woman together for an hour and couldn’t decide which was hotter – and it sorta shifted male over time, possibly due to the GID.

    1. I think the physical attraction imprints permanently at puberty.

      There’s no scientific evidence of this being true. You’re probably confusing this with a child’s growing awareness of sexuality — i.e. feelings of attraction, crushes, etc. — at around that age, and there comes a point when kids realize that they’re gay, or straight, etc.

  2. Obviously, if one equates “curing” same sex attraction with “curing” eye color, the whole concept is absurd. So I get that.

    I’m just wondering how the actual data on people hoping to dispel/diminish same sex attraction compares to those trying to stop any other unwelcome behavior or thought pattern. Stopping alcohol or drug abuse, combatting attraction to inappropriate objects/subjects, unwanted or disruptive compulsions, etc.

    Personally I am baffled at the idea that someone would seek to actually eliminate the attraction altogether… that makes no sense to me. Seems like an unrealistic bar for change of almost any kind. I stopped smoking decades ago, in fact I believe God delivered me from it, but when stress hits I still think a smoke sounds good. I combat negative self talk and anxiety due (I think) to life experiences over a long period of time, etc. There’s a lot of deliberateness and vigilence involved in maintaining freedom for almost anything, in my experience. Less over time, but you can’t just sleepwalk.

    1. Well, when you’re taught that same sex attraction is an abomination and that God can deliver you from such an affliction, it stands to reason that a good number of gay Christians will be deceived or will deceive themselves into believing God can make them straight if only they pray hard enough.

      1. And that’s why such gay Christians get it wrong: the Bible does not say that Jesus Christ wants people to be heterosexual in order to be in God’s kingdom, Jesus said that people need to be born again.

        1. But people don’t learn their faith in a vacuum. Far too many gay Christians have had the misfortune of growing up listening to their pastor and/or parents) railing against the evils of homosexuality and telling them that their lifestyle is an abomination.

          People like Maya Keyes, the lesbian daughter of right wing Christian pundit Alan Keyes who threw her out of their home when she came out as a lesbian. I’ve seen a couple of similar postings on Reddit in just the past few days where vulnerable Christian teens are at a loss of what to do in the face of profound hostility from their conservative Christian parents over their sexuality.

          1. That’s not exactly what happened between the Keyeses. Maya was working for her father’s political campaign and living with her parents in an apartment paid by the Republican National Convention. While at it, she publicly protested against Bush’s inauguration, so Alan fired her and asked to move out of the apartment due to conflict of interests. She then, moved back to Chicago and publicly came out. Btw, her parents knew that she was a lesbian but kept it private. In order words, it was political disagreements that caused this conflict and Maya, influenced by it, decided to come out publicly. Later Keyes admitted that he did not disown his daughter but as Catholic he believed what the Church teaches on homosexuality.

            While the Bible teaches that homosexual lifestyle is abomination, it also teaches that we all need to love each other because we are all sinners. That does not mean that we should approve of sinful behaviors, though. Still, if possible live at peace with everybody. If there are parents who fail to understand this, then they got it wrong, too.

    2. Well, when you’re taught that same sex attraction is an abomination and that God can deliver you from such an affliction, it stands to reason that a good number of gay Christians will be deceived or will deceive themselves into believing God can make them straight if only they pray hard enough.

  3. Semi-related: some disturbing (if true) info on Michael Glatze:

    “It is pretty interesting that this A- list mostly movie actor from an acting family who has been busted for hitting on underage women and harassing others made the movie he did not that long ago. It turns out the subject of that movie has a lot in common with the actor. The subject of the movie traveled the country with the woman he called his wife and they would find teenage boys after their lecture and ply the boys with booze and weed and then have threesomes with the teen boys. Eventually, the police started taking note of their activities so they now hole up on the west coast and even changed their last name.”

    1. You may remember Glatze as THE “ex gay poster boy” from over a decade ago. He wrote controversial articles for WND and other conservative Christian websites. He was also interviewed by Nicolosi a few times.

      1. Sure, and before that he used to be associated with organizations that used to work on behalf of LGBT youth. Quite a turnaround, isn’t it?

  4. Interestingly, Matheson refuses to apologize for his harmful actions. He issued a non-apology to anyone who was harmed by his practices, but he refused to admit that his practices were harmful because some men found them helpful. That lack of personal responsibility, remorse and integrity says loads about his moral character.

    According to NBC news:

    Matheson acknowledged his work has hurt some people, but he would not fully renounce “conversion therapy.” Instead, he blamed what he referred to as the “shame-based, homophobic-based system” of the Mormon church in which he was raised. He acknowledged that he perpetuated that system, but he also argued that he helped some men who wished to live “in congruence” with their faith.

    “I know there are people who won’t be satisfied by anything less than a complete and unequivocal renunciation of everything,” Matheson said. “That’s hard, because I want people to feel the genuineness of my change of heart, but people need to understand that there is more than one reality in the world.” To those who feel harmed by his past work, he relayed a message: “I unequivocally apologize.”

    1. Add “unbridled selfishness” to the list of Matheson’s shortcomings. Here’s his statement to Truth Wins Out:

      My time in a straight marriage and in the “ex-gay” world was genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me. I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others. But I had stopped growing and was starting to die. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process. I wasn’t faking it all those years. I’m not renouncing my past work or my LDS faith. And I’m not condemning mixed-orientation marriages. I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity. With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.

    2. Your comment began with “Matheson refuses to apologize…” and ended with Matheson saying, “I unequivocally apologize.”

        1. The only equivocation was that he believed there was some value in helping “some men who wished to live “in congruence” with their faith.” In other words, he did not wish to condemn the people who believed this means of resisting their sexual urges was important.

          I don’t think it’s the right way to think about homosexuality, obviously, but it’s not really my place to tell homosexuals how to resolve the tensions they feel between their sexuality and their religious beliefs. That’s up to them.

          I don’t see how Matheson saying he will “support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity” even remotely undermines his apology.

          More to the point, it seems fairly dishonest to say Matheson “refuses to apologize” when he explicitly did apologize.

  5. It still doesn’t prove that men who have experienced SSA are naturally designed for homosexuality. This article explains the “ex-ex-gay” phenomenon and it makes sense to me:

    With this being the case, I don’t think that reparative therapy community will ever be swayed by Matheson’s recent coming-out, in terms of what they believe and do.

    As for Matheson, was he a licensed professional therapist or a religious preacher?

    1. sam80 doesn’t violate the commenting guidelines but doesn’t actually respond to the evidence in the posts. He says what he thinks and wants to get across no matter what else is presented. Be warned.

      Matheson is a professional therapist.

      1. I am reminded of John MacArthur trying to pass himself off as knowledgeable on Intersectionality while having no knowledge or wisdom to share about Intersectionality. On matters of professional therapy, I’ll stick to the knowledge and experience of professional therapists like Matheson.

      2. In this link: there is evidence how opponents of reparative therapy, specifically Wayne Besen view it as supposedly a “false hope for curing people from being LGBT.” Well, this is not how professional reparative therapists address this complicated issue. They don’t consider homosexuality as illness, but only seek to help people with unwanted SSA. Matheson, himself never claimed those things that Besen accused him of. As a matter of fact, Matheson still supports people who are living according to their philosophical values and mixed-orientation marriages. Although, it’s mentioned that change of sexual orientation can bring suicidal ideation, there are no specific circumstances listed, and it’s different for different clients. Thus, it doesn’t convince me that all SOCE are necessarily damaging and ineffective. The only evidence I see is that people who oppose repairative therapy distort what it actually does and does not do, and I think they do it because they have a political agenda. I’m entitled to interpreting why exgays go back to living as gays based on my own reasoning that makes sense to me, but it doesn’t mean that I’m always right, just like you have your own reasoning for it that makes sense to you, and it’s no problem if you disagree with me.

        I checked a facebook page of one repairative therapy community, and they demonstrated a similar indifferent reaction towards Matheson and towards John Paulk when he came out 5 years ago.

        1. You really are new here, aren’t you. You need to visit Warren’s archived posts.

          “I checked a facebook page of one repairative therapy community, and they demonstrated a similar indifferent reaction towards Matheson and towards John Paulk when he came out 5 years ago.” ~ Again, do you really think this surprises anyone here? This isn’t our first rodeo.

          “…people who oppose repairative therapy distort what it actually does and does not do,…” ~ Un,…no; just the opposite in fact (although this has changed, its a relatively recent phenomenon).

          “I’m entitled to interpreting why exgays go back to living as gays based on my own reasoning that makes sense to me, but it doesn’t me that I’m always right, just like you have your own reasoning that makes sense to you…” ~ True, but some individuals ‘reasoning’ carries more weight then others. And if your reasoning is flawed, its flawed, no matter how convinced you are of it. What’s more; if you use your flawed reasoning to alter how other individuals behave, you’re then on dangerous ground. (Matthew 18:6-7) Fools rush in….

          1. I used to visit this place a few years ago and I’ve seen people with different views on various topics sharing their perspectives. Even Michael Brown used to post here thus I’d expect different reactions. As far as I understand, the purpose of this blog is not to thrash conservatives and SOCE advocates. If you think that my reasoning is flawed, please, make your argument why you believe so, but don’t just attack my character.

          2. If I came across as condescending (or attacking your character), I apologize. That was not my intent. My condescension was meant more for Nicolosi’s theories. That they are still being propagated is akin to Ptolemy’s epicycle theory of the universe being taught in schools; and as dangerous as being held by NASA.

            I suggested reading Warren’s archive because most of what you say in your reply to Warren I believe he would agree with. He has blogged at length on this subject and he says much of the same, so you are not really posing a counter argument.

            I know nothing of your reasoning so I cannot speak to it. I only know you are relying heavily on the ‘reasoning’ of one J. Nicolosi. His ‘reasoning’ has been address here and many other places for literally decades. It would make no sense for me to rehash what other more qualified people have said already and more succinctly.

          3. No worries. I rely not only on Nicolosi for my reasoning but also on works of others when it comes to the issues of human sexuality. For example, I also read the studies of Lisa Diamond and late Robert Spitzer, who despite being a lesbian and a supporter of gay rights, all came to conclusion that human sexuality tends to be quite fluid and that people do not chose whom they are sexually attracted to, similar to Nicolosi. Yet, Nicolosi seems to have the most logical explanation why there are ex-ex-gay men. The explanations of others’ seem to be pretty vague to me.

          4. No, Spitzer didn’t come to that conclusion. He retracted his study. Lisa Diamond’s work applies to woman primarily and describes fluidity as a characteristic that some women have in response to social situations. She does not support change therapy.

          5. I never said that either Spitzer or Diamond supported reparative therapy and both of them said in their studies that people who have SSA do not choose them, and Nicolosi has echoed it. Quite frankly, “reparative therapy” is a very broad term. I personally support some of what can be classified so but not the other aspects of it, like aversion, for example. I believe it is reasonable to say that based on data that Spitzer and Diamond produced, not based on people’s personal opinions including of researchers themselves, that in general, SSA attracted people can change their feelings. Yet, I hear numerous stories that in America whenever students in psychology, counseling, and social work programs express such interpretations, their professors either shut them up, falsely accuse them of “antigay bigotry” and of being against diversity, or kick them out of the programs. I find it hypocritical that studies of Shidlo and Shroeder are being touted by them as supposedly a proof that all repairative therapies are harmful, and they cannot be questioned. This kind of behavior is unacceptable in the academia because it serves the needs of totalitarian leftist political ideology rather than educating people. Of course, I am not saying that you are like that, Dr. T, because I know that you have been involved in Ward v. Wilbanks.

            I watched your video “I do exist” where I clearly remember Spitzer’s saying that based on his study, in general, people with SSA can change. He didn’t say how many or how often. He has not ever said that at the end of his life, he suddenly started believing all people who have SSA will have SSA forever. All he said that it was possible that participants in his study could have been lying when they said that they changed. That’s his opinion but not a fact because at this point, nobody did a thorough investigation on every one of those 200 participants and determined beyond reasonable doubt that they were all lying. That explains why Spitzer’s study is subject to interpretations.

            Speaking of “I do exist”, would it be fair to say that you are retracting from it, now?

    2. No, of course it doesn’t prove that men who have experienced SSA are naturally designed for homosexuality, any more than it proves that they were naturally designed for heterosexuality. Indeed, I don’t know how one would go about either proving or disproving such a proposition – or why one would even need to.

      Matheson is just the latest in the long, long line, spanning more than 40 years, of “former homosexuals” who have held themselves up, or have been held up by others, as living proof that homosexual (“same-sex attracted”) people can be changed into heterosexual (“other-sex attracted”) people, and who have run either conversion therapy programs or ex-gay ministries to help others to be similarly changed, but who have eventually given up on living a lie and have defected.

      It doesn’t prove that “therapy” to change people’s sexuality never works, but the same could be said of practically any other form of quackery that you care to think of. Proving a comprehensive negative of that kind is seldom, if ever, possible.

      I am reminded of something that the Victorian historian Lord Acton wrote in a letter to his friend Frederic Myers:

      …if your scientific conclusion is that though the world is full of supernatural stories, when you examine all those of which the evidence can really be tested, so and so many break down, and a very small percentage survives, then the value of human testimony in such matters is very much impaired… Especially if you find that nearly all break down, and if not all, yet so many that an overwhelming presumption arises against the insoluble remainder.

      The above is equally true if you replace “supernatural stories” with “ex-gay stories”.

      1. Matheson falls in the category of ex-ex-gays, people who once embraced a gay identity, then lived heterosexually for quite some time, but then embraced gay identity again. Nicolosi and reparative therapists claim that this particular phenomenon is caused by people having a damaged psyche and unstable identity. They even go further by claiming that unstable identity can cause SSA. Other psychologists, especially those who affirm gay identity like Doug Hadleman, also claim that people with SSA have damaged psyche and unstable identity but it is being caused by societal homophobia which pressures them to live heterosexually and once they defy this homophobic pressure, they are likely to identify as gay. It is possible that Matheson felt pressured to be in a straight marriage because he grew in a Mormon religious environment which had a profound influence on him. Still, gay affirming psychologists do not offer concrete explanations to why some people develop SSA but they say that homosexual orientation is a normal variation of human sexuality. So, if we assume that Nicolosi, Doyle, and Pickup et al are wrong, then this whole ex-ex-gay phenomenon becomes questionable and difficult to understand.

        Also Gregory, I read the book of Acts and I don’t recall there anything about mentioning race or skin colors.

        1. Your reasoning is difficult to follow. No, we have no proven explanation of why a minority of people develop SSA, just as we have no proven explanation of why the majority of people develop OSA (other sex attraction). We just know that that is the way things are. There are any number of theories, of course, but that is all that they are – theories, beliefs, opinions.

          “This whole ex-ex-gay phenomenon” is very easy to understand without any need whatever to resort to the theories of Nicolosi, Doyle, Pickup et al. People who, for one reason or another, are unable to accept their homosexuality, manage to persuade themselves that their sexuality has changed and that they are no longer homosexual. They try to reinforce and “live out” that belief by shoe-horning themselves into a heterosexual “lifestyle”. Eventually the dissonance between that “lifestyle” and their sexuality becomes intolerable and they face the fact that they are still as homosexual as ever. That appears to be what Matheson has done, like countless “ex-ex-gays” before him.

          1. It is questionable why people reject and are unable to accept their homosexuality, ie have unwanted SSA. I was wondering if besides religions, like Mormonism, could there be other factors for it?

    3. Oh look! An article by Nicolosi using his long since debunked theories to defend his long since debunked therapy. I sincerely hope you don’t think we haven’t been through this quagmire of fallacies before.

      “With this being the case, I don’t think that reparative therapy community will ever be swayed by Matheson’s recent coming-out, in terms of what they believe and do.” To the surprise of no one here. However it does serve as a fitting testament to the power of willed ignorance; which is, of course, immune to all data.

      Yes, Matheson was a professional (as stated by Warren), which is more then most who practice reparative therapy.

      1. I’ve read statements from APA and ACA who claim that homosexual orientation is not a choice, which Nicolosi and other repairative therapists agree upon, they do not offer concrete explanations why people turn out like that. Nicolosi has given an attempt to explain that based on his professional experience. He could be wrong, but I haven’t seen anything else that could help me explain the “ex-ex-gay” issue, that would make sense to me. I have seen though how oppositions to SOCE are motivated by the fear of undermining legal protections for LGBT individuals, so it makes me wonder.

    4. People aren’t “naturally designed” at all. Not to mention that when I was young, the invented sin of the day with a scientistic name was the “unnatural sin of miscegenation,” which was a sin because it went against God’s natural design for mankind Acts 17:26 blah blah blah.

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