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NYT on "Ex-Gays": You Can Run, But You Can't Change

ExgayIn the wake of Ted Haggard's announcement that he's now "completely heterosexual", the NYT takes a look at the "ex-gay" movement, and just in case you're interested in attending one of them, lists a bunch of groups around the tri-state area that will help you get back to "gender wholeness". Or, if you're interested in throwing some money down a well, you might want to make an appointment with counselor David A. Matheson, who "juggles an active roster of some 50 clients. He charges $240 for a 90-minute session."

Thankfully, the Times makes a note early on that professionals have reached as solid an agreement on the issue of "ex-gays" as scientists have on global warming. Says Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist and former chairman of the Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues of the American Psychiatric Association of the attempt by religious organizations to legitimize debate on the movement: "There’s not a debate in the profession on this issue. This is like creationism. You create the impression to the public as if there was a debate in the profession, which there is not."

Some Tormented by Homosexuality Look to a Controversial Therapy [nyt]

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  1. If scientists were able to isolate and modify the gene that identifies an embryo with homosexual tendendcies, they might alter the sexual identity of the human baby to be born.This is the only viable manner in which we could begin to understand the term "ex-gay". However, to date, science has offered no evidence that genetic modification of sexual identity in a human beings is something that can be "fixed" with gene therapy AFTER a baby is born.
    God has as much to do with being gay as God has as much to do with anything that mankind cannot easily explain. Nothing.
    The majority of god-fearing folks in the world have chosen to ground many of their beliefs in faith. Irrefutable faith in things unseen. In my estimation,those of us who have been born with homosexual tendencies who choose to act upon them are living a greater life of authenticity than those who choose not.

    Posted by: Andrew | Feb 12, 2007 11:43:05 AM


  2. These guys are just bubbling over with sadness and desperation... even willing to spend almost 300 bucks an hour for questionable therapy. Reminds me of those memorable lines from The Boys in the Band:

    "You're a sad and pathetic man. You're a homosexual and you don't want to be, but there's nothing you can do to change it. Not all the prayers to you god, not all the analysis you can buy in all the years you've go left to live. You may one day be able to know a heterosexual life if you want it desperately enough. If you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate. But you'll always be homosexual as well. Always Michael. Always. Until the day you die."

    True in 1970, and true now.

    Posted by: Brian | Feb 12, 2007 11:47:27 AM


  3. Listening to Mr. Larsen's mp3 interview made my mouth drop - "people who can grow out of homosexuality." How insulting.

    As a man who was raised Mormon and was forced to go through "therapy" to come to terms (change) my homosexuality, I can vouch that it does nothing but promote self-loathing. I went to the same sessions with LDS Family Services at 14, and my struggle to right the damage it caused still continues. I'm out and very happy, luckily, but that does not stop me from hearing these stories and having steam come out my ears.

    I was given books by recovered gay Mormons who wrote about their "struggles" under pseudonyms, talked to completely uneducated and prejudiced clergy about my sex life so I could issue mea culpas and get back on "the right track." It never happened, and I'm so glad it didn't. Everyone has struggles in coming out as gay, but being told that who you really are is morally wrong and, in an eternal sense, totally damning is not something anyone should have to hear.

    I've seen friends and family members go through the same thing. It causes nothing but behind-closed-doors activity that is unsafe and damages families and friendships forever. All in the name of "gender wholeness"? Fixing "sexual brokenness"? If anything, these types of therapy do everything to make these alleged problems worse, not better.

    I know Mormons and other religious Christians who do not see any of these solutions as productive. I can't appreciate those people more. However, these therapy and support group programs do nothing to support the fact that Christian teachings, at their very core, are about love and respect and acceptance. These programs are anything but.

    Posted by: Ben | Feb 12, 2007 12:26:37 PM


  4. The NYT is sort-of ex-gay itself.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 12, 2007 1:21:22 PM


  5. This may seem like a odd reaction, but I'm glad the ex-gay movement gets press. I think it helps to promote a discussion for men and women of faith that is otherwise incredibly hidden and painful. As a 30-something gay guy who grew up in small-town Indiana within a heartfelt Christian family, I had the same reaction as one of the guys mentioned in the NYT article - it was difficult to even acknowledge that I might be gay in a prayer, it seemed so contradictory to who I was supposed to be according to my worldview at the time.

    When I finally came out, I'm incredibly thankful that I had grown theologically enough to accept that God's grace works for me as a gay man as much as anyone else. My fam immediately suggested an ex-gay group and was willing to pay for reparative therapy as well, but I declined. All this to say, as misguided as some of their tactics are, continuing to promote a discussion on ex-gay/ex-ex-gay, etc. is a good thing, I think. I'd hope it might encourage more open, realistic and honest discussions about the related issues, so that people would hear both sides of the story, and then realize they can actually embrace their faith and their sexuality.

    Now if only I could find a hot date with a hip, creative Xian-type in Seattle. Anyone? Beuller?

    Posted by: Kurt | Feb 12, 2007 2:25:00 PM


  6. "Gender wholeness"? What? That sounds so ridiculous! A gay man isn't a whole man compared to a straight man? Please. How stupid!

    Posted by: ______ | Feb 12, 2007 2:26:25 PM


  7. Growing up Mormon, I understand the struggle Larson has gone through and is going through. Unfortunately, religion does not offer "wholeness" in this context, only divisivness. I feel for Larson. Despite hours of therapy and weekends discovering "manhood," Larson is and will always be gay. Nothing can change that. Too bad he has to seek "wholeness" in archaic ritual and superstition, rather than within himself.

    Posted by: Brandon | Feb 12, 2007 3:24:02 PM


  8. Since Larson lives in NYC, he should head on over to the Eagle and have a chat with the boys about what kind of "therapy" he should get--will cure him in one night!

    The NYT article misses the connection between the wider ex-gay movement and Scientology. A bit sloppy on their part.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 12, 2007 4:20:41 PM


  9. I loved these last three sentences! "There’s not a debate in the profession on this issue. This is like creationism. You create the impression to the public as if there was a debate in the profession, which there is not."

    Why don't more talking heads or aka "journalists" expose all the bullshitters out there who use these kind of tactics?!?!? It is so obvious. Most people I know who work in the media (and I know a lot) think midwesterners and southerners are morons and feed them the news they think they want to hear. I know that NBC has made it's journalists take sensitivity training, not sensitivity toward gays and other minorities, but sensitivity to the right wing bigots!

    Posted by: Todd M. | Feb 12, 2007 5:05:46 PM


  10. Wait'll the middle school kids in Bronx where he teaches get ahold of this article. Geez. I'm out and proud and all that, but I wouldn't want to face that.

    Posted by: Don | Feb 12, 2007 6:32:27 PM


  11. the ex-gay thing is humorous in the hypocrisy, but isn't it amusing the lack of substantive programming with glbt content?? isn't the watching your clock conversation rather pathetic?? the "ex-gay" thing may be hypocritical, but isn't the lack of stepping up to the plate equally immature??

    isn't participating in a giant cultural LIE that limits a larger picture because it's more amusing to mass email the feigned appearance of britney's latest pre-pubescent twat??

    people "walking for a cure" while a certain k-hole crew twirl on the yawnerific atlantis cruise lines -- me thinks, i'd prefer the butthole surfers or pixies on that note. and boys in the band quotations -- yes, one can be gay, yet, is that limited to a strict visitation to the blue chairs in puerto vallarta?? regardless, of gay or not, i'm wondering how much gay people have grown up. have they also been stymied by a culture that is replete with rubbish posing as medicine or a "cure"??

    Posted by: ricardo | Feb 12, 2007 6:35:55 PM


  12. Just wanted to chime in here. I was once a participant in "reparative therapy" myself and had a few interactions with the therapist mentioned in this article, Dave Matheson. He's a pathetic human being and a huge drama queen. He believes that "healing" homosexuality involves lying in the embrace of your ex-gay therapist's arms for 20 minutes. He also wears Abercrombie & Fitch (he's supposed to be a 45 year old "straight" man!). I wonder what he enjoys more—shopping for A&F online in the basement at 2 a.m. while his wife is asleep, or actually going into the store so he can eye-fuck the 17 year old twink helping him pick out a fitted polo. I bet that being a skip away from NYC he'll fall off the wagon faster than Ted Haggard, if he hasn't already.

    Also, Dave is incredibly vain and probably creamed his pants when he heard he was going to be mentioned in the N.Y. Times. And while I'm sure he's already an avid reader of Towleroad ("know thine enemy," of course), I expect he's paying special attention to see if there are any comments about him.

    Also, Dave, $240 per hour?!? This is probably more than what Mike Jones charged Ted Haggard for a "massage," and double what you charged when you worked for good ol' Dr. Joe. I suppose it's better when you cut out the middleman. Even if you see your "active roster of some 50 clients" only once every other week, that's still an annual salary of $312,000! You're making out like a bandit for selling self-loathing.

    Posted by: Jack | Feb 13, 2007 8:19:53 PM


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