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Is Josh Weed A Reparative Therapist, Or What?

Joshsite-200x300Last weekend I wrote about Josh Weed, the relationship therapist, Mormon, and father of two who came out on his blog as 1) a gay man who is 2) happily married to a woman. There has since been a lot of chatter about Weed in the gay blogosphere, mostly centered around the man's profession. Is Josh Weed, apparent nice guy, a "reparative therapist"? 

Weed works with a group called LifeSTAR Washington, which deals primarily with issues of sex addiction. In his professional bio, Weed writes:

As a therapist, Josh works with many people struggling with difficult life issues, but focuses his efforts mainly on adolescent and adult sexual addiction issues, with an emphasis on youth treatment. His work is dedicated to helping people combat patterns and beliefs that cause feelings of shame, hopelessness and despair. Josh also works helping those with sexual identity issues and unwanted sexual attractions and/or behaviors. Before transitioning to private practice, his clinical work revolved around his role at Kent Youth and Family Services, where he still performs Drug and Alcohol assessments. Josh particularly enjoys working with youth; helping them feel hope as they face many life challenges.

... which sounds a lot like it could have to do with the un-gaying of young people. But on Friday, Weed told Gay.com that he's most definitely not a reparative therapist:

Over the phone Weed said, "I don't believe that a gay person can or even should change their sexual attraction." Then Weed responded via e-mail with this:

I do not practice, nor do I believe in, reparative therapy or change therapy. Quite the opposite, my therapeutic stance is one that favors (but does not depend on) the idea that sexual orientation is immutable.

My therapeutic approach is to meet clients where they are--wherever that might be--and then help them to analyze the goals and aspirations that they have for their own life.

Given my background, I feel especially adept at helping clients who feel that their attractions are "unwanted" because of cultural or religious contexts. I work with them to help them accept their sexual orientation for what it is, so that they can move forward into the decision making part of their life.

I help them get to the point where the question becomes something like, "This part of me is real, and I am totally okay. Now what?" I then help them as they navigate the difficult waters of decision.

My clients make extremely varied choices for their lives and futures. My role is to help them do so in a way that is authentic and true to what they want for themselves, and not to appease outside sources of pressure (like family, church or culture at large).

... all of which strikes this reader as a little fluffy. It seems to suggest that if a guy comes in to Weed's practice and says he's happily partnered up in a gay relationship but has trouble with compulsive infidelity, then Weed accepts the gayness and tries to help with the cheating. But if somebody comes in and says he's gay and wants to live heterosexually, Weed tries to help with that, too.
Does that count as "reparative therapy"? If not, does Marcus Bachmann count as a reparative therapist

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  1. I think this guy falls into the category of "to each his own." He seems to have managed to work out a relationship with his wife that gives him a family and lets him follow his religious beliefs.... I don't see thousands managing this balance, or even wanting to.

    One of my best friends is a dominatrix. If I didn't know before, I do now, there is no such thing as "normal." There will always be people for whatever reason who wish they were something else, someone else, somewhere else. Again, I don't see thousands flocking to his door because if he can be believed, his situation is pretty much one of a kind. You can't teach that, it's just pure luck.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Jun 17, 2012 9:22:18 AM

  2. If you accuse him of doing reparative therapy, he will successfully deny it. He is a bit more subtle than that. He doesn't actually want to turn people straight. But he doesn't want them to be gay either. Instead he helps gay Mormons to accept that they are are gay, but to not develop a gay identity. So he offers them the choice to be either celibate or marry someone of the opposite sex. Those are the only two options Mormonism allows.

    In the strictest sense "reparative therapy" refers to a specific count of therapy that places the cause of homosexuality in a broken bond between a parent and the child (the father in the case of men) and attempts to fix that. It's also based on doing more stereotypically male activities. Weed does not do that, so he can deny it.

    What he does of course is equally damaging. It's the same guilt and shame that these people already get from the church and drive them to quacks like him in the first place. That he doesn't give in to the pressure of the church a lie. Of course he can't see it, because he is in deep denial about his own life and why he made the choices he did (hint: it's what the church demands of him). And he doesn't care one bit about their hurt he inflicts on the women he wants his patients to marry.

    Btw, at least two Lifestar managers are affiliated with Evergreen, which is the Mormon ex-gay program.

    Posted by: Steve | Jun 17, 2012 9:28:22 AM

  3. @Steve "...He doesn't actually want to turn people straight. But he doesn't want them to be gay either."

    You nailed it Steve. He's your typical "love the sinner, hate the sin" type.

    Posted by: Peter M. | Jun 17, 2012 9:44:09 AM

  4. Leave him alone. The guy means well. There are bigger fish to fry.

    Posted by: Perry | Jun 17, 2012 9:47:45 AM

  5. I abhor the conflation of homosexuality with sexual predation, so I hesitate to mention this but I think it must be said:

    In spite of how good sex is with his wife - I know. been there done that - a sexually frustrated man who "focuses his efforts mainly on adolescent and adult sexual addiction issues, with an emphasis on youth treatment" - HUGE red flag. Maybe not now, maybe when he hits mid-life, watch out. He's playing with fire.

    Posted by: Jacques | Jun 17, 2012 9:49:34 AM

  6. We are watching reparative therapy morph into something more easily swallowed by the mainstream (even gays!). The ex-gay cuckoos have realized that they can't peddle the same homophobic and unscientific "therapy" that they once did and are now telling damaged gay men and women to force themselves into heterosexual relationships to solve "teh gay."

    It's obvious. First, it was "You can become straight, I promise." Then when it was obvious that you couldn't, it became "You can be straight and have same-sex attractions," it seems now they've moved on to "You can be gay and live as a heterosexual."

    Evolution, my dear Watson.

    Posted by: Leonard | Jun 17, 2012 10:03:47 AM

  7. I'm with PERRY. Weed's story is interesting but it has nothing to do with well-adjusted gay men or anyone else unless they want it to. There's everything under the sun out there and room for us all.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jun 17, 2012 10:03:55 AM

  8. This is not reparative therapy, nor is it "fluffy."

    Posted by: Jack | Jun 17, 2012 10:22:33 AM

  9. It's "reparative therapy" trying to pass tiself off as serious psychological counselling and it's Mormonism trying to pretend that it isn't homophobic whe it obviously is.

    Same crap -- different bag.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 17, 2012 10:27:13 AM

  10. Even if he means well (which I have my doubts about) he is incredibly naive and allows himself to be used by other Mormons. His story is already being linked and emailed around by tons and tons of Mormons as an example to other gays and as a solution the problem. He had to know this would happen, despite his weak denials.

    Posted by: Steve | Jun 17, 2012 10:41:35 AM

  11. Evergreen lite.

    Posted by: Gus | Jun 17, 2012 10:46:55 AM

  12. I don't think it's reparative therapy at all. I think a lot of us are in a twitter b/c an inconveniennt truth about our own sexual identity is beginning to emerge and that is the fact that there is a population of gay men who acknowledge they are gay but still want to marry women and have children and live a heterosexual lifestyle. For me, I would never chop my horn off to live like a horse, but to others like Weed, his faith is more important than his sexuality which is why he sacrifices his sexual desire to be with men so that he can be LDS. I think it's very difficult for other gay men (like myself) to fully understand how powerful faith can be--especially if all you have ever know about religion is that it was used against you to make your life a living hell. However, people like Weed who are LDS have a genuine love and burning desire to their faith--it's far more important than something as sexuality--no matter how powerful its urge. These types of gay men are not abandoning their sexuality out of shame, they just value their faith and what it dictates more so. Heterosexuals also have to make numerous sacrifices to their sexuality to also be faithful to LDS. Personally, none of that is would be my choice, but it's his and there are apparently others who want him to help them on that same road. If we want to be free as gay men, we have to accept that some of us will for reasons that have nothing to do with self-loathing choose to cut their horns. To me, personally, it's about the saddest, most-heartbreaking thing I can imagine a gay person doing--yet it's that gay man's choice. We may not agree, but should respect it if we want to be respected for living our own truth--they way we see it and know it. That's all I have to say about this issue.

    Posted by: Jazzy J | Jun 17, 2012 10:54:08 AM

  13. It most certainly does. He should stop it immediately.

    I am the straight (ex) spouse. I have seen first hand the destruction religion can play on a person who identifies as gay.


    Posted by: Lucy Dragon | Jun 17, 2012 11:29:53 AM

  14. If he wants to be "respected" he needs to shut his mouth, not make internet posts about it, present himself as an example, let himself be used as an example and not counsel others to live the same way. That's the main problem here. He is being used to force this charade on other people too.

    And how is it not based on shame? Of course his religion made him ashamed of even considering alternatives. It's his religion that doesn't allow him another life. Explaining that away as "well, it's religion. It's like that for everyone" doesn't mean we should tolerate it.

    Posted by: Steve | Jun 17, 2012 11:32:29 AM

  15. Here is a story of how this kind of arrangement usually plays out:

    It may also be Weed's story in another ten, twenty years

    Posted by: Steve | Jun 17, 2012 11:36:29 AM

  16. "their attractions are "unwanted" because of cultural or religious contexts." That means they are Hetero-folk right?

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Jun 17, 2012 11:41:47 AM

  17. This guy is a blip in the shifting culture of sexual identity. He is a way station for the religiously ignorant who actually still believe God doesn't want them to be who they were born to be. He hasn't a clue that being gay for many of us is not just a sexual attraction but an affectional preference. I can't imagine living with a woman. I like living with men not just sexually but on emotional level as well.

    Posted by: Joey | Jun 17, 2012 11:44:29 AM

  18. I cannot believe how intolerant and small-minded people are on this chat blog. How are any of you better than the bigots who say equally intolerable and narrow-minded bilge about us? Really, you want everyone to respect your truth as it is, but when presented with something that doesn't jive with your global view, you demonize it. Really, I cannot tell the difference between you and people like Perkins and Gallagher. I can't beleive I'm only starting to side the uglier side of being gay. We're just as hateful and intolerant as those we demonize.

    Posted by: Jazzy J | Jun 17, 2012 11:51:26 AM

  19. Jazzy...stop oversimplifying, just stop it.

    The Mormon church is actively, energetically funding groups like NOM and funded Prop 8.

    A subtle poison is still a damned poison and while it may be a softer touch than traditional evangelical reparative therapy, it's still reparative therapy with a more subductive twist: You're gay, but that's okay, we can treat it.

    It makes being gay into something like..diabetes with a relationship with a woman as insulin.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Jun 17, 2012 12:08:01 PM

  20. @jazzy. get a grip. this isnt some guy, this is a man parading as a therapist, sitting across from gay youth and guiding them to celibacy or heterosexual marriage. no matter how genuine his intentions, this is intolerance with a smile.

    there is everything wrong with managing a symptom while ignoring a problem. if he wants to help gay lds youth, he should be mounting an effort to change lds doctrine.

    Posted by: mld | Jun 17, 2012 12:13:00 PM

  21. @JAZZY J I see no "demonizing" here. I see skeptical people responding to a man who claims that he is "gay" but has "chosen" not to be sexually active with men but in a "normative" relationship with a woman aka "marriage".

    Any bio that states that its author is "helping those with sexual identity issues and unwanted sexual attractions and/or behaviors" practically scream "REPARATIVE THERAPY".

    We have every right to be skeptical. This guy is a poster child for every religious wing-nut who taints LGBT people with the lie of having "chosen" a "gay lifestyle"--a choice that can be undone with proper "therapy" or "counseling" or "religious awakening" or all three.

    The guy is a fraud as far as I am concerned. That is a personal opinion. But, far from demonizing him, I question the timing of his "announcement" and his claims to be "100% gay" but doesn't act out on his same-sex desires and instead has found the so-called love of his life which is a woman with whom he says he has an "awesome" sex life (something I nor anyone else really needs to know about).

    The religious right of every stripe (evangelical, Catholic, Mormon et al) are up in arms over the recent gains in social equality and acceptance that LGBT people have made. They are RABID about it and each day some new outrageously hateful statement from their mouths is revealed to the general public.

    How convenient, then, that this geeky, nerdy, quiet-mannered, earnest young Mormon man should appear, boasting of his "choice" not to be gay but instead opt for a relationship with his "best friend"--a woman--and go public with this information about his personal life.

    If this doesn't reek of "choosing not to be gay" and reparative therapy, then I don't know what does.

    But, hateful comments? Demonizing? No, not here. What we have here are people who are goddamned sick and tired of our lives and our humanity being determined by people whose main desire is to have us eliminated from the face of this earth.

    Mr. Weed is a front-man for those people--a nice, meek, mild photogenic front-man. Already, comments from the right-wing who have picked up on this story are making the same idiotic points that you are--homosexuals hate on a man whose personal story counters the homosexual's claims that they are "born this way". Instead of embracing Mr. Weed's "truth" we are "demonizing" and "hating" on him.

    That's b.s. You know it and I know it.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jun 17, 2012 12:14:43 PM

  22. Based on what I've read this is a classic bait-and-switch, a slightly more savvy version of reparative therapy, "I affirm your gay identity. Now get married anyway! It won't be that bad."

    One of the first things he mentioned in the article about being gay and married was how dedicated to his religion he was, so considering that religion is Mormon he already shown himself to be a gibbering f*uckwit. All religions are built on shaky premises but it takes a special kind of gullibility (or brainwashing) to dedicate yourself to a religion pulled out of a convicted con-man's @ss 150 years ago.

    All he's doing is continuing the grand tradition of Mormon gay men marrying women anyway so they can get into the temple and enjoy straight privilege. It's gutless and I'd bet the farm he counsels other gay Mormons to do the same thing. He wrote that article with a very specific agenda in mind, to set himself up as an example for others to follow.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jun 17, 2012 12:17:45 PM

  23. It doesn't sound like the dreaded "reparative therapy" to me. I believe that part of the problem may be in some misunderstandings about how therapy works.

    Therapy (well, GOOD therapy) is a process which tries to help the patient identify HIS OWN beliefs and goals and patterns of behavior with regard to how to live his life. It is NOT a process that tries to fit the patients' life into someone else's pre-ordained set of rules about living. Often patients come to therapy thinking that the therapist has a set of cures for specific types of problems. Rather, what the therapist offers, is a set of tools for helping the PATIENT to identify his issues in his life and how he might want to handle those issues in light of the PATIENT's values and goals. (Not to be trite or overly gay but as Glinda said "You've always had the power, my dear. You've had it all along.")

    So the objection to "reparative therapy" is primarily that it is not THERAPY (because it starts with an externally-imposed answer - "don't be gay", rather than helping the patient to resolve his problem according to his own morals and life goals.)

    A patient should be able to say "I'm gay and I don't want to be gay" or "I am gay and I am (otherwise) happily a member of a religion that doesn't particularly support gay people and I want to figure out how I'm going to address that conflict in my life." Or "I am gay, but I think I want to have traditionally-modeled family."

    You never know how these issue will resolve for each person. There are almost certainly some small set of gay men who will be more fulfilled in a life where they marry a woman and raise a traditional family. There are many of us who happily live a life within a church that says bad things about us. Hell, there are even gay Republicans. This may all sound crazy, but it's big world and everyone is different.

    I don't know if Weed's statement is honest about his practice, but I do believe it is correct. If a client says "I want to talk about the fact that I am gay, but I think I want to make certain choices in my life that aren't consistent with how most gay people decide to live their lives today" that is an entirely appropriate topic for a therapist to address with the client. And, after all, isn't the right of each of us to determine the path of our own life ultimately what everyone has been pushing for?

    Posted by: buster | Jun 17, 2012 12:31:21 PM

  24. I should preface my rebuttal with the fact that I am a Proud Gay man in a homosexual partnership and I love being Gay. With that written, there seems to be an awful lot of presumption and simplification in several counterarguments to mine.

    First off, why is there the presumption that a gay person who makes the decision to "chop of their horn and live like horse" has something wrong with them? Why is it so impossible for some of you to fathom that maybe some gay guys value something greater than their sexuality and that may be their faith?

    Why is there a vested interest in slandering Weed's credentials as a therapist. He is one option for one segment of the gay population. Last time I checked these gay men who might think this is a possibility for them have free will, they can leave at any time. But, what if for those like Weed, it actually works? Does that mean it will work for all gay men--NO, certainly not me, at least, I'm 100% gay and staying that way.

    And @Jamal, it's far more then being skeptical, give me a break, this is a classic smear campaign, not to mention smearing the LDS religion. I strongly disagree with their position on homosexuality, but I will not denigrate someone's faith in the way it's been explicity and implicity attacked on this comment section.

    Forgive me if I feel the need to protect Weed, but all of this reminds me of being a gay teenager and ganged up on by a bunch of intolerant, oh sorry, "skeptical" people. Secondly, if I thought for one second that Weed would try to talk me out of being gay, I would not defend him for a second--but that's the thing--he actually would respect my decisions that I have made as a gay man. This is what I have gathered by reading that long-ass post of his on his blog (Sorry, it was really long though).

    Weed's approach is not mine, but I would not go so far to render it destructive and dysfunctional especially since I don't really know what it is to have the faith of LDS person or what it requires, and what I'd be willing to do to keep it. And frankly, not many of you here do either. One's religious faith is an incredibly personal experience and it doesn't make a gay person less than for choosing it over their sexuality. That's their choice. I'm at least keeping an open mind--and I do hope it works out for Weed. I want all gay men to be happy, whatever their choices.

    Posted by: Jazzy J | Jun 17, 2012 12:39:56 PM

  25. For decades, centuries, millennia, gay men and women did what Josh Weed did and married someone of the opposite sex, mainly because there was no other choice. Those who refused to do that and stayed single or set up housekeeping with a partner were very rare. Most gay people CAN marry of the opposite sex, have children, and pull off the whole facade.

    But at what cost to themselves and their family?

    Who would WANT to marry a person for whom it took gory threats of eternal damnation to MAKE then say "I do"? Who would want to the consolation prize at their own wedding, the Rice-A-Roni booby prize for someone who wasn't allowed to have what they wanted? Who wants to look in their partner's eyes and see that distance, that awful hope that they could have had what they wanted but instead they got you? Who wants to sit at home knowing on some level their spouse is off indulging their secret self, not "cheating" because that's who they really are, that it's your life together that's the lie, the cheat? Who wants to build a life built on lies and pretending? Who wants to be viewed by their spouse as a trap, a painful necessity. Who wants to bring children into that arid atmosphere of unfulfilled desire, that hothouse of close-but-no-cigar frustration?

    Josh Weed and his wife, apparently. That's who. And make no mistake, that's what the Mormon church wants for you too. Why do you think Utah has the highest per-capita consumption of porn in the nation? The whole thing is just a nicey-nice facade covering a seething sea of frustration.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jun 17, 2012 1:13:39 PM

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