Sexual OrientationWhether homosexuality is a preference or an orientation has long been a subject of debate. Up until very recently, it was considered a preference or an illness that needed to be cured.
In December 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed the designation of homosexuality as an illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The American Psychological Association holds the same position and has resolved that changing sexual orientation is impossible. Other Associations agree.
Others disagree. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) claims to be "a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to the research, therapy and prevention of homosexuality...founded in 1992, ... composed of psychoanalysts, psychoanalytically-informed psychologists, certified social workers, and other behavioral scientists, as well as laymen in fields such as law, religion, and education." It has been active in promoting a notion that one can become "ex-gay". Others have jumped on the bandwagon. By distributing scholarly-appearing (but deeply flawed) documents, they attempt to prove that change is possible.
Psychology Today magazine's December 2002 issue contains an advertisement for a book by "Dr." Joseph Nicolosi, A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality despite the fact that most reputable mental health professional consider this impossible. This has, of course, started its own controversy
This article notes other problems within the ex-gay movement:
* In 1973, John Evans, co-founded the world's first modern "ex-gay" ministry, Love In Action, on the outskirts of San Francisco. However, after Evans' best friend Jack McIntyre committed suicide in despair over not being able to change, Evans realized that the program was not working and denounced Love in Action. To this day, the co-founder of the world's original "ex-gay" ministry condemns the program as a dangerous - and sometimes fatal - fraud.
* In the early 1970's Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee were counselors at an "ex-gay" ministry in Anaheim, Calif. In 1976, they organized the first national conference of "ex-gay" ministries. At this conference, Exodus International was formed and it is now the world's largest "ex-gay" organization. While traveling on behalf of Exodus, the two men acknowledged that they had not changed and were in love with each other. They soon divorced their wives, moved in together and eventually held a commitment ceremony.
* In 1979, Seventh Day Adventist minister Colin Cook founded Homosexuals Anonymous (HA). Appearing twice on the Phil Donahue show, he solidified his reputation in the early 80's as the nation's premier "ex-gay" spokesperson. But Cook's efforts collapsed in 1986 after he was exposed for giving clients nude massages. Cook moved to Colorado and made a comeback in 1992 by helping Colorado for Family Values and Focus on the Family promote their anti-gay agenda. But in 1995, Cook's efforts unraveled, once again, after several of Cook's clients accused him of phone sex and inappropriate hugs.
* In 2000, Wade Richard's appeared as a media spokesperson for a group called the Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth and gave his testimony of "change" at a major press conference sponsored by right-wing leader Peter LaBarbera, who now works for an affiliate of Concerned Women for America. But a year later, Richards rebuked the "ex-gay" ministries when he came out in an interview with the Advocate magazine. * In 1987, Jeremy Marks founded Courage, London's first "ex-gay" ministry. In 2001, after nearly 15 years of watching people - including himself - struggle in vain to change, he renounced Exodus's methods by saying that they were failing in their efforts to change peoples' sexual orientation.
Another tactic has been to place full-page newspaper ads containing testimonials of people claiming to have changed their sexual orientation through prayer. The problem is that upon closer reading, one discovers that these people are still not "cured" or were not really gay in the first place.
News Flash!! John Paulk, the focus of one of these ads, has been seen hanging out in a gay bar. Click here for details.
Nevertheless, groups such as Homosexuals Anonymous and Exodus International claim to be able to help. The only problem is a horrendously bad (ie. approaching 100%) failure rate. Exodus has finally admitted this itself. There is also an organization called P-FOX, a counter to PFLAG. Recently, these organizations have been having internal conflicts
Adding fuel to the controversy is the notion that homosexuality occurs in nature, something I have observed in budgies and others have observed in vultures and more vultures, emus, apes, orangutangs, sheep, dogs, rotifers and mandrills, beetles, penguins and possibly otters as well as Bonobo monkeys, walruses, African elephants, mountain zebras, geese and dolphins.
Here are some links to people who explain the controversy a lot better than I:
- Calculated Compassion
- Mission Impossible
- Why ex-gay ministries fail
- A reply to the ex-gay movement
- Newsweek 'Incredible Quotes'