“I am gay and I hate it. I want to be like everyone else and marry and have kids. Please give me the name of a therapist who will make me heterosexual.”
– A letter to Sue Johanson in her book, Talk Sex.
One could weep over Sue Johanson’s response:
“No qualified therapist would try to make you heterosexual – that would not work, and the experience would be traumatic. What a therapist would do is help you…be more comfortable with you homosexuality.”
Five hundred men and women met this past June at the University of Toronto for the sixteenth Annual Exodus North American Conference. They were not comfortable with their homosexuality. They were coming out, not out of “the closet,” (many have done that already) but out of the ‘gay’ world.
They are ex-homosexuals and they are hated by many of their former friends and lovers still in the ‘gay’ world for they give the lie to the myth that homosexuality is fixed and unchangeable or that it is even much fun.
In 1973, under intense lobbying from militant homosexual groups, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis from its Diagnostics Standards Manual. Now it is a subjective distress about homosexual orientation rather than the orientation itself that qualifies as a psychiatric disorder.
But shortly after the APA’s action, almost 70 per cent of twenty-five hundred psychiatrists responding to a poll taken by the well-known magazine Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, indicated that they still believed homosexuality represented an abnormal sexual adaptation.
Homosexual activists want their homosexuality viewed as neither chosen nor changeable. With the current AIDS crisis many other homosexuals are rethinking their ‘unchangeable’ position and seeking psychiatric help. They are also forming support networks led by former ‘gays’ and lesbians.
This ex-gay movement has strong support in psychotherapy.
In Homosexuality in Perspective (1979), Masters and Johnson describe their work with sixty-seven homosexuals and fourteen lesbians who requested conversion or reversion therapy to heterosexuality.
Their success rate was 71.6 per cent after a follow-up of six years.
Dr. Robert Kronemeyer writes in Overcoming Homosexuality (1980), “With rare exceptions, homosexuality is neither inherited nor the result of some glandular disturbance or the scrambling of genes or chromosomes….From my 25 years experience as a clinical psychologist, I firmly believe that homosexuality is a learned response to early painful experiences and that it can be unlearned….About 80 per cent of homosexual men and women….have been able to free themselves and achieve a healthy and satisfying heterosexual adjustment.”
Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg in Homosexuality and Hope (1986), says after 20 years of treating homosexuality that, “the radically changed cases from complete homosexuality to normal heterosexuality refute the theory that therapy of homosexuality is pointless. Indeed since relatively few homosexuals seriously try to change and few therapists encourage them to do so, the notion that homosexuality is irreversible is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If nobody tries, nobody succeeds. Why would we take a fatalistic attitude toward the possibilities of improvement of homosexuality when an acceptable percentage improves substantially?”
Dr. Rueben Fine states in Male and Female Homosexuality: Psychological Approaches (1987), “It is paradoxical that even though the politically active homosexual groups deny the possibility of change, all studies from Schrenck-Noltzing on have found positive effects…The misinformation spread by certain circles that “homosexuality is untreatable by psychotherapy does incalculable harm to thousands of men and women.”
Van den Aardweg also reports on the powerful role of religious experience in enabling the change from homosexual orientation: “It would be unscientific to neglect these empirical facts. The religious experience seems to trigger ‘inner resources’ willpower, insight and positive emotions: they make the person really fight and afford him the necessary motivational strength to continue.”
Just because teens have certain feelings doesn’t mean that they were ‘born gay’ and that it’s finally ‘surfacing.’ Dr. J.W. McCormick, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto, states that “Some attraction to the same sex in the form of crushes and infatuation is normal for early adolescence and should not be confused with adult homosexuality…Too much talk of [adult] homosexuality and too little of the homosexual phase of early adolescence will arrest out youth in their normal development.”
Kinsey’s claims that “37 per cent of North American men are homosexual” was inflated with transient, adolescent and incidental prison experiences and was based on white, middle-class males.
Giese studied 2,835 male and 831 females college students in Germany and found that 19 per cent of the men and 4 per cent of the women reported overt homosexual experiences but most of these may have been adolescent experiences between the ages of 12 and 18. Within the previous 12 months, only 3 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women had a homosexual contact.
Lesbians are one-third to one-half as common in the population as homosexual males. If we count only adult homosexuality and do not include situational homosexuality (such as occurs in prisons after which most people revert to heterosexuality), adult homosexuality is 6 per cent to 7 per cent of the male, and 3 per cent of the female population.
Need for parenting
Dr. Elizabeth Moberly, an English research psychologist, maintains that “the homosexual love-need is essentially a need for parenting…The essential factor in all cases is the needs that should have been met through the parent-child attachment remain yet to be met.”
Many homosexual men have emotionally distant, absent or demeaning fathers. Some live with overbearing mothers. Other significant factors, according to Bob Davies, Executive Director of Exodus International, include peer rejection, homosexual molestation, same-sex experimentation and exposure to homosexual pornography.
Dr. Daniel Cappon observes that “Many a man has been started on his homosexual path by his own father through direct sexual activity.” Capon estimates that such contacts by fathers occurred in 10 per cent of male homosexuals as admitted by the patients.
In lesbians, a lack of bonding with the mother often leads to a feeling of isolation from her own gender. “I never felt like a girl.” There is also evidence of inadequate, negative or critical fathering. Another common factor is sexual trauma. Darlene Bogle, a San Francisco area counselor says, “At least 85 per cent of the lesbians I talk to have been victims of abuse.”
So the superficial attitude of “just accept yourself” does not address the deep, underlying causes of homosexuality. For many ‘gays’ and lesbians, sexual abuse in childhood is a disturbing factor that requires careful counseling. Family therapy may be necessary where the parent-child relationship is damaged. But too often troubled students are only referred to gay and lesbian agency counseling.
A grade nine student picked up a sexually-explicit brochure (entitled, “I think I might be a lesbian…now what do I do?”) distributed at her Kingston area school. The student and her mother were devastated. The girl was already in therapy after suffering child abuse.
Sexual Orientation: A Resource Guide for Teachers, prepared by the Toronto Board of Education for senior grades, discourages and even ridicules therapy. It gives homosexuals no hope. It teaches that homosexuality is rigid, unchangeable and therefore, untreatable. Students are to play roles that some will find morally offensive. In one lesson students are to imagine, in ‘guided fantasy’ a positive self-disclosure as a gay or lesbian.
Dr. Ron Langervin, Senior Research Psychologist at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, was an advisor on the Toronto curriculum. He claims that, “Erotic preferences are not changeable. The preferences emerge at puberty and are fixed by the time a person reaches adolescence, and remain for life…There are no mental health differences between homosexual and heterosexual man.”
Yet the National Lesbian-Gay Health Foundation in the U.S. revealed that alcohol and drug abuse problems are three times more prevalent among homosexuals than heterosexuals. Bell and Weinberg in Homosexuality’s (1978), show homosexual men are six times more likely to have attempted suicide than are heterosexual men.
“Sexually healthy” is the new buzz term in sex education circles but it doesn’t mean free from sexually transmitted diseases; it means accepting all types of sexual expression as normal as long as they are ‘non-abusive.’
Here is the reply the youth struggling with homosexuality deserves:
“Contact Exodus, New Direction, Courage or Homosexuals Anonymous. They will refer you to a qualified therapist and will provide a support group of friends. They’ve been where you’re at. You’re a good candidate because you’re motivated. It won’t be easy but it will be possible. You won’t be the first or the last to come out of the gay world.”