If you want to know why the “ex-gay” industry is gradually losing its appeal, all one has to do is look to Hong Kong, which hired quack therapist Hong Kwai-wah to cure gay people by urging them to take cold showers when aroused.
Equally ridiculous is the Pentecostal preacher Damon Thompson who casts demons out of gay and lesbian youth. According to Ex-Gay Watch, Thompson leads The Ramp ministry in Hamilton, Alabama and “employs every trick in the spiritual abuse playbook to coax his young congregation into outing themselves as gay and then stepping forward to be exorcised of their demons.”
One of the more peculiar theories emotively shouted at this anti-gay revival, is that people become gay after getting attacked by bullies. Because these individuals are made to feel bad for feeling different, they falsely perceive themselves to be gay, which opens the door to allowing gay demons to infest their bodies.
This weekend, the New York Times Magazine featured “ex-gay” Michael Glatze, who transformed himself from gay activist to “Christian” anti-gay activist following a health scare. His first step to becoming heterosexual was writing on his computer screen at the gay rights group he worked for: “I am straight. Homosexuality = death. I choose life.” This was an odd assertion, because Glatze was very much alive and up until his meltdown, he appeared quite happy to those who knew him.
Glatze fits the quintessential profile of a chameleon-like lost soul who tries on new identities like normal people try on new shoes. As a gay activist, Glatze proclaimed that, “Christian fundamentalists should burn in hell.”
Now, as a fundamentalist, heterosexual cowboy going to Bible school in Wyoming, Glatze says that, “Homosexuality is a cage” in which gay people are “trapped.” Prior to his big conversion, the amorphous Glatze had a stint as a Mormon and then went to a Buddhist retreat, only to get expelled for speaking too loudly during meditation.
Glatze’s tale is reminiscent of Richard Cohen, the founder of the “ex-gay” International Healing Foundation. Cohen began life as a Jewish man, converted to mainstream Christianity in college, after graduation got sucked into becoming a Moonie, then he joined an island cult that practiced naked church therapy, next he morphed into a fundamentalist Christian who cheated on his wife with a man in New York City, and finally settled (for now) into his latest incarnation as an outspoken fundamentalist “anti-gay” activist. A few brainwashed people might call the journeys’ of Glatze and Cohen “ex-gay”, while the rest simply call their path unstable.
Aside from the odd personalities that end up as spokespeople, the little science that buttressed the claims of success by the “ex-gay” industry have recently unraveled.
For example, anti-gay organizations gleefully pointed for decades to Masters & Johnson’s 1979 book, “Homosexuality in Perspective”, that claimed that homosexuality could be cured. Indeed, Dr. William H. Masters and Virgina E. Johnson, the husband and wife sex research team, went on Meet the Press on Sunday, April 22, 1979, to discuss their findings that claimed that they had converted homosexuals into heterosexuals.
However, in his groundbreaking book, “Masters of Sex”, author Thomas Maier discovered through investigative reporting that the results of Masters & Johnson’s study were entirely fabricated. Virginia Johnson even acknowledged that the results were fake.
Equally significant were the findings this month by researcher Jim Burroway and CNN’s AC 360 that undermined one of the most significant ex-gay” studies. Prior to getting caught with an escort from RentBoy.com, Dr. George Rekers was the “ex-gay” industry’s most prominent therapist. Even after this tawdry scandal, Rekers research citing the alleged sexual conversion of a boy named “Kraig” was still widely cited by “ex-gay” therapists. Burroway and CNN discovered, however, that “Kraig” had grown up to be a gay man and his family alleged the therapy with Rekers may have led to his suicide.
Perhaps, the evidence has become so overwhelming that it has caused even stalwart homophobes to back off their assertion that homosexuality is a choice.
“We’ve (Southern Baptists) lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as homophobia. We’ve used the choice language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice,” said Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary last week in Phoenix.
Of course, denial of the crumbling “ex-gay” myth is very difficult to erase overnight, with Mohler adding, “Only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.”
I agree that only the supernatural could alter such a natural part of a person’s being as their sexual orientation. The next logical step for religious zealots is to finally acknowledge that their inane prayers for sexual conversion seem to only work for the insane like Michael Glatze or Richard Cohen.
It’s time for the discredited “ex-gay” myth to simply go away and be rightfully viewed as an experiment that was tried and failed.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”