Psychologist Douglas Haldeman says early treatments of the 1960s and 70s included:
Aversion therapy, such as shocking patients on the hands and/or genitals, or giving them nausea-inducing drugs while showing them same-sex erotica. In electroconvulsive therapy an electric shock was used to induce a seizure, with side effects such as memory loss.
Reparative therapy tells gay men to behave in ways that limit a full life, cutting off the feminine side that all of us possess. For instance, avoid art museums, opera, symphonies… and women, except for romantic purposes.
A group called Jonah has used techniques like having gay men strip naked in front of a counselor or having them beat up mother effigies. Now they’re facing a lawsuit for emotional damage and deceptive practices. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Co-founder, Arthur Goldberg once went to prison for financial fraud, and neither he nor “counselor” and co-founding partner, Alan Downing, are licensed therapists.
Former client, Michael Ferguson is now 30 and working toward a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Utah. He came to Jonah because his Mormon faith taught him that heterosexual marriage was a prerequisite for exaltation. When Jonah didn’t work, his counselors blamed him instead of their program, all of which lead to depression. He now says,
It becomes fraudulent, even cruel to say that if you really want to change you could — that’s an awful thing to tell somebody.
In “therapy” he was also required to beat an effigy of his mother, as his councilors claimed that homosexuality arises when “normal masculine development” is repressed by “distant fathers” and “overbearing mothers.”
I was encouraged to develop anger and rage toward my parents. The notion that your parents caused this is a horrible lie. They ask you to blame your mother for being loving and wonderful.
Another client, Chaim Levin, 23, was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community where being gay was “unthinkable,” he said.
Chaim attended $650 weekend retreats for a year and a half. He finally quit when his counselor told him to remove his clothes and touch himself so that he could, “reconnect with his masculinity.” (One wonders if his coach is a closeted gay homophobe getting his kicks.) Mr. Levin felt degraded, humiliated, and still gay.
The American Psychiatric Association says this “therapy” can cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” while reinforcing “self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” That’s just what happened to Michael and Chaim.
Thousands of men have spent heaps of money seeking to please God or family, but without results. The only thing gay “conversion therapy” demonstrates is that sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice.
The young men seek to avoid evil, yet a “therapy” that resembles gay bashing can only be called evil. Being gay is not.
With apologies to Glinda, I only changed one word to make a point. I’m sure she won’t mind because she’s an ally who supports equality and justice for all, gay, straight, or otherwise.
Whereas Glinda had asked the little Munchkins to come out of hiding, I ask that all future LGBT folk come out, too. Not from hiding in the bushes like the Munchkins were, but hiding from their true selves — or even from themselves.
Today more non-LGBT allies are championing us and lighting the way (thank you Lady Gaga) and we have more opportunity to express ourselves than in other times and places.
Which reminds me, a while back the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was asked how gay people in his country were treated. His response? “There are no gay people in Iran.” To which I retorted (yelling at the TV), “Yeah, as soon as they come out, they’ll either be arrested or killed!”
In the good ol’ U.S. gays are not threatened with execution, but we may be bashed, bullied and lashed with barbed tongues yelling “Faggot!” The original meaning of faggot was a stick of tinder used to light a fire, which conjures images of kindling for a good witch burning. (The term may actually have come from old women who were once called faggots from their job of gathering wood which later translated, oh so graciously, to the effeminate stereotype of gay men.)
Funny how old, fearful sensibilities hold on. We are still fighting to break “codes” and “ranking” systems along with the notion that sex is only for procreation and not something to be shared and enjoyed… or even discussed.
If people are taught to fear gays (or ethnic minorities or anyone else) they will most likely hate. Period.
No wonder so many still fear coming out of the closet.
But even if we don’t come out we will still be harmed. Psychologist, Carl Rogers, tells us that the further our real self strays from our ideal self the more anxiety we will feel. This gap also lowers self-esteem and inspires jealousy of those who lead authentic lives. No wonder closeted gays are so often huge homophobes. That gap between real and ideal may then lead to aggression or even violence against ourselves or others. And who wants that?
Staying in the closet keeps us shameful and keeps us feeling we have something to hide.
By bringing our ideals closer to reality we can become more content and happier from living in a state of harmony.
And so I say to one and all, come out into the clear light of day and be proud of who you are.
This was written by one of my students, who gave permission to post it.
October is LGBT Month.
Random Moms across America think they know: My son has got to be gay. He wears khakis today but wore a dress to school from age 4 to 6; he used to do ballet and still doesn’t like sports; in preschool he was all about playing princess but now is all about Pokemon; and, in spite of the clear gender divisions in third grade, he plays with both girls and boys. I mean, what straight boy is into that kinda freaky gender mash-up?
This mom knows better, and she goes on to remark that, actually, butch boys can grow up to be gay, and fem boys can grow up to be straight.
Interestingly, few moms worry that their little tomboys will grow up to be lesbians.
But this mom gets LOADS of advice on how to turn her son “boyish.” Take away the girly toys and clothes, and enroll him in sports!
So much worry about girly boys.
Yet what we think of as “girl stuff” turns out to be “boy stuff” in other times and places.
Boys shouldn’t wear pink? Years ago the country staged a great debate on whether pink or blue should designate girls or boys. Some advocated pink for boys – such a robust color! Blue is so dainty.
The Cabbage Patch craze of the last generation led a lot of boys to want dolls. One of my little boy cousins got one for Christmas. Today most people would call him a manly man, complete with wife and baby. (And G.I. Joe is a doll, too.)
Ancient Roman men wore skirts, though the one on the left is armored! (A likely relief to some macho men out there.) Other Roman men wore dresses (robes).
And we mustn’t forget men in tights, circa “Romeo and Juliet.”
Moving on to the court of the “Sun King,” Louis XIV, we find him wearing lots of lace, ruffles, curls, and color. And gracefully posed!
The American founding fathers had considerably less glitz, but they still wore more color, lace, ruffles, and curls than most men today would be caught dead in. They also hired instructors to help present a more graceful appearance. One of my male students asked, “Ok, but what did the manly men wear?” This is what they wore!
In more modern times, Scottish men can still be partial to skirts, though they call them kilts. Below are traditional and more recent versions of the garment.
Judges, priests, and scholars also continue to wear “dresses” today.
Perhaps the most surprising expressions of manhood come from a culture entirely different from our own: the Wodaabe of Nigeria in Africa. There, men adorn themselves with makeup and jewelry. Because white eyes and teeth are part of the beauty ideal for men, they often roll their eyes and show their teeth to show off these features.
In our own time and place there’s Rod Stewart, who seems to be strongly hetero by all accounts. But check out these shots:
© Chris Walter
There’s a difference between sex and gender. Sex is biologically-based. It’s made up of our genes (xx for girls, xy for boys), hormones (testosterone, estrogen), anatomy (vagina, penis, breasts, etc.). But gender is all made up. Or what cultures make up to mark biological differences.
If clothing, makeup, jewelry and toys aren’t naturally “boy” or “girl” things, how can doing “boy” or “girl” things mark sexual orientation?