Gay Bashing with “Therapy”

mmw-reparative-therapy[1]Gay “conversion therapy” claims men can overcome same-sex attraction by way of simple torture techniques.

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.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 30, 2012, in feminism, LGBTQ+, men, psychology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Paola Melissa Merino

    It is horrible how we can live in a society that even allowed those types of programs to exist. To publicly humiliate someone by making them get naked and touching themselves is not going to make them less gay, but hate their bodies and ruin their self image.I am happy to hear that both those men are being prosecuted, who are they to give advice like that not even being actual therapist. I do understand that some people due to religion and family actually seek these programs, but the thought of that to me is unreal. Religious or not you should love your child whether they are straight,gay, or bisexual. We have to able to separate ourselves from religion for a moment and just look at our children as what they are, our children. So instead of condemning them to hell if they do not change, maybe they should make programs to help them through the difficult time of figuring out ones sexual orientation.

  2. Soooo cruel for people to do this to homosexuals, making them feel embarrased by doing cwrtain things that is too far…. If people cant accept same-sex ppl then js leave them alone’ its not your life they’re living. And just because you don’t approve does not mean you have to treat them like they’re not human beings.

  3. Frankly it is shocking to me to observe such hateful attitudes in our society towards people who are simply trying to exercise their freedom to live life in the pursuit of their own happiness. I firmly believe that government should not interfere with or punish people’s choices, with the obvious exceptions of certain violent criminal offenses, etc. I sincerely hope that gay marriage is legalized once and for all in a country that has historically made great strides in recognizing the civil liberties of its people. It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court ruling turns out, in regards to the state and federal statutes being challenged. To highlight one of the issues, same-sex couples are prohibited from receiving certain benefits from the federal government under the Defense Against Marriage Act, which heterosexual couples are fully entitled access to. Equal protection of the law should recognize all groups of people. People should be allowed to peacefully form whatever union they wish and continue to be treated as the same class of citizens. It is time to end this unconstitutional and hurtful oppression.

  4. Very powerful post and how awful the way Gay men are treated in this society. As a straight male, I lay the blame on men in a way. A lot of heterosexual men are homophobic and hate gay men. Many Conservative Christian men and women think gays are gone to hell. How hypocritical for a religion based on the teachings of Jesus who taught to love all people.

    However, there are a lot of heterosexual men that are now rethinking their relationship to our gay brothers. It begins and ends with heterosexual men changing their attitudes and being less homophobic .I have gay friends and do not feel “threatened” by them. Interestingly, there are now more hetero males that are becoming friends with gay males. Here is a good article

    I am curious to know( although this is a whole other topic) how hetero women feel about straight men and gay men as friends. If their boyfriend/husband had a close gay male buddy, how do they feel about it.?Does this in any way threaten or scare women?

    Great article and we definitely as a society need to reassess our attitudes towards homosexuals. These therapies for gay men seem cruel and barbaric.

  5. This just makes me so mad! I am ashamed of some Christian. They obviously do not understand what the faith is about. I wish more people would stand up for what is right. Grrrr Great post!

  6. Your blog is chock-full of information! Can’t believe it has taken me so long to visit. (Met you at Sundial Bridge!)

  7. There was a really interesting documentary by Stacey Dooley investigating weekend retreats and therapy’s still going on in the US… they tended to call it “same-sex attraction” and treat it like it was a disease :/ It was very sad to see that people still want things like this.

  8. Horrible, horrible stuff 😦 I know it’s not particularly related to orientation but they administer similar aversive “therapies” to autistic and special needs kids in places like the Judge Rotenberg Centre. Electric shocks, forcing bad smells and tastes on the kids, some kids have even died under their “care”.

    I don’t know how people can treat each other like that. Trying to “cure” someone of something incurable and harmless using physical and psychological torture. I dunno, it just doesn’t sound like that great an idea to me :/

    Thanks for sharing!


  9. Reading things like this sadden me. I don’t understand why people can’t accept others for who they are instead of trying to change them to fit “social norms”. I am lucky enough to have grown up in an open minded household where we are accepted for who we are. I believe that conversion therapy does nothing but harm the people they are trying to change because they are constantly being told being gay is wrong.

  10. God made all things, including gay things. If gay is wrong, god is wrong. If you want ‘a perfect god’, but no ‘gay’, you can’t have it. Shut up!!

  11. These stories always sadden and sicken me. It’s awful we can’t accept the richness of human life in all its variety.

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