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Ex-Gay "Therapy"?

Posted on June 20, 2010 at 1:50 PM

The 150,000 member American Psychological Association (APA) has long opposed the idea that one's sexual orientation can be changed by any means, including therapy. Homosexuality was removed from the official list of mental disorders by the APA more than 40 years ago.


In August 2009, the APA's governing council voted 125 to 4 to approve a resolution putting itself firmly on record as opposing any so-called "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapies purporting to "correct" homosexuality.  The council issued a comprehensive report built on two years of research on the subject that reviewd 83 studies on sexual orientation change done since 1963. They found no evidence that any of the so-called therapies worked as claimed. In fact, they said that strong evidence exists that such attempts often result in depression and suicidal tendencies.


It's informative that the founder of Exodus International, the largest ex-gay therapy proponent in the US, himself gay, eventually quit the organization along with a number of the organization's leaders. He publicly admitted that the therapy is a sham and has no postive effect, and went on to apologize to all those the organization had attempted to treat. Some "ex-gay" groups now admit they cannot change sexual orientation - only help you to live as heterosexual. Some people seem able to do this with some success, but for others it's too much of a stretch.


So, if you are gay and religious, what are you to do? Your church is telling you that you can't be gay and a church member. It's a choice between staying deep in the closet, or coming out and rejecting your religion. For the deeply religious that's not much of a choice.


The APA recommends that its members counsel patients to consider several options and to be creative in meeting a patient's needs. Some suggestions include:

1. Acknowledge your homsexuality but remain celibate (many churches will accept this)

2. Find another, more accepting church (many exist)

3. Leave the church, but be religious in your own way


Mental health professionals who suggest that change is possible should be avoided since such advice runs counter to all accepted research and the positions and professional standards of every major mental health association. Mainstream professionals will play a supportive role and look for ways to help gays to adjust to and accept their orientation without attempting to change it.

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