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Exodus and Richard Cohen Make Peace?

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2008

It was only a year ago that Richard Cohen displayed his “holding techniques” for supposedly making gay men straight before a national audience, embarrassing everyone in the ex-gay movement. His stint on Comedy Central was the last straw for the few remaining holdouts. While NARTH and PFOX quietly scrubbed their web sites of all mention of him, Ex-Gay Watch reported that Exodus International President Alan Chambers resigned from PFOX’s board after concluding that PFOX hadn’t distanced themselves enough from Cohen. (Richard Cohen is a former PFOX’s president, and PFOX was still privately referring clients to Cohen’s practice.) Exodus also had posted a formal disclaimer on Cohen’s techniques on their web site.

Now Ex-Gay Watch has noticed that the disclaimer is gone, as are other statements denouncing Cohen’s cuddling techniques. David Roberts also noticed that several Exodus board members openly endorce Cohen’s practice and other similar methods, which led him to asked directly: Does Exodus approve of Cohen or not?

While XGW is still waiting to hear from Exodus, Cohen’s people have already provided an answer:

Richard explained more about his work and his position and methods to Exodus and they all made peace.

Richard Cohen's technique

If  NARTH and PFOX have already forgiven and forgotten his lunacy — can Exodus be far behind? They’ve already gotten past their embarrassment over James Phelan’s boorish behavior. If they can welcome Cohen back, then it will be loud-and-clear confirmation that Exodus is far more worried about public embarrassment than therapeutically appropriate behavior. And that should be cause for everyone to worry.



Timothy Kincaid
July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

Birds of a feather…

July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

This brings up, yet again, the haphazard nature of “ex-gay therapy.” Unlike any other field of clinical or psychological medicine, there are no standards, no comparative analyses of different treatment techniques, not attempt to standardize the field using what actually works. Instead, we have loosely organized groups of “ministries” or “treatment centers” with widely varying methods and measures of “success.”

What rationale, other than sheer embarassment, could NARTH of Exodus refuse Cohen membership? He could not have violated their code of professional ethics – as far as I know, they have none. He could not have violated the clinical practice guidelines of NARTH, because again they have none. Basically, anyone who wants to hang a shingle and offer “ex-gay therapy,” no matter how bizarre their methods, can do so. The only thing that changed with Cohen was the public guffaws that accompanied his “therapeutic” demonstrations.

devlin bach
July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

The picture looks like any normal date after a movie. With hypocrisy afoot in full bloom, we can only know what Cohen goes ‘on record’ to say.

It’s diffcult to trust those of forked tongue and belief.

But I must hand it to him. If he ever authenticates himself, he’s got a great pickup line… ‘now just lay in my arms and think of me as your daddy.’

quo III
July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

devlin bach,

the picture looks like one man comforting another man. It doesn’t look sexual or erotic, as you seem to be suggesting. It may be totally inappropriate as a therapeutic technique, but there is no need to see things in it that aren’t there.

Jim Burroway
July 2nd, 2008 | LINK


If you saw a man holding a woman who had climbed onto a couch to be in his lap like that, would you interpret it as merely “one man comforting a woman”? Or would you see it differently?

Given that we’re talking about same-sex attraction, surely you can see how it looks like something considerably more than mere comforting

July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

The “Daily Show” guy should have mentioned whether he felt anything poking him while he was in Cohen’s lap. Cinnamon! Cinnamon!

Anyway, I usually prefer “Colbert Report” person, but that was one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen.

Jason D
July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

“the picture looks like one man comforting another man. It doesn’t look sexual or erotic, as you seem to be suggesting. It may be totally inappropriate as a therapeutic technique, but there is no need to see things in it that aren’t there.”

See, I didn’t get that devlin was suggesting that it was sexual or erotic.

But is this typical in the way we expect to see two straight men behaving? Allegedly, we gays just don’t know how to behave “like men” this particular activity doesn’t look very “manly” in the stereotypical macho definition.

“Cuddling” is what it is. Cuddling does not necessarily = erotic and sexual. However, the only unrelated grown men I’ve ever seen cuddle are two gay men in some sort of romantic/intimate relationship. If there’s something wrong with being gay, and if you want someone to become straight, behaving like a couple (as opposed to buddies or coworkers) is a really poor choice.

I’ll just say what everyone is thinking: This is Cohen’s way of gettin’ in a little g-rated gay action under the guise of therapy. It’s absolutely inappropriate, and I’m sure confuses the patient. Someone else might say this is borderline emotional abuse. It somewhat suggests that the “right” way to be gay is to pretend you’re doing something else while you’re cuddling with your “buddy” –thereby encouraging self-deception, rather than actual progress.

Emily K
July 2nd, 2008 | LINK

“thereby encouraging self-deception, rather than actual progress.”

LOL, same difference in the ex-gay world. ¬_¬

Wayne Besen
July 3rd, 2008 | LINK

PFOX never really dumped Cohen. As a test, I pretended I was a right winger and wanted an ex-gay speaker for my Maryland business. Guess where they referred me? To Richard Cohen.

I would not doubt if he is still running the show from behind the scenes. The fact is, all these groups loves Cohen and knew exactly what he was about. They only freaked out when the rest of America saw what he was doing behind closed doors at right wing conferences.

quo III
July 3rd, 2008 | LINK

Jason D,

You wrote, ‘This is Cohen’s way of gettin’ in a little g-rated gay action under the guise of therapy.’

I wonder how you could possibly know this? The expression ‘the guise of therapy’ seems to imply that Cohen isn’t really serious about trying to help men overcome homosexuality. I see no reason to question Cohen’s sincerity.

Jason D
July 4th, 2008 | LINK

quo III,
I have no idea why you would be interested in defending a man like Cohen, but if you’re going to do so, you need to defend based on what is said, not on what you decided to layer into what I write.

July 4th, 2008 | LINK

quo III,

I know that it’s off topic, and I know that I’ll be accused of frivolity, but my curiosity is just burning to be satisfied. Why do you call yourself by that name? In the Italian version of Donald Duck, Donald is known as Paperino, and his three nephews are called Qui, Quo and Qua. Are you naming yourself after one of them?

quo III
July 4th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D,

As you ask, I’m defending Cohen because I’m a self-hating gay man who wants to become heterosexual. I don’t necessarily agree with Cohen in all respects, but I think there is a lot of truth to his theories about homosexuality, and I don’t like seeing him attacked in this way.

July 6th, 2008 | LINK

quo III,

If you really are serious when you say that you’re a self-hating gay man who wants to become heterosexual, then that’s certainly not an enviable situation to be in, but it explains why you so often seem ready to defend unverifiable and unfalsifiable (i.e. unscientific) theories which seek to “blame” someone or something for homosexuality. (I’ve never yet heard anyone wondering who or what is to blame for heterosexuality.)

I’ve referred before (over at Ex-Gay Watch) to Philippa Pearce’s children’s novel, “A Dog So Small”, about a young London boy who longs for a dog but can’t have one for various reasons. Towards the end of the story, circumstances have changed and Ben is able at last to have a real, live, flesh and blood dog. But the dog that he’s able to have doesn’t measure up to the imaginary super-dog that he’s been fantasising about in the meantime. He’s sitting on Hampstead Heath fretting about this as the evening draws on and it’s getting darker and darker, and he nearly drives away the real dog that he’s been given. (I read the book many years ago when I was a boy myself, so I can’t guarantee that the following quotation is absolutely verbatim.)

“And then, when Ben could barely see at all, he suddenly saw clearly. He saw that you couldn’t have impossible things no matter how much you wanted them, and that if you didn’t have the possible things then you just had nothing.”

Even if it’s not absolutely impossible for you to become heterosexual, it’s so improbable as to be as near impossible as makes no difference. Perhaps you would do well to rid yourself of the idea that homosexuality is a negative trait and that you would necessarily be better off if you were heterosexual.

How you do that, of course, is another matter: you can hardly reason yourself out of an attitude that you didn’t arrive at by reason. I recommend what psychologist George Weinberg called “the action approach”. Look at your life; identify all the things that you do, however small, which are based on the premise that homosexuality is “bad”, “wrong”, “sick” or “inferior”, and stop doing them for ever. Conversely, are there any things that, on the same premise, you are refraining from doing but which you know that you would do if you thought that being gay was absolutely fine? However difficult it may be, start doing them. As a gay man who once had trouble accepting his sexuality, I can testify to the efficacy of this approach.

Ben in Oakland
July 7th, 2008 | LINK

“I’m defending Cohen because I’m a self-hating gay man who wants to become heterosexual.”

I can’t even begin to guess whether you are being honest or ironic. Assuming the former…

… Well, there’s a lot I could say.

Hating oneself is betraying oneself. If you do not love yourself, can you love anyone else? can anyone else love you?

Read a book on basic psychology. Positive self-esteem is the basis of good mental health. Low self-esteem is the basis of poor mental health. Self-hatred is a step down in the self-esteem scale, and only produces in yourself what hate produces in other people, especially, as the history of the world shows, if they have the power to enforce their hatred on the objects of their hatred. And you do.

Do you think you’ll actually stop hating yourself if you become heterosexual? your self-hatred is the problem, not your sexuality.

since, as so many Christians seem to claim, homosexuality is a choice, why is it that you are not choosing something different? with G and acceptance on your side, what is stopping you?

Maybe there is actually nothing wrong with you, so you can’t actually choose to not have anything wrong with you. Maybe the something wrong with you is actually the only thing that is right with you, but you’ve been very carefullyl taught to reject the best of yourself, and choose the worst of yourself, which is why you can say cheerfully that you are a self hating gay man…and not be shocked at the aburdity of hating yourself not for what you have done, but for who you are.

As Christians are so wont to say, with all the irony and falsehood, I’m sure, unintentional… love the sinner, hate the sin. can you not be a good Christian in this sense?

(music la-la-da-di-da) “You must be carefully taught…to hate all the people your relatives hate” … You’ve been taught well, and you’re doing the haters work for them.

that you can give credence to someone like Cohen muist give you a clue to how carefefully you’ve been taught. the man is neither healer nor scientist. He is clearlyj ust workingo ut his issues, and managing to earn a living at the same time. That’s why most people become therapists– they have issues to work out in therapy.

July 8th, 2008 | LINK

Incidentally, did Richard Cohen’s stupendous pillow-beating therapy actually start with Cohen anyway, or does it go further back?

Around the beginning of the 1980s some “therapist” wrote a book on the “treatment” of homosexuality which I have never bought or read (having much better uses for my money and time) but which was reviewed in the British paper Gay News (now defunct). I can’t now remember the title or the author but I do remember that Gay News related how the author, having managed to persuade a client that his mother was responsible for his “affliction”, would present the client with a pillow, tell him to regard the pillow as a “stand-in” for his mother, and invite him to give it a bloody good thrashing. This surely can’t have been Richard Cohen back then, can it?

It has been said that whereas gay male violinists are rare, gay male pianists are plentiful, and I think that this is probably true, although I don’t know of any scientific survey on the matter. The pillock referred to above had the theory that this was because the percussive action of striking the piano keys was the male homosexual’s way of subconsciously beating up his mother in retaliation for the damage that she had supposedly inflicted on him. (This ludicrous theory is upset by the fact that gay male organists are also two a penny, and that the touch of the fingers required to play the organ keys is quite different: it isn’t at all percussive or the slightest bit violent.)

Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Ben in Oakland
July 10th, 2008 | LINK

And we haven’t heard from quo for 3 days. i wonder why?

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