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People with unwanted same-sex attractions should be allowed to live according to their values

Timothy Kincaid

July 18th, 2011

One of the claims that ex-gay organizations and reorientation counselors indignantly demand is that people with unwanted same-sex attractions should be free to try to live the life they want. And they deserve counselors to help them. They should not be forced to be “gay”.

And we agree.

If someone wants to form a life that appears heterosexual, as long as they are being completely honest with themself and their spouse, then we have no problem. If they want celibacy, that’s fine too. We may have doubts about how wise or ultimately realistic these goals are, but we never oppose freedom of choice.

In our criticism of ex-gay groups, counselors, political activists, slogans, claims and methods, we never seek to limit the rights of the individual. What we do demand is that the individual is told the truth and not fed a false hope or a distorted message (as happened at the Bachmann clinic). Much of the harm done in reorientation therapy is the result of unrealistic expectations and the perversion of faith.

It’s funny. While the groups and counselors claim to be defending the individuals, it is the gay community that is really trying to protect them. Because while they may be unhappy with their attractions and may today want nothing to do with the gay community, they still are ours and we care about them.

Comments

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Scott L.
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

I just curious, who is the “we” you’re referring to, Timothy?

I’m perfectly happy with them living however they want, so long as they stop distorting the truth.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Scott

Well, then, as you and I agree the “we” starts with us. But I think that most gay people share our views. I think that it’s pretty universally true that gays are ok with ex-gay people living however they want as long as no one is distorting the truth.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

I think its a bit more complicated than that. I’m all for people doing whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt others, but when they’re pretending to change because religion tells them gayness is bad it is the religion that is the problem, not the gayness and we should be encouraging them to change the religious beliefs, not the gayness.

Its no different than a black person trying to be white by bleaching their skin, dying their hair and having cosmetic surgery to avoid the affects of racism – I’m not okay with that. If the individual insists, I support their right to do it, but I’m certainly not okay with people being made to feel they should change when there is nothing wrong with they way they are in the first place.

mikenola
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

your article begs the question why is their gayness unwanted?

society, these pseudo-shrinks, and religions have forever said that gay is bad, so exactly how do you distill the real desire of a human to want to “spontaneously” desire not to be gay, and the fear of being different instilled by being around hateful people who most likely (they feel) will disown, castigate, or abuse them?

in a perfect world, where every one was raised and treated equally that is a possible scenario. However in our world there is no way to separate the drilled in social stigmatization with the reality of the personality.

Bruce Garrett
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

This.

It’s very similar to the rhetoric the right used to use (and still does) against anti-war protesters back in the Nixon years. They would reliably turn any opposition to the Vietnam war into attacks on the soldiers fighting it.

This is what’s going on here and it is grotesque. You cannot claim to be defending the rights of people you are lying through your teeth at and using as political tools. If the ex-gay industry wants to plausibly fashion itself as a defender of the people they are taking money from, the very least they can do is stop lying to them and using them as pawns in a culture war.

Jim Burroway
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Obviously this discussion touches on a lot of issues. For me, it’s the question of where the “unwanted” same-sex attractions come from, which is a VERY different question from where does same sex attractions come from.

But on a very basic question of whether ex-gays have a right to live as they wish, and to seek whatever support they want in tryig to pursue that wish, I agree completely with Timothy. And I also agree with Timothy that our arguement (speaking now for the two of us; the rest of you ca chime in on one side or another) with the ex-gay movement is that everyone also has as its fundamental right the right to informed consent. And the only way to ensure informed consent is to stop the lying adn distortion and the hijacking of science to pursue a culture war on the backs of your own clients who you are deceiving.

If ex-gay clients are truly informed of the prospect for change — along with realistic definitions for what change means — and the difficulties that they will face and the added burdens that they will place on any spouses they choose to drag into their lives, and want to pursue their chosen lifestyle anyway, then more power to them. Just don’t preted that the rest of the world has to follow in your footsteps. And in return, I won’t (and haven’t) insist that the whole world follows mine.

Julian Morrison
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

The people that need defending against this sort of thing are children, particularly teens who come out while still legally under their parents thumb and end up forced into abusive “therapy”.

Bruce Garrett
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

But on a very basic question of whether ex-gays have a right to live as they wish, and to seek whatever support they want in tryig to pursue that wish, I agree completely with Timothy.

And I agree completely with both of you. I want us all to be living in a country where we are, each of us, free to pursue happiness as best as we can figure out what that happiness is.

But I also agree with Julian. It’s a different matter when it comes to gay teens. They need protection from being forced into it, and “force” can be an all too slippery concept here.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Doing it for religious “values” is just another form of coercion – its being psychologically forced. Would we say we have no problem with people living according to their religious values if it was black people being taught they’d be eternally tortured if they don’t bleach their skin white?

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

It makes little reason why an adult person would want to rid themselves of same-sex attractions. Although it may seem unfathomable that anyone would possibly make different choices than what I have, in my infinite wisdom, made without being forced or coerced, I still have to recognize that what a person values is their own determination.

Even if I really really really don’t like what they believe, choose, value or hope for.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Would we say we have no problem with people living according to their religious values if it was black people being taught they’d be eternally tortured if they don’t bleach their skin white?

Yes. I have no problem with people living according to their religious values. I think that many religious values are stupid. I know for a fact that some are harmful.

But I will defend the right of a adult person to believe whatever they like, religious or otherwise.

Even if they believe that we they should bleach their skin. Even if they believe that gay people are a part of Satan. Even if they believe that we can continue year after year to have budgets in which spending exceeds revenue. Even if they believe that God forbids blood transfusions. Even if they believe that America is inherently exceptional. Even if they believe that there is no God. Even if they believe that there is no god but Allah. Even if they believe that everything I write should be scrutinized for some way to disagree. Even if they believe that Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. And even if they believe that you should love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s a freedom more basic than even the freedom of speech – it’s the freedom of thought.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Yes. I have no problem with people living according to their religious values. I think that many religious values are stupid. I know for a fact that some are harmful….It’s a freedom more basic than even the freedom of speech – it’s the freedom of thought.”.

So, if people are coerced into harming themselves by lies you have no problem with that? I most certainly do. My problem is not with the people who harm themselves because they believe the lies, my problem is with the tellers of lies. You may be content to look the other way when it comes to this travesty of justice, but I never will and will never think much of those who do. You may not be willing to discourage people from hurting themselves because of religious lies, but I always will be.
You may think religious beliefs deserve special privilege and respect over other beliefs but I certainly never will and if we are to have the best possible world no one else will either.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “I still have to recognize that what a person values is their own determination.”.

When a person tries to change their orientation for religious reasons they aren’t using their own determination, they’re using the determination of ancient primitive bronze age barbarians.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

And Timothy, if you think I made these comments because I “believe that everything [you] write should be scrutinized for some way to disagree.” rather than because I’m sincere you’re sadly mistaken but I suspect you knew that when you wrote that line.

William
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

There are two questions here which, though related, are nonetheless completely separate. They are:

(1) Do people have the RIGHT to change from gay to straight? Yes, they certainly have IF THEY WANT TO, but their right to change isn’t really of much use unless they CAN change. So –

(2) CAN they? To which the answer has to be, broadly speaking, no. All right, some people’s sexual orientation does apparently change of its own accord; this happens more often to women, very seldom to men. But there is no known means of MAKING it happen.

Ex-gay activists repeatedly attempt to conflate (1) and (2) – often, I think, as a dishonest way of distracting attention from the facts. For example, during a television debate, as it was becoming clearer by the minute that ex-gay programs are useless, that pillock Arthur Abba Goldberg, who was in the audience, furiously tried to de-rail the discussion by interrupting, bellowing aggressively: “People have the right to change!”

I would add two further questions:

(3) Do those who would like to change their sexual orientation have the RIGHT TO KNOW that their chances of achieving this through an ex-gay program or through reparative therapy are somewhere in the range between miniscule and zero? Yes, they have every right to this information, which doesn’t prevent them from going ahead anyway if they so choose.

(4) Does anyone have an OBLIGATION to change, or to try to change? No, definitely not; no-one has any such obligation.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “It makes little reason why an adult person would want to rid themselves of same-sex attractions.”.

You’re dead wrong there, it makes all the difference in the world. When people want to change orientations for personal reasons that’s not a problem, but when they want to do it because they’ve been brainwashed with lies that is a serious problem.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, if you have no problem with black people being lied to and convinced to bleach their skin because they’ll be eternally tortured, and no problem with gays being lied to and convinced they need to change orientations because they’ll be eternally tortured on what possible basis can you object to gays being lied to and convinced to change orientations because success is likely?

Kelly
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, the skin bleaching analogy is tired. People try to lighten AND darken their skin all the time. In fact darkening (in the sun) is even more dangerous. Do you have anything better?

The fact is, wanting an opposite sex mate and procreating kids is a very good and popular reason to not want to be gay. I know this is hard for you to believe.

kelly
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

This is definitely a refreshing post although it appears that there is some disagreement among the minions.

I just don’t see how anyone can argue that people shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions in these matters. And I still wished you wouldn’t cover yourselves with all the caveats.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

The analogy is rock solid Kell/elsa/dmitri/est/evil Becky/omar/tom. No one would want racism to make black people feel they need to change their race to be accepted, its no different with gays.

The arguement that fails is yours. No gay person needs to fake a change in orientation to have children and to do so is an unethical abuse of an opposite sex mate, unethical abuse of a gay person, and an unethical abuse of the children they might have. Every major medical and mental health organization agrees gay people are better adjusted and happier when they positively accept their gayness. Wanting children is not a valid reason why gays should experience this harm, in fact if they want children the children are better off with better adjusted and happier self-accepting gay parents.

Ultimately your “wanting children” excuse is a red herring. Virtually all gays who seek orientation change do so for religious reasons, but you don’t want to admit that because you know religious reasons are particularly invalid.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Kelly/elsa/dmitri/est/evil Becky/omar/tom said “I just don’t see how anyone can argue that people shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions in these matters”.

No one is arguing that. We all accept people making their own decisions in this matters. Trouble is virtually everyone seeking to change orientations does so for religious reasons and are therefore making decisions for reasons belonging to long dead primitive bronze age barbarians or to avoid abuse from a rejecting society.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

I do not believe that people are coerced into believing whatever they believe. Sometimes coerced into pretending to believe, certainly, but you can’t really coerce someone into thinking what you want them to think (though I’m sure I wish I could at times).

I oppose lies. But you and I would differ about what constitutes a lie, when it comes to religious teaching.

You believe that there is no diety and that religion is just nonsense. I believe that there is something greater than us and while, sadly, a lot a religion is just nonsense, some of it is not.

I find no fault with you opposing religion and religious teaching. For that matter, religions quite frequently oppose each other.

It all comes down to this: people will decide whether to believe a religion or to believe you. And you may believe that your beliefs deserve special privilege and respect over other beliefs. But they all have to convince, you have to compete on the same terms.

But we do seem to be in agreement on the point of this thread: “My problem is not with the people who harm themselves because they believe the lies…”

Exactly. We agree that people are free to live their lives based on lies or on (the rather elusive) objective discernible fact.

(now to the rest of your stuff)

Richard Rush
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Kelly (& aliases),

I just don’t see how anyone can argue that people shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions in these matters.

The thing you always conveniently omit is that those “decisions” are typically made under the duress of being preceded by a relentless crusade by sex/sin-obsessed Christians to convince gays that they must be ashamed, must pursue praying the gay away, and/or must live lonely loveless lives in order to avoid social ostracism and eternal hellfire. A decision made with a gun held to your head is not a freely made decision.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

1. Whether the values were created by “ancient primitive bronze age barbarians”, people choose whether to hold to those values. It doesn’t matter if you think they are right. It doesn’t matter what you think at all (or me). People have the right to select their own values even if they are values that you find abhorrent.

That’s what you aren’t understanding. And that’s what anti-gay activists refuse to understand. It just doesn’t matter what they think about homosexuality or what you think about religion.

Neither you nor they have the right (or the ability) to coerce others into agreeing with you.

(And you do realize, don’t you, that you appear to be making the argument that religions shouldn’t be allowed to “brainwash with lies”. As that is based on your interpretation of what is truthful and what is lies… it sound pretty fascist, if you ask me. Perhaps I am misunderstanding your objective.)

2. While I am not trying to force people to agree with me or stop people from preaching what I disagree with, I am all for disputing false facts. And in the counseling world removing licenses for those who provide false data about effective rates of protocol.

But the thing is, Priya Lynn, people (even religious people) know the difference between dogma and empirical research. They know one is base on faith and the other on observation.

They aren’t brainwashed zombies coerced to do things against their will.

Believe me, people leave churches, switch churches, and sit right there and smile while ignoring their pastor every week. They will fire a pastor, schism a denomination, and rewrite doctrine if they don’t agree with what is being preached.

That they don’t agree with you is their right. People can measure what is good and bad and not come up with the same list that you have. And every time someone disagrees with you, it isn’t because of fear of eternal torture.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Richard

The thing you always conveniently omit is that those “decisions” are typically made under the duress of being preceded by a relentless crusade by sex/sin-obsessed Christians to convince gays that they must be ashamed, must pursue praying the gay away, and/or must live lonely loveless lives in order to avoid social ostracism and eternal hellfire. A decision made with a gun held to your head is not a freely made decision.

Wow… I’m amazed at how easy it is to assume that those people are not nearly as wise as us.

Those religious people are simply incapable of ever questioning doctrine, ever thwarting social ostracism, or just outright laughing at hellfire and brimstone preaching. No, they are imbeciles. Surely they must be, because they are so brainnumb as to believe in a god. Fools, fools, we must step in and rescue them.

Come on!

No one is holding a gun to their head. People, even those religion-believing wierdos who seem to have no intellect, are pretty good at deciding what they want to believe.

If we’re talking youth forced to go, that’s one thing. But it isn’t like the ex-gay adult has never ever encountered anyone who said, “hey, maybe you should just live gay, the way you were made”. And it isn’t like they don’t know full well that there are friggin churches that teach that it’s just fine to be gay.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

All of which is not to suggest that religion and culture both not are very strong pressures. With that I do agree.

William
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Kelly, the fact is, having a loving same sex mate to whom one has a genuine sexual attraction is a very good and popular reason for being perfectly satisfied with being gay and for having absolutely no desire to have one’s natural sexuality interfered with. I know this is hard for you to believe.

Hunter
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Sidebar: I’m always amused by the “bronze age barbarians” argument for a couple of reasons.

First, those “barbarians” were the Greeks of the Classical Age, the Romans, the ancient Egyptians, the Persian Empire, the early civilizations of the Indus Valley and the Middle East, and of China and Japan.

Second, when using this argument against “values” of any sort, I think you might do well to remember that most of the real values that we espouse — cooperation, sharing, mutual protection, care for the aged and young — are not only found in the teachings of most religions, but predate any known religion by at least a million years and probably much more — they’re the basics of any anthropoid society.

And to get back on point: As far as Timothy’s post goes, I have to agree with him. Let’s turn it around a bit: religion is a choice. It’s much too common for people raised in a particular religious context to change faiths, or to abandon faith completely, to pretend that everyone is a victim of their religious upbringing. If people choose to adhere to a faith that tells them they are sinners, that’s their right. But I do agree fully that if anyone offers to change their sexual orientation, they need to be forthcoming with a realistic assessment of the risks and possible outcomes, otherwise they are charlatans and worse and have no defense, in my opinion.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Neither you nor they have the right (or the ability) to coerce others into agreeing with you.”.

I never said I had the right to coerce anyone into agreeing with me and I know you’re aware of that so don’t imply that in the future.

Timothy said “And you may believe that your beliefs deserve special privilege and respect over other beliefs.”.

You couldn’t be more off base with that. No beliefs deserve privilege or respect over other beliefs. However by what you are arguing here it is clear you believe religious beliefs deserve special privilege and respect over non-religious beliefs – you oppose people being encouraged to change orientations based on false secular beliefs, but you don’t oppose people being encouraged to change orientations based on false religious beliefs.

You say you have a problem with gays being encouraged to change orientations based on the falsehood that such changes are commonly successful, however you have no problem with gays being encouraged to changed orientations (or blacks skin colour) based on the religious falsehood that they’ll be eternally tortured if they don’t. Your principles are in contradiction with each other.

If you think its wrong to encourage people to harm themselves based on a secular falsehood it is just as wrong to encourage them to harm themselves based on a religious falsehood. Religious beliefs are not owed any privilege or respect over secular beliefs.

Timothy said “People have the right to select their own values even if they are values that you find abhorrent….you can’t really coerce someone into thinking what you want them to think”.

I never said they didn’t have a right to select their own values, please stop misrepresenting me. People are trained to believe in religion when they are children and unable to think rationally enough to weigh evidence and decide the likely truth for themselves. This is a form of coercion or brainwashing. Virtually no one comes to their religious beliefs through rationality and logic, they come to them for emotional and authoritarian reasons, so most devout believers are incapable of logically questioning doctrine – they didn’t reason their way into their beliefs and they generally can’t be reasoned out of them.

Timothy said “Wow… I’m amazed at how easy it is to assume that those people are not nearly as wise as us.

Those religious people are simply incapable of ever questioning doctrine, ever thwarting social ostracism, or just outright laughing at hellfire and brimstone preaching. No, they are imbeciles. Surely they must be, because they are so brainnumb as to believe in a god. Fools, fools, we must step in and rescue them.

Come on!

No one is holding a gun to their head.”.

When you’re brainwashed as a child into believing you’ll be eternally tortured for not being heterosexual there is a psychological gun to your head.

The thing I hate most about religion is that adults indoctrinate children into it. Leave children alone until they are adults and can decide rationally if they want to buy into religon or not.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Hunter said ” It’s much too common for people raised in a particular religious context to change faiths, or to abandon faith completely, to pretend that everyone is a victim of their religious upbringing.”.

Its certainly not common. People may change from one flavour of christianity to another, but from christianity to Islam, or from christianity to atheist – very uncommon.

I never said everyone is a victim of their religious upbringing, just that a lot of people are.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Hunter, when we’re talking about gays who want to change their orientation we’re talking about a small minority of gays and a much smaller minority of Christians. And yes, they are very much victims of their religous upbringing.

Jim Burroway
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

“Kelly”, whoever he or she is, is now on moderation for multiple abuses to our comments policy. Furthermore, “Kelly” provides a fake email address with his/her comments, which indicates that he/she wishes not to be held accountable for his/her actions.

If “Kelly” wishes to post comments which comply with our comments policy — regardless of whether her comments agree or disagree with the posts or with others — we will release those comments from the moderatio queue. Trolling behavior however is not allowed.

Furthermore, by his/her own admission, he/she was also been banned from other web sites for engaging in similar actions and has actively tried various tactics to work around those bans. Attempts to do so here will not be tolerated, and will result in reporting his/her i.p. address to his/her internet service provider for harassment.

Timothy Kincaid
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

Hunter pretty much said it.

As for the rest, Priya Lynn, well… you are entitled to your opinion.

Joel
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

WE awwwww.. the big gay happy family ;)
SHUCKS, u almost made me drop a tear there.

Donny D.
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

Hunter wrote:

Sidebar: I’m always amused by the “bronze age barbarians” argument for a couple of reasons.

First, those “barbarians” were the Greeks of the Classical Age, the Romans, the ancient Egyptians, the Persian Empire, the early civilizations of the Indus Valley and the Middle East, and of China and Japan.

The Romans were actually an Iron Age people. Also, they are the people most responsible for our use of the word barbarian, which basically is their concept, distinguishing their facial-hair-shaving selves from those uncultured, usually bearded people elsewhere. The Latin word barba means beard, while barbarus means rude.

Hunter
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

Thinking back, you’re right about the Romans. However, the term “barbarian” originated with the Greeks: “Barbaroi” were those who were not Hellenes and was used to describe Persians and Egyptians, among others. It gradually came to have the pejorative connotation of “uncivilized,” from the assumption that one’s own group was superior.

The Latin etymology is a late invention from Cassiodorus.

Hunter
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn said:

“Its certainly not common. People may change from one flavour of christianity to another, but from christianity to Islam, or from christianity to atheist – very uncommon.

I never said everyone is a victim of their religious upbringing, just that a lot of people are.”

I just ran across a study that seems to refute that idea, here: http://www.jstor.org/pss/3511025

As adolescents, the subject reported frequent church attendance, but ten years later attendance had declined and parental beliefs had little influence on the subjects’ beliefs. It appears from this that the idea of religious upbringing as being determinative is not really credible in most cases — there’s not a lot of “brainwashing” going on.

My guess is that, while most people in the U.S. claim to be Christians, for the majority that’s lip service rather than fervent belief. If you don’t have a strong need for religious belief to begin with, there’s little motivation to convert, which in a roundabout way supports my original point: it’s fairly common for people raised in a particular faith to abandon that faith, to which I would add that keeping the trappings of religious practice says little about the degree of belief. From my own experience, we went to church every week because we lived in a small town and my dad was a school principal. Otherwise, we weren’t particularly religious. I suspect we weren’t that rare.

Regan DuCasse
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

@KELLY,
Richard makes the most concise point: a lifetime of negative reinforcement that one’s orientation is bad, or is the root of all one’s problems negates the assertion that this is a free choice. Systemic bigotry and discrimination exacerbates that coercion.

Bruce makes the other concise point: that gay people are forced to feel OBLIGATED to change, by their families and clergy.

You’d be disingenuous to say that even a choice between and rock and hard place is still a choice.
You’d be dishonest and CRUEL outright to think that wanting to change under such conditions is a HEALTHY choice or one that’s optimal to the gay person.

Ultimately it’s NOT healthy. And the other articles about Reker’s and therapy done on extremely young children thought to be gay, should tell you just how relentlessly the ex gay industry pursues it’s prey.

StraightGrandmother
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

I read Tim’s article and was shaking my head, “yes” then I red Jim Burroway’s comment and I m shaking my head affirmativily and mumblin, “Yes that it right.” I am thinking about what is written and I have to pause.

See I write from a heterosexual perspective. What about the heterosexual spouses? Everything written here is all about the gays what they want to do and what is best for them, but if they try to change their sexual orienttion BEHAVIOR, we know that the majoritity of the heterosexual spouses are going to be harmed. How can you espouse something that WILL HARM the heterosexual spouses? Are you not choosing the well being of the gays over the well being of the heterosexual spouses?

Amicus
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

…people with unwanted same-sex attractions should be free to try to live the life they want

People are not clay and this notion of freedom is nonsense by the same measure.

Jimmy
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

StraightGrandmother writes: “How can you espouse something that WILL HARM the heterosexual spouses?”

Does that spouse know his or her spouse is struggling with their sexual orientation? No one is suggesting that said heterosexual spouse does have a right to informed consent.

How would you address the issue you have brought up?

Jimmy
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

Amicus writes” “People are not clay and this notion of freedom is nonsense by the same measure.”

Yet many people are quite malleable and adaptable according to their situation. I don’t quite know how that relates to their freedom to live according to the value system that ultimately they must decide is virtuous for themselves.

jpeckjr
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

@StraightGrandmother: I think each couple has to determine for itself what makes for their well-being, and each person in the couple, too. Mr. Kincaid is arguing for that kind of individual freedom and choice.

There are still gay men who marry women thinking it will “cure” them, or at least help them avoid social stigma, or please their family or religious community. And there are people who marry the opposite gender only to become aware later of their same-gender orientation.

Perhaps those are the couples you are concerned about, and I cannot deny there is great pain and hurt there. I would say, though, that there is harm in the marriage when one of the partners is lying to the other about his/her sexual orientation, or any other significant characteristic.

Ex-gay conversion therapy does not focus on fixing marriages built on such lies. In their world, marrying a person of the opposite sex is regarded as a sign of “conversion.” From this perspective, “conversion therapy” may be encouraging marriages built on lies.

What does happen when the “convert” acknowledges five years and two children later that it didn’t work for the long term and the same-sex desires came back? I think what does happen has to be worked out on a case-by-case basis.

Erin
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

Yes, a gay person who doesn’t want to be gay has the right to do whatever they want. I don’t argue there. But as Michael Busse (Exodus cofounder) said on a documentary I just watched. If someone goes to a counselor looking for help because they are gay, a legitimate counselor should ask why it bothers that person to be gay. They should find out any other problems that might be causing the person strife. He made the example that doctors don’t offer to saw off limbs when a woman feels insecure about being too tall.
My boss has Histrionic Personality disorder. No, I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve known her for 3 years, and she befriended me closely enough to show the symptoms to me. One of the symptoms is the belief that relationships are far more intimate than they actually are. We are landscapers. Years ago she met a tree service guy working on one of the properties where we work. He was a married man. There was never anything between my boss and him, not even flirting. He unfortunately died. Now she makes up this stuff about him being in love with her, and she thinks they would have been together had he not dropped dead of a heart attack. 4 years after his death, she still mourns for him as if she was his wife. She saw the guy maybe a few times a month. Now, if a counselor were to listen to her stories long enough to pin down her Histrionic Personality disorder, that counselor would not feed into these delusions. A good counselor would recognize that my boss is not in tune with reality and that is causing her strife. It also causes strife for those around her, such as myself. A good counselor would find ways and exercises to help her identify a real romantic connection versus reading into something that isn’t there. A good counselor might also prescribe medication to level the mood. She also has a constant need to be a victim. Every conversation we have at work somehow ties into some instance when she was traumatized or victimized and she interrupts us and gives us a long sob story. One day I made a mundane remark about how bad the traffic was on the way over while we were driving on a 25 mph street on the way to a client’s home. She bit my head off, and yelled for me to stop talking about cars because she has anxiety about driving. Similarly, her positive accomplishments are constantly exagerated and bragged about. Every other landscaper in town is jealous of her artistic abilities and how beautiful she makes people’s gardens, for instance. A good counselor would show her how this is taken by everyday people who have to deal with her, and would suggest alternative ways to have discussions. A bad counselor would let her keep believing in all her delusions, reinforce every way she twists herself into the victim and perpetuate the problem by making her feel worse. This is what conversion “therapists” do to their clients. Rather than get to the heart of the self esteem issues and recognize that external factors make gay people feel guilty, they reinforce the negative feelings in their clients, and feed them lies and unrealistic expectations. Then the client is blamed for not trying hard enough when success doesn’t come.

I think it is a given that most of us believe we can’t hold someone back from doing whatever they want to do, including celibacy or talking to a counselor if their gayness goes against their “values.” But we should keep up the focus on the therapy itself. It is nothing short of fraud, and for the reasons I listed above and others, it is dangerous and unethical.

james
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

I am suddenly grateful, overwhelmingly so, that the counselor my mom went to 35 years ago when I came out said to her, “His sexual orientation is not going to change. You must accept it and adapt. You can express your unhappiness about the situation, but keep loving him.”

The counselor was a long-time family friend, with years of experience in the field, and an impeccable reputation for skill and wisdom. I know this because she told me this is what he said. She took his advice and continues to take it to this day.

I am suddenly so grateful for him.

Zingo
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

No one forces anyone to be gay, anymore than anyone forces you to be a moron, Kincaid.

Regan DuCasse
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

James, you’re exactly the reason why acceptance should be the first line towards a better and full life.

It’s the non acceptance that builds the world of hurt.

james
July 19th, 2011 | LINK

@Regan DuCasse: Thanks. My mom occassionally expresses her ongoing desire for grandchildren (I’m an only surviving child), but that is really, really rare. Everything could have been much, much uglier without that wise counselor’s help.

StraightGrandmother
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Jimmy you wrote,
“StraightGrandmother writes: “How can you espouse something that WILL HARM the heterosexual spouses?”

Does that spouse know his or her spouse is struggling with their sexual orientation? No one is suggesting that said heterosexual spouse does have a right to informed consent.

How would you address the issue you have brought up?”

StraightGrandmother responds- If a man who is gay or a woman who is a lesbain says says, “I value living with an opposite sex spouse and would like to marry and have a family, that is the life I want” I do not believe that there should be a policy in place for psychologists that says, ‘Okay let me help you get there” So what I am saying is I am NOT FOR approved psychological treatment for a person who is gay or lesbian who is desirous of receiving therapy to learn how to become attracted to persons of the opposite sex. Any my reasons are not for or against the person who is gay or lesbian, my reasons are because I want to protect the people who are heterosexual.

Warren Throckmorten said just the other day in a CNN Belief Blog that the appropriate therapy for a man who is gay or a woman who is a lesbian who wants to live according to their closely held religious beliefs (They value their religion more than their natural sexual orientation) is to counsel them to become celibate, and that is what I agree with.

In other words I do NOT agree that there should be any approved therapy to help men who are gay or women who are lesbian to CHANGE their natural sexual orientation BEHAVIOR, EVEN IF they say this is what they value.

So I am going against the grain here, interestingly I am agreeing with the Evangelical Psychologist and against the gay & lesbian community who is commenting here. Dr. Throckmorton said something in a comment within his blog that I am not 100% clear on, but I believe he said that only 1%-2% of people who attempt to live contra their natural sexual orientation are successful. So for the 99% – 98% of the spouses of these “failures” I think it is WRONG to harm them. I see the spouses as victims of the psychologists who are working to help “change” the men who are gay and women who are lesbian. A 1%-2% Success Rate is not anywhere near high enough to offer this type of therapy.

Désirée
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

“forced to be gay”? what an absurd concept. That’s like a natuarly left handed person saying they are forced to be left handed when they’d rather be right handed or a person with brown eyes being “forced” to have brown eyes. Reality imposes a lot of things on us. Acknowledging reality is not saying something was forced on you. If that were the case, my height, skin color, parents, place of birth, age, attached earlobes and right handedness were “forced” on me.

Orientation, straight or gay, is simply an aspect of who a person is, just like natural hair color or handedness. You can force a change if you want, but the original was no more “forced” on you than you are “forced” to eat in order to live. (I could claim that my chosen “values” preclude killing any living thing just so I can eat, but since humans cannot subsist on rocks, I’m outta luck – reality trumps my “values”)

It’s simply reality. You can accept it or look the fool by railing against it.

Jimmy
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

I’m not disagreeing with you, StraightGrandmother. I don’t see where anyone else on this forum is. No APA certified psychologist should engage in such therapy. People should not be encouraged to live unauthentically. When you get into the area of clergy “counseling” those who are struggling with orientation, clergy may be more motivated to prop up dogma rather than do what is right for the one seeking help. However, we have freedom of religion and expression in this country, and people are still free to choose unwise courses of action.

StraightGrandmother
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Jimmy,
I think my opinion might be different, see what Jim Burroway wrote above in his comment,

“If ex-gay clients are truly informed of the prospect for change — along with realistic definitions for what change means — and the difficulties that they will face and the added burdens that they will place on any spouses they choose to drag into their lives, and want to pursue their chosen lifestyle anyway, then more power to them.”

I’m saying that no medical psychological counseling should be available to do the above. Sexual orientation change therapy should NOT be approved by our major medical organizations, even for religious beliefs. If I am not mistaken they do approve of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts for individuals who have a strong religious belief, and I am not agreeing with that because of the harm to the heterosexual spouses, informed or uninformed. So I think I am kind of going against the grain here.

John
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Why do people have unwanted same-sex attractions, in the first place? Not that homosexuality has ever been looked upon favorably in Western culture might have something to do with it. The fact that psychiatry right from the beginning took over this meme, despite Freud’s famous letter. Perhaps, if we as a society did not see being gay as something negative, people would not have to go through this self-hate.

Jimmy
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

I think people shouldn’t do many things based on religious beliefs, but there you go. From what I have read, the APA has been pretty clear on what it thinks about reparative therapy. There is probably a litany of things the APA has reservations about with much of the mental health counseling (depression, addiction) that is conducted by clergy, especially when the recommendation is to “pray on it.”

Amicus
July 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Warren Throckmorten said just the other day in a CNN Belief Blog that the appropriate therapy for a man who is gay or a woman who is a lesbian who wants to live according to their closely held religious beliefs (They value their religion more than their natural sexual orientation) is to counsel them to become celibate, and that is what I agree with.

One understands his perspective, psychologically. It’s a sensible dodge.

But, celibacy, properly conceived, is an affirmative choice, not a retreat. What’s more, the practical reality is that not everyone with gay attractions / orientation is going to be cut out for celibacy.

Therefore, it is possible to counsel, in all honesty, that it is the religious beliefs that ought to be examined.

William
July 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Quite right, Amicus.

Back in 1974 Weinberg and Williams, in their study “Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations”, recommended:

“The homosexual should in general re-evaluate moral interpretations which make him uncomfortable with his sexuality.” (Chapter 23, Practical Considerations)

Good, sound, practical advice.

Amicus
July 22nd, 2011 | LINK

With mainline Christian and Jewish groups now more gay-couple friendly than at any time in the past 100 years, say, the choices for individuals are no longer so stark or bleak.

Nevertheless, leaving your denomination can be perceived as “death”. One mitigating factor can be that such a transition need not be a “clean break”. It is possible to explore alternatives, before jumping in.

Timothy Kincaid
July 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Amicus,

As I understand it, inspecting one’s values, beliefs, and expectations is a part of Throckmorton’s SIT protocol.

The idea is to figure out just what you value and why and find a way to develop a long term plan for living according to those values.

If finding a mate has a higher value to you than living according to the teachings of some specific church, then that is the goal you plan for *. If you believe that your religious values or a traditional sexual ethic are more important to you that sexual or romantic fulfillment, then you examine what reasonable expectations you should have, likely celibacy, how to achieve those goals and how you can supplement some of the things you would ordinarily find in a partner.

And, yes, I think that SIT also assists in addressing transition so that one does not experience that “death” feeling. Perhaps that is an area where counselors from a evangelical background would be most helpful.

(* While I’ve never questioned him on this, I suspect that if you decided to go in the direction of looking for a mate, Throckmorton would encourage you to continue looking at your values and how they apply to that decision (ie monogamy, sexual responsibility, religious participation, etc.) and how to synthesize your life.)

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