Robert Spitzer in NY Times, NPR

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2012

Last Saturday, the New York Times published an important cover story by Benedict Carey which, more or less, covers the same ground Gabriel Arana covered in April is his interview with Robert Spitzer, whose 2001 ex-gay study purported to show that some people can change their sexual orientation with a great deal of effort. During that interview, Spitzer acknowledged that critics of his study were ” largely correct.” Spitzer then decided to retract his study and issue an apology to the gay community and also “to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals.”

Carey’s piece with the New York Times doesn’t cover much new territory, although there was one revelation surprised me: “The paper did not go through the usual peer-review process, in which unnamed experts critique a manuscript before publication.” I did not know that. Of course, what I did know what that when the paper appeared in 2003 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, editor Kenneth Zucker took the highly unusual step of publishing 26 “peer commentaries,” from all sides of the debate. Many professionals either denounced or criticized the study’s methodology and conclusions, while others (mostly ex-gay therapists and supporters like A. Dean Byrd, Joseph Nicolosi, Mark Yarhouse) hailed it as ” giv(ing) a voice to the disenfranchised within a minority group.”

But what is important in the Times story is the fact that Aranal’s article at The American Prospect has caught the attention of the wider mainstream media. Today, Spitzer appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, followed by Arana and Carey to discuss the study, its retractions, Spitzer’s apology, and the legacy of ex-gay therapy.

Timothy Kincaid

May 21st, 2012

BTB: Where you go to read next month’s news.

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