Son of NARTH Co-Founder Describes Coming Out To His Father

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2013

Richard Socarides, a former Senior Advisor to President Bill Clinton, has an unusual background. Not only is he gay, but his father, Charles Socarides, was one of the most vocal defenders of attempts to cure gay people.  The homosexual is ill,” he said in a 1963 New York Times article, “and anything that tends to hid that fact reduces his changes of seeking and obtaining treatment. If they were to achieve social acceptance it would increase this difficulty.” In 1967, Charles Socarides appeared on the infamous CBS Reports special “The Homosexuals” where he described the idea of happy gay people as “a mythology.”  The elder Socarides was an outspoken opponent of the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and he went on to co-found the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992. So imagine what it must have been like to be Charles Socarides’s gay son:

…We lived on the Upper East Side on 78th Street in a Townhouse and his office was downstairs. So there was this, kind of on this one level is this kid coming out, on the top level there was this kid coming out, and on this bottom level there were these people going to be cured of their homosexuality. His idea was they should be treated like any other neurotic. Couple of trips to a therapist and it should be just fine.

Richard Socarides has recorded a video for the web site I’m From Driftwood, describing what it was like to come out to the most famous conversion therapist in the country:

As this video makes the round, much is made of Charles Socarides’ “founding” or “pioneering” converstion therapy for gay people. But as regular readers of The Daily Agenda know, Charles Socarides was far from the first to do so, or to consider homosexuality a mental illness. That idea had been ingrained in psychology for more than a century. But as NARTH’s co-founder, Socarides certainly was a huge part of the movement which shifted those attempts to “cure” gay people from what had been considered a scientific basis towards a much more dogmatic and political foundation. How strange it must have been for a gay son to maintain a relationship with his father while his father became increasingly doctrinaire in his approach to homosexuality.

Regan DuCasse

April 8th, 2013

“The homosexual is ill, and anything that tends to hide this fact, reduces his chances of seeking and obtaining treatment.”
I mean WHOA!!

That’s a very egregious lack of how and in what way, mental illness is diagnosed. Let alone observed.
Serious mental illness, whether clinical or acute, can’t be hidden. That’s one point. And clinical classifications, such as paraphilias, and pathologies, also have very specific profiles.
Typically they are autonomic, compulsive and obsessive.
There eventually come disabling, or socially isolating obstacles to functioning.
In other words, that dysfunction can be detected by just about anyone in the social network of the individual.

However, without including a legacy of systemic civil isolation, discrimination, bigotry and threat for one’s identity and distinction, that’s an omission that doesn’t complete a diagnosis of other clinical issues.
Especially those that aren’t exclusive to anyone, regardless their orientation.

And for Socarides to say that there is no such thing as a well adjusted, happy gay person is the next egregious level of omission, diagnosis and result.
If he never looked for any for comparison, he wouldn’t find any.

I resent the anti gay continually bringing up the issue of the changes in the DSM and homosexuality no longer being classified a dysfunctional illness, as if the psych establishment were blackmailed and terrorized into changing it.
Rather than obligatory research, and updates and also considerable expansion of methodology doing it.
As with just about everything else, the anti gay define much by very narrow, uniform and idealized standards.
Which only leads to more ignorance, not more education.
Evidently, NARTH focusing so much on homosexuality means that public education would put them out of work.
This preoccupation with creating political and civil discrimination against gay people, and not anyone ELSE with a serious and disabling mental problem, is too weird in an of itself.
If I had MY ‘druthers, I wish they’d focus on the kinds of impulsive and casual ways in which people (like the parade of mass shooters) engage in organized violence.
Or the impetus behind policies fomented by bigotry.
Even better, the study of sociopaths. Who number 1 in 25 and literally ARE the most dangerous of people with a mental and emotional disorder.

Regan DuCasse

April 8th, 2013

BTW: The nearly lifelong time spent in study of CRIMINAL science does make me wonder about the acquired pathology about homosexuality to THIS degree.

The course of study requires staying educated in behavioral sciences too. Which is why it’s jaw dropping what the anti gay do with THEIR college degrees, even if they are inexpert on homosexuality as Socarides is. Jen RoMo has her degree in economics. So many people with doctorates in anything BUT expertise in gay people, use their credentials so fraudulently on the subject of gay people.
Socarides is so outmoded, regardless his era. Doctors aren’t allowed to continue to practice anything else, who refuse to update their methodology or change their practice with newer discovery.
Even THAT is so wrong and definitely should be questioned.


April 8th, 2013

“How strange it must have been for a gay son to maintain a relationship with his father while his father became increasingly doctrinaire in his approach to homosexuality.”

Well, families are funny that way. What seems strange to outsiders seems completely unstrange to insiders.

Richard Rush

April 8th, 2013

Richard said that his father never tried to “cure” him. If he (the father) really believed his public statements regarding homosexuality, then the obvious question is, why didn’t he try to “cure” his son? Or was he just perpetrating a lucrative scam to help support his rich Upper East Side lifestyle?

Tim Lusk

April 8th, 2013

As an advisor to President Clinton, the gay son was no friend to our community.
Just sayin

Ben in Oakland

April 8th, 2013

It could easily be both, Richard. The kind of bigotry expressed as a wholly imaginary superioirty. No active hate involved, but one can make money off of people you despise.

I can think of a number of reasonable appearing people, like Brian brown, who might well fit this.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts


Another Temporary Hiatus

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1971: Minnesota Couple Stake Claim To First American Same-Sex Marriage

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1954: "Perverts Vanish" From Miami

Born On This Day, 1907: Evelyn Hooker

Born On This Day, 1925: Fr. John J. McNeill

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.