Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for April, 2013

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.