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What Are Little Boys Made Of?

An original BTB Investigation.

Jim Burroway

June 7th, 2011

In 1970, a well-known expert on homosexuality and transgender issues appeared on a local television talk show in Los Angeles to talk about feminine boys. He described how very young boys who behaved in a feminine manner would almost invariably grow up to become a homosexual. Alongside that expert was a gay man who described his own childhood and confirmed what the expert said. But there was hope, the expert announced. A new program at the University of California at Los Angeles would ensure these young boys grew up to become masculine, normal men. The expert gave a list of symptoms to watch out for, and urged his viewers to call him if their children exhibited the problems he described.

The mother of a four year, eleven month old boy saw that program that afternoon. She noted the list of symptoms that the expert gave and concluded that there was something seriously wrong with her son. She and her husband decided to take their young boy to UCLA for treatment to prevent him from growing up to be gay.

That young boy came under the care of a very young grad student by the name of George Alan Rekers. The boy’s treatment would become a subject of Rekers’s doctoral thesis, and the astounding success that Rekers claimed in curing the young boy would mark the start of a very impressive career. Rekers would write about “Kraig” in at least twenty publications during his career, a career which included becoming a very important activist in the promotion of anti-gay causes.

In this original BTB investigation, we speak with his family and friend who knew the real “Kraig” to uncover the truth behind Reker’s greatest success story. Their stories reveal the tragedy of a terrible experiment on a very young boy which would haunt him for the rest of his life. It is not only an indictment of a man who built his anti-gay career on Kirk’s suffering, but a rebuke to others — those in the mental health profession then and in the contemporary ex-gay movement today — who would place their careers and agendas ahead of the well-being of this young boy and countless others like him.

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Comments

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Alaina
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

Wow. This is amazing. Thank you for doing such a thorough and compelling job.

Pete
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

I just finished reading this series in one sitting. It was so captivating, so wrenching and human and tragic and (yet) hopeful, that I couldn’t stop.

This series is what makes BTB one of the web’s real gems. The team here really knows how to use the medium and has repeatedly shown how capable they are at long-form investigative journalism and research. Thank you, Jim, for your incredible work here. Thank you, Murphy family, for opening up to tell this story, one which may never reach the eyes of George Rekers but which will, God willing, reach the eyes of families who’ve endured similar trauma and help them feel less isolated. And thanks, Kirk – be at peace, evermore.

Nick Thiwerspoon
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

This is a remarkable piece of research. It deserves to be broadcast everywhere.
As an effeminate boy myself, I can remember the misery I endured at school, the bullying, the taunting, the constant denigration. But at least I never fell into the hands of crackpot “scientists”.

I am very very angry about Kirk’s treatment. It’s revolting that he was beaten because of “girly behaviour”. What a harrowing story.

It makes my own determination to fight for gay rights just stronger.

DC
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

I agree, this is one of the most amazing investigative pieces I’ve ever seen. I had to read it all, start to finish and extras as well (hours past my bedtime). My soul is screaming for justice for this family! You haven’t skewed anything with your editorial, my views toward the evil in all of this is based on their own words. The ‘therapists’ to blame may as well have been 3rd Reich scientists, and UCLA may as well change it’s name to Dachau. This family suffered so much torture not just from someone’s religious-based motivations, but also from desires for academic acclaim and then neglectful abuse. An apology from the UCLA would fall pathetically short; reparations are in order, along with criminal charges against the former staff. I desperately hope this piece goes a long way towards crushing the ex-gay industry scam.

Aaron Moore
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for doing this. As an ex-gay survivor I can relate to many of the emotional struggles that Kirk went through.

Paul Mc
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

Devastating. A piece of journalism that is pitch perfect and should be compulsory reading for any news channel, TV show, author, commentator, blogger, newspaper in the US.

It shows the only too poignantly the dangers of so-called gender therapy and indirectly, so-called reparative therapy.

Dr. Green should be the one making reparations.

Rekers? No amount of ridicule he gets now could match the part he played and the contortions and lies he perpetrates.

NARTH? Devastating – the scientific ‘poster boy’ is gay and commits suicide due to the harrowing nature of the change ‘therapy’. Satinover and Nicolosi et al should all be sued for the damage and lies.

Veronica Drantz, PhD
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

The biological research on sexual identity and sexual orientation is clear.
“The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb”
“There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation”
Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF. Sexual hormones and the brain: an essential alliance for sexual identity and sexual orientation PEDIATRIC NEUROENDOCRINOLOGY 17: 22-35 (2010)
See also: Milton Diamond. Clinical implications of the organizational and activational effects of hormones. HORMONES AND BEHAVIOR 55:621–632 (2009)

David Blakeslee
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

As always, your work is blunt and accurate; calling for compassion and condemnation.

Richard Rush
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

I just finished Part 3: Red Chips, Blue Chips, and have a question:

It seems that the Chips program was set up by Rekers/Lovaas to provide M&M candy rewards for the blue chips. So how did the brutal whippings by the father become part of the program? I assume he just took it upon himself to add that “enhancement” to the program.(?) Did Rekers/Lovaas ever become aware of it, and if so, what was their response?

The obvious picture I’m getting here is a classic brutally abusive father, and yet another case of a mother who was unable (or possibly unwilling) to stop the whippings. At this point I’m guessing that the father was the major force behind putting Kirk through the entire “therapy” program in the first place. (Since I haven’t read the remaining parts of this series yet, I realize I may be premature in my judgments.)

David Blakeslee
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

Just finished the article in detail, need to review the last section.

But—this is important: Jim Burroway makes the connection between Evangelical Christianity (Westmont College), George Rikers and Paul Cameron and back to Evangelical Christianity (Fuller Theological Seminary).

This can’t be about Westboro Baptist Church.

justme
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

What happened to Kirk and his family is a tragedy. This article is an outstanding expose of that tragedy. His family and friends and the author of this article have all done a great service to Kirk’s memory, to all other victims of anti-gay torture, and to the further unmasking of the sociopathic monsters who perpetrate those horrors.

Jesus
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

This was by far one of the most compelling, heart-wrenching and at times brutally human pieces I’ve read on reparative therapy to date. It has brought me to tears and provoked a fire in my belly that has burned since I first became aware of the tragic state of affairs LGBT individuals have face and continue to face, when I came out to myself in silence at the age of 12. My only wish is that universal justice is served Reker and any of the other people who have lost their humanity in their struggle to deprive others of their own.

If this story were to be picked up for a novel, or even a movie, I think it would touch the entire nation. No one should have to suffer this way, ever.

TwirlyGirly
June 7th, 2011 | LINK

An excellent exposé – kudos to BTB! It brought me to tears.

I also think Jesus’ idea for a movie version of Kirk’s story is an excellent one…unfortunately, the people who most *need* to see it, wouldn’t (in the same way those people avoid and/or ignore any research that counters their current point-of-view). They’d just call it more “gay propaganda.”

Living in a world in which some people use God to justify their cruelty towards others, instead of *serving* God by loving their neighbor as themselves, is really hard sometimes, isn’t it?

Bene D
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

Just watched Anderson Cooper’s first installment as I was reading this.

I’m angry and grieved.

I’m glad Rekker is being confronted, and that Green responded to Kirk’s sister.

I was involved in twin research as a child, but nothing that struck at the core of who I was, or damaged my identity, or my twin.

Kudos to Kirk’s siblings, mom and to BTB and you Jim. This is an important and timely investigation and I hope this goes far beyond CNN and BTB.
Thank you for your compassion and conciseness and for honouring Kirk and his family.

Justin N
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

As a gay adult survivor of child abuse, let me – and all the others of us who walked in those shoes – let me ASSURE you that nothing that Rekers could have done to that child would have harmed him if his parents had been hand-in-hand with him, and ON his side as he grew. No. Sadly, that woman I saw on television – his mother – disgusted me. I was so angry at her that she brought a child into this world, and then just ASSUMED that it was somehow magically her prerogative to extinguish his soul simply because some aspect of it seemed unattractive to her. And now, she’s all “deerin-the-headlights”,
“well shucks folks, we’uns wuz jes’ doin’ the best we could figger on at the time…”. [Gag.] Reacting to her child’s joy at the discovery of magic and inner beauty in his childhood, she resolved to end that joy as soon as possible. She abandoned him emotionally, and worse, she betrayed him and LITERALLY, by her own admission, LITERALLY abandoned him. Repeatedly. In a therapy room.

And if THAT’S not psychological child abuse, What in the name of Kirk is?

And, the physical punishment from the father is of course worse. What could do more to destroy a child’s spirit than a controlling, irate and brutal being five times its size BEAT him into terrified, unequivocal submission because of WHO he was?

And so, from then on, Kirk shut down. YA THINK?

Rekers is beneath contempt. He is guilty of child abuse. But he did not abandon or destroy this young spirit. He never really had that power. He and the parents simply fulfilled each others needs. He needed a thesis. She admits she wanted to de-queer her son. They all accomplished what they wanted. Congratulations.

It is for SHAME. I hear this woman continue to blame everything on the doctors. God never gave that child to the doctors. He had given him to her.

My heart goes out to all of them. They are still hurting, and one of our own was bullied to death by his own family – which is another casualty to OUR community. It means we’re still hurting, too.

We should all be angry at people like this. We should be angry at their sociopathic, murderous behavior. We should reject their behavior and announce it for what it is at all turns. It is child abuse. It is bullying. It is gay bashing. And if anyone’s medical license is involved, they durn well ought to be UP FOR HAVING IT REVOKED for violating their Hippocratic Oath.

This is a worthwhile story that needed telling. Thank you to those of you who brought it to us. I hope the brother and sister get some healing from all of this. They seem like good, decent people who loved Kirk.

Davey B
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

Once I started reading this I just had to finish it. Such a heart-breaking story.
Congratulations on following through and getting the story.
My heart goes out to all the family.

Mary Hayes
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

I’m still in the process of reading this but my reaction was the same as Justin’s: so far I’ve seen nothing from the mother but peevish self-pity; e.g., ” ‘That took a lot of my time,’ she explained. ‘I had two other children and a husband to feed and laundry to do and … it wasn’t easy.’ She sounded exhausted just remembering it.”

Both sons were brutally beaten by the father, she saw her gay son being put through hell and her only concern was that it was just so tiring and inconvenient. People like this SHOULD NEVER, NEVER, NEVER HAVE CHILDREN.

So much for “a child needs a mother and a father”, as opponents of same-sex adoption like to say. This kid came from a lethally abusive home.

David Blakeslee
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

@ Justin,

I agree; Rekers and Green bear the brunt of the responsibility for the professional endorsement of the mother’s passive hatred (culturally endorsed) for Kirk.

Regardless, Rekers work is significantly damaged by this report and rightly so.

Confounding variables:

1. Child abuse

2. Vicarious Traumatic violence (murder of close family relative).

3. Alcoholism

4. Parental abandonment

5. Mental Health Decompensation by custodial parent

It is easy to imagine Kirk’s despair in high school as being related to all these things and being gay.

I did not see the CNN video, but your description of the mother seems to fit Jim’s narrative here: Passively dependent and naive, deriving her power from others until there are problems and then complaining of powerlessness.

Pollyannish.

Father isolates the family, repeatedly physically abuses the children (mother does not prevent) and then abandons the family.

A miracle that Kirk believed in life as long as he did. A miracle that he found a place where he could thrive and learn and be taken care of (the Air Force); but still had to hide. The rewards and punishments were less personal and more fair. A miracle he found friends who believed in him and wanted the best for him.

A miracle he persistently worked at and created and gave himself to. I doubt I could have been that courageous.

How many 22 year olds are running NIH studies behind the scenes today? EEK.

Jim Burroway
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

David Blakeslee,

There is one correction. I don’t think it is fair to say that the father isolated the family. I know Montana can seem like an isolating place, but none of the family members describe their existence that way in Hamilton. Certainly not the kind of isolation we hear about in controlling, abusive families.

The other interpretations are, I think, legitimate. People may fairly disagree with them, but they are legitimate. And it’s true that there were a number of confounding variables, particularly with Kirk’s suicide attempt at age seventeen. We had a lot of discussions about that. It does become very difficult to tie his suicide attempt at 17 to just the therapy.

But then, I had to go back to his interview with Green in Sissy Boy Syndrome, where Kirk himself attributes his suicide attempt to his discomfort over a sexual encounter with another man. Perhaps if the other stressors were absent, he would not have tried to kill himself. (It should be noted, the suicide attempt appears half-hearted and not thought out: he took a bottle of aspirin.) The confounding variables certainly make it difficult to asses his suicide at 17, but by his own words, it does appear that a crisis over his sexuality was the immediate cause, and his treatment at UCLA certainly would not have helped, especially with researchers snooping around for follow-ups.

Alice Dreger
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for doing this. In too many of these kinds of cases, either clinicians don’t know what happened to their patients, don’t care to know, or lie. All of this reminds me so much of John Money’s treatment of David Reimer. It is just so angering. Thank you for bringing the truth of what happened to us.

Richard Ravenhurst
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

Well written and extremely well researched piece of jounalism. One of the best uses of the Web I have seen.

I expecially appreciate the explanation of the world in the 1970′s and earlier. I remember those talk shows on TV where the disease of “homosexuality” was discussed … and it was a disease then.

For the record, me and my three brothers were also punished by our Dad with a belt on the butt … never to the extent of welts and bruises and described in the Murphy home … but all my friends were beaten with belts too as I recall. It was the way boys were reared in the 60′s in Virginia at least.

Again, an amazing piece of writing and research. Many thanks to the author AND to all those who knew Kirk and shared so much herein. Thank you.

David Blakeslee
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

Just watched CNN video…Rekers’ endorses corporal punishment for gender atypical behavior.

anteros
June 8th, 2011 | LINK

great work! thanks for bringing the truth out, again.

Chad B.
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

Its still hearsay and secondhand information. A real journalist that is fair and un biast would never use info like this to make claims.

“In this original BTB investigation, we speak with his family and friend who knew the real “Kraig” to uncover the truth behind Reker’s greatest success story.”

Unless “the real Kraig” can verify this information, its merely speculation, and non confirmed stuff.

MEP
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

Chad. It was confirmed that Kirk Murphy was “Kraig” and “Kyle” by none other than Dr. Richard Green himself, in writing in October of 2010.

A story of this scope and size would not go forward here and/or on CNN (representing months of work for both teams) without this confirmation.

Crash2Parties
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

Anyone who thinks this has stopped and only existed 35 years ago should read the following:

http://womenborntranssexual.com/2010/03/30/stony-brook-university-and-the-feminine-boy-project/

http://www.sbpress.com/2010/03/30/feminine-boy-project/

In short, once being gay was delisted from the DSM, the verbiage merely shifted, from treating ‘pre-gay’ to ‘pre-transsexual’. Not much else changed. Still practiced by Kenneth Zucker. He’s also heading up the rework of the current DSM section regarding gender variant people, including kids.

Larry
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

I would like to bring this ‘old news’ to others attention. How does this story compare to story of John/Joan and Dr. Money from John Hopkins University in Baltimore?

Thanks,
Larry

SharonH
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

a heartbreaking story…..

Rayna
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for sharing his story, for letting his family talk about the kid behind the data.

TK
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

This hit way to close to home for me, growing up my dad’s anti-gay rantings still echoing in my mind. Every area of ones life suffers when unable to accept who they are. I went on for 25 years suppressing my true self, feeling broken, and useless. Purification is to God as the madness is to men… Thank you for posting this. : )

Reed Boyer
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

@ Jim Burroway: I’d missed you, and reading your articles, and had wondered where the heck you were of late.

And now this. Amazing. Wonderful. Absolutely worth the wait. May it go utterly viral.

Bravos, kudos, and all sorts of excellences to you.

Angela
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

This is my first encounter with Box Turtle Bulletin… I wanted to commend you for one of the best pieces of journalism I have read in a long time. The way you weave together the human element with the sociopolitical context and issues relating to the scientific method makes for reading that is beyond compelling.

I am a grad student and hold what I believe is the same fellowship that supported Rekers’ graduate studies… it is incredibly sobering to see the inner workings of how bad science can happen so easily when the PIs are ideologically driven.

Rich
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

Phyllis Burke discovered what she named ‘the feminine boy project’ in early 1990′s and published 3 years of research in Gender Shock in 1996.
The bibliography has every citation of every experiment these guys and others did on the children.
Her footnotes on feminine boy project detail every government grant number and amount, and principal investigator across the country (p 257-258)
then all the cross-references she put together on ‘Kraig’ are on p. 259-261, detailing how green and rekers slowly changed the little guy’s description
I was deeply affected by this book when i discovered it in 2000.
I hope these parents sue the government.
I pray no other child will have these experiences at the hands of the psychiatric community and/or the government. unbelievable. it still makes me tremble with rage. and seeing this beautiful kid’s face.
the scholarship fund in his memory is a beautiful thing

Darina
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

Now you have me in tears, Jim.

But still, thank you. I need every lesson I can learn about people like Rekers.

And since I’m not American, I also appreciate your description of the scientific and legal background that made such a thing so easily possible.

RD
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

I was startled to read that the mother spent two months on hormone therapy while she was pregnant. What were those hormones specifically? Was she given DES? There has been quite a bit of research on DES and its effects on gender identity and transsexuality, and a major book by Deborah Rudacille, The Riddle of Gender, on DES and transsexuality and transgender. I think you need to track that down. It’s possible he was actually trans because of DES exposure, and that his sexual orientation was a part of that.

Priya Lynn
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

RD, trans people are same sex attracted, opposite sex attracted, and bisexual. No one sexual orientation automatically goes along with being transgender or transsexual.

Jim Burroway
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

RD,

I’ve talked to people who knew Kirk very well, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t trans. Contrary to written reports, he never really expressed a desire to be a girl nor did he exhibit a feminine expression or identity.

I did a quick check around the web, and some people seem to think there may be a link between DES and homosexuality. I haven’t had the time to check further to see what the link looks like or how strong it is. But Kirk’s undescended testicle raises a red flag — it looks like that is a common result of DES exposure. Last time I asked Kaytee about hormone therapy, she couldn’t remember its name. But at the time, I didn’t have any names either with which to jog her memory. But I will definitely look into this. Thanks for the tip.

David
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for covering the tremendous damage that these “therapies” can inflict on young people. Unfortunately, oftentimes parents put their kids through them because they don’t know any better. They are victims of the same homophobic society that their children are. We need to educate and support parents if we want to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future. There’s a great new resource for parents who have recently learned that their son or daughter is gay or lesbian — a 35-minute film called LEAD WITH LOVE. It’s available for free online (http://www.leadwithlovefilm.com). Unlike Rekers’ work, this film’s message is actually consistent with mainstream scientific information on sexual orientation, and offers parents support, comfort, and guidance on how to be a good parent to their child.

Peteykins
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Seriously, this is Pulitzer material. I’m deeply impressed. The amount of work that went into this is astonishing, and it’s very well presented.

AlexH
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

I second Peteykins comments, definitely Pulitzer work.

Bravo to BTB & Jim Burroway & AC360 for picking up the story.

My heart aches after reading about the “blue & red poker chips.”

L K Tucker
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

It is unlikely that Kirk Murphy’s suicide was caused by the treatment so long ago. But there is something that will cause suicide if the conditions for it are created and maintained long enough. Subliminal Distraction, a normal feature in our physiology of sight caused mental breaks for office worker forty years ago. The cubicle was designed to stop it in offices by 1968.

College student can create this exposure and there are regular suicides on campus. Counseling does not stop them.

There have been 18 suicides at Foxconn in China and 60 at France Telecom. Political groups blame poor working conditions and management but TV news video posted on YouTube shows the companies took no precaution for Subliminal Distraction and did not provide Cubicle Level Protection where it would be needed.

Anyone with a computer at home can create this problem.

DAM
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

RD – As one of Kirk’s best friends, I can assure you that he never wanted to be a woman. He was a gay man – a man who was attracted to other men. Nothing more, nothing less.

RD
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn– I agree, absolutely, and I did not mean to imply otherwise.

Jim Burroway & DAM — thanks, agreed, my point only is that research has shown a strong connection between being trans and prenatal DES exposure, so it seems reasonable to surmise it could also have played a role in Kirk’s being gay. The fact he had an undescended testicle is, as you note, a real red flag. DES is an incredibly powerful toxin, according to some estimates a single therapeutic dose was chemically equivalent to over 55,000 birth control pills. It is the only known transplacental carcinogen, and also causes birth defects and genetic changes. It was very widely prescribed for decades to prevent miscarriage so it is very possible his mother was given it. There has not been that much research on its effects on the brain, but it clearly was very real. Good luck checking on that.

Patrick F
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for sharing everyone.

@Nick — Hang in there…just be who you are. You are your own perfect self!

@ L K Tucker — I have no reason to doubt that what Kirk endured all those years ago, absolutely did impact his final decision. Unless you personally know someone, you cannot say otherwise.

I met Kirk in 1987 and we instantly became very close friends, in fact, best friends for many years. We spent time together in the Air Force and stayed friends forever. I last saw Kirk in 2002, a year before his death. Kirk was one of the most loving and giving people I have ever known. Kirk was honest to the core and only wanted what was best for those in his life. Like DAM said, Kirk never wanted to be a woman…he was a gay man, simply put. We laughed, cried and and did normal things together. He was just a great guy. He just wanted to be loved and accepted.

What has been uncovered in this investigation is heartbreaking. I wonder now, how Kirk might have been different had none of this treatment ever have occured. I am so sad he went through all of this, I loved Kirk just the way he was, and I do not doubt his love for me, his other close friends, and his siblings,just the same. The anger I have toward this treatment though is bountiful. I am certain Kirk’s love for himself would have been so much stronger had he not endured this ordeal — I am confidnet he would probably still be with us today.

PF

Warren
June 12th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,
First and foremost wonderful job on this horrific story. Thank you for bringing Kirk’s story to us in the hope that others may see the ignorance and evil connected to nonacceptance. There is so much blame to go around I wouldn’t know where to start from society to the parents to UCLA to researchers that I feel the best thing we can do is not focus on that but rather turn toward the future to make sure that all the little Kirks that are out there today never have to go through what he did. Gay rights and acceptance should be the new Civil Rights movement- not tolerance but acceptance. Thank you again and RIP Kirk I am sorry that you had to suffer.

Sarah
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

It’s been said that salt, light and air are elements that help heal wounds. I hope the tears that’ve been shed, the story brought to light and the openness you help to promote will prevent intolerance for others. ~sdb

MEP
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

Sarah, what a beautiful sentiment.

TGS
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

I second the motion – this is award-winning journalism. After reading it, I finally had the courage to confront my own mother about similar treatment (although not as severe as Kirk’s) that I endured as a boy. No child should grow up believing they are fundamentally flawed.

I have shared this report with mental health professionals who work with gay clients – as it provides such insight about the long-term impact of “corrective behaviors” used with young children.

I pray that Kirk has found the peace denied to him as a child.

Rob Lindeman
June 21st, 2011 | LINK

Strong work, Zoe.

If only Kirk had been born a few years later, after the APA declared that homosexuality was no longer a disease! This mockery of medical science and this useless destruction of a precious human soul might never have happened.

Zoe Brain
June 23rd, 2011 | LINK

I recommended this article, and it made it into Grand Rounds – the best of medical blogging.

So expect more traffic, and more medical and mental health professionals to stop by and read it.

Maris
June 23rd, 2011 | LINK

Hi, Zoe: Can you please explain more about where/what you recommended this article to? THANKS! :)

g_whiz
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve been talking up the extraordinary work you’ve done here too. I don’t think I’ve seen such meticulously done research and such a tender, heartbreaking case covered like this in a very long while. You’ve done a brilliant thing debunking these snake oil salesmen.

Vepar Amon
July 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Homosexuals commit suicide at much higher rates than normal people in any event. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have killed himself even earlier without any treatment? And what about all the successful examples of such therapy? The bias is transparent in this presentation. Hopefully, science will one day come up with a foolproof method for curing those with self-destructive tendencies, but it will take time and work, and perfection cannot be expected overnight.

surfs-up-charlie
July 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Several facets about Kirk Murphy’s life and death reminds one of Mr. Alan Turing, the Brit genius who, during the worst days of WW2, labored mightily and greatly aided in the defeat of the Nazi.

Many computer users may have heard of the ‘Turing test’, utilized to verify the presence of human or machine. This was just a small part of Mr. Turing’s creations.

The suicides of Mr.Turing and Mr.Murphy may lead one to inquire; If it were suddenly 1936-1945 again, we already know both Alan Turing and Kirk Murphy were wholly-committed to an Allied victory. Where would you be, in NYC, London or perhaps, Berlin. We have since documented that Hitler was killing homosexuals in his goddamn Kamps. Where would you be?

surfs-up-charlie
July 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I would venture the entry immediately-preceding mine would indicate an Axis-type, authoritarian-styled and self-identified ‘normal’.

Have you actually never asked yourself the reasons for the relatively high-rate of suicides in the gay populations? If so, are your reasons religious ?

Are you able to provide us with validations(3rd party)of the successful examples of the ‘rub-it-in-their-face-and-save-them-school-of-coercion?

We await;

cowboy
July 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Vepar Amon says:

And what about all the successful examples of such therapy?

I was going to ask you to cite examples but you already answered yourself. There aren’t any. You, in the next few sentences, acknowledge “science will come up with a foolproof method” but hasn’t.

Have you thought maybe those who commit suicide did so because they couldn’t live up to your ideology? If it were so easy to choose a different orientation (as you imply) then choosing heterosexuality would be a better option than suicide.

So, why don’t they? Why don’t we read of thousands and thousands changing to heteros? Why is the AMA not coming here and showing us how? Why only pious people say things like:

Homosexuals commit suicide at much higher rates….”

Priya Lynn
July 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Vepar said “Homosexuals commit suicide at much higher rates than normal people in any event.”.

Because a*holes like you oppress young gays and con them into believing they are bad people. You’re the problem Vepar, not gayness.

Vepar Amon
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

It would be wonderful if it were so, but the homosexual suicide rate has not demonstrably gone down in recent years, despite the obvious rise in approval and acceptance of homosexuality. If homosexuals are killing themselves more frequently than normal people simply because of social oppression, why has the rate not plummeted? There is much evidence that these are psychologically troubled people who need help. We should spend more money trying to help and cure these poor folks.

cowboy
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

to Vepar Amon,
Send money to whom? The folk who run ex-gay therapies that are based on religious dogma? or to a credible scientific group?

Priya Lynn
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

Vepar you haven’t established that the suicide rate is the same – your saying its so doesn’t make it so.

Gays are still widely oppressed, denied equal rights, shunned by families and society. While there has been some improvement in acceptance it is relatively slight. Increased rights does not mean increased acceptance.

The mental health professionals who’ve studied troubled gays point to social disapproval as the cause of mental health issuess and note that gays who positively accept their orientation are better adjusted and happier than those who do not.

You remain the problem, not gayness. Gayness is not a problem in need of a cure, its the bigotry of A*holes like you that needs to be cured.

Richard Rush
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

Vepar, in your eagerness to personally contribute to the persecution of homosexuals, you overlook some things that should be obvious.

No one knows the historic suicide rate, and the further back we look, the less we know. Because homosexuals were viciously persecuted, typically, family, friends, and colleagues did know who was homosexual, and even when they did, it was virtually unknown for an obituary to have mentioned the fact. While that is still true to some extent today, generally people are much more open, so it is no surprise that nowadays many more suicide victims are identified as gay. And make no mistake, there is still plenty of persecution – you are living proof of that, despite your transparent effort to appear concerned when you said, “We should spend more money trying to help and cure these poor folks.” That’s called being a “concern-troll.”

I particularly enjoyed your characterization of homosexuals vs. normal people. You are obviously under the common mistaken impression that normal means something occurring in a majority of cases. Like left-handedness, homosexuality is a normal variation among humans (and other animals) which produces no diminished quality-of-life to themselves or anyone else. The only diminishment comes from authoritarian bigots who try to make the lives of homosexuals as miserable as possible.

Priya Lynn
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

There are also studies which show gay teenagers with supportive families have better mental health and lower suicide rates. A study has also shown that gays who live in states with marriage bans have higher levels of depression than gays who don’t. Another study shows that gays who are out(open about their sexuality) have better mental health than those who are not. There’s a study that shows its a gay person’s attitude towards their gayness that predicts their mental health with gays having a negative view of gayness having poorer mental health.

“The effects of social factors on the mental health status of homosexual men and women have been well documented in studies, which found a relationship between experiences of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination and mental health status.52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 Furthermore, controlling for psychological predictors of present distress seems to eliminate differences in mental health status between heterosexual and homosexual adolescents.62 The mediating role of relationship status suggests that higher prevalence rates of some disorders in homosexual people compared with heterosexual people could also be caused by loneliness.”

52 Brooks V. Minority Stress and Lesbian Women. Lexington, Mass: DC Heath; 1981
53 Meyer IF. Minority stress and mental health in gay men. J Health Soc Behav. 1995;36:38-56
54 Bradford J, Ryan C, Rothblum ED. National Lesbian Health Care Survey: implications for mental health care. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994;62:228-242
55 Frable DE, Wortman C, Joseph J. Predicting self-esteem, well-being, and distress in a cohort of gay men: the importance of cultural stigma, personal visibility, community networks, and positive identity. J Pers. 1997;65:599-624
56 Herek GM, Gillis JR, Cogan JC. Psychological sequelae of hate-crime victimization among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999;67:945-951
57 Meyer IH, Dean L. Internalized homophobia, intimacy, and sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men. In: Herek GM, ed. Stigma and Sexual Orientation: Understanding Prejudice Against Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications; 1998:160-186
58 Herek GM, Gillis JR, Cogan JC, Glunt EK. Hate crime victimization among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults. J Interpersonal Violence. 1997;12:195-215
59 Otis MD, Skinner WF. The prevalence of victimization and its effect on mental well-being among lesbian and gay people. J Homosex. 1996;30:93-121
60 Ross MW. The relationship between life events and mental health in homosexual men. J Clin Psychol. 1990;46:402-411
61 Rotheram-Borus MJ, Hunter J, Rosario M. Suicidal behavior and gay-related stress among gay and bisexual male adolescents. J Adolesc Res. 1994;9:498-508
62 Safen SA, Heimberg RG. Depression, hopelessness, suicidality, and related factors in sexual minority and heterosexual adolescents. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999;67:859-866

cowboy
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

Wow, Priya, wow. Good job.

I note the time of these footnotes and they’re mostly in the 90s. Why are people still not seeing how gays who are happy being gay are better than a dead gay.

In other words, why is bigotry deaf to science?

Oh I know. Bigots by definition have no scientific/logical basis for their irrational and hate-based thoughts.

And, Richard, that is why I get so angry when my school-teacher Sister tells me how some parents try to change their son/daughter from being left-handed. I get angry that they are trying to make someone ‘normal’ when they’re perfectly fine the way they are.

Richard Rush
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

Oops, typo in my last comment. This sentence should read:

No one knows the historic suicide rate, and the further back we look, the less we know. Because homosexuals were viciously persecuted, typically, family, friends, and colleagues did NOT know who was homosexual, and even when they did, it was virtually unknown for an obituary to have mentioned the fact.

Vepar Amon
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn has apparently not been able to read what I wrote, as none of the information he or she gives speaks to the fact I noted. Richard Rush wants to manipulate a situation of imperfect but still ample knowledge to skew in his pet theories. The fact is that homosexuals still commit suicide at much higher rates than normal people–indeed, this fact is trumpeted by the homosexual lobby itself, in an effort to portray our society as though it were viciously homophobic, when anyone can see that homophobia has massively decreased in the past 40 years. So not a word has been said here to refute the fact that something other than social ostracism must be going on with homosexuals if they are still self-annihilating in such high numbers. And then there are the bug chasers and other such odd phenomena. I certainly would vote for more public money for mental health care and medication for these poor sick folks. We are not doing them any favors by telling them the problem is just that homosexual marriage is not legal in their state.

Vepar Amon
July 4th, 2011 | LINK

“There’s a study that shows its a gay person’s attitude towards their gayness that predicts their mental health with gays having a negative view of gayness having poorer mental health.”

I have no doubt there’d be a study out there showing that up is down too, if the ‘up is down’ lobby had exercised the coup d’etat in psychology that the homosexual lobby did back in the 1970s. You can look through the psychological research all day and not find research on any of the questions that would be easy to check on but that psychologists know would reveal things they prefer to keep secret, e.g., that children in homosexual families are more likely to be homosexual themselves. Try to do objective research on homosexuality in psychology today and your career will end quickly, and everyone knows that.

cowboy
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

Vepar Amon might also believe we haven’t landed men on the moon.

There is no debating Mr/Mrs/Ms Amon. Facts are meaningless and proof is not enough to placate someone who is so full of hatred he/she cannot see.

Vepar Amon: I should have recognized a troll with the first post but your regurgitation of the same vitriolic anti-gay propaganda we have heard many times before is only showing your weakness as a logical thinker and perhaps a cover for an internal conflict.

Priya Lynn
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

Vepar said “The fact is that homosexuals still commit suicide at much higher rates than normal people”

Gayness is a normal variant of human sexuality. The vast majority of gays do not commit suicide and those that do do so because of the bigotry you are trying to spread.

Vepar said “anyone can see that homophobia has massively decreased in the past 40 years.”.

No it has not. There have been moderate decreases but as any schoolchild will tell you society is still massively abusive towards gays. The gains in equal rights made do not and have not forced anyone to be less homophobic – don’t confuse one with the other.

Vepar said “So not a word has been said here to refute the fact that something other than social ostracism must be going on with homosexuals if they are still self-annihilating in such high numbers.”.

Your denial of reality is impressive. I’ve presented reams of proof that it is social ostracism that is causing depression and thus higher suicide rate – you’ve been completely and absolutely refuted.

Vepar said “You can look through the psychological research all day and not find research on any of the questions that would be easy to check on but that psychologists know would reveal things they prefer to keep secret, e.g., that children in homosexual families are more likely to be homosexual themselves.”.

You’re hilariously idiotic. You admit there is no research to back up your claim, that you have no basis whatsoever for making it but you pull it out of your a$$ anyway. In fact there is also reams of research that shows the children of gays and lesbians are no more likely to be gay than the children of heterosexuals.

As cowboy says its clear you’ll deny the most obvious of realities in favour of your bigoted fantasies. You are completely devoid of honesty and full of hate and I have completely destroyed your chidish lies so my work is done here.

Priya Lynn
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

One more thing before I go. Vepar is still claiming that the suicide rate has not dropped despite lessening of homophobia – he has no evidence of this, as Richard pointed out the historical suicide rate cannot be known. There simply is no reason to believe that the suicide rate has not dropped and coupled with the huge volumes of studies that show societal oppression harms gays’ mental health it is clear Vepar’s claims are solely hate motivated fantasies.

Timothy Kincaid
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

How do you know that you are dealing with a loon? When they say laughably insane things:

And then there are the bug chasers and other such odd phenomena.

Ah, yes. The “bug chasers”, those elusive folks that were reported once by some anecdote told to some reporter and then repeated in the anti-gay literature to the point where they just assume it’s a common attribute of “the homosexual lifestyle.”

Folks, don’t respond to the troll. You aren’t going to change his views. He is only getting off on “going to the militant homosexual website and telling them about their sinful ways.”

Perhaps it was a clue that he approached a story of such sadness with no compassion whatsoever. Only those who see gay folk as “them” are incapable of empathy. Vepar Amon is a Culture Warrior, engaging in “spiritual warfare against principalities and powers”. Rational argument is a waste of time.

Russ Manley
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Jim, this is such an excellent report, very touching and very disturbing too. I’ve linked to it from my own blog, I think everyone ought to read it. Good job, buddy.

Dear Abby fan
August 6th, 2011 | LINK

This struck so close to home, I had difficulty reading it all. I grew up in the 50s and 60s. By the time I graduated high school, I figured out why I had so many troubles. I went to a psychologist and went through similar therapy to Kirk’s. After nearly two years, something didn’t seem right to me and I wrote to Dear Abby (Abigail Van Buren) and asked her advice. I committed her response to memory and am forever in her debt. What she said hit me like a ton of bricks (and took them off my shoulders). She wrote: “I’m so very sorry for the counsel you have received. I encourage you to accept yourself for who you are. Take care–Abby” No one had ever told me that before. I have often thought I might have ended up like Kirk. Instead, those simple few words changed the course of my life. I now have a wonderful partner of 19 years and will soon celebrate my 60th birthday. I love my life and am very happy. We are both loved and well respected in our [straight] community. Life does get better and we (all LGBT) CAN endure! P.S. I carried that letter with me for years and read it most every day until one day it finally fell apart. I knew then and there that the damage the reparative therapy had done had finally been healed.

Priya Lynn
August 6th, 2011 | LINK

Congratulations on your success story Dear Abby fan.

Mark Murphy
August 7th, 2011 | LINK

Good day all Sorry it took me so long to read all your comments about Kirk and the truth that was brought fourth! I must say though my father was not abusive really remember the red chips were by diagram for disiplne set for by the “therapy” Thanks Jim for doing a fine job telling my Brothers story. Mark

scott veroeven
August 26th, 2011 | LINK

@ Aaron Moore: congrats on surviving the “ex-gay” therapy. i wish you ALL the best!!!

Harald Finehair
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

I don’t see how the very mild techniques the doctors at UCLA used, including the red and blue chips at home could be blamed for the boy killing himself in adulthood.

The boy obviously had a terrible upbringing. Both the mother and father were awful parents. UCLA didn’t tell them to get drunk, scream at each other, administer weekly whippings, divorce, abandon the family, live in poverty or any of the other awful things they did to the children. The boy was clearly messed up from an early age, with all his compulsive stick wringing and all. His brother didn’t fare much better, becoming a drunk, and his brother never went to UCLA for treatment. Acting feminine will get you ostracized in life. I still think we’d better raise our boys to act like men. If the boy had learned that lesson a little better, maybe his life would have gone a little better. With that kind of parenting, though, he was a lost cause from the get go. I can’t see how being discouraged from playing the kind of games you prefer compares.

Priya Lynn
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Harald said “Acting feminine will get you ostracized in life. I still think we’d better raise our boys to act like men. If the boy had learned that lesson a little better, maybe his life would have gone a little better.”.

And at one time being black could get you ostracized in life. The solution is not to give in to it but to repair the society that harms people for innocent characteristics.

Timothy Kincaid
October 24th, 2011 | LINK

Harald,

I’m sure you believe what your wrote.

However, please know that virtually every person of any political persuasion that reads your views will think that you are vile to try and justify what any rational person would find horrific.

But by all means say what you think. After all, only the whole world will hold you accountable.

Ted
January 1st, 2012 | LINK

Thank you so much for your hard work in telling this story. I was so engaged in Kirk’s struggle. Born 23 days after he was, I had my own issues to contend with, and only by the grace of friends was I able to survive.

I hope Mark and Maris find peace.

Alan Chambers
January 17th, 2012 | LINK

Thanks for sharing this story. Ironically, I shared it this morning with our North American leaders. It’s horrific, unspeakable.

Hanford Searl Jr.
June 26th, 2012 | LINK

… As a former Mormon, excommunicated for “being Gay,” my $$$’s on this poor child being LDS & his parent’s too! Read “The Boys of Boise,” if you want to understand-ANOTHER-Mormon horror story about Gays! I’m publishing my 1st. book, about my career/life, which included 15-yrs. in thee LDS “church.” I personally experienced the annual “Witch-Hunt” for Gay LGBTQ students at BYU from ’66-’70! This involved on-campus “electric-shock” therapy for LGBTQ students, which is now off-campus due to lawsuits! Maybe Willard-MITT-Romney ought-to-disavow THAT!!!

Patrick
July 8th, 2012 | LINK

Well everyone knows little boys are just little computers that need to be programed. The only problem is it’s not true. Boys also produce chemicals in their bodies that make them react as they do. They will never feel at home after being brainwashed. They need to be whole adults, and if they are programed wrong they never will be. Like a fish out of water. It can flap around but its suffocating none the less. It’s horrible what so many have had to go through to please someone that cared so little about them. It’s worse than rape.

Chuck
July 24th, 2012 | LINK

You guys have done an OUTSTANDING job in this piece of amazing journalism. Keep up the good work. I just found this site, and I think I will be coming back often for meaningful articles about the LGBT community.

Zen
August 2nd, 2012 | LINK

is this the same George Alan Rekers who was caught with a “rent boy” male escort a couple of years back?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/05/george-rekers-anti-gay-ac_n_565142.html

Jaime
August 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Zen
Yes this is the same person to my knowledge.
http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2011/06/08/33977

If you wish to read more of the excellent work done by Jim, Timothy, et al. just put Rekers in search line on upper left.

Jaime

Fortuna Veritas
September 9th, 2012 | LINK

Honestly I’m just surprised Kirk never went after Rekers if he figured he had nothing left to lose and someone to blame.

Rob
November 28th, 2012 | LINK

Kirk’s story is such a sad and tragic one. He was failed as a child by pretty much every adult during his childhood. Rekers and Green should feel nothing but shame for their part in this.

I probably feel less sympathy for Kirk’s mother than some might think I should. To this day, she does not realise the full extent of the harm she caused not just Kirk, but Mark and Maris as well.

As for Rod, he deserved nothing but contempt for deserting his children and leaving them to their fates. A drunken bastard might be the best epitaph for his headstone.

flipside
January 6th, 2013 | LINK

This treatment of young people is a form of abuse. They should be free to decide who they are, and when they know who they are they should get the right treatment to bring their outer appearance in line with their true identity. Some people choose no treatment so that should be an option too. The film XXY is about a child in South America whose parents and doctors want them to decide who they are but the child wants no treatment.
1 in 200 people have some level of IS condition, 1 in 1000 have a more visible form.

Luke
July 20th, 2013 | LINK

While many of the highlights have already been hit by other comments, I am particularly impressed by the unbiased, level-headed manner in which this article is researched and written. It’s easy to get outraged over something like this (and rightly so), but it can be very hard to step back and produce a long, well thought out piece and let the facts speak for themselves.

And boy, did they. This is journalism at its finest, and an excellent illustration of why we have journalistic standards in the first place: this article will do a lot more for the cause it refers to than a thousand self-righteous blog posts, however justified they may be.

This article also made me realize a depressing truth: I’m glad I’m not gay because of how much harder things would be socially if I was. That’s just not something that should be happening. If I feel like I dodged a bullet, what about the people who were hit by it, metaphorically speaking?

In this way, the article has made me feel that bit more strongly about all forms of discrimination and more recognizing of my own privilege. That’s…well, let me put it this way: I think if everyone read this and had the same reaction, we’d be living in a better world.

I’m a bit of an idealist personally, but I don’t think this is an exaggeration. By being such a strong example of journalistic integrity, this story provides the truth in a way that is, or should be at least, simply undeniable. I’m rambling at this point so I’ll finish up by saying that as a straight white male I thank you for helping me to become a better person.

Simon
October 24th, 2013 | LINK

Would this be the same George Rekers who was / is very senior in the Anti Gay Organisation AFTAH but hired an Travel assistant (!!!!) from Rentboy.com ?

Priya Lynn
October 24th, 2013 | LINK

Yes it would Simon.

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