The Right to Stay Gay
In a few days, I will respond to some questions you have passed along to me, but I want to depart a little and just give you a candid and important "take" on a practice which is psychologically and emotionally damaging GLBT young people (of any age).
Back in the 70's it is reported that several groups of "ex-gays" formed in an effort to help gay teenagers, and younger children, to become what they considered to be normal at the time. The groups then were called Agape, Exodus, Courage and several other names. They all originated with "born again" Christian churches which sought to re-program gay and lesbian kids to make them straight. Almost forgot, the Jewish group for the same purpose was and is called Jonah. All of these groups shared the one goal which was to identify a gay or lesbian child and "pray the gay away." Some young people were forced by their parents to belong to these groups and to often go on their retreats out of the area.
In today's Star-Ledger there is an excellent article entitled THE RIGHT TO STAY GAY (Star-Ledger Article/Susan Livio). It interviews some LGBT people who have suffered much harm when these often-unlicensed psychologists tried to mess with their minds and make them straight. All with parental consent, and at an assumingly high cost.... there is a boy who was forced to masturbate while viewing pictures of women. Another practice was to give a boy medication which would cause him to vomit when the therapist flashed a picture of two men holding hands (I frankly don't know how this would work) and then forcing the "victim" to have electro-shock treatments twice a week.
These so-called "therapies" are called conversion therapy and reparative therapy. Not only do they demoralize the young person, they are responsible for many suicides and much self-loathing. The people who run these groups have, time and time again, been proven to be frauds. There have been cases of some of the therapists cruising in gay bars. Others have actually hit upon their "patients," thus confusing the issue more than proving that change is possible.
If any of you have become distressed by the article, or if you have been the victim of one of these groups, be aware that a NJ Senate health committee has approved a bill which bans these types of abuses and calls them "child abuse." Noting that both the National Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have opposed allowing these groups to continue.
I want to reiterate that if you belong to some type of religious group which tries to force this type of abuse on you, run as fast as you can. The same goes for the Catholic group called Courage which operates on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous and infers that change is possible. This group, however, has been driven to admit that they do not change the gay or lesbian person's attraction to the same sex, but they claim that members pledge to be celibate. Now, how would anyone be able to know if this occurs or not!
A beautiful African-American nun, Sister Thea Bowman, taught her students who felt abused by white people to sing out that "I am a Child of God." This wonderful nun died long before her time, but I can assure you that she would have had the same advice for our GLBT people today.
We all have destructive elements in our lives (smoking, eating disorders, depression...to name a few) and working to change these compulsive behaviors is sensible. BUT agreeing with anyone on the face of this earth that you must (or even CAN) change your sexual orientation should send up a red flag immediately. Never let them try to make you anything other than the way you were created to be.
If anyone is in this type of quagmire now and is even tempted to attempt to change his/her orientation, drop me a line. I can find you an understanding clergyperson to help you. In most cases they are not gay, but gay affirming.
I may be reached about the subject of this blog OR with any other questions at www.kippynj.com.