When news broke earlier this month that Nicolosi, above – known as ‘the father of gay reparative therapy’ – had died, LifeSiteNews ran a grossly inaccurate headline: ‘Joseph Nicolosi helped thousands coping with unwanted homosexual desires’.
He most certainly did not.
In fact, the devout Catholic quack, according to Christian writer Jonathan Merritt, wrecked “countless” gay lives.
Beneath the headline “Ex-gay pioneer Joseph Nicolosi is dead. That’s good news for LGBT people he hurt”, Merritt wrote:
When I learned that ‘ex-gay therapy’ pioneer Joseph Nicolosi had died, my first response was, ‘Thank God’. And not like, ‘Thank God, he’s in a better place’. More like, ‘Thank God he isn’t around to destroy any more gay and lesbian lives’.
Merritt went on to point out that, as numerous studies have shown, “ex-gay therapy” simply doesn’t work.
It’s so terribly ineffective that the largest ex-gay ministry, Exodus International, shuttered after admitting that 99.9 percent of participants did not experience a shift in orientation. And other ministries who were active in promoting ex-gay therapy, like Focus on the Family, have shifted their attention to other matters.
The real problem with Nicolosi’s “therapy” is not its ineffectiveness but its harmfulness.
Among patients, it has been shown to create heightened levels of anxiety, distress, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Every major medical association has repudiated the practice, and some states have outlawed it for minors. The horror stories told by former patients are numerous and are so sad that they are difficult to read at length. (For a milder account, there’s the story of how Nicolosi drove one teen to ‘the brink of suicide’.)
Still, I cannot rejoice over Nicolosi’s death. Instead, I wish he had lived long enough to shut down his clinic, repudiate his work, and apologise to the countless people he harmed.
I’m sorry for all the family members and friends who doubtlessly miss their departed loved one. I know they must be grieving, and I pray God meets them in their mourning.
But I’m not sorry Joseph Nicolosi will no longer profit from peddling debunked pseudoscience.
I’m not sorry he won’t be able to spread a false hope that people can cleanse same-sex attractions through a special kind of counseling.
And I’m not sorry that he will no longer be able to sow hopelessness and despair among LGBT youth, contributing to their disproportionate depression and suicide rates.
Christians believe that upon death, we end up in an eternal place surrounded by our faithful ancestors and immersed in God’s presence. Christians refer to this place as heaven. I imagine that when Nicolosi died on Wednesday (March 8) and entered eternity, he was shocked to find LGBT people there, too. Many of them, I imagine, entered that eternal realm prematurely because of his messages. He’ll have plenty of time to apologise to them now.
I do not believe Nicolosi was an evil man, but it seems undeniable that he perpetuated one of the greatest evils to come from the Christian community in the last half century. On Facebook, his wife said, ‘Dr. Nicolosi had always hoped for his legacy as the creator of Reparative Therapy to go on’.
Well, I hope it does not. I hope it too will also pass from this earth.
May it be so.
I declined the invitation, stating that the host’s gay identity would disqualify him from a fair evaluation of the ex-gay experience.
To refuse participation because the host is gay may seem unreasonable, until we recognise that the adoption of a gay identity typically prevents someone from honestly assessing the experience of the other man who has taken a different developmental route – ie, the ex-gay person.
Why would this be true? Let me explain.
According to the literature, the “coming out of the closet” process begins in early adolescence with the discovery of same-sex attraction. The teenager then usually rejects his homosexual feelings because of the negative social values around him. His painful and lonely efforts to suppress, repress and deny his feelings result in guilt and shame, which eventually culminates in self-loathing.
But shortly thereafter, this teenager discovers that there are others like him, and often through the support and encouragement of a gay counselor, coach, teacher or religious leader, he decides that gay is ‘who he is’. The adoption of this gay identity necessitates the abandonment of any hope that he could ever modify his unwanted feelings and develop his heterosexual potential.
After Nicolosi died from complications arising out of influenza, his wife and professional partner Linda Ames Nicolosi wrote:
Joe worked in a profession that has lost its intellectual integrity. Gay activists have such a stranglehold on psychology that no one dares defy them. Joe, however, did defy them. And I thank him for his courage.