Love in Action origins, Part next

John Evans says in his recent letter to Wayne Besen: “Now to actually claim that I was never a part of the original group that founded Love In Action boggles my mind.”

I am not claiming Mr. Evans was not there. I am exploring the roles people who were there played and I am exploring the spin surrounding the issue. My curiosity was piqued by Wayne Besen’s claims that none of the ex-gay organizational founders ever changed or remained straight. I have learned that the claim is not true as it relates to Exodus and I am now looking into that claim about Love in Action and may do so about other groups (for instance I have recently learned that there were two founders of Homosexuals Anonymous and one of them is still straight after 30 years).

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    In his letter, John Evans states that the ex-gay movement is responsible for driving people to depression and suicide.

    I can understand where he’s coming from. I can see how in the earlier days, before people really understood homosexuality, that people may have been needlessly harmed, or shamed into doing things they did not want to. In fact, some of that definitely still goes on today, a dark shadow from the past which I feel is unfortunate. It saddens me, really. Part of this shadow extends towards those that may attempt to do therapy that involves re-orientation, painting them as villains.

    However, the so called Ex-Gay movement is not equivalent to re-orientation therapists at large.
    Simply put, all those in the Ex-Gay political movement practice re-orientation therapy. However, not all re-orientation therapists are part of the Ex-Gay political movement, nor do they necessarily agree with their religious philosophy regarding social issues. The latter is a very difficult thing for most people to understand, but it is true.

    I know two re-orientation therapists in Massachusetts who are members of NARTH, in so far as they pay their monthly dues so that they can receive the newsletter, and get in contact with others who practice re-orientation therapy.

    One therapist is an atheist Jew who is also a card carrying member of the ACLU. The other is a secular marriage and family therapist.

    However, both would definitely not be Ex-Gay players in the strict sense of the word. In fact, one of the therapists (the atheist Jew) has recently stopped going to NARTH conferences, citing religious philosophical differences, as he does not agree with their stance regarding gay adoption and all those other social issues.

    The other therapist, just to give you an idea of how he operates, is currently doing couples therapy with a married lesbian couple, but he has also finished working with a man with same sex attractions (SSA). That man has gotten over his SSA, and has moved on to get married, and is happy.

    The latter example involving the lesbian couple ought to be shocking to those who think that all re-orientation therapists are grim reapers bent on destroying lives.

    The two therapists mention do not attempt to shame their patient into turning straight or do any of that nonsense. They simply do good therapy that is in accordance with the APA, which means trying to understand the patient as an individual, including how his SSA works (IF and only if it is a problem for him), and to expand the patient’s life options, especially if the patient feels severly limited (these may include issues other than SSA).

    I’m currently seeing one of these therapists, and paradoxically, he’s helping me to get over some residual internalized homophobia, which he feels is blocking my growth through therapy. But that is a story for another time. Again, this should sound pretty shocking to those who believe that all re-orientation therapists rely on the shame-game.

    I can point out countless other re-orientation therapists who fit the same mold. There is one in San Franscisco who is doing couples therapy with a gay couple, but who has also saved another patient’s marriage (he has SSA). This patient is now able to have sex with his wife without relying on homosexual fantasies. He has achieved a shift in inner fantasy and arousal.

    If you have questions for these therapists, I will check to see if it’s okay to give out their email to you.

    None of these therapists would want to be thrown in the same box as the so-called Ex-Gay Political movement. And I don’t see them as having anything to do with the Movement, other than their belief regarding patient self determination and pure understanding.

    Moral of the story: Life is full of wonderful subtleties and nuances.

    -Nathan
    PS: Warren, I will do a write up of my experiences and I will send them to you by e-mail.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Warren,

    Would the “straight” one be Doug McIntyre or Colin Cook?

    Even a cursory glance over their histories indicates bisexual orientations — before, during and after. And, as I hope we realise, bisexuals need not change their sexual orientation to behave as either gay or straight. Because of this, I’m beginning to wonder if you can/will recognise the difference between a change in sexual behaviour (by a bisexual) and a change in sexual orientation?

    But that’s by the by, for now. The real interest in following the story about H.A. is how easily some are fooled because the claims match what they wish was true. Unfortunately, in the case of H.A., this wishful thinking enabled Cook to interfer with young men who had been sent to him for “reorientation”. More than once.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Nathan,

    I would hope that all ethical therapists would respond to whatever “troubles” are being expressed by a client.

    In the case of a anxious or depressed (suicidal, etc) client hopefully the first actions would be to stabilise the client and thereby enable them to respond to future directions in therapy; whatever they might be. In the case of yourself, it sounds as if your therapist is not precluding any future direction for you.

    Unfortunately, this is not the case with the highly contentious reorientation movement associated with NARTH et al.

    The very basis of, say Nicolosi’s reparative therapy, is a view that homosexuality is a mental illness and an ungodly way of life. Ditto the resources provided via Exodus’ etc. These views ARE transferred to their clients — and the wider community — and may rapidly cause distress of and by themself.

    With this, clients with histories of sexual or other abuse, or actual mental illness, can be sent off onto a cycle of attempted repression, self-harm, self-blame for not changing and low self-respect. And the inevitable happens.

    Add to this mix a high-profile media campaign that relies on sound-bites and even non-clients can find themself caught in such a cycle; particularly if they have issues that could be properly dealt with by an ethical therapist without any reference per se to sexuality.

    I think you’ll find this is the underlying objection to the way the exgay movement is organised. It has nothing to do with whatever you may wish for yourself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Grantdale,

    Sure, Exodus has said a lot of questionable things. Sure, Nicolosi himself may have a negative view of homosexuals, but I do not care. My original points, which I hope were understood, were that there are 1) re-orientation therapists who do not hold the position that homosexuality per se is an “ungodly” thing that necessarily needs to be changed, and 2) not all re-orientation therapists can be said to be members of the Ex-Gay Political movement, particularly when some of them are atheist liberal Jews.

    That is all. My examples involving the San Francisco and Massachussetts therapists high-light this.

    “In the case of a anxious or depressed (suicidal, etc) client hopefully the first actions would be to stabilise the client and thereby enable them to respond to future directions in therapy; whatever they might be. In the case of yourself, it sounds as if your therapist is not precluding any future direction for you.”

    What you describe is the foundation of what any good therapist should do. It is also how the aforementioned re-orientation therapists operate. Of the three which I’ve personally corresponded with, I’ve been struck with how completely different they are from the abstract depictions (in the press and internet) of re-orientation therapists as shady, unethical homophobes.

    ! I cannot imagine any ethical therapist saying to a patient who is conflicted and suicidal about his sexual feelings: “You must change to be happy! Gayness equals misery and destruction!”

    ! Equally as un-ethical as the above example would be the hypothetical therapist who says to the same patient: “You must live in accordance with your sexual desires and live as an openly gay man! There’s no other option for happiness!”

    Both are extreme positions and they ignore the complexities of life, complexities which any person of average intelligence should be able to grasp. Unfortunately, there are people out there who think in that manner.

    Therapists who would say either of the two things mentioned above deserve to be drop-kicked, whether they are re-orientational or gay-affirming.

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “Even a cursory glance over their histories indicates bisexual orientations — before, during and after. And, as I hope we realise, bisexuals need not change their sexual orientation to behave as either gay or straight.”

    You say that it is possible to detect a bisexual orientation from a person’s past history/behavior (external observation), but later on, paradoxically, you say that there is a distinct difference between orientation and behavior. I agree with the latter statement, but the former statement is questionable.

    Simply put, it is impossible to tell if someone has a bisexual orientation based on their past history, or behavior. It is impossible to tell what anyone’s sexual orientation is based on outward, external actions. A man may be having sex with a woman, but if his fantasies during intercourse are purely about men, and if he needs pure gay fantasies to remain aroused, then he is has a homosexual orientation. He would be a homosexually oriented man who is living bisexually. Different from actually having a bisexual orientation.

    So what is the criteria for being bisexual? The most up to date definition is the ability to enjoy sex with both genders. Yet many gay men admit that they have this ability, yet they *choose* to keep the “gay” label.

    Having looked at the definition of bisexual orientation, researchers say that self labelling is A component of a fully formed, bisexual orientation, or any sexual orientation, so clearly, there is an element of “I think, therefore I am (bi?)”.

    “Because of this, I’m beginning to wonder if you can/will recognise the difference between a change in sexual behaviour (by a bisexual) and a change in sexual orientation?”

    How do we measure any of the above? The change in behavior is simple, but the change in orientation is infinitely harder, as researchers do not have a clear definition of what sexual orientation “is.” There is no consistent biological test that can invariably tell all gay men apart from all straight men. All we can go on, at least for now, is subjective self report–”I think, therefore I am (gay).”

    In fact, most studies done on sexual orientation have all relied on self report or self labeling.

    -Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    My supervisors in grad school was like your therapist friends Nathan. They are retired now.

    Doug M. I have discussed his history with him and there was no sexual interest in women up to a certain adult point in his life and then a process to change and now there is no sexual interest in men.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Nathan,

    When you know who Colin Cook or Doug McIntyre are, and their history, we can discuss this further. As a word of warning :-) don’t be so quick to defend them — particularly Colin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Warren,

    You may have. Did you believe him?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Urgh, sorry Wrren, pressed Post instead of Preview.

    What Doug told you is “interesting”. He was married for 15 years, couple of kids etc etc before jumping the fence (during, IMO, an experiment that he got caught bad over).

    No interest in women? I think you need to go search for what he said on other occasions — regardless of what he said to you recently. The web has a long, long memory…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    I am certainly going to look at anything I can find. I have been unable to find much on Doug M. on the web. I will read anything you suggest.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Please, (PLEASE), don’t call me Wayne, but I’m not doing your work for you.

    I know how this works. Far better to prompt, than to give. Easy come, easy go; as they say.

    But you’re correct in saying that nothing pops up quickly on the “issue”. Odd, no?

    Failing that. I’m available at USD120 per hour… no personal cheques accepted.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    ok, Way…oh I mean grantdale :)

    Man, you are pricey!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “When you know who Colin Cook or Doug McIntyre are, and their history, we can discuss this further. As a word of warning :-) don’t be so quick to defend them –particularly Colin.”

    You care to share?

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Google

    Yahoo
    :)


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