Montel Williams, Dr. Salzer and Abomination

During the Montel Williams Show called Homosexuality…Can it be cured?, Dr. Alicia Salzer said in response to Alan Chambers:

…science has shown us that 96% of people cannot change and along the way, absorb an enormous amount of self-loathing, a lot of confusion, a lot of family conflict, so I know the harm.

Surprised that she would make this dogmatic statement, I contacted the show to ask how she arrived at the 96% figure. The producer Melissa Borusso called to say Dr. Salzer relied on the 2002 study by Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder, titled “Changing Sexual Orientation: A Consumer’s Report” published in the APA journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. I am quite familiar with this research. I presented along side Drs. Shidlo and Schroeder at the 2000 APA convention in Washington DC, where they Shidlo & Schroedermade their results public in a symposium titled “Gays, ex-gays, and ex-ex-gays: Examining key religious, ethical and diversity issues.” The symposium was organized by Mark Yarhouse and also included a presentation by Doug Haldeman. The Shidlo and Schroeder study is valuable in that it provides documentation that some efforts to reorient sexuality may have harmful outcomes for some people.

However, the Shidlo and Schroeder study cannot provide a basis for Dr. Salzer’s claim made before a national audience. In fact, Drs. Shidlo and Schroeder were very clear about this in their research report, saying:

The data presented in this article do not provide information on the incidence and the prevalence of failure, success, harm, help, or ethical violations in conversion therapy. (italics in the original, p. 250).

Exactly. Probability of change cannot be gleaned from this study. The cautious rendering of the research would be that some people report being harmed and some people report benefit from efforts to modify aspects of their sexuality. At present, we do not know with precision how likely either outcome is to occur for anyone.

After hearing from the Montel folks that Dr. Salzer relied on Shidlo and Schroeder for this authoritative sounding figure of 96%, I remembered seeing how she arrived at this figure in her video, Abomination: Homosexuality and the Ex-Gay Movement. First, the stage is set with on-screen appearances from Dr. David Scasta and Dr. Robert Spitzer. Dr. Scasta describes how the scientific community reviews data to come to a consensus about an issue and then says, “what’s been coming out of the consensus is that much of the data coming out of the Christian right groups is really not scientific.” Now I do not completely disagree with this statement because the 30% figure that is often used is an educated guess based on clinical experience of certain reparative therapists as well as research on methods that are not used frequently (e.g., aversive conditioning) or widely (traditional psychoanalysis) in the present. Also, it is not clear that all studies or therapists use the same definition of change or success. However, lack of knowledge does not mean that number is incorrect, it means we don’t know.

Successful

Following Dr. Scasta is Dr. Spitzer who says, “The people who do this therapy claim that about a third make a substantial change in behavior and feelings, I very much doubt that that happens.” Bob has been on the record with this point before.

If the film had stopped there or simply said, we do not know how frequently change occurs, I would not be writing this post. However, following the introduction of doubt about the numbers offered by “the Christian right,” Dr. Salzer’s video segues to Dr. Ariel Shidlo and a description of his 2002 report.

We decided to do research on the effects of conversion therapy, because at the time there wasn’t a lot of scientific data about it. We interviewed 202 people who had undergone conversion therapy. Only 13% of those had felt the therapy had been a success. When we took a closer look at that 13% we found some very interesting things.

fourpercent

With this prelude, Ariel Shidlo describes his study with Michael Schroeder. Recall that Shidlo and Schroeder said their report does not provide data that could address prevalence of harm or benefit, and yet the video spent much time reviewing prevalence of different outcomes. While the film does not say what Dr. Salzer said on Montel, it does provide numbers that appear to be authoritative, especially in the context of disparaging estimates attributed to the “Christian right.”

FailedFirst, Dr. Shidlo notes that 13% of the participants said they benefitted from their therapy experiences. From there, Dr. Shidlo partitions the 13% into those who were still struggling, single and celebate and finally, the 4% of their group who viewed themselves as heterosexual. The video depicts an 87% failure rate. On the Montel show, Dr. Salzer moves the failure rate to 96%.

In my opinion, the Montel Show should retract Dr. Salzer’s statement and I have asked them to do so. While I recognize there are problems with how research is used by the ex-gay movement, the Montel quote is also a significant misuse of research by a psychiatrist and in then to a lesser degree by an association of psychiatrists via the Abomination video as well.

Note: All graphics are from the video Abomination: Homosexuality and the Ex-gay Movement

UPDATE: An op-ed on this subject is posted on DrThrockmorton.com.

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  • Ivan

    What was that blog entry comment I made earlier about ex-gays not being the only dishonest ones? It would be interesting to set up a website and monitor those who monitor ex-gays. It could get interesting — Any takers?

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    This is a really interesting post, Dr. T. I applaud you for staying on Montel’s and Dr. Salzar’s cases.

    And I have an honest question here that I’m going to try to articulate. I’d mainly like to hear back from the therapists on the blog.

    From my obviously under-informed perspective, it seems to me that all psychological studies about gay, ex-gay and ex-ex-gay are based primarily (or maybe even solely) on self-report. How does that factor in? For me, it makes all such studies deeply suspect. (I think of the Scripture passage from Jeremiah – The heart is deceptive above all things.)

    Just wondering.

  • http://www.hamarlaw.com Michael Hamar

    While the Shidlo and Schroeder study may not be perfect, it is far more legitmate than what is put out by those running “ex-gay” ministries who claim large numbers of success, but have no data to back it up. I also believe that Spitzer is correct that the number of gays who can “change” is very small – a fact conveniently not mentioned by those backing the ex-gay myth and claiming that Spitzer’s study supports them.

    Of those few who do “change,” I suspect most of the change is actually merely a suppression of thoughts and desires in a desperate effort to conform to religious dogma and beliefs that condemn homosexuality. Then, of course, to this group one must also add the “ex-gay” for pay individuals who make money off of trying to convincing distraught parents and families that their child can change.

    As for Ivan’s question, a good site is Ex-Gay Watch – it regularly comments on new research claims made by “ex-gay” ministries. Personnally, if those who support the myth that gays can “change” want to be given any serious consideration, they need to (1) distance themselves from “Christians” like James Dobson, et al, who continue to cite fraudulent studies put out by Paul Cameron, (2) stop utilizing frauds like Michael Johnston (who once again claims he’s cured) as their poster boys, and (3) keep data to back up the claims of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – cured of their unwanted homosexuality. Until this happens, I will continue to view ex-gay ministries as dangerous frauds that describe themselves as religious ministries so as to avoid regulation and control by state mental healt and medical agencies.

  • Ivan

    Michael,

    I know there is a site that monitors and critiques ex-gays and ex-gay claims (exgaywatch.com), but my proposal was to monitor those very website/sblogs.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    I think the key point here is to go back to the original claim, that “science says…” point. I’ve never seen this video until I saw the excerpts on the Montel Williams show. I was rather surprised by what I saw.

    My reaction was this: Of all the people on the show — Richard Cohen, Mike Jones, Alan Chambers, Lance Carroll, Peterson Toscano — for me, it was the video and Dr. Salzar who came across as the least credible. That really says something when you throw Richard Cohen into the mix.

    I guess I’m going to have to buy the video now. There were a few other things that were portrayed in those brief snippets that I found very incredible.

    As everyone knows, I am not, by any means, a fan of the ex-gay movement. But I agree that it doesn’t matter who distorts science or for what reason. Whether it’s the Ph.D’s from NARTH and Focus on the Family or the FRC on one hand, or Ph.D’s on the pro-gay side. It’s just plain wrong.

  • Ann

    isn’t there also a number of people who will never participate in any kind of study because they have made their own personal decision and have chosen to maintain their privacy about it?

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Perhaps they could have given the 87% figure and qualified it by mentioning that out of that, 4% considered themselves heterosexual. However, Warren you must admit that we have been hearing the “change is possible” mantra for a very long time and few if any of the major players ever stop to qualify that. Would you not agree that the average person takes the statement that “homosexuals can change” and “homosexuality is not immutable” to mean that a successful change results in a heterosexual? Do you ever see a billboard claiming that “celibacy is possible?”

    Personally, I would like to see better statistics on all of this, something we have been begging Exodus to do with follow-up for a long, long time. The only data that comes close to being scientific seems to indicate that finding genuinely ex-gay people, if one even accepts the loose definition, is incredibly difficult. So let’s not come down too hard on those who depend on the only data available, particularly when none is forthcoming from the organizations who are in a real position to know.

    One more thing if I might. I sincerely hope I hear you in the near future writing Exodus, James Dobson, David Kyle Foster, et al for their totally spurious claims that thousands, hundreds of thousands and yes, hold on, millions of people have gone from homosexual to heterosexual. And though it may be stated as “freedom from homosexuality” or some other religious language, it means the same. When you start demanding retractions from them, I will pay more attention to your complaints about the Montel gaff.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Ivan said:

    I know there is a site that monitors and critiques ex-gays and ex-gay claims (exgaywatch.com), but my proposal was to monitor those very website/sblogs.

    With all due respect Ivan, that’s what our commenters do on a daily basis. Unlike the Exodus blog, which doesn’t even allow trackbacks from us much less comments, or the NARTH blog, which finally shut down when they couldn’t censor all the comments with which they disagreed without looking incredibly bad, we invite anyone who is willing to debate the issues we present in an honest and civil manor – and they do. Even Doc Throck drops by on occasion to draw away some of our traffic, er em I mean make salient points ;) Hey doc!

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    The major problem I see with Ivan’s suggestion is what the site would be called. Would it be Ex-ex-gay Watch? Or Ex-gay Watch Watch? It could get really confusing trying to sort out all the labels.

    Will someone please take a crack at answering my “self-report” question above? I really do want to hear an informed answer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Briefly, (I am fighting off March Madness) Karen, the answer is yes, self-report is about what we have had up to now. Michael Bailey and I are hoping to do a brain imaging study sometime this year which would give a new perspective on things. The behavioral studies of years gone by used plythesmographs but this assessment is not reliable.

    Ahhh, another MM attack…

  • Ivan

    David,

    Homosexuals are a minority. So imagine a minority of a minority (homosexuals who don’t agree with mainstream ideas about homosexuality) running a blog that posts and critiques the minority. It’s very difficult. For example, how often does a hateful bigot come and post on exgaywatch? They hardly bother. Could the same be said for the kind of website I proposed? Unlikely. So regarding a blog with comments, it would just never work. Maybe it would, but it’d be complex. As for your solution, an honest, civil debate on exgaywatch, it’s a bit unrealistic with the writers and commenters’ partisan positions. So re your invite: thanks but no thanks. I’m way outnumbered.

  • Ivan

    And David, one more comment. Exgaywatch by its very name and hence purpose writes about one side. It’d be something else if you were to let’s say criticize and write a full report on Dr. Salzers comments, similar to what Dr. Throckmorton did. I would then take you offer seriously. But just imagine Dr. Throckmorton on Montel talking about the Spitzer study, making some radical unfounded comment like Dr. Salzer did. No doubt in my mind you’d have written a critique, or at the very least linked up to a critique of the Spitzer study. My point is, a website or blog whose purpose is to write and critique the dishonesty and whatnot of those that criticize and “watch” ex-gays.

  • Ray Foster

    Karen Booth asked:

    “From my obviously under-informed perspective, it seems to me that all psychological studies about gay, ex-gay and ex-ex-gay are based primarily (or maybe even solely) on self-report. How does that factor in? For me, it makes all such studies deeply suspect. (I think of the Scripture passage from Jeremiah – The heart is deceptive above all things.)”

    Karen. You’re asking about science, not religion. It appears you defer to your religious belief even as you ask the question and that sets up a delimma for knowledgable people to reply to you. Researchers don’t have the luxury of checking the bible then biasing their investigation in favor of what Jeremiah said which, translated from the Chinese, means you can never trust anyone’s word or experience. That doesn’t work for scientific enquiry. At some point you have to ask questions. Self-reporting is demonstratably reliable. It’s not perfect but it does offer sunlight in dark spaces.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Since I’m immune to March Madness, I”ll throw in another couple of observations.

    Yes, self-reports are pretty much all we have, with the very weakness Karen mentions. Wayne Besen suggested to Robert Spitzer that plythesmography should be used to verify the self-reports in his study, but Spitzer dismissed it for many reasons, not the least of which is getting people to agree to undergo such an invasive test.

    Which, of course, brings up another source of bias. Plythesmographs, being as personally invasive as they are, would likely discourage a number of people from participating for all sorts of reasons, which then exposes the study to an additional reason for selection bias, and it will be hard to know what ways that selection bias would affect the results.

    This is the same weaknesses that plague surveys of how many people are gay/straight/bi and surveys of sexual behavior. When it comes to sexuality, we can study what people do and why, but I don’t think we can ever really learn what percentages of people fall into which categories.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Jim – I think you are right on with your comments about plythesmography. Not only does it contribute to selection bias, results are influenced by the demands of the situation, whether the examiner is male or female, and the clear ability of people to look at a stimulus and think about something else.

    David – I have been pretty free with my criticism of those of all ideologies when they overgeneralize research. One point of my post is that any number must be contextualized. Without proper context, no number should be used since there is no study that can speak to rate of change in any general sense.

    Michael H – The point is not that the study is perfect or imperfect. No study is perfect in the sense that it can address all relevant questions. The issue here is of validity and application. This study is clear that it was not designed to address questions of prevalence so to use it that way is inappropriate. And I might add, possibly unethical, since she made the statement while identified as a psychiatrist engaged in public education.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Ivan said:

    As for your solution, an honest, civil debate on exgaywatch, it’s a bit unrealistic with the writers and commenters’ partisan positions. So re your invite: thanks but no thanks. I’m way outnumbered.

    You see Ivan, that comment right there tells me you have never seriously read XGW. Do we all have to think alike in order to have an honest debate? Was Karen Booth not just given a fair shake, even though a couple of authors disagree entirely with her actions?

    My offer was sincere, and we get decent people with opposing views quite often. If we only talk in places where everyone agrees with us, what use is that? Why do you think I am here commenting on Warren’s blog when I should be asleep? Why do you think Warren comments at XGW?

    Think about it.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Warren said:

    David – I have been pretty free with my criticism of those of all ideologies when they overgeneralize research.

    I’m not badgering you Warren, I just want a direct answer if possible. Have you ever asked one of the ministries I mentioned to retract their comments, either in the media or on their web sites, concerning the wildly inaccurate numbers they have used? Is there any you can point to and say, “yes – I asked that they retract that.”

  • Ivan

    David,

    I think I’ve read probably 85% of blog entries with their comments.

    The fact still remains, the purpose of your blog is a critique of the ex-gay movement, and you wouldn’t write a blog entry criticizing those who promote or say something which is critical of ex-gays, or in your favour. Discussion or no discussion, civilised or not, I see no use of coming onto your blog to start a discussion unless for example you start posting things similar to this blog entry by Dr. Throckmorton. A priori, the discussion is in your favour, not just because of those who comment on your website, but also because of the blog entries that create the discussion. I’m not even sure why you’re trying to convince me it’s just the same to come comment and discuss on exgaywatch. It’s ludicrous actually. I appreciate the offer though.

    Dr. Throckmorton:

    I hope you don’t mind me using your blog to ask around. If this is not okay, let me know.

    So, anyone got any ideas for a new blog critiquing those who critique the ex gays and the ex gay movement?

    Karen,

    It doesn’t necessarily have to have the word “ex gay” or “watch” in it. It could be an acronym for example.

  • http://www.anthonyvennbrown.com/book.html Anthony Venn-Brown

    this debate was done and dusted a long ago. People cannot change thier sexual orientation. They can however change behaviours and become ‘situational heterosexuals’ (like straight men do in prison ie situational homosexuality).

    I know I did it for 16 years of marriage. its like riding a stationary bike …you peddle and peddle for years…..but when you get off….you are still gay.

    the incredibly small numbers research comes up with are questionable. Flawed research methodology, bisexuality, lying and self deception etc hang over that tiny little group like a dark cloud.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    I’m sorry, Ivan, my suggestion about blog names was offered tongue in cheek and wasn’t really serious.

    I agree with some of the other posters that this blog does a good job of tracking some of the excesses – of al lof us – and offering space for comment.

  • grantdale

    Warren,

    Apologies for not posting immediately. I’m afraid we were both rushed to cardiac intensive care at the Alfred Hospital. And it’s all your fault:

    …”provides documentation that efforts to reorient sexuality are not benign…”

    This is a complete reversal of the position you have adopted from at least 1997, as best we can gather. You are now agreeing with the current view of the APA, in fact. A view you have long criticised.

    You’ve always denied that “reorientation” in and of itself may be harmful. You’ve long been dismissive of the Shidlo and Schroeder study for that purpose — even to their faces. You’ve always, instead, blamed “bad therapists”; even to the point of claiming “I have never found evidence of electroshock treatment being used…” (despite that being very easy to prove otherwise).

    What gives??? Or, rather, “what” gave?

    PS: why are you ragging so much on Dr Salzer? She is actually being 33% more generous that Dr Spitzer — who estimated 97%. I haven’t seen you address Dr Spitzer in this manner, or draw inferences of unethical behaviour by him for saying so.

    You also haven’t addressed Dr Cummings in that manner, even though he too pointed to a 3% figure as being “about right” when you examine his NARTH interview.

    Salzer’s “4%” or Sptizer’s “3%” or Dreschers “1%” are all far more likely to be closer to the true figure that any claim that “anyone can, so long as they trust Jesus enough; and it’s your fault if you don’t.”

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Jim, thank you for the above answer about studies and self-report. It was very helpful.

    I had a situation in mind when I asked the original question. Several years ago, I had a conversation with an angry parent of a gay man. After about half an hour, it was pretty clear we weren’t going to agree. I said something along the lines of “For me, one of the questions to consider is whether Kinsey or Scripture has more authority.”

    He had used the discredited 10% figure and would not back down from that even when I told him about more recent studies. (And, yes, I realize my quesion was framed very either/or.) But without hesitation, he chose Kinsey.

    United Methodist Christian understanding is that reason and experience play a secondary role in issues of faith and life. They illumine Scripture, but they never trump it. Hence my questions.

  • grantdale

    Karen,

    Where in scripture does it say Kinsey is wrong?

    Unrelated, which studies are you referring to?

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Karen,

    That’s the problem I always have with either/or questions. I try to avoid them, but sometimes I fall victim to them myself. There’s often an artificiality to either/or.

    But if the question put before me is a social science question, I’ll choose the scientific source. Not Kinsey necessarily, but science. Same with history. I believe it is an abuse of Scripture to use it to try to answer questions it wasn’t intended to answer. But certainly, if the question put before me were one of faith, then yes, Scriptures is the easy choice.

    But it’s almost never either/or, is it? Since many questions put before me are at the intersection of the two, well in my experience it took me nigh on twenty-five years to resolve some of those. I’m still resolving. But when science illuminates Scripture (and vice versa in all honesty), it really does, in my opinion, reveal more than it conceals. But we’re still looking through a glass rather darkly.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Grantdale – I don’t have time to re-state things. It’s all here for you to read.

    I do think I used the wrong word when I said – benign. I mean that reorientation efforts are not without potency – they may be quite helpful or they may be harmful. I was using the term benign as if it meant “with no obvious effect.” Such efforts are often quite potent. I am going to change that sentence…

  • David Blakeslee

    Very interesting post.

    I think it gets at the nub of the problem on boths sides, that is, when advocacy grabs at research findings they state the results in highly unscientific ways.

    Having a mouthpiece like Montel to carry that message to hundreds of thousands is a tragedy.

    Caution is stating scientific research “preached” if you will, throughout medical and graduate school. When trained professionals mischaracterize the research so, it is a sign that they have abandoned their scientific training for a “belief” and wish to persuade others in their “belief” by using the deceptive wrapping of “science.”

    That is just wrong, wrong, wrong…

    Whether it on Montel or on Focus on the Family.

    God is a god of Truth (my belief); abandoning truth for advocacy under the cover of science is the worst form of deception. The general public counts on the scientifically trained to present information thoughtfully and accurately. To do otherwise is just manipulation.

    Thanks Warren for all your hard work…and Jim, for your continued thoughtful analyses.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    I knew that example was going to get me in trouble.

    My point was that the man and I were having a faith discussion, and that like so many in my denomination he was willing to default without thinking to some very questionable “science” to support a moral claim. I hoped to get him to ponder where he put his authority. Other than that, I agree that faith and science can illumine each other.

    This is what I have posted on my ministry website about the 10% Kinsey figure. If any of it is wrong, I will gladly correct it.

    “However, recent studies in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand show the actual number to be substantially lower – from 1.3-2.8% of men and 0.7-1.9% of women.*

    *Gilman SE. American Journal of Public Health. 2001; 91: 933-9

    Aaron DJ et al. Journal of Epidemiological Community Health. 2003; 57 :207-9

    Statistics Canada – http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/040615/d040615b.htm

    Mercer CH et al. AIDS. 2004; 18: 1453-8

    Sandfort TG et al. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2001; 58 :85-91

    Fergusson DM et al. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1999; 56 : 876-80

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    I share some of your same concerns, Ivan. My overall impression of this blog is that SOME of the (for lack of a better term) pro-gay posters expect things from the (again for lack of a better term) ex-gay movement that they don’t or won’t apply to their own cause. Ex-gay leaders and ministries are expected to be utterly consistent, perfect in behavior, and willing to distance themselves from – or purge themselves of – those who don’t tow the line. Whatever that line (and it seems to me to be constantly shifting) happens to be. It seems as if what’s sauce for the goose is definitely NOT sauce for the gander.

    Neither do I expect balanced reporting or discussion on Ex-Gay Watch, though recently they have moved more in that direction. They have an agenda on their site; so do I. But on this blog, I hope for more fairness and I am constantly disappointed.

  • grantdale

    Too late Warren, I saved a snap shot. I’m suprised nobody else jumped on it at once.

    So, “may be harmful” is not the same as “not benign”? Like the Rev. Dodgson, that’s what I love about the English language — you learn something new everyday.

    I’ve read all your responses. Carefully. You know that.

    What I missed — mostly — was you being as critical of Spitzer or Cummings as you were of Salzer, even though they hold an even lower opinion about change than does Salzer. Why single her out?

    Also, no objection if I send Salzer a copy of Spitzer’s interview with the “3%”and suggest including that as a suitable response to further queries?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Grantdale – Send away.

    I am not critical of Spitzer or Cummings because they qualify their estimates. Spitzer says his number is a guess and he doesn’t offer one number. Cummings just repeats his experience as context. This is much different than the argument from authority (science says…) offered by Salzer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    David – Here is one example of a retraction.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    David,

    God is a god of Truth (my belief); abandoning truth for advocacy under the cover of science is the worst form of deception. The general public counts on the scientifically trained to present information thoughtfully and accurately. To do otherwise is just manipulation.

    While I agree with the above, let me also say:

    God is a god of truth (small T); abandoning truth for advocacy under the cover of religion is by far a worse form of deception. The general public counts on those who carry the mantle of spiritual authority to present information with strict honesty and truthfulness. To do otherwise is to use God’s name in vain.

    Although there are without doubt those who deceive about measurable observations using the mantle of science, there are many who also deceive using the mantle of God to give them the authority of position. Often they will then insist that Scripture trumps science… even if the issue is not necessarily out of Scripture.

    Both are truly wrong.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Ivan,

    Ex-Gay Watch has a very long history of criticizing those within the gay community that make inaccurate, spiteful, or inappropriate comments about the ex-gay movement. Targets of these criticisms have included ad hominum attacks, shoddy reports, and inaccurate accusations. That you are not familiar with such criticisms may perhaps reflect more on your own preconceptions when reading the site than it does on the site content.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    I agree that the words used by Salzer are not accurate. A better phrasing could have been

    …what limited research is available science has shown us that somewhere in the neighborhood of 96% of people cannot change into heterosexuals and along the way, many absorb an enormous amount of self-loathing, a lot of confusion, a lot of family conflict, so I know the harm.

  • Ivan

    Timothy,

    What matters is what exgaywatche’s aim is, and for the most part, it plays that role of “watching ex gays”, even though at some points it does criticize the gay community if they’re hateful or mean spirited to the ex-gay movement. Unless exgaywatch functions as a critique of ALL things related to the ex-gay movement, that is, those who critique the ex-gays, then my point still stands. There is no one who writes and constantly “watches” and critiques things written by exgaywatch, Besen, Boxturtlebin, and various other news/commentary outlets. I should note I have respect for various people who do critique the ex-gay movement, you being one of them, Jim Burroway, and a few of the others, because you’re for the most part respectful and balanced at in critiques you write, even if on the whole I think you’re wrong or misguided. I can’t say the same for various other people who comment on this blog, exgaywatch and others who follow and write on this issue.

    Even on a pro-leaning exgay website, I’ve been told my idea wasn’t needed by 2 exgaywatch bloggers, and one supporter who comments constantly on exgaywatch (Grantdale), and one in favour, Karen Booth. And you want me to come to exgaywatch to join the civil discussion where the odds are definitely against me? I think if the odds are against such an idea in what I’d call friendly territory, that to me is a sign that’s it’s needed, considering the reaction. And no, I don’t think it’s just because it’s a plain stupid idea. I really don’t expect a partisan website to critique itself constantly and report with full blog entries on something done wrong by anyone who critiques exgays.

  • grantdale

    Yeah, well, that’s why you never do day time Timothy — how’s the audience meant to “whoop, whoop, whoop” when they’re thinking “boring” and “when’s the freak gonna come out?” The 30 second rule, remember…

    Warren,

    You’re saying your only concern is that Salzer said “science” instead of “it seems”?

    I realise I’m talking to a psychologist, but there’s more to science than self-report surveys complete with standard deviation tables. The considered opinion of well-experienced people without an axe to grind also count for a lot, particularly when pondering if something is 100% (Exodus) or 3%. Spitzer doesn’t bother to say “science says”, because… well, because he thinks he is the science. Cummings, don’t know…

    Salzer left more than enough room for Alan Chambers and Richard Cohen in that 4%. But neither of them are content to be merely that, of course. They’re greedy for something more. They want people to think “100%”. But they won’t say that, exactly — and hence the Chambers roasting over the weasel words on the Exodus site.

    What Salzer did do was clearly state that the vast majority will not and cannot change. On that she is clearly correct. 92%, 94%, 96% — not fussed, in that context.

    That fact about it being a small possibility is what is ultimately important to communicate at such a time. When you refer to “context”, I’m sure Salzer was well aware of the one she was operating in.

    Given your preference for saying something like “change can occur if”, or her preference for saying “96% do not” — Salzer acted as a much better educator than you suggest you would have been at that moment. We’re not all used to reading journals you know. Context.

    Honestly, all above not withstanding, I think your main beef is with the fact she pulled the rug — in public — from under Alan Chamber’s and Exodus’ false claim that “anyone” can be “liberated” from “homosexuality” (and hint hint, “thereby become heterosexual”).

    Exodus thrive on the doubt, Warren. And you promote and encourage that doubt. She removed it. What a botheration she is. She deserves to be called “unethical”.

  • Ann

    does ex-gay watch monitor ex-gay organizations or people who identify themselves as ex-gay? Is it a profit or non-profit organization? Who does the monitoring and how? Also does Wayne Besen participate in the comments on the site, and, if he does, is his comments endorsed by the ex-gay watch?

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Karen,

    This is what I have posted on my ministry website about the 10% Kinsey figure. If any of it is wrong, I will gladly correct it.

    “However, recent studies in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand show the actual number to be substantially lower – from 1.3-2.8% of men and 0.7-1.9% of women.*

    I think you might be using an either/or scenario that is not strictly accurate.

    I’ve heard the argument both ways about whether 10% of the population is gay and Kensey used as “proof”. I think that argument misunderstands both Kensey and sexuality. Although for activism purposes it can be effective to say “only 1.3-2.8%” of men are gay, the sentence should not stop there. Doing so leaves the reader with a false impression.

    The CDC report of September 2005 reported information about sexual orientation using terms of identity as well as terms of attraction. The report concurs with your numbers showing 2.3% of men and 1.3% of women identifying as “homosexual”. But the report does not stop with that dichotomy. There are also 1.8% of men that identified as bisexual, 3.9% as “something else” and 1.8% who froze and didn’t answer the question. It is pretty likely that many of the “something else” were gay people who objected to the phrase “homosexual”.

    So while there were only 2.3% of men who identified as homosexual, it is also true that only 90.2% identified as heterosexual. When put in terms of attraction, 92.2% of men were attracted to “only females”.

    Though claims of “10% are gay” are probably demonstrably false, when those in the “LGBT Community” claim 10% (which I don’t often see), they may yet be closer than the 1.3-2.8% number you used as they tend to include anyone who is “not straight”. It’s a distinction that should be made more clear when any such claim is made.

    And when anti-gay activists talk about “policy that only effects 2-3% of the population”, they are also clearly not speaking accurately.

    If you want your answer to be accurate, I would recommend that you consider revising it so that it reflects the more nuanced truth.

  • grantdale

    Ann,

    > does ex-gay watch monitor ex-gay organizations or people who identify themselves as ex-gay? — Yes, but with individuals generally only those running exgay organisations or who make some public comment worth noting. Such as, Alan Chambers.

    > Is it a profit or non-profit organization? — I’m sure some would like it to be a very-profit organisation! That ain’t happening. It’s a blog etc. Much like this. (and I’m sure Warren must be paying off his third beach house in Miami by now on the profits from this blog…)

    > Who does the monitoring and how? — there is an editor who will remove hideousness etc when it pops up: David Roberts is doing it. There are guidelines for people posting. You can find that info easily at the site. Everyone has day jobs (see above!)

    > Also does Wayne Besen participate in the comments on the site, and, if he does, is his comments endorsed by the ex-gay watch? — he, like anyone, can read and comment. He does, from time to time. That implies nothing, other than “Wayne Besen said it”. Others are free to criticise or agree with him. Comments aren’t endorsed, as such, but ugly ones will be removed. Wayne hasn’t ever started a post — that’s reserved for the sacred few (although it really doesn’t take much to become one. Basically, can you type and not be too rude?)

    Does that help you?

  • grantdale

    Karen,

    I think, following Timothy, it helps if you remember who you’re trying to address. It makes a big difference to the % figures. I’ll stick with just men, for clarity.

    > if you’re talking about, say, marriage, then 2-3% is a fair estimate for those effected. That’s those — like us — who completely are/in a long-term gay relationship etc etc etc. In other words, The Real Gays(c)

    > if you were talking about, say, targeted HIV prevention, ie behaviourally based, then you’re heading up the 7-8%. That’s all those men who have sex with men. Some throughout their life. Some only for a period. It includes not just the 2-3% above, but bisexuals, and men who would claim in public to be “completely heterosexual” but who behave otherwise. (Most of this group are indeed married heterosexually.)

    > if you were talking about, say, the entire group that may have gay attractions — then you’re at the 10% level. About 25% never act on those attractions, but they still may have questions about “what it all means” etc.

    Laumann et al probably did the best study, and gave a break down by attraction, behaviour and identity. It was a population based sample, and controlled as best as can be expected (and, amazing, largely mirrored Kinsey). The studies you have used are too narrow, and generally simply picked up those men willing to tell a stranger with a clipboard “Yes, I am gay” etc. That sort of questioning normally only gets 1-2% willing to say yes.

    I’m a little suprised you don’t know this already.

  • Ann

    Grantdale,

    Thank you for your kindness in replying and with such detail – I really appreciate it. Please allow me to ask two more questions – how does the site monitor the ex-gay people and organizations and also if I post to it, does it give out my email address?

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Ann,

    Ex-Gay Watch basically responds only to public actions or comments of ex-gay groups, seminars, or leaders. Generally, unless the author can provide a source, they will not state something as fact. Opinion is their own.

    Generally, if you visit there and comment, you will too be requested to substantiate any claim that you make, (e.g. if you say “gay people eat more pancakes than straight people” you should provide a link to a study or a news account that reports such a thing. If you say, “I imagine that gay people eat pancakes too”, then you don’t.)

    Perhaps “monitor” is too strong of a word as it might imply some sort of constant vigilance. In reality, if some ex-gay group keeps their head down and focuses on “helping strugglers”, they probably will not ever merit comment at XGW.

    XGW will not give out, publish, share, or in any other way distribute your email address. However, you may be asked more direct questions there than here. For example, others will want to know the bases for your opinions such as whether you are same-sex attracted or if you ever participated in ex-gay ministries or programs.

    Perhaps the best way to get answers to your questions is to go see for yourself.

  • grantdale

    Ann,

    > how does the site monitor the ex-gay people and organizations

    Same way it works here, sort of: a post goes up, based on an announcement or media release or whatever. People then make comments.

    If someone wanted to make a comment like “Ann is correct” or Ann is wrong” they’re expected to add “because…” and provide the reasoning — simple logic, or a ref. to a study, or a ref. to a webpage. ie: provide the evidence why Ann is correct or wrong.

    People comment based on what they have read or seen or heard elsewhere. People trawl through exgay sites, as example, and note if the site matches what is said in public. The “regulars” are probably better read about what Exodus claims than are most exgays, as example — and few would have been as ignorant about Exodus’ official “Policy on Homosexuality” as was a certain Exodus President during recent embarrassing Montel episode… :)

    Nobody is all that big on “debating” religion per se, at least not at xgw. There are plenty of sites where people can do that if they wish, and “debates” about personal beliefs have a habit of being both pointless and circular. You either believe something, or you don’t; and nobody cares a brass razoo about what that might be unless you are trying to put some context around something you said.

    (Learning to say “I believe…” rather than “God says…” is a big help!)

    If someone notices something interesting, they can email the editor — and either let David take it from there or write up a new post for him. (One of David’s “jobs” is to try and ensure the posts don’t repeat themself, and that the post strings don’t run off on a tangent. But they are reasonably tolerant, and even a strong point of view is permitted — provided the evidence is there to back it up.)

    (Learn how to “href”. Links are your best friend!)

    > if I post to it, does it give out my email address?

    No. You must give a valid one, but it is not released. You do have the option of giving a public one or a website, but you don’t have to. The email addys and IPs are used to help keep out the few banned people.

    Not that it happens too often, but (as a rough estimate) in the last 2 years I’d guess most of those banned have been on the not-anti-gay side. Most bannings occur because someone is being disrespectful, rather their point-of-view.

    Being disrespectful includes not just the language (no vulgarity), but being arguamentative for the heck of it (such as persisting with some “point”, even when others have already shown you to be dead wrong) or persistently failing to back up your comments with evidence etc. The editor doesn’t have to do all that much about monitoring disrespectful behaviour — the others will quickly comment and self-regulate.

    Hope that helps.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Thanks Timothy and grantdale, I couldn’t have answered Ann’s questions better myself. I would add that we don’t monitor comments before they go up, they go up immediately. So, if you do see a comment which does not follow our guidelines, it’s unlikely to remain for long. You could even call it to our attention yourself but we try to stay on top of it. As grandale said, it’s mostly self-regulating.

    Now I’ll stop poaching readers :)

    Warren – good example and a good start. Don’t stop now ;) .

  • dalea

    Karen,

    The concept used by the exexgay researchers is called in economic and marketing circles: demonstrated preference. Which is radically different from self-repoting. If someone comes in and states that they are no longer ex-gay, you look at the realities of the life involved. And you find a man who lives in a zip code with a large group of gay men. Who frequents gay places, proved by membership cards. Who has a boyfriend, proved by the boyfriend. Who presents a pattern of purchases that indicate a consistent buying of gay items.

    Then you can conclude that this guy is gay.

    Marketing Science, which is something that tends to get overlooked in the discussions, finds a community of at least 14 million people, and the number is climbing, who respond to ads targeting what is called the ‘gay market’. This number has been arrived at over a long period of time, of iteration. And at each step marketers have had to prove to skeptical clients that yes there are really that many queers. And they have been able to do so. Please notice that this number is not all that different from 10% of the active adult population.

    I suspect you have been defining science too narrowly. Marketing, along with the other economic sciences, find far more gay people than the various forms of psyc*. The studies you point to rely on calling people up, out of the blue, and asking if they are homos. They tend to get a low positive response. Which I can see why. It is a fundamentally dumb way of doing things. Look at what people do, not what they say: which is demonstrated preference.

  • Mike Airhart

    I’m grateful to Jim Burroway and Warren Throckmorton for pointing out inaccuracies in Dr. Salzar’s statements.

    If there is bias perceived at XGW, it is largely because we are all-volunteer with no funds to speak of, and with the limited time that volunteers have, each writer focuses on what he or she sees as their biggest personal concerns. Sometimes we are alarmed by gay activists (I personally am not a fan of some fringe groups), but frankly we see much more distortion of fact and strawman argumentation occurring among antigay activist organizations.

    I have periodically invited moderate ex-gays to volunteer for XGW, but as yet none have. The invitation remains open. While XGW commenters may believe and say whatever they wish within standard netiquette guidelines, XGW article writers can be ex-gay or ex-gay-tolerant but must possess sense of political and religious balance and a commitment to free speech, scientific inquiry, nondiscrimination, and strong opposition to violence, prejudice, partisanship, and strawman argumentation.

    Karen notes that XGW has broadened and moderated its approach recently. This is correct. The intent was always for XGW to be moderate, but we have had better luck lately in attracting a broader array of thoughtful volunteer writers. But XGW is still all-volunteer, and so it still covers only a fraction of the stories that deserve coverage.

    Karen Booth said:

    “Ex-gay leaders and ministries are expected to be utterly consistent, perfect in behavior, and willing to distance themselves from – or purge themselves of – those who don’t tow the line.”

    Frankly, I expect this of ALL Christians, not just ex-gay activists. Unfortunately, the disease of partisanship seems to have seduced Christians on both the left and the right into failing to police themselves, and instead into casting stones at others to distract the public from one’s own sins.

  • Ann

    “Ex-gay leaders and ministries are expected to be utterly consistent, perfect in behavior, and willing to distance themselves from – or purge themselves of – those who don’t tow the line.”

    Frankly, I expect this of ALL Christians, not just ex-gay activists. Unfortunately, the disease of partisanship seems to have seduced Christians on both the left and the right into failing to police themselves, and instead into casting stones at others to distract the public from one’s own sins.

    Mike,

    This is an unrealistic expectation of anyone – none of us are utterly consistant or perfect in our behavior. That is for anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs. Also, are Christians pointed to because they have been vocal in their beliefs rather than Jews, Muslims and Hindus who are more stringent in their beliefs but are not so vocal?

    Also, there used to be an organization to monitor Christian Evangilicals – I’m sorry but I do not have the name or even know if there is still such a group – I am glad for the discrepancies and transgressions they found and hope they are still monitering them. I am not sure about other religions but I have never heard of them being monitored.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Thanks for the comments about my website statistics. I have changed part of the answer in FAQs (changes in CAPS) to read:

    “However, recent studies in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand SUGGEST the number is substantially lower – from 1.3-2.8% of men and 0.7-1.9% of women who IDENTIFY EXCLUSIVELY AS GAY OR LESBIAN.*

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    While I’ve been away the last two days, I’ve been thinking about some things and have a couple questions.

    First, someone (maybe Jim?) posted earlier that he had been actively involved in the past in Bridges Across the Divide. I was aware of that site (and think I wrote about it in one of our ministry newsletters.) To the poster – why are you no longer involved? Do you mind sharing some of your experiences – positive and negative – that informed your decisions?

    Second, could some or all of us define what we mean by “ex-gay movement?” (If that’s already been done on another thread, please point me to it.)

    I define the term very broadly as a loose coalition of individuals and groups that share the major goal of helping those with unwanted homosexuality. That would include Exodus and its affiliate ministries, but also unaffiliated faith-based people and organizations (PATH, HA, Powerful Change Ministry Group, or singer/songwriter Dennis Jernigan, for example) and also those that use “secular” theraputic approaches (Dr. Throckmorton, NARTH and maybe others.)

    I sense others define the term much more narrowly. It would help me during discussions to know whether or not we’re anywhere near consensus about the definition.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    I had (have) been a part of the Bridges Divide forum. I haven’t been that active lately because the forum itself hasn’t been that active. Ironically, I think there are several barriers to bridging at B-A, but I’m not sure I can quite put my finger on them. I think the people there all mean well and every one of them regardless of “sides” have a good heart, but I’m not really sure there’s much real give-and-take dialogue going on. These are just my thoughts. Others may disagree.

    Speaking for myself I think you and I define “the ex-gay movement” roughly the same. However, I think also the term ends up being shorthand for a few of the more prominent organizations: Exodus and NARTH principally, with PFOX, Love In Action, and Evergreen only somewhat secondarily.

    As is true in all things, it’s the most prominent groups, by their very prominence, that defines the group for everyone else. It’s not right of fair, but it happens all the time, whether you’re talking ex-gay, politics, religion, or minority leaders.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Jim, thanks for the answer about the ex-gay movement. Not being snarky here, but does it also become shorthand because some of the groups are more involved in public policy issues? And possibly perceived then as having more power or being more of a threat? In other words, is there something else driving it besides mere prominence?

    There was a woman who served on my Board who directs an “ex-gay” ministry in the largest African American United Methodist Church that is also one of the top 20 (I think) largest churches in the US. They have been very prominent (with a good deal of media exposure) in denominational circles and somewhat within the larger Christian community and national secular media. But they are in most respects “apolitical” in their denominational and cultural dealings. They don’t get bashed or even really challenged about their work.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Timothy writes,

    “I agree that the words used by Salzer are not accurate. A better phrasing could have been

    …what limited research is available has shown us that somewhere in the neighborhood of 96% of people cannot change into heterosexuals and along the way, many absorb an enormous amount of self-loathing, a lot of confusion, a lot of family conflict, so I know the harm.”

    I think Timothy’s statement is getting closer, but wouldn’t it have been more accurate to say – “BASED ON A SINGLE STUDY, somewhere in the neighborhood of 96% of RESPONDENTS did not change into heterosexuals and along the way SOME … ”

    After a few weeks on this blog, it’s the generalities and lack of precision that now bother me the most. But then talk TV isn’t much interested in nuance.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Karen,

    I appreciate your revisions on your site. I still think it compares apples (Kensey’s 10% which includes bisexuals) with oranges (only those who self-identify as “homosexual” to strangers with a clipboard).

    If you want to provide the true answer to your question about how many people have same-sex attractions, neither number is correct. And as your ministry deals with those who are same-sex attracted, I am disappointed that it excludes many such people.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate your willingness to revise the statement to one of much greater technical accuracy.

    As for your definition of “the ex-gay movement”, I think it’s probably pretty good. Sometimes I use “ex-gay ministries” to speak of only that portion of the movement that is explicitely religious in nature.

  • Anon2

    Jim,

    I prosume you would also include in this group those who wish to push the pro-gay position on all of us, even if we do not agree that this is necessarily the best way to deal with ones same-sex attractions. This seems to be the focus that captures the attention of the media. For me this is the group that has most turned me away from the entire movement.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Timothy, I’m pretty much in agreement again. But the questions I get and attempted to answer on our site are from people who ARE mixing apples and oranges – who “default” to the Kinsey figure thinking it means “those who self-identify as homosexual.”

    I admit my answer isn’t lengthy or nuanced. If anyone can recommend some balanced Intenet articles that address the “numbers” issue, I’d be glad to consider a link.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Anon2,

    I’m a bit confused. I don’t know of anyone in the ex-gay ministries that “wish to push the pro-gay position on all of us”.

    Who exactly do you mean?

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Jim, thanks for the answer about the ex-gay movement. Not being snarky here, but does it also become shorthand because some of the groups are more involved in public policy issues? And possibly perceived then as having more power or being more of a threat?

    I think that is exactly correct.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Anon2,

    I agree with Timothy. I’m confused by what you’re asking me. I’m talking about common definitions of what is meant by the “ex-gay movement.”

    Karen,

    I keep telling myself that one of these days, I’ll tackle the “Numbers” issue. But every time I try, I keep channeling a former president: It depends on the meaning of the word “homosexual”. You’d think it would be pretty straighforward, wouldn’t you? I certainly did at one time.

    When people are asked “are you gay”, then you get the lower numbers, around 3% or less. Throw in bisexuals (assuming the survey thinks to ask about it), you may get another percentage point, or maybe not.

    Of course, simply asking that is fraught with problems too. Older people (pre-Stonewall) often object to the word “gay,” (they typically prefer “homosexual”) so if that’s their only choice, some may decline to select that answer. Post-Stonewall, on the other hand, strongly object to the word “homosexual,” which became a major problem with the CDC’s latest survey.

    But when people are asked about same sex activity, the numbers go up considerably for a lot of reasons. One interesting reason is cultural. I’m grossly oversimplifying, but African American males often won’t say they’re gay as long as they also have occasional sex with women. For whatever reason, they often won’t even say they’re bi. Latino men often assume that by taking the “active” role with other men, that they aren’t gay. And then there’s just plain old ordinary denial.

    That’s why we see numbers all over the map. Language, identity, culture, self-conceptualization, and simple honesty all hinder our ability to come up with numbers that are remotely accurate.

  • Anon2

    Timothy,

    I am sorry I am not talking about the ex-gay movement.

  • dalea

    As someone who spent some time at Bridges Across, I would share my own thoughts on the subject. BA is set up in such a way that it only makes sense for those who grew up in an evangelical world, found wonderful things there, and miss them. I grew up in a different tradition; where evangelical christianity was presented as “the rejection of Christ and his church” for some sort of emotional experience. Strict Lutherans used to reject Rosenianism strongly. The only example I had of evangelical christianity was the widely loathed Missionsförsamling (Evangelical Covenant Church) widely regarded as the ‘ship of the damned’. Complete with whistle sound.

    So, I come to the discussion with the understanding that evangelical christianity is a form of self indulgence , something forged from a mindset that rejects traditional christianity. Then I met Bridges Across.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Really interesting and thought provoking comments, Jim and Dalea.

    Jim, I’m going to think of ways to include some of your thoughts about numbers on my FAQ page. I’ll be respectful and fair, but I may not draw the same conclusions. (No surprise there, huh?)

    For both of you – your comments about cultural context were right on. Often times I think we’re having a largely North American or at least Western conversation. (Right now my denomination is studying a proposal that has the potential to institutionally and legislatively silence the Global South, primarily the Africans.) Open the door to the rest of the world and it gets very interesting.

  • http://www.sfwmergers.com Stan

    “When all of the arguments are carefully examined, a few simple statements can be made with which hardly anyone can disagre … 4. Modern methods of treatment enable a significant proportion of homosexuals who wish to change their sexual orientation to do so.”

    Robert L Spitzer, M.D writing on behalf of The Anmerican Psychiatric Association*

    * as taken from the June 7, 1973, Rationale for the infamous removal of homosexuality from DSM-II

  • Mike Airhart

    Anon2,

    There is no single “pro-gay position” on any given topic. And you do not specifically identify “those.” So your reference to “those who wish to push the pro-gay position on all of us” is so vague as to lack any meaning. Perhaps you could be much more specific.

  • Lynn David

    And….

    In removing homosexuality per se from the nomenclature we are only recognizing that by itself homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being considered a psychiatric disorder. We will in no way be aligning ourselves with any particular viewpoint regarding the etiology or desirability of homosexual behavior.

    By creating a new category, Sexual orientation disturbance, we will be applying a label only those homosexuals who are in some way bothered by their sexual orientation, some of whom may come to us for help. We will no longer insist on a label of sickness for individuals who insist that they are well and who demonstrate no generalized impairment in social effectiveness.

    Robert L Spitzer, M.D writing on behalf of The Anmerican Psychiatric Association in the June 7, 1973, Rationale for the infamous removal of homosexuality from DSM-II

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Stan,

    I remember 1973. There were a great many things I believed in 1973 that later proved to be wishful thinking and immaturity. Fortunately we no longer live in 1973.

    I think that all parties – on this site or elsewhere – would probably agree that modern methods, or any methods, have not enabled any sizeable portion of same-sex attracted persons to change their sexual orientation.

    We may disagree on the degree or permanancy of “change” a person may experience. Or whether that change is in attractions or rather in response to those attractions. But I think that we do all agree that very very few people (if any) go from being solely same-sex attracted persons to being solely opposite-sex attracted persons.

  • jag

    “One more thing if I might. I sincerely hope I hear you in the near future writing Exodus, James Dobson, David Kyle Foster, et al for their totally spurious claims that thousands, hundreds of thousands and yes, hold on, millions of people have gone from homosexual to heterosexual.”

    Well stated David…and I am in agreement. Although her reported stats seem about 11% off, it should be corrected…HOWEVER…it should be the mission of those who truly believe in truth to also correct the distortion that we have (and continue to hear) from those at Exodus, Focus on the Family, and NARTH.

    If we are to stand for truth, it should be everywhere. If we make noise for truth, it should be a noise for truth – not for one side of an argument we want support from or feel most comfortable with.

    I hope to see that individuals, even those who believe homosexuality to be a sin, search for truth and present truth – regardless of whether it coincides with what they might like.

    “change is possible” as a logo/saying, might be the first message to begin to alter and make right. It is the cause of so much pain within families, in the church, etc..

    Community Alliance Church (in Butler, PA – about an hour away from GCC) has a 12-step program that views homosexuality as an addiction….come on folks…

    do the right thing.

    How do we let these things exist in our midst?

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Stan,

    In 1973, some of those “modern methods” involved electric shock and/or injected apomorphine aversion therapy. As I understand it, a speech by a leading aversion therapist — I believe it may have been Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy (a huge proponent of electric shock therapy right up through the early 1980′s) — so outraged gay activists that they implored Dr. Spitzer to look into whether homosexuality was even a disorder to begin with — that “infamous removal” as you like to call it.

    Stan, do you really believe we need to go back to the days of aversion therapy?

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Ugh… I just noticed this was the Montel Williams thread…

    So, speaking of aversion therapy, it’s my understanding that this practice has since been abandoned. I’ve heard rumors that it’s been done practiced somewhere in Utah in the past decade, but I don’t think those rumors have been confirmed as far as I know.

    I was very surprised and dismayed then to see Dr. Salzer’s video with it’s schlocky portrayal of electric shock aversion therapy as though it were still being done. Is there any evidence for that being the case? I’ve been looking and asking around, and I haven’t found anything to suggest that it is.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren Throckmorton

    I don’t know that church or its mission but 12 step approaches are also used for any behavior that the person wants to curb. Some of these programs help people who are quite promiscuous, I think that is a good thing. For the record, though, I do not think of homosexuality as an addiction.

  • Anon

    Grantdale wrote, ‘Spitzer doesn’t bother to say “science says”, because… well, because he thinks he is the science.’ This ignores the fact that Spitzer said he was guessing. That is what makes the difference, not the fact that he offered it as his own view and not that of ‘science.’

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Timothy writes …

    “I think that all parties – on this site or elsewhere – would probably agree that modern methods, or any methods, have not enabled any sizeable portion of same-sex attracted persons to change their sexual orientation.

    We may disagree on the degree or permanancy of “change” a person may experience. Or whether that change is in attractions or rather in response to those attractions. But I think that we do all agree that very very few people (if any) go from being solely same-sex attracted persons to being solely opposite-sex attracted persons.”

    In your first part, do you mean “all parties who are therapists?” Or “modern theraputic methods?”

    I agree with you if you’re referring to the Spitzer study upon which Salzar based her claims. I’m not convinced that can be universalized.

    And JAG, one of the conclusions from the Spitzer study (at least from my pespective) is that change IS possible. Not guaranteed, or even necessarily common, but possible. If that’s communicated well, I don’t see how it hurts anyone. I don’t intend to change it on my website.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Sorry, realized after posting that Salzar based her figures on the Shidlo and Schroeder study. Mixing apples and oranges again.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    one of the conclusions from the Spitzer study (at least from my pespective) is that change IS possible. Not guaranteed, or even necessarily common, but possible. If that’s communicated well, I don’t see how it hurts anyone. I don’t intend to change it on my website.

    The “communicated well” part is the problem. Something along the lines of “we will support you in your attempt to modify your behavior and your priorities and some people have achieved a level of success with this with which they are pleased” would be far more honest in my opinion. Change is simply too loaded. Also, the very real and even likely chance of failure must be communicated to a) be honest and b) help keep these people who try from going off the deep end if they do fail to achieve the results they seek.

  • gordo

    And JAG, one of the conclusions from the Spitzer study (at least from my pespective) is that change IS possible. Not guaranteed, or even necessarily common, but possible. If that’s communicated well, I don’t see how it hurts anyone. I don’t intend to change it on my website.

    State lotteries post the odds of winning the big jackpot. I would hope the ministries would do no less.

  • Lynn David

    Timothy Kincaid wrote: “But I think that we do all agree that very very few people (if any) go from being solely same-sex attracted persons to being solely opposite-sex attracted persons.

    Can we be sure that even those pesons achieve a complete heterosexual orientation? Have we ever heard of such a person (more specifically the men) in an adulterous relationship with another woman? Or do any of these persons report having a wondering eye as concerns the opposite sex? Any of them pulling a Jimmy Carter – lusting in their heart for another of the opposite sex?

    Is entering into a marriage proof of a change in sexual orientation? I’ve known of many a gay man who entered into a marriage from my era and eventually leave.

    What is changed, simple behavior, or the reality the person must live within?

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Karen,

    In your first part, do you mean “all parties who are therapists?” Or “modern theraputic methods?”

    I agree with you if you’re referring to the Spitzer study upon which Salzar based her claims. I’m not convinced that can be universalized.

    I’m referring to the fact that to date I have counted three ex-gay men who claim to have once been solely attracted to the same sex and now are solely attracted to the opposite sex – in the same manner as someone who lived their entire life as heterosexual.

    Three is not a sizeable portion of same-sex attracted persons.

    I think that you will agree with me that SO FAR there have not been any methodologies, be they theraputic or faith-based, which have demonstrated any sizeable portion of same-sex attracted persons whose attractions have gone from being solely same-sex directed to being solely opposite-sex directed.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Lynn,

    I suspect that an ex-gay ministry would say that acquiring heterosexual inappropriate sexual behavior is hardly their goal.

    But yet, if one purports to be creating (or refinding or healing or whatever) some sizable number of heterosexuals, one would expect them to from time to time result in one or two that actually behave like heterosexuals, including inappropriate heterosexual lusting or even affairs. While this in certainly not a goal we would have anyone shoot for, I’m not sure the dread of heterosexual sex that is so often expressed in the ex-gay community (eg. Mike Ensley) hardly serves as testimony for the “heterosexualness” of the participant.

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