Voices of Change – Are They Real?

UPDATE: The Voices of Change website managers (David Pickup and/or Arthur Goldberg) have removed the post referenced below. Here is a screen cap of the section which mentioned Andrew Marin. There is no explanation or note about  why the post from December 31 has been removed. What is also odd to me is that the other posts from AJAX are still up. Seems like doubt has now been cast on the other entries from that person.

Also, Andrew provided even more detail of his denial of the AJAX post on his site today.

ajaxvoicesofchange

One of the reactions by change therapist to recent challenges in court and state legislatures is a website called Voices of Change. VOC is managed by NARTH’s David Pickup and features testimonials of change and reparative therapy.  Many of the stories sound like textbook renditions of reparative drive theory and the most recent blog entry caught my eye as being unlikely. Someone named AJAX wrote on December 31, 2012:

The idea of therapy for straightening myself out didn’t occur to me till college, when I stumbled upon my roommate’s internet browsing history. Relief is an obscene understatement for my response to the revelation that I wasn’t the only man with unwanted SSA. When I confessed to my roommate that I shared his struggle, he referred me to The Marin Foundation, a Chicago-based organization who bring a Biblical, research-based message of hope and freedom to the gay community: http://www.themarinfoundation.org/

I met with Andrew Marin weekly for the duration of my college career. I appreciated his insight on owning my masculinity and getting over the triggering neurotic thought loops; I still use the techniques and exercises he taught me.

Andrew Marin, a reparative therapist? None of what AJAX says happened at the Marin Foundation rang true so I asked Andrew about it. Here is Andrew’s response:

Since its inception in 2005 The Marin Foundation, nor any of its past or current employees, promote, recommend, assist or have assisted any LGBT people in “reparative therapy.” The Marin Foundation does not believe in the merits of “reparative therapy,” and have seen first hand, including by some of our LGBT employees, the extreme shame and damaged caused by such “therapy.” Anything to the contrary of what I, Andrew Marin, have just stated is a lie.

As a bridge building organization between the LGBT and conservative communities, I, Andrew Marin, am in deep relationship on a daily basis with people from all different shades of faith and sexuality–including those who consider themselves LGBT atheists all the way to those who consider themselves ex-gay. But let me reiterate, I have never engaged anyone in a “reparative therapy” context with any goal of “changing from gay to straight.” I do not believe any amount of “reparative therapy” can change someone from “gay to straight.”
-Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org)

Andrew confirmed that he did not meet with anyone regularly to bolster masculinity or work through neurotic loops.

While I don’t know who AJAX is so it is hard to make a definitive statement about the rest of what he says, I can say I believe Andrew’s statement. And if what AJAX says about Andrew is off, then what should we believe about the rest of it? How about on the rest of the site?

I recognize that AJAX is one unnamed person among many on this site, but the inconsistency in his account does not provide confidence in the other stories where the identity of the person is obscured.

My critics may dismiss this by claiming I disregard any story of change but that would be untrue. However, too many claims of change later turn out to be made up or embellished. Pointing this out should not lead to an attack on the messenger but a re-evaluation of the message.

Print Friendly

  • Lynn David

    I have come to the conclusion that reparative therapy should be allowed but that it cannot be spoken of as a science but a religious precept. Though, quite evidently, it is on religious precept even some Christians do not care to uphold.

  • Bernie

    Pardon the pun…but, it looks as if someone got caught with their pants down.

  • Jeremy

    My video is temporarily offline because I’m planning to record a new one, but here is my original video: http://www.youtube.com/dallas75248. It is also part of the third post on my blog (I originally recorded it as an interview about the JiM weekend.) http://www.myexgayjourney.blogspot.com I will record a new video more specifically for VoC later this week.

    God Bless,

    Jeremy

  • Mary

    It’s funny how two people will interpret the same relationship. I can see both men’s accounts as being true.

  • David Roberts

    I can see both men’s accounts as being true.

    That explains a great deal, but not about AJAX or Marin.

  • David Cary Hart

    Unless and until NARTH submits to independent investigation of a significant and meaningful sample, their claims are meritless.

    It could very well be a form of embellishment that occurs when the recipient of therapy wants to please the therapist, or therapy peers, or a parent, or a pastor or [fill in the blank]. There are too many variables to contemplate. My problem with all of this is that NARTH insists that there are teens who want to change their sexual orientation when it is probably a parental proposition. Sadly, it might be the result of parental opprobrium.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I will almost always go read the source article/document that people link to. So I went to the Marin Foundation website, now I did ‘t watch the video cuz I didn’t want to wake up my husband but I did go read their Mission Statement and Vision Statement. I have no idea if it is feasible for them to achieve their mission, if they do they deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.

    As to that Voices of Change website ALL the stories seem to me to be written in the same voice. I think they are ALL fake.

  • Dave

    I am not always sure how I feel about Andrew Marin .. He tends to not like to state his position and at times has been accused of saying very different things depending on the audience. This quote from a larger conversation is one such example ..

    “And so if that’s the only option that we give them, once again, where are they going to lean? The easy road or the hard road? But if you then state instead of that, if you say, ‘Do I know gay people who have changed?’ Or if you don’t know anyone who has changed, it’s okay. You know? You can say, ‘Do I know that there have been gay people who have changed? Yes. Do I know that there have been people who have not changed? Yes.’ And then, you know, getting them back into the whole Bible scene and Word of God and all that stuff, you know, we know where to go from that point. But it diffuses and it changes the conversation.”

    See: http://www.signorile.com/2010/07/transcript-of-andrew-marin-seminar.html for more.

    His philosophy of not stating his position makes him a puzzle at times. And while I see your quotes from Andrew in your O.P. I also see other things he has said. And they don’t always line up. Andrew later claims that the talk he gave, noted above, was from an earlier time and the he now would have said it differently .. see here: http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2010/part-3-note-to-skeptics/

    But if this is the case .. if his values were not yet formed at the time .. then what AJAX shared may not be that far off. In other words … I am not sure that we have a slam dunk here on accusing AJAX of lying. Andrew Marin (IMO) is a bit too vague to have certainty here.

    Dave

  • Ford

    Mary –

    I think you’re right. I completely agree with Dave above. While I don’t think what Andrew did in the mid-aughts was reparative therapy, he is on record as having advocated a sort of “early intervention” for what he perceived to be confused young men – he wanted to prevent the “integration” of “gay” into their identity. His statement that he has never had “any goal of ‘changing from gay to straight.’” is contradicted by his past speaking programs (that he fully admits to having delivered).

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

    Ford/Mary/Dave: See the update in the post above. Apparently AJAX is not going to contest Marin’s word on this.

  • Jon Trouten

    Say what you will about Andrew, I think he would assert that he is not a therapist. So I have no clue what techniques or exercises he might be teaching people about being ex-gay or more masculine or whatever.

    He might affirm someone’s personal journey as an ex-gay man or woman, but he will and has affirmed this married gay father (i.e. me) throughout our several year friendship.

    Meanwhile, he’s been much more vocal in several different interviews recently that — while he accepts that being ex-gay might be the reality for a small minority of folks — he believes that it is harmful and ineffective for most.

  • Jon Trouten
  • John

    Mary – You speak of that “early intervention” that Andrew was recorded saying. Instead of listening to an activist with an agenda trying to tear Andrew down, maybe you should listen to the whole hour recording instead of small pieces, and then read Andrew’s direct and very open response to those accusations:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/loveisanorientation/2010/07/part-3-note-to-skeptics/

  • Mary

    John – I don’t know to what you are referring. I made no comments about early intervention – simply saying that I think both men have for themselves a different yet true experience of their time together.

  • Dave

    @John..I already had referenced / linked Andrew’s response in my post (its the same link you gave). I put the links in my post in the hopes that people would read everything in context… and draw their own conclusions.

    @Warren.. thanks for the update.

    Dave

  • David Cary Hart

    SGM:

    Regarding Marin, in spite of the lofty website, Marin Foundation are a tiny group with an annual budget of $130K.

  • David Roberts

    My understanding of the transcribed talk referenced above is that Marin did not want teens to cement an identity which erroneously excluded God as a necessity. It has always been his charge as a “bridge buider” to bring the two together, and he notes there that — due to the actions and attitudes of the church — part of being gay was often the idea that one had to be anti-god or anti-christianity. What I see in that transcript is Marin saying that he wants to change the ethos for them (gay teens) before that idea is cemented in their minds.

    I’ve communicated with Marin since about 2007, and whateve he is, I’ve never caught him in a lie. I may not always agree, but he does seem like an honest man.

    @ David Cary Hart

    Regardless of one’s determination of Marin’s goals or sincerity, I’m not sure what difference his budget makes. Most of the LGBT activists I know of have a budget as small or smaller, yet they accomplish a great deal. When did we get into the job of discouraging social activism on the basis of the size of one’s bank account?

  • Dale

    Nicolosi and his clinic have been doing reparative therapy for more than 25 years. In that time, his clinic has not produced a single scientific study about his results. Not one. He spends enormous amounts of time doing media appearances. Twenty years ago, I saw him on a talk show in Boston, 3000 miles away from his clinic, He has time for politics and media and travel and self-promotion, but in a quarter century could not find the time to produce one peer-reviewed study concerning his own work.

    Instead, in 2012, we are reduced to reading anonymous internet posts by “AJAX” – posts which don’t survive even a cursory investigation. Whatever this is, it isn’t science.

  • Mary

    I don’t think the statistical references are science but I do think that change has been recorded in some studies to varying degrees – it’s hard to tell what is defined as change.

    It’s true that some women change spontaneously and men change less if they are trying to change.

    What those exact numbers are? Not very high.

  • Teresa

    I think what seems never to be talked about is the number of supposed str8 people coming out as gay: both men and women. It seems all the talk is about gay to str8. In my shoebox world, I know of at least 4 cases of this happening.

    I suspect, without any evidence … zero, zilch, nada, that those figures from str8 to gay far outnumber the gay to str8 narrative. Just my opinion, remember.

  • Mary

    T- Yeah, I can see that being the case. It’s the times. We live a society that is much more accepting and the ratio of older people coming out of the closet is surely going to add to the higher proportion of people in total going from straight to gay rather than gay to straight. The common wisdom is that gay to straight is rare.

  • Dale

    “It’s true that some women change spontaneously and men change less if they are trying to change. What those exact numbers are? Not very high.”

    What is your source? And what do you mean by “change”?

  • Teresa

    @ Dale,

    The following link will help explain exactly what Mary was talking about; and, what Warren has said repeatedly about women. Ground-breaking on this fluidity of women was Dr. Lisa Diamond from the University of Utah and her study.

    Mid-life lesbians

  • Teresa

    Dale, what Mary means by ‘change’ is exactly what you think it means: gay to str8 or str8 to gay … and, it seems to be more a woman phenomenon.

    Couple of quotes from the article:

    “I’ve never had a straight man say to me, at age 45, I just met this really neat guy and I fell in love with him and I don’t like men in general, but God, this guy’s so great that I’m going to be in a relationship with him for the next 15 years.”

    “What we know about adult development,” she says, “suggests that people become more expansive in a number of ways as they get older . . . I think a lot of women, late in life, when they’re no longer worried about raising the kids, and when they’re looking back on their marriage and how satisfying it is, find an opportunity to take a second look at what they want and feel like.” This doesn’t mean that women are choosing whether to be gay or straight, she clarifies. (Diamond’s work has sometimes been distorted by rightwing factions in the US, who have suggested it shows homosexuality is optional.) “Every one of the women I studied who underwent a transition experienced it as being out of her control. It was not a conscious choice . . . I think the culture tends to lump together change and choice, as if they’re the same phenomenon, but they’re not. Puberty involves a heck of a lot of change, but you don’t choose it. There are life-course transitions that are beyond our control.”

  • David Roberts

    Teresa said:

    “I think what seems never to be talked about is the number of supposed str8 people coming out as gay:.”

    I assume you are not implying that these people actually changed from hetero to homosexual.

  • Zoe Brain

    Teresa – fascinating. Almost a mirror-image of my own situation.

    Strock is still a lesbian – and also still married to her husband, who knows about her sexuality. “He would never throw me away, and I would never throw him away,” she says, “so we’ve re-defined our relationship. I’m a lesbian, but we share a house, we have separate rooms, we have two grandchildren now, and our situation is not unique.” Most of the other women I spoke to were in happy, long-term relationships with women, and had found a contentment that they’d never experienced in their previous relationships.

    I’m in a happy, long-term relationship with another woman. But as we’re both straight, there’s no sexual component. We celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary soon.

    I do feel a pang that I will never know the combination of love and sexual arousal that nearly everyone on the planet, gay or straight, has felt at one time or another. But of the two, we have the more important segment.

  • Mary

    Dale – I think I wrote somewhere that change is loosely defined byt eh person who experiences it. What change means to me may not be what changes means to someone else or to you.

  • Teresa

    Mary said:

    Dale – I think I wrote somewhere that change is loosely defined by the person who experiences it. What change means to me may not be what changes means to someone else or to you.

    Mary, I see your what you’re getting at. We’re assuming a person will be honest with themselves about what they’re experiencing, no?

  • Teresa

    From Zoe:

    I’m in a happy, long-term relationship with another woman. But as we’re both straight, there’s no sexual component. We celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary soon.

    Zoe, Happy Anniversary! … a bit ahead of schedule.

  • Mary

    T- Yes. I think that is the best we can. We can speak for our experiences but not really the experiences of others.

  • Ajax

CLOSE | X

HIDE | X