"You Can Check-Out Anytime You Like, But You Can Never Leave." So says the Eagles' song Hotel California. Ironically, this memorable phrase in that 1976 classic hit has lasting implications for all those wishing to leave the gay life. I am careful to say "life" and not "lifestyle" so not to offend any gay and lesbian reading this who may be quick to cast me as a homophobe or hate-monger.
The truth is no one simply chooses to have same-sex attractions (SSA). These feelings are the result of many factors, mostly environmental and familial, mixed-in with one genetic factor, a sensitive temperament. I make this claim not with a preponderance of scientific evidence, but with the clinical experience of my own practice as a psychotherapist over the last three years, plus an additional twenty years of observations from my colleagues at the International Healing Foundation.
In twenty-three years, we have found that 99 percent of our clients who experience homosexual feelings have very sensitive temperaments. Or, as Lady Gaga says: "Baby, they were born that way!" This is what I believe to be the foundation for the development of SSA – a sensitive nature. Factor that with a few other variables − usually detachment from the same-gender parent and peers, an over-attachment to the opposite-gender parent and peers, and early sexual initiation and/or sexual abuse – and there is a good chance a person will experience SSA.
For decades, most of the scientific community agreed. Until 1969, on the coattails of the Civil Rights Movement, when the modern-day gay rights movement began.
On June 28, 1969, at a homosexual bar on Greenwich Village in New York City, a group of gay patrons finally had enough of the abuse by local police, who regularly came into their establishments and harassed and beat up the patrons. At 1:20am, the customers stood up against this police brutality, and for several days, fought the police in what was eventually known as the Stonewall Riots. This was the spark that lit the fire throughout America, igniting the modern-day gay rights movement.
From this time on, national groups began to spring up, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Their goal was to emulate the strategies of the Civil Rights movement to gain acceptance for homosexuality and change public opinion in America.
Fast-forward twenty years, and gay rights groups and activists were making in-roads in many areas, most notably with the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association's Bible. With this momentum, many brilliant gay and lesbian professionals began to strategize how not just to gain tolerance for homosexuality with the American public, but to actually normalize and equate it with heterosexuality.
In 1989, two Harvard-educated gay men, Madsen (a neuropsychiatrist) and Kirk (a Madison Avenue marketing expert), published what commonly came to be known as the Homosexual Manifesto. The book was titled: After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s. This landmark book blueprinted how to indoctrinate the public into the innate-immutability myth of homosexuality – that people are born this way and cannot change. The authors laid out eight main principles to achieve this goal, and in the last twenty-four years, activists have followed this plan and largely succeeded in American society. Their biggest problem, however, in achieving all their goals, is the advent of the former homosexual, or ex-gay. Because if homosexuals can change, the whole foundation of 'born this way' tumbles like a stack of cards.
To eliminate this obstacle, principle number eight in the Homosexual Manifesto is employed: "Make victimizers look bad. Make homosexual-hating beliefs and actions look so bad that everyone will dissociate from them." This is a rather difficult goal to achieve, because in order to do so, activists would have to essentially turn on their own – meaning, they would have to target persons who were unhappy with their same-sex attractions and sought change. Their strategy to achieve this is three-fold. Number one: discredit all research that shows people can change.
In the last one hundred years, there have been literally hundreds of studies published in scientific peer-reviewed journals that document change from SSA to heterosexuality. However, activists in the psychological and counseling communities have formed powerful committees within trade organizations to wield influence. Essentially, these committees ignore, defame, or disqualify the research for some reason (e.g., methodological concerns are a favorite) while exalting any theory that proposes an inherent biological cause to homosexuality. If that doesn't work, a common tactic is to attack the researcher, or organization funding the research, as homophobic, biased, or fatally flawed for whatever reason.
A good example of this is a 2012 study performed by Dr. Mark Regenerus, a professor at the University of Texas, whose research published in the peer-reviewed Social Science Research , found that children raised by homosexual parents suffered lower outcomes, compared to heterosexual parents, across twenty-four statistically significant measures. While the study was praised by objective scientists as methodically vigorous, gay activists were quick to criticize its findings, and even went so far as to try and remove Dr. Regenerus from his position at the University of Texas, launching an internal review of his research ethics, which eventually led to the affirmation of his conduct. The second tactic is to paint SSA persons who seek sexual orientation change as victims by their counselors.
Recently I wrote an article about this strategy in length. Organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and other anti-ex-gay activists devote millions of dollars each year to try and convince persons who are unhappy with their SSA that change is not possible, and in fact, that it is downright harmful. They are now recruiting clients who are unable to achieve sexual orientation change to sue their former therapists in the name of consumer fraud, and attempting to make any type of sexual orientation change effort therapy by licensed mental health practitioners, illegal. In an especially brazen attempt to indoctrinate society, CBS's primetime show Criminal Minds devoted an entire episode last week to portray ex-gays as repressed, violent criminals who are brainwashed by Christian conversion-camps that use electroshock therapy and torture to turn gays straight.
The third and final method is to attack former homosexuals who have come public with their stories of change. There are a number of tactics they use to achieve this end. For example, it's common for activists to claim that ex-gays are merely repressing their sexual urges and choosing to engage in heterosexual sex. If a former homosexual relapses, they then point to this example and generalize it to the entire ex-gay community as proof that change isn't possible. Another argument they use to defame ex-gays is to say he/she was never really gay – therefore, if they weren't gay to begin with, they didn't really change. All you have to do is read the comment section at the end of this and any other article I've written, and any number of these strategies will be employed to disqualify my experience and those of the ex-gay community.
My personal favorite, however, is the oldie-but-goodie, "you're just a big mean liar and you didn't change at all – you're still really attracted to dudes – and you're only pretending not to be gay because your Bible-thumping family and Christian upbringing caused you to internalize your homophobia and resort to self-hatred . . . you're really denying who you are – what a sad, pathetic life you lead."
Even though I've been married to my wife for over six years, have three beautiful children, and have not relapsed in eight and-a-half years, these activists claim that I, and others like me, am still homosexual. In essence, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Correction: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013:
An op-ed published on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, incorrectly stated that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychological Association. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association.