What is Conversion Therapy & “Ex-Gay Ministry” & How Does It Work?
LGBT issues have always been a part of political battles in some form. However, conversion therapy (and “pray the gay away” type therapies called “ex-gay” ministry) really hasn’t been in the news much in the last few decades except for three real noteworthy events;
*1973-- the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association after much research and clinical trials declared that homosexuality was not fit to be called disorder which was called in the 1950’s and virtually all mental health professionals saw conversion type therapies as dangerous.
*2013—As a direct result of a Lisa Ling 2 part report on Our America called “Pray the Gay Away”, the largest ex-gay ministry in the world, Exodus International, closed it doors and some of it’s leading members “came out”.
*2015-- The Obama Administration pushed for the banning of conversion therapy used on minors.
Powering against this were two high profile political voices. First, Sarah and Todd Palin and their involvement in a penetcostal church that practiced conversion therapy in their counseling. Now, as of present, we have a supreme court judge Neil Gorsuch and Vice President Mike Pence who are not supportive of any of the gains LGBT people have made for their rights. This has allowed a rebranded Exodus International, called the Restored Hope Network, to gain more momentum and other ex-gay ministries are popping up.
Many people don’t know the difference between conversion therapy or ex-gay ministry or their techniques. Having experienced both, let me take you behind the curtain (spoiler alert: you aren’t going to find Oz there).
“Conversion therapy” takes a non-faith based approach. It began in and around the 1920’s with speculations from Sigmund Freud and surgeries from Eugene Steinach. Steinach performed operations where he implanted gay men with straight men’s testicles stating that this would help the “organic” component of homo-eroticism. Throughout history, scientists have tried different things to change a gay man to straight from electric shock and other methods of pain and torture. Some people even received lobotomies. These are extreme methods that aren’t as popular today.
More popular has been reparative therapy which is based on the teachings of Elizabeth Moberly and the late Joseph Nicolossi. This is the idea that the person who classifies themselves as homosexual is really trying to “repair” feelings of inferiority largely due to a separation from the Father, over identification with mother or female models, and disjointed connection with male peers.
Ex-Gay Ministry takes some elements today from the reparative therapy model but comes at it solely from a traditional faith model. Homosexuality is a spiritual problem. A sin that is equivalent in function as alcoholism or gossip but lands you in the deepest recesses of hell both here and in eternity.
If I could compare it to anything, think about the native Americans and how the Puritans had them leave who they were behind. They had to cut their hair (something sacred in their culture), be re-educated and practice Christian traditions, change their names, and over-all look and talk like an English American. Ex-gay ministry tries to change you into a straight talking, walking Christian male.
I go into these techniques much deeper in my book available at the bookspace store menu, "Discoveries in the Closet"