Atheist Goes Undercover and Attends Christian Gay-Conversion Therapy Sessions December 7, 2009

Atheist Goes Undercover and Attends Christian Gay-Conversion Therapy Sessions

An atheist, Ted Cox, spent the past two years going undercover as a gay man undergoing gay-to-straight therapy programs run by Christian groups (as if there were any other kind).

What he found was precisely what you would think: These programs do nothing to “convert” you from gay to straight. They just try to make you suppress your (gay) sexual urges. They make up their own “facts” — you’re not born with it, it’s the result of a traumatic childhood, Jesus can save you from The Gay, etc.

Sena Christian at Alternet recently interview Cox about his experience.

It’s horrifying:

I saw one man distraught that he was damaging his own sons, that they would end up gay because he was not enough of a man. And I wanted to just hug him, and tell him, “It’s OK, it’s alright. So what if your kids turn out gay? And you can’t turn them gay.” I became sad because I saw men reenact traumatic events from their childhood. The paperwork tells you [camp staff members] are not acting as professionals so you have no idea how ethical this is, how safe — psychologically — any of these programs are. I felt sad that their pain was being used to exploit them to make them feel like that was the reason they were gay.

Most of the interview just reveals the problems with these types of awful attempts at fixing something that was never broken in the first place.

But I’ll admit to laughing at Cox’s observation that one of the ways they tried to make you straight was by making you fall in love with the “most perfect man,” Jesus.

I don’t know how any decent Christian could be involved with any church that support these types of programs. To say they’re damaging is an understatement.

Ted did an interview about this experience with atheist comedian Keith Lowell Jensen, which you can watch here and here.

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  • In my experience even many “decent” Christians are convinced homosexuality is a sin and would rather live in a world without gay people. And since blatant bigotry is only acceptable to the radical right, the anti-gay “moderates” have invented wishy-washy, candy-coated rhetoric like “we love the sinner, we only hate the sin” that lets “decent” Christians support anti-gay legislation and discrimination without feeling like too much of a bigot (or realizing they still are one).

  • Sarah TX.

    I’ve heard several interviews with leaders of ex-gay programs, who are usually “ex-gay” themselves. It really makes me sad, actually, to hear these grown men say, “I used to think I was a homosexual, but now I honestly and truly love JESUS and MY WIFE.” And then they trot the wife out and she has to maintain this perfect Stepford image. It’s all very disturbing and I just want to give the wife a great big hug.

  • Heidi

    I really resent these people trying to pretend they can turn gay people into straight people. Thus lies the path to making a bunch of Ted Haggard clones. You end up with an unhappy gay person, and an unhappy spouse who thought s/he was marrying a straight person. Great job. Now everybody is miserable.

  • I’m a bit disappointed that there is no attempt to “convert” you from gay to straight. I was imagining all sorts of sordid goings on.

    Why they are so interested in who people love is a bit beyond me though. Are they worried that there won’t be enough straight Christian men left to impregnate the Christian women? Clearly their sexual preference is secondary to the needs of Christian men so we won’t even mention lesbians.

  • Alan E.

    Indirectly, these programs are used as support that the gays are converting your children (and adults, but a threat to children sounds scarier) from being straight, normal people.

  • littlejohn

    I’m absolutely convinced that when evangelists think about Jesus, they masturbate. Not that there’s anything wrong with thet.

  • Aren’t they practicing psychology without a license? Non-religious groups simply would not get away with this type of nonsense.

  • How terribly heartbreaking. Seriously, if this is what being Christian entails, I am so glad when I walked away from Mormonism I didn’t turn to Christianity for comfort.

  • qwertyuiop

    Why they are so interested in who people love is a bit beyond me though. Are they worried that there won’t be enough straight Christian men left to impregnate the Christian women?

    I’m afraid there are people out there who simply have to hate another group for no good reason.

  • Victor,
    You can practice psychology without a license, as long as you don’t call yourself a “psychologist” which is a legally regulated label. “Therapist” is not legally regulated, and therefore anyone can hang a shingle out and call themselves a therapist.

    There was a good coverage of this on Degrassi, a teen soap opera from Canada. A gay teen went to a consultation session and learned about this “system.” Thannkfully, the folks at Degrassi used the episode to expose it, and to show that homosexuality is healthy, and the character finally accepted that.

  • Epistaxis

    These programs do nothing to “convert” you from gay to straight.

    What would it look like if they did? A Clockwork Orange?

  • I’m absolutely convinced that when evangelists think about Jesus, they masturbate.

    Similarly, when your partner yells out “Jesus!” at the moment of climax, you now know who they are really thinking of. 😉

  • Valdyr

    But I’ll admit to laughing at Cox’s observation that one of the ways they tried to make you straight was by making you fall in love with the “most perfect man,” Jesus.

    …And the guy infiltrating this gay group’s last name is “Cox”. Just pointing that out. Yes, I have the maturity of a twelve year-old.

    I have to imagine that this strategy is just going to result in some very spiritually tormented gay men having sex fantasies about Jesus.

  • I have to imagine that this strategy is just going to result in some very spiritually tormented gay men having sex fantasies about Jesus.

    Well, jeebus is depicted as a pretty attractive guy with beautiful, golden-brown hair, flawless, fair skin and sometimes blue eyes. (Even though – if he actually ever existed – he was Middle Eastern! Always cracks me up.)

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    Reminds of the South Park episode where Butters is sent to a camp to cure him of being bi-curious. All the kids were offing themselves and there was this flaming priest dancing around shouting about how he had been saved from the gay. Sounds like the South Park episode wasn’t that far from the truth.

  • liz

    “Sounds like the South Park episode wasn’t that far from the truth.”

    no…not at all

  • ckitching

    “Sounds like the South Park episode wasn’t that far from the truth.”
    Even obvious fiction can’t escape Poe’s law. Either that, or truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to be believable!

  • muggle

    Malpractice in the name of religion.

  • Modern Girl is correct. Anyone can be a therapist, but you have to have credentials to call yourself a psychologist.

  • cathy

    The movie “But I’m a Cheerleader” is probably the best film ever on the issue of reparative therapy.

    On a more serious note though, I have heard of young trans girls being subjected to electrical shocks to try to ‘fix’ them.

  • Vene

    I don’t know what is done now, but I do know in the past “sexual deviants,” which include transsexuals, were subjected to electroshock therapy. Of course, there is a certain bit of futility in shocking a masochist in order to discourage him to be masochistic.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1902433/pdf/procrsmed00153-0074.pdf

  • john locke

    “I don’t know how any decent Christian could be involved with any church that support these types of programs. To say they’re damaging is an understatement.”

    Never underestimate the power of dogma. Millions of decent people supported Hitler and slavery. When a person is taught not to think skeptically and accept what they are told as true, even a decent person can commit the most abhorrent acts.

  • @ Muggle: of course it is malpractice, but if the “therapists” aren’t using any regulated titles, I’m afraid there is nothing to be done , unless it can be made obvious thatwhat happens is abuse. Otherwise I’m afraid it falls under freedom of religion or something.

  • Jasper

    Gay-cure therapy is the same as bleaching your skin. It takes a long time, takes a lifetime to maintain, and has scientific proof that it’s harmful. But it can “work”, if you class suppression as successes. You might be happy.

    But at the end of all things, you’re still who you were when you started. You might be able to convince other people, you might get accepted and might get past all the barriers that you perceived needed you to change in the first place.

    But when it is all over you’re still gay (or dark skinned), and you would probably of had a much happier life if you’d accepted yourself and found the people who can and would have loved you for you.

  • Robert

    I do not believe the Gay Cures are patently Christian. I think hinduism is coming up with ayurvedic/yoga cures now(Baba Ramdev’s Cure) that they actually recognise that it exists. the other religions are just catching up on the existence.
    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_ramdev-accepts-challenge-says-he-will-cure-gay-prince_1342274

  • ted

    Here’s a link to my essay about the camp:

    www.http://stinque.com/2010/04/12/my-journey-into-manhood/

  • Heidi

    Your URL got messed up there. Re-posting it:

    http://stinque.com/2010/04/12/my-journey-into-manhood/

    Thanks, btw. 🙂