Many physical and mental conditions can be cured; some only treated. Those that are especially challenging are addictions and compulsive behaviors, like gambling, drugs, sex, and alcohol, which require time to respond to current treatment. In many cases they are only modified on a functional level to the addict’s benefit, some more than others. For example, in the case of alcoholism a recovering alcoholic is always in “recovery” but is able, as a result of intervention, to function and live a productive, engaging life. The same has been experienced by those with unwanted same-sex attraction.
In May, 1994, and August, 2006, an organized group of ex-gays and others protested outside the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in San Francisco and New Orleans respectively. These protests were passionate appeals to the APA to refrain from declaring a ban on the treatment of persons with same-sex attraction in seeking medical help. The history for this strange protest goes back a couple of decades.
In 1973, in San Francisco, militant gay advocates forced themselves, literally, by heckling and manhandling the microphone, into the annual conference of the APA to gain control of the board and policy-making arm of the organization and achieved their goal of removing homosexuality from the list of recognized mental disorders. The machinations of this achievement is a little known story, now admitted by gay activists, that resulted in the infusion of ideology into a prior scientifically-driven truth-seeking organization (a story for a later blog). Later the APA, under the auspices of the leadership, most of whom were practicing homosexuals, in a departure from recognized scientific research and inquiry, and ignoring 60 years of psychoanalytic research literature, claimed homosexuality was irreversible and banned any treatment of it.
A statement on the current APA’s website states that homosexuality “does not require treatment and is not changeable.” The ideological basis of this ban, and the ideological medicine it fostered, was a step in achieving the political goals of the homosexual community. It put a chill on future research on homosexuality accusing those who engage in it prejudiced and intolerant. A chill that prevails to this day.
There are those who, in their zeal to advance the public acceptance and ‘normalcy’ of homosexual behavior, breach the rights of clients with unwanted same-sex attractions to pursue change as well as the rights of clinicians to provide such psychological care as prejudiced and intolerant. For gay professionals and advocates to outright ban just treatment is only another step toward rationalizing homosexual behavior.
However, there continues to be a movement by objectively-minded, truth-seeking, professionals and researchers in assisting men and women who voluntarily seek medical assistance for unwanted same-sex attractions. In the late 90s Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, first described a subpopulation of homosexuals he termed, ‘non-gay homosexuals’ -- men with same-sex attraction who shunned the gay lifestyle of promiscuity and the ‘walk on the wild side’. These cases continue to accrue and those programs, both secular and spiritual, in the face of main media’s mockery and derision, continue to prevail.
Several years ago, the editor of Psychology Today, Robert Epstein, himself a gay proponent, honestly opined in an editorial that there was validity in Dr. Nicolosi’s report of changed homosexuals that, according to him, there may be, based on these results, some homosexuals who are capable of changing. He was castigated severely and even threatened by militant homosexuals.
Perhaps these cases prevail because men continue, in fact, to quietly seek help for unwanted same-sex attraction. Gay activists claim those seeking change are not comfortable with their same-sex attraction because they have ‘internalized homophobia’. In other words, it’s because of others, society, those out there, nothing in here, that they makes them feel uncomfortable, that motivates them to change. But the Netherlands’ experience, the most gay-friendly country in the world, has disproved this as it has the same incidence (rate) and prevalence of psychopathology among it’s gay citizens as do the more gay-disapproving countries, like the U.S.
At any rate, there are many programs that continue to assist those seeking help for unwanted same-sex attraction and likewise those who courageously, after arduous intervention, redirect their orientation, even if incompletely, towards wholeness and away from brokenness, to lead more productive, mentally-peaceful, and enriching lives. Not everyone seeking help is helped; and many, or most, prefer to remain in their lifestyles, which for them, is okay too.
But to levy a ban, even pass legislation, banning a person from receiving help in eliminating a -- regardless if you call it an ‘illness’, a ‘disorder’ or unwanted urges -- is something of a travesty. A survey of the medical online press suggests or reveals the treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction, even if only the psychotherapizing of gays, exists in something of an underground environment, with those quietly attempting to help those afflicted, themselves quietly avoiding the public light to evade the professional and public contempt that now comes in providing such help.
The Gospel reading this past Sunday tells the story of Jesus healing the blind man. There are different theological, metaphorical, interpretations of this passage but I believe the overarching one is that there are some afflictions of man that require supernatural intervention. That even in the hands of the best professionals, best care, that there are broken bodies, minds, and hearts that still need something greater than ourselves to move to a better level, away from the broken and towards the whole, away from a single self-absorbing dimension towards one that is comprehensive and meaningful. Perhaps it may be learned that homosexuality is not so much an illness or disorder as much as it is a ‘soul-sickness’.
It’s one thing for a blind man to seek help; it’s another to be blind to one seeking help – but it’s certainly another altogether to intentionally blind a man from seeking a different path, a path that, hopefully, would direct him or her to wholeness and peace.
The stories of those who have become free of the trapped ‘gay lifestyle’ hold a special wonder. They, and their testimonies, serve as models for the rest of us in all the areas of our lives as examples of courage, persistence, and grace.
Let us pray for those who rationalize their behaviors to assuage their consciences, that the veil will be lifted; and for those seeking to change for the better; and for those who are yet to understand and empathize; and for the indifferent that they will see with open eyes and receive with arms wide open, those who ask for help -- that they too will serve as channels of grace for those who are delivered into their care.
Melinda Selmys, a former lesbian, says in her book Sexual Authenticity, “A man may lie to himself very prettily, but he can never really escape from the knowledge that it is a lie.”
In the meantime -- hold the line.