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Thursday, April 8, 2010

SAY IT AIN’T SO, CNN! KYRA “REPARATIVE THERAPIST” PHILLIPS?

I wish that I could say that I’m enjoying watching CNN and its “reporter” Kyra Phillips twist in the wind with her ill-advised and, well, stupid comments about homosexuality being a “curable” disease. Just in case y’all haven’t been following the story, here’s the gist: In a CNN segment called “Finding a "cure" for Homosexuality?” done for the morning show by anchor Kyra Phillips, the network has given the pseudo-scientific topic of "ex-gay" therapy and its proponents a national platform to advocate for their harmful and unsound work.

The reason given (actually, it wasn’t a reason, just an excuse) for airing the segment was because California lawmaker Bonnie Lowenthal has introduced legislation to repeal a 1960 law that encourages the government to study cures for homosexuality. Instead of discussing the merits of the proposed bill and why "finding cures" for being gay don't work, Ms. Phillips and CNN gave credence to this bogus and proven fraudulent “therapy” by allowing "ex-gay activist" Richard Cohen to spew his lies and promote new research (old studies that have been thoroughly discredited and completely debunked). I’m reasonably sure that everybody that watches Rachel Maddow’s show is aware that Mr. Cohen condemned himself out of his own mouth when he was a guest on her show several weeks ago.

According to Mr. Cohen, he works under the auspices of the International Healing Foundation, a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization founded by him in 1990 to treat same-sex attraction. He is not licensed as a therapist, because he said he "didn't want to jump through the hoops and deal with the heterophobia and anti-ex-gay attitudes." Mr. Cohen avoids State licensing requirements by asking for donations to his foundations instead of payment. In other words, and out of his own mouth, he is an unlicensed fraud and a phony. In 2002, Mr. Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association, after it accused him of six violations of its ethics code, which bars members from actions which "seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients, those that exploit the trust and dependency of clients, and for soliciting testimonials or promoting products in a deceptive manner." Mr. Cohen has said that he believes the expulsion was for his efforts in the ex-gay movement, specifically for the book Coming Out Straight, and for one complaint. He did not appeal, however, calling the ACA "a biased organization" and "gay-affirming club".

Please don’t get me wrong, here; I’m a firm believer in Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy of keeping your mouth shut. “Reparative therapy” does not work. Let me repeat this: “REPARATIVE THERAPY” DOES NOT WORK. Neither does “abstinence only” education for the prevention of teen pregnancies – but that’s a subject for another column.

Homosexuality was removed from the DSM as a psychological disease in 1973, and neither the American Psychiatric Association (1973) nor the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives (1975)consider any sort of same-sex attraction to be a disease of any sort. The long-standing consensus of the behavioral and social sciences, as well as the health and mental health professions,is that homosexuality per se is a normal variation of human sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association states that conversion therapy is a type of psychiatric treatment "based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient SHOULD change his/her sexual/homosexual orientation."

Let me repeat this: Homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexual orientation. Oooops.

Mainstream American medical and scientific organizations have expressed concern over conversion therapy and consider it potentially harmful. I’ll go a long step beyond that, and state categorically that “reparative therapy” is not just potentially harmful, it is very harmful. Real-life harmful. Most of the truly homosexual victims of this torture (not,I will hasten to say here, the bisexual participants in this horrific and abominable relict of the Inquisition) – and believe me, that’s what it is – suffer both during the therapy and after it, when they cannot live up to what they were taught was good, right and “normal”. When they fail at being heterosexual, and fail at suppressing their normal – for them – sexuality, they suffer guilt the likes of which Fred Phelps, detestable as he is, would wallow in. I have counseled many victims of reparative therapy. Some of them have been made to feel so guilty about NOT being able to "convert" to a "normal" sexuality that they have killed themselves.

The ethics guidelines of major mental health organizations in the United States vary from cautionary statements about the safety, effectiveness, and dangers of prejudice associated with conversion therapy (American Psychological Association), to recommendations that ethical practitioners refrain from practicing conversion therapy (American Psychiatric Association) or from referring patients to those who do (American Counseling Association).

So, why is this abomination not only being allowed to continue, but encouraged to flourish? There’s a very simple reason: it has its successes. Of course, if you ask these successes, and they have a spasm of honesty, most of them will say that they are actually bisexual and made a choice to be “normal”, for whatever reason. A truly homosexual man or woman can pretend to be heterosexual, but eventually their true sexuality will overcome whatever barriers they try to put into place to hide or suppress it. I won’t mention any names here but there are a number of famous “ex-gays” that have re-outed themselves and have been driven from the ex-gay movement and shunned as being traitors. You can look them up if you’ve got a strong enough stomach.

Something else that I highly recommend is reading up on the "experts" that tout this "therapy”. Mr. Cohen's counterpart, Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., author of "Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality", which has been repudiated by the majority of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and other medical professionals, has been proven to be a complete fraud. Nicolosi has invented the term "homosexual condition" to use in place of sexual orientation. His incredibly prejudiced and judgmental attitudes against gay men become very evident in the first few lines of his writing, and just get worse the farther that a person reads. His brief but pompous analysis of why John Paulk was homosexual would be ludicrous, if it were not being set forth as though it were scientific and medical fact. Instead, it is dangerous, misleading, and false - fraudulent, and blatantly so. Nicolosi's logic is like saying that "gay equals crazy, and therefore all gays are crazy".

We are neither crazy, nor are we diseased. We are, simply, people. We are your daughters, your sons, your cousins, nieces, nephews, and your next-door neighbors. We are not asking for special treatment. We are asking for our humanity to be acknowledged, and we are asking that our civil rights be equal to everybody else’s. Above all, we are asking to be left alone. NOT made to feel guilty because we are sexually different, not treated as lepers and pariahs because we don’t fall into that stupid category that says that heterosexuality is good, and right and everything else that isn’t heterosexual is diseased, and sinful and wrong.

Thanks to Ms. Phillips, Mr. Cohen and Bonnie Lowenthal, this whole tragic conversation is going to be revived – and once again, we GLBT folks face being classified as diseased and unclean because we’re hard-wired differently. Maybe I should be carrying a sign and ringing a bell. According to those three, that’s about all I’m good for.

Shame on you, CNN – and shame on you too, Ms. Phillips.

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