“Reparative Therapy” is the name for the type of counseling that claims to help people to “change” their sexual orientation. Over the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this type of therapy. The claims have “changed” (pun intended) over the years so that now reparative therapists only say that that “change” is a possibility…not an eventuality. Regardless, the whole point of the therapy is to help a person “overcome” being gay so that they can live a straight life.
I spent two years in reparative therapy back in the early 90’s. By the end of the two years, I thought that I had come to a place where I knew enough that I was able to “control” my sexual urges and I believed I could live a fairly normal straight existence. Ultimately, what I learned was to deny my orientation and to suppress those feelings and desires. I was taught to fulfill my need for men through close, non-sexual friendships with other men. And I learned that if I stayed close to God and give my desires for men over to Him, then over time, there would be more and more healing in my life.
Guess what? Nearly 20 years have passed and there has been no change in my desires. I have experienced some tremendous fulfillment in close friendships with other men…and I have clung to God during those years. But at the core of my being, nothing has changed. All I have done is learned to “play straight”. I’ve played the role semi-well. After all, I AM married with children! But to this day, I have zero attraction to women. And I find that all of my energy goes into connecting with men. Deep down, I know that change has been totally elusive.
You know what else? I’ve never met another person for whom reparative therapy has worked. Everyone I know (and I know MANY) who has been through such programs, has simply learned to “control” their desires. They may live straight lives, but at their core, their desire to be with men has not gone away. They have learned to suppress it but in their minds and hearts, they know that the desires will not go away.
So I’ve come to a conclusion…and it is based on my experience and the experience of many others: REPARATIVE THERAPY DOESN’T WORK! I desperately wanted to believe that it would work. But it didn’t. There may be a few out there for whom it has worked and I would guess that they were not as exclusively homosexual as those for whom it hasn’t worked. But on the whole, I don’t believe it works.
In good conscience, I can no longer recommend it to people. Ultimately, I know that I will need to withdraw from some of my professional connections to Exodus International and other gay-to-straight groups. In time, that will come. At the very least, I personally feel released from “trying to change”.