The ex-gay movement

Last month psychiatrist Robert Spitzer publicly retracted his 2001 study on the success of ex-gay therapy.  The controversial study claimed that “highly motivated gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation”.  In his retraction Spitzer admitted that early critiques of the study were largely correct, most notably that “there was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation”.  In addition, Spitzer has publicly apologized to the gay community and to “any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy”.  Previous to the 2001 study Spitzer had been a leader in the effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973.  Read more about Spitzer’s retraction here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/robert-spitzer-ex-gay-psychiatrist-apology_n_1453570.html

Spitzer’s retraction was initially published in an article by Gabriel Arana in The American Prospect.  In his article Arana describes his own involvement with reparative therapy and his journey as a young gay man.  The article outlines some of the key moments in the history of the ex-gay movement in America and explains how Spitzer’s study was used to bolster their claims.  This article is highly effective as it utilizes both in-depth critical analysis and personal story telling.  I definitely recommend checking it out: http://prospect.org/article/my-so-called-ex-gay-life

Many people are speaking up about and against the ex-gay movement in many different ways.  Last month the popular American radio show This American Life featured John Smid, former director of Love In Action, an ex-gay ministry in Memphis, Tennessee.  Since stepping down as director Smid has come out as gay and has publicly stated that he has never seen anyone successfully change their sexual orientation.  The episode also featured gay activist Morgan Jon Fox who led a protest against Love In Action and made a documentary called This is What Love In Action Looks Like.  Listen to the episode here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/462/own-worst-enemy?act=3    

More info on This is What Love In Action Looks Like: http://www.livefrommemphis.com/loveinactionmovie

The 1999 film But I’m A Cheerleader approaches the subject of the ex-gay movement with satire.  The 2008 Canadian documentary The Cure for Love looks specifically at the ex-gay movement in Canada.  Recently I had the opportunity to see a short theatre piece about the ex-gay movement as part of Tarragon Theatre’s Paprika Festival.   Always Wear a Rubber by Evan Vipond tells the story of four young people at an ex-gay camp. 

More info on The Cure for Love:  http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?AFF_TYPE=1&STORY_ID=4595&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=1 

More info on Always Wear A Rubber: http://www.fabmagazine.com/fab-blog/spicy-rubbers

Despite this the ex-gay movement continues to have a presence across Canada and the United States.  Arana suggests that the movement is in decline.  What do you think?  Do you think Spitzer’s retraction and apology will have an effect?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

J.

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About teachtoronto

Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia (T.E.A.C.H.) is a peer-to-peer anti-homophobia program based out of Planned Parenthood Toronto. We train people between the ages of 16 and 23, of all sexual orientations and gender identities, to facilitate interactive workshops on homophobia. T.E.A.C.H. facilitates workshops in schools and community settings across the City of Toronto, talking to over 4000 youth every year! Unfortunately people who we don't get a chance to facilitate workshops with are still experiencing homophobia on a daily basis. Even in Toronto there are a lot of people who we don't have the chance to meet. This blog is a chance to answer questions, share information, tell our stories and hear yours.
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1 Response to The ex-gay movement

  1. Reblogged this on thepositivevoice and commented:
    What can I say?

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