Showing posts with label Gay Cure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Cure. Show all posts

December 11, 2016

How My Dad Tried to Change Me from Being Me (Gay)

 Mathew Shurka

To the outside world, they were part of a crowd of teenage boys. They hung out together, went to parties and chased girls.

But out of the gaze of their parents and peers, 18-year-old Mathew Shurka and Mark had fallen in love.

For months, the pair hid the nature of their relationship but then, without warning, Mark rang Mathew to say he no longer knew if “the whole gay thing” was what he wanted. From now on, he couldn’t see Mathew at all.

Yet that explanation was far from the truth. For the previous two years, Mathew’s father, a New York businessman, had been paying for his son to undergo “conversion therapy” to “rescue” him from his attraction to other men. But when Mathew’s desire only intensified, and he confided the depth of his feelings for Mark to his therapist, it was decided that the relationship could not be allowed to continue.

Mathew says: “Unknown to me, my father met Mark and told him to call me and end our relationship without telling me why. As a young gay man still in the closet, Mark was so petrified, he agreed. When that phone call came, I was destroyed. He was my first love.”

Ten years on, Mathew, now 28, is an out gay man fighting to ban conversion therapy – a battle that may continue because vice-president-elect Mike Pence has previously appeared to support public funding for it.

But perhaps more surprising is the fact that Mathew has forgiven the father who betrayed him so totally.

We talk while Mathew is in the UK to give a lecture for the Forgiveness Project – an organisation that collects and shares stories to help people move forward with their lives.
In the US, conversion therapy has been outlawed for minors in just a handful of states. In the UK, any therapist is strictly banned from giving such counselling, but Mathew believes it is still happening underground.

From the age of 12, Mathew had “a stomach pit” feeling he was gay. “I created a double life. Though I was one of the popular kids, inside, I was suffering. So I’d use words like ‘gay’ and ‘faggot’ against others, to show I belonged.”

Ironically, when he shouted “fucking faggots” at two local boys during an argument, it was the trigger for him to come out, aged 16. The injuries from the beating he sustained healed, but Mathew was shaken on a deeper level. “I was falling for Mark at the same time as I was trying to look heterosexual to my peers. I was terrified I’d be found out so I started skipping school.

A few weeks later, his father took him for a drive. He asked what was wrong. Mathew cried and told him: “I’m not sure what my sexuality is.”

The response was what every gay young person coming out wants to hear. “He told me he loved me, no matter what.” But panic quickly took over the place of love and his dad started to look for a therapist to find out if it was all just a phase.

His father came across a state-licensed psychologist who subscribed to the widely discredited theory that some gay men form same-sex attractions as a way to make up for troubled relationships with their fathers, or because they have been molested.

“My dad bombarded me with every outdated stereotype of gay life there was. He said I’d never be happy, I’d live a promiscuous, empty life without real love, that I was more likely to commit suicide as a homosexual man. I was only 16 and I loved and respected my father. I believed him.”

The problem was, the sessions led to Mathew not speaking to his mother for three years: “The first guess was that I had too much of a feminine influence in my life from my mother and two sisters. So I was told to distance myself. I’d come down in the morning, eat the breakfast she made for me and leave without saying goodbye.” 

But unlike her husband, Mathew’s mother was supportive. “She would say: ‘Matt, you’re gay. It’s OK.’ But I was policing myself. In response, I’d throw the biggest tantrums.”

But then, eight months after Mark was told to get out of Mathew’s life, Mark called and explained the real reason he had dropped out of sight. Mathew confronted his father, who insisted it was for his own good. “So I moved to LA to get away.”

Finally, over the next four years, Mathew started to see for himself that those dire warnings about gay life were unfounded. And in his early 20s, he returned to New York City, where he came across countless happy and successful gay people who made him realise there was nothing to be afraid of.

He also took a self-help course that helped him see his story in a new light. “For five years after our estrangement, I had a filter constantly running in my head which made me see my dad as a hateful homophobe. When I stripped that away, I saw it differently.”

Mathew called his father: “We took a walk. He then proceeded to give me the same speech as always. This time, I listened. I heard what he had to say. For the first time I got his pain. I saw he thought he’d been doing the best for me. I said: ‘Dad, I know what the world is and who I am. I’m going to take life as it comes and it’s going to be great.’ And he looked at me and said: ‘OK.’”

Since then, Mathew and his father have spoken every other day on the phone. They have reached a point of mutual understanding.

But beyond the ethics of a therapy that does little more than create feelings of shame and failure, Mathew believes his story is ultimately about forgiveness: “I hated these people. But when I came to realize parents, therapists and old adversaries are operating out of fear, feelings of rejection or because they think it’s the best thing, I dropped the hatred and started to understand.”

[Mark’s name has been changed]

May 26, 2016

Exodus Appointed to Cure Gays is Dying and there is “No Cure"

Exodus International President Alan Chambers on Thursday at a chapel at Concordia University in Irvine. Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, announced that it's closing its doors after three-plus decades. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The former leader of one of the most prominent groups to promote therapies that “cure” people of homosexuality said he hopes “every ministry focused on changing orientation will close”, in a report released on Wednesday.

Alan Manning Chambers, former president of Exodus International, has previously denounced his group’s work, and told the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) the movement to turn gay people straight is “gasping for air”.

The interview appeared in the civil rights group’s new report, Quacks, which examines the history of anti-homosexuality treatments in the US, known as conversion, reparative or ex-gay therapies.

The White House supports a ban on these practices, which have been denounced by nearly every major medical body in the US. “I think it is fair to say at this point that the conversion therapy industry is more or less on the ropes or headed there rather quickly,” said the report author and senior SPLC fellow, Mark Potok.

Chambers, who was long attracted to men and is married to a woman, said his faith in the Christian church has been renewed by the increased acceptance of LGBT members in churches nationwide. “In these spaces, there is an openness for diversity in personal conviction when the unifying factor and approach is love,” he said.

Chambers apologized for Exodus International’s endorsement of anti-gay practices when it closed in 2013, but many of the groups that operated under the organization’s umbrella network remain.

“I no longer believed the work of the church was fixing gay people or saving them from homosexuality,” Chambers said. “The job, as Jesus commanded it, is for believers to love God and to love our neighbors. All of them. Without condemnation. This did not sit well with some Exodus leaders and supporters.”

SPLC chronicles a history of anti-gay sentiment dating back to 1075 BC, when the Middle Assyrian Empire wrote into law that soldiers who had same-sex intercourse should be castrated. In more recent American history, neurologist Graeme Hammond proposed riding bicycles to treat homosexuality in 1892, and in the 1970s, anti-gay treatments in America gained in popularity nationwide.

A central piece of the report is built on information SPLC collected while representing, with other attorneys, six plaintiffs in a landmark lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (Jonah), a group that offered to “cure” gay people.


The suit was the first to successfully use American consumer fraud protection laws to challenge the practice of “curing” gay people. During the trial, plaintiffs talked about “treatment” in these programs, like cuddling sessions meant to help them develop deep, non-sexual, relationships with men and an exercise where one plaintiff was given a tennis racket and told to hit a pillow that represented his mother.

That plaintiff, Benjamin Unger, has since had months of therapy for his experiences with Jonah, according to the SPLC report. Another plaintiff, Michael Ferguson, has left his faith and married a man.

Though SPLC indicated these practices are declining, David Dinielli, SPLC’s deputy legal director, warned that “this remains widespread across the country”.

He said cases have emerged of people being “treated” for being gay online and through social media. “One of the difficulties we face is that a lot of conversion therapy happens under the radar,” Dinielli said.

SPLC recommended that these practices should be outlawed in all states and localities, Congress should pass pending legislation that classifies conversion therapy as fraud, psychological groups should sanction clinicians who practice it and insurers should not reimburse those who do it. If not, the report said: “lives will continue to be ruined”.

April 7, 2016

Curing Homosexuals in Britain, Patients and their Nurses

Things have changed immeasurably for the LGBT community in the UK since the repeal of the controversial and divisive Section 28 thirteen years ago – gay couples can now adopt, gay workers are protected in the workplace and they now have the right to enter into civil partnerships or marriage. 

Hard to imagine then that up to as late as 1974, the British medical profession was using aversion therapies for homosexuality as a matter of course.

As the RCN celebrates 100 years of the nursing profession, it’s worth pausing to remember the nursing staff who had the courage and compassion to fight back during some of the health service’s darker days.
Image result for gay cures in britain nurses in the past

Homosexual men – and it was predominantly men – were institutionalized in British mental hospitals and given "treatment" for their "condition" – the most well-known being Second World War Code Breaker, Alan Turing. Following his arrest and prosecution for a relationship with another man, Turing was given the "choice" between a prison sentence or oestrogen treatment and died not long after. An open verdict was recorded but it’s since been widely argued that the man whose groundbreaking work saved thousands of life and hastened the end of WW2, took his own life.    

I thought it was barbaric, I mean I remember thinking ‘where was the treatment?’
Benedict Henry, nurse

Whilst the majority were enduring chemical aversion therapy, the absence of protocols or medical guidelines for such treatment meant that in some cases homosexual and transsexual men were given electrical shock treatment in the most appalling of circumstances. Refused water and being forced to lie in their own vomit and faeces as matter of course, many likened their experiences to torture. But this wasn’t Nazi Germany – this was post war Britain – a country supposedly entering into a new and brighter future.   

Those who experienced this treatment, many of them now in their 60s and 70s, painfully recall the medical and nursing profession’s complicity in it. There were, however, many nursing professionals who sought to provide compassion and caring to these battered and beleaguered men. These brave nurses show us that even in the worst of situations, compassion and kindness can still flourish. 
These are nurses like Benedict Henry who I spoke to as part of my research, still vividly recalls seeing her first electric shock treatment.

She said: “I thought it was barbaric, I mean I remember thinking ‘where was the treatment?’ The young lad nearly jumped out of his skin with the jolt of the first shock. Then you could see it was almost mental torture waiting for the next one.”

Nurses like Benedict took huge professional risks by going against the medical status quo and treating their patients as human beings. They were told not to carry out simple caring tasks like talking to the patient but many ignored the decree and did so anyway. Benedict said: “Even though we were not really supposed to, I tried to sit down with the patient and offer them support.”

Mercifully, in this country, these practices have vanished. But the sad fact remains that in many corners of the globe and in countries as diverse as the United States and Uganda, persecution and discrimination still exist. 

Chemical and electrical aversion therapies have by and large disappeared but they have, in some places, been replaced with psychoanalytical alternatives and herbal gay ‘remedies’.

Only last year, President Obama had to speak out against the rise of conversion and reparative therapies for transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth in America.

Homosexual and transsexuals still face barriers to acceptance and understanding. And as long as this remains the case, we need the brave Benedict Henrys of the world not to sink into the past but to remain a solid fixture of our future.

Curing Queers: Mental Nurses and Their Patients, 1935 – 74 by Tommy Dickinson is published by Manchester University Press and is now available in paperback.

March 22, 2016

WPA- World Largest body of Psychiatrists 'No Cure for being Gay’

The largest international organization for psychiatrists is to publish a statement condemning conversion therapy as unscientific, unethical, ineffective, and harmful, BuzzFeed News can reveal.
In a wide-ranging call to reduce the stigmatisation, discrimination, and resulting worsened mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) will formally announce on Tuesday its opposition to any attempts to turn LGBT people heterosexual – known as “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy”.
“There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed,” says the WPA’s position statement, which has been supplied to BuzzFeed News.
“Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful. The provision of any intervention purporting to ‘treat’ something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical.”

Although many psychiatric organisations in Western countries, such as the UK and the US, already publicly oppose conversion therapy, the WPA represents over 200,000 psychiatrists in over 118 countries, many of which criminalise homosexuality and, in some cases, condone attempts to “cure” it.
The WPA’s statement, which will likely be seen as controversial by many of its members, says: “A same-sex sexual orientation per se does not imply objective psychological dysfunction or impairment in judgement, stability, or vocational capabilities.” It continues: “[The WPA] acknowledges the lack of scientific efficacy of treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation and highlights the harm and adverse effects of such ‘therapies’.”
The WPA also calls on governments around the world to scrap laws against homosexuality:
“WPA supports the need to de-criminalise same-sex sexual orientation and behaviour and transgender gender identity, and to recognise LGBT rights to include human, civil, and political rights.”
But to reduce the suffering and mental ill-health experienced by a disproportionate number of LGBT people, governments and psychiatrists alike need to go much further than decriminalising homosexuality and banishing conversion therapy, the statement says:
“[The WPA also] supports anti-bullying legislation; anti-discrimination student, employment, and housing laws; immigration equality; equal age of consent laws; and hate crime laws providing enhanced criminal penalties for prejudice-motivated violence against LGBT people.”
It also cites research demonstrating that countries that liberalise laws around homosexuality – and provide equal legal treatment – see a resulting improvement in the mental health of their LGBT citizens.
And in a radical move that goes much further than its British or American counterparts, the WPA says psychiatrists have a duty to fight discrimination against LGBT people.
“Psychiatrists have a social responsibility to advocate for a reduction in social inequalities for all individuals, including inequalities related to gender identity and sexual orientation,” it says.
The WPA will publish the statement in full on Tuesday and email it to the heads of all member organizations shortly after. In an interview with BuzzFeed News in 2015, Professor Dinesh Bhugra, president of the WPA, said: “LGBT individuals are still seen as outsiders, not like ‘us’. If you’ve legally ended discrimination, great, but stigma hasn’t gone away.”
He spoke of the need for “radical solutions” to combat the “double jeopardy” facing LGBT people suffering mental illness, adding that governments “have to take responsibility for the mental health of the whole population. To say ‘I’m going to support the 90%’ – or whatever – ‘who are heterosexual’ is against basic human respect and human rights.”
Patrick Strudwick is the UK LGBT editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. 
Contact Patrick Strudwick at

November 25, 2015

Chinese Student Sues Govt for Calling Homosexuality in Textbooks a Curable Mental Disorder

Image: Qiu Bai and Wang Zheny
Qiu Bai (center) speaks to the media with her lawyer Wang Zhenyu (left) outside a court in Beijing on Tuesday. GREG BAKER / AFP - Getty Images

 A court heard opening arguments Tuesday in a case calling for textbooks published by China's Ministry of Education to alter or remove sections calling homosexuality a disease that can be cured.

A student who goes by the pseudonym Qiu Bai discovered the issue two years ago when as a curious freshman she looked through medical textbooks seeking answers about her own sexual orientation.

The 20-year-old showed NBC News one of the textbooks — "University Students Mental Health" — which states that gay people can change their sexual orientation through therapy.

"I thought textbooks should be trustworthy but when I saw these lines, I felt horrible. I was so worried about other people being afraid of gay people, like me," the student at Sun Yat-sen University in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou said. "This is discrimination against homosexuality."

The Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 2001. But a 2014 survey conducted by China's Tong Cheng Gay and Lesbian Campus Association found that 40 percent of textbooks published in the country after 2001 still classified homosexuality as a psychological disorder.

Qiu Bai earlier this year wrote an open letter to the Ministry of Education pointing out the errors and requesting corrections. When she got no response, she filed the lawsuit in August. The No. 1 Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Beijing heard the case on Tuesday and decided to hold a second hearing.

"I want related departments to admit these errors and I want to have an equal and open discussion with them about these errors," Qiu Bai said. "This case is not even close to ending. Unless the Ministry of Education take some real actions to change this, I won't give it up." 
The New York Times reports two-dozen supporters waved signs and a rainbow flag outside a Chinese courthouse during a discussion between Qui and education officials Tuesday. While nothing was settled, Qui and her lawyer say it was a minor victory to even have the discussion while China continues to crack down on activists and human-rights lawyers. Discrimination against homosexuals is prevalent in China, and experts say with little in the way of sex education, medically accurate textbooks are essential, according to the Post. "Because textbooks are seen as having authority, everyone—including the students, the teachers, and the parents—believes them," one activist tells the Post. NBC reports 40% of textbooks still classified homosexuality as a disease as of 2014. "This case is not even close to ending,"Qui says. “I won't give it up."

May 31, 2013

Apple Bans Gay Cure App Google is Left to Follow

An app that promised to free its users from the “bondage of homosexuality” has disappeared from the App Store, according to

Apple confirmed to Macworld that the app, Setting Captives Free, had been pulled from the store for violating the company’s developer guidelines.
photo - Photo via
Photo via

The app promised that it could help its users find “freedom from habitual sins,” and that it would “help people just like you escape impurity, overeating, substance abuse, gambling, smoking, and more.”

I sent this out earlier on some publications:

September 5, 2012

Australian Doctor Reprimanded by Trying To Gay "Cure"

An Australian doctor has been severely reprimanded and banned from working as a general practitioner after prescribing a drug to a boy who came to him for help to "cure" his homosexuality.
A Health Care Complaints Commission committee found Mark Craddock guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct over his treatment of the 18-year-old at a 10-minute consultation at his home in early 2008.
Both men were at the time members of the Exclusive Brethren, a conservative Christian group whose members shun television, radio, and the Internet and do not vote.

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