Gay or Straight? When others decide for you* – Part Two
In not too long, Malik felt better. He decided against therapy of any kind, aside from medication. For a while he came in to see me regularly, but then his name disappeared from my schedule. My calls to him were not returned.
I wondered, though, about people who go against the tide and choose to fight their same sex attraction. They must have some interesting stories to tell. I discovered a support group for men in reparative therapy that met monthly in a Los Angeles home.
The “Circle of Men” welcomed me as a guest one evening. There were about twenty guys, young and not so young, seated comfortably in the living room.
I had one question: what is their message to the mental health profession? They were eager to be heard.
Adam started off: “I am angry that I didn’t know about this therapy for seventeen years. When I discovered it, it was such a liberating sense of relief. In six years I have changed beyond my wildest dreams.”
“Therapists told me for years that this is my identity, and I should embrace it,” a middle-aged man with a wedding band said, “but that never felt right to me. Now I consider it just one part of me — a part I don’t have to accept.
“I have chosen the long, hard way instead of the short, easy way,” a young man named Greg told me, “and that choice is right for me.”
And there was this from Hector: “The old warrior went out and fought battles for land or power. The new warrior fights a bigger battle — the battle within. This is our choice. What gives you the right to take it away?”
I was captivated by their strength and integrity. If only Malik could meet these remarkable individuals!
I had an idea: Invite these men to come and speak to my colleagues at the counseling center. Have them describe their journeys to therapists who are convinced that therapy for unwanted same sex attraction is a dangerous scam.
Here’s a chance for open discussion of an urgent topic, I thought. Here’s a chance for students like Malik to find hope and support. And the men were all for it; “Just tell us when and where — we’ll be there,” they promised. What a great plan!
Boy, was I naive.
“Sounds fascinating,” the director told me. “But the University wouldn’t go for it.”
And that was it. So much for intellectual debate. So much for diversity, multiculturalism, and tolerance. And so much for a patient’s right to self-determination.
“The University wouldn’t go for it” — unbelievable.
With their astonishing contempt for divergent views, therapists and educators harm Malik, and many people like him, in the following ways:
- By neglecting to inform him that alternatives to gay-affirming therapy exist, thereby
depriving him of the right to self-determination.
- By judging his traditional culture, and imposing theirs: your culture is
homophobic and repressive. Ours is better.
- By depriving him of a source of hope, thereby worsening his emotional distress.
How did things end up for Malik? I don’t know. But every time reparative therapy is denounced and legislated against, I think of him. He desperately wanted to fight his same sex attraction; it felt foreign, not who he really was. He was a warrior, the type Hector described: he was ready to fight the battle within.
That is his choice. What right does anyone have to take it away?
To be continued….
*revised from Miriam Grossman, You’re Teaching My Child WHAT? A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Education and How They Harm Your Child
(Washington DC, Regnery Publishing, 2009)