February 21,2013

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)


  1. Barbara Wilson - reply

    Thankyou! I’ve been working with women for years who want to heal from same-sex attraction and have seen amazing results. But those who would judge someone wanting to leave this lifestyle is showing the same discrimination they oppose from the other side of the issue. Thankyou for giving a voice to those who want to come out of this lifestyle.

  2. Marilyn Reed - reply

    Wonderful article, Dr. Grossman, and very timely. Last night, I watched Criminal Minds on TV. They did a show about a gay serial murderer, but the show really zeroed in on how this young man and his friend were sent to a “camp” where they were forced into very sick and harmful situations to “change” them (like having an older woman come and have sex with them while the father watched and gave tips). I have been reading about this issue for years and I have NEVER heard of the kinds of sick things that this “camp” did. I wish everyone could read your work and see that it’s not a myth that people can leave the gay lifestyle & reparative therapy can be helpful. Thanks for all you do.

  3. Lisa Rue - reply

    Thank you so much! It would be the same response at my university. Intellectual freedom only goes so far. PC is the most important academic bondage.

  4. MiriamGrossman - reply

    There is no doubt that this therapy is helpful for some men and women. Why are they such a threat? Why does Goliath fear David?

  5. Joshua - reply

    Thank you for your courage Dr. Grossman.

  6. Eric Wollod - reply

    Keep fighting PLEASE! Let’s stop the PC that passes off as “science”! Though I am a Jewish Christian with certain views on this I for one say credit to whom credit is due. A great rabbi wrote “honor to whom honor due”. So please keep at it until the bitter end – don’t give up!

  7. William Birch - reply

    As a celibate, what some would call “Side B” Christian who is attracted to the same sex, and one who has prayed for over 17 years for the Lord to deliver him from such attraction, I have a question regarding the men in the group mentioned in the post: Though they have “left the gay lifestyle,” and at least one was “wearing a wedding band,” are they no longer attracted — to whatever degree — to the same sex?

  8. MiriamGrossman - reply

    I’m certain that many still had unwanted attractions to some degree, and that some probably acted on those attractions. I didn’t write that these men had left the lifestyle, but that they were struggling against their desires.

    In my individual meeting with people, I have come across some who describe their same sex attractions as a thing of the past. Or they say that when they occur, it is easy to dismiss them.

    But I think we shouldn’t focus on the degree of success. The point is a person should be free to choose his path. He should be free to define himself, instead of others declaring who he “really is”.

  9. William Birch - reply

    Dr. Grossman,

    Yes, I agree with you, people should definitely have the right to chose his or her own path in this matter. I didn’t mean to distract from the main topic: I was just so very curious. That the government seeks to legislate morality by banning reparative therapy for those seeking such, and yet deny the legislating of morality by Christians or others, is hypocritical and, in my opinion, reprehensible.

  10. Jeff Taber, MD - reply

    Thank you Dr. Grossman. I very much agree with the understanding that those attracted to their same sex can indeed experience a release from these attractions.

    It’s certainly not politically correct to speak out on this topic as you are doing, but please, do not be intimidated. Speaking the truth has never been easy on matter of this type.

    I can only smile at the university’s resistance to open review of this topic. So much for open mindedness and a public forum on controversial topics… So much for education… Sad, but true.

    Freedom for all to live privately as they wish is fine, and as it should be, but “freedom” (power to) to legislate “acceptance of” homosexuality / gay marriage / gay adoption, etc….without an equal acceptance and encouraged allowance of societal voice and challenge is simply wrong.

    My children and grandchildren should be subject to an education that encourages an understanding of loving all people, valuing all life, and serving one another without discrimination,….but not subject to “mind training” when it comes to accepting things of this nature “as biologically and morally normal”.


  11. Reg - reply

    I tried ex-gay back in 2006. After 6 months it ended in a crack up because for me the ex-gay thing was simply a lie. So no, I didn’t change… but you know what ? I’m very glad I tried it. Anyone should be able to try to change anything about themselves they don’t like. (Precaution : trying this for yourself is ok, being told you must do it by others is not!) Most diets don’t work to make you thinner… but no one bans them.

  12. Mary Fesalbon - reply

    I really enjoyed this piece! Thank you! A similar topic has been coming up in the news about parents transitioning their children who want to be a different gender. How do you respond to this issue, since the major difference is that these children feel that their body is foriegn as opposed to their feelings?

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