Since this report came out in the Independent at the beginning of the month, there has been a lot of discussion about the idea of ‘reparative’ therapy, or ‘cures’ for LGB people (I’ve not heard of it being used on trans people, but I suspect they are often lumped in with ‘inverts’).
The idea of curing gay people is not a new one. It was only in 1975 that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses, but in the last 35 years I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that therapists would have moved way past trying to ‘treat’ or ‘cure’ gay people.
I first came across the idea of reparative therapies when I was coming out. I had also started attending a local church, where it was clear that the leadership didn’t believe that being gay was a ‘natural’ state (i.e. that one isn’t born that way, and so you can revert to heterosexuality). I was given a book called What Some of You Were.
The true stories in this book come from people, male and female, of all ages, who believe that they have been cured of their homosexuality. The title comes from 1 Corinthians 9-11:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
So the inference is that you can stop being ‘sexually immoral’ or a ‘homosexual offender’ in God, the Son and the Spirit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe that anything is possible in God. I believe that the people in this book believe that they have been cured. But I don’t think it’s as straightforward as the book, and the many proponents of reparative therapy, believe it to be.
[Without wanting to delve too deeply into the debate on whether homosexuality is moral / Biblical or not, there is some detailed analysis alongside links to several good sources at ReligiousTolerance.org.]
Not all survivors of reparative therapy thrive. Speakers like Peterson Toscano talk about the grief, pain, and abuse entailed in their ‘therapy’. I would urge you to think very carefully about the damage this kind of treatment can have on young gay people and do whatever you can to prevent it.