A Utah-based proponent of the medically denounced practice of so-called gay conversion therapy has announced that he identifies as gay.
“I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity,” he added. “With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.”
Earlier that day, Truth Wins Out released details from a post in a private Facebook group by another conversion therapist, Rich Wyler, who said Matheson had “gone from bisexuality to exclusively gay” and was “seeking a male partner.”
Matheson opened up further in a long Facebook post Tuesday.
“A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life,” he wrote. “I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay.”
Still, he didn’t denounce his participation in the conversion therapy movement, adding, “What you can take from this is that my time in a straight marriage and in the ‘ex-gay’ world was genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me.”
“I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others,” he continued. “But I had stopped growing and I had to change. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process.”
According to a 2007 New York Times article, Matheson ran a full-time therapy practice in New Jersey with an active roster of about 50 clients. At the time, he was a co-organizer of a weekend program called People Can Change and ran an organization called the Center for Gender Affirming Processes.
In 2013 he published a book, Becoming a Whole Man, which is described on Amazon as “the result of a six-year quest to understand and respond to the most difficult challenges facing men with unwanted homosexuality.”
Fifteen states have passed legislation prohibiting licensed mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors — including Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and, most recently, New York.
The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have discredited gay conversion therapy, which attempts to end or reduce people’s same-sex attraction or sexual activity. But the practice continues to be promoted, often by members of conservative religious communities.
Still, one of Matheson’s reported former clients, Chaim Levin, said he remained skeptical of the news. “While I am pleased for Mr. Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr. Matheson himself,” he told Truth Wins Out.
“I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included,” Levin added.