Despite being exhaustively debunked by The American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the gay conversion therapy movement sadly persists in religious organizations. Twenty years ago, shortly after coming out to my Mormon parents at the age of 16, I unsuccessfully attempted to pray away the gay through conversion therapy, which of course didn't work.
There is an aphorism that goes, “You can’t fix that which is not broken.”
My family, under the guidance of the church, sent me to the renowned Jeffrey W. Robinson, Ph.D., who claims to have the key to curing homosexuality. Robinson specializes in the treatment of individuals struggling from same-sex attraction and is also holds rank as a Bishop in the church. Robinson's handy website, The Guard Rail, can assist those who want to erase unwanted homosexual feelings or tendencies. Robinson's office at the time was conveniently located across the street from the campus of Brigham Young University. Dr. Robinson's doctoral dissertation at Brigham Young University was an in-depth study of Mormon men “who have successfully overcome homosexuality.”
“In completing this research,” Robinson wrote, “I was able to interview a number of men who reported having successfully dealt with same-sex attraction. They reported that their feelings of physical and emotional attraction toward men had changed significantly enough that they were able to enter into and sustain successful heterosexual marriages. Each of them was interviewed in detail about what they meant when they said they had changed.”
Who are these mystery men? I've always asked myself. I endured the same program, but I've never detected the slightest change in my sexual orientation, nor have I ever met a non-bisexual gay individual who permanently switched teams.
Other patients of Dr. Robinson have since come out of the woodwork and spoken up. “Your treatment is so simple: basic behavioral therapy,” a blog post directed to Dr. Robinson read. “If I act straight for long enough, with enough reinforcement of my masculinity, I will 'learn' how to actually be straight, and that's what I'll become.” The author, named Rob, underwent the some of the same programs I did. “Premise: sexual orientation is 100% malleable and being gay results from not feeling sufficiently 'manly.' So if I do all this for long enough, then I should become straight! Hooray! The whole world should know about this! The cure has finally been discovered!” he added.
Michael Ferguson is another one of those men, according to Esquire. The former Brigham Young University student underwent several variations of Mormon gay conversion therapy. Ferguson, like many others, has called conversion therapy a frightening pseudoscience, that's only promoted in religious circles. Gay and Mormon Tyler Glenn of the Neon Trees has often loudly voiced his about the Mormon church's influence on LGBT members and youth suicide rates. Imagine Dragon's Dan Reynolds, who is Mormon, has also struggled with bridging the gap between Mormonism and others in the church who identify as homosexuals.
Evergreen International, one of the programs Dr. Robinson sent me to, is Alcoholics Anonymous for Mormon homosexuals. People would say things like “I walked past a gay bar last Saturday, and wanted to go inside, but I didn't!” Dr. Robinson had me do various exercises, like practicing healthy, heteronormative hugs with other men. If I ever got the urge to touch myself, I was only allowed if I had written or verbal permission. Yes, I was told to call him on the phone and ask permission if I got the itch. At the time, all of these exercises seemly silly and ineffective towards any real result.
Shock therapy was abandoned by the Mormon church decades ago, but it all began with a 1976 Brigham Young University dissertation, "Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy," by Max Ford McBride. “Aversive conditioning procedures have been successful in treating homosexuality, alcoholism, exhibitionism and pedophilia,” the document states. By applying stimulus to an individual, you can shock them enough to cause their brain to block out just about anything. You can't “add” heterosexuality, however, to someone who doesn't already have it.
And no, forcing oneself into a heterosexual marriage does not constitute a cure to homosexuality, like the men featured on TLC's controversial show, My Husband's Not Gay. I attended weekly Evergreen meetings with Preston Dahlgren in Salt Lake City, before he served as chairman for the organization. He would go on to star on My Husband's Not Gay. Pret was Evergreen's shining star, an example of a gay man entering into a heterosexual marriage, the ultimate end-goal of the program.
Tyrants like Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and an official committee member of the Republican Platform 2016, have long-promoted gay conversion therapy with spooky fervor. Perkins will be joined by President Donald J. Trump at the Value Voters Summit in Washington DC this Friday the 13th. If you were worried about Vice President Mike Pence's affinity for gay conversion therapy, think again. Other organizations have attempted to cure homosexuality, such as the Nazi Party. SS Dr Carl Værnet's research involved various hokey mixes of hormones and drugs, in a twisted attempt to cure homosexuality.
Dallin H. Oaks, a top Mormon leader, reaffirmed the Mormon church's opposition to gay marriage on September 30 at the church's 187th Semiannual General Conference, the “Superbowl” of Mormon events. The Mormon church has attempted to reach out to LGBT members with Mormon and Gay, so long as they don't act on their impulses.
Is it possible—that the scientific weight behind gay conversion therapy as a whole—has no base in reality? These kind of programs have already been discredited by the scientific and psychiatric communities.