Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



by Bob Roehr

This article shared 2129 times since Wed May 16, 2001
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Some gays and lesbians can become straight if they are "highly motivated" to change, said Robert L. Spitzer in a controversial research paper presented at the American Psychological Association ( APA ) meeting in New Orleans May 9. The claim was immediately debunked by gay and lesbian organizations and even the APA itself.

Spitzer, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, recruited two-thirds of the 143 men and 57 women for the study from either "ex-gay" ministries or the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality ( NARTH ) . The seemingly benignly named NARTH is a small bastion of psychiatrists who do not accept APA's views on homosexuality. They use the discredited technique of "reparative therapy" to try to cure homosexuals of those tendencies.

The researcher never met his subjects, he only talked with them on the telephone, asking 60 questions over the course of a 45-minute interview. There was no fixed starting reference point or observation or direct measurement of the subjects over time.

The evaluation was essentially how the subjects perceived themselves. And we all know that gay men never lie, as everyone who has responded to a VGL personals ad can attest. Nor do "ex-gays" lie, as when Focus on the Family's poster-boy convert John Paulk proclaims to have lost his homosexual urges, yet somehow ends up at a Dupont Circle gay bar when in Washington, D.C. on business.

Spitzer concluded that 66 percent of the men and 44 percent of the women in the study achieved "good heterosexual functioning." He defined that as at least one heterosexual encounter a month, and self-rated emotional satisfaction with the encounter of at least a 7 on a scale of 10. The subjects had maintained their heterosexual orientation for at least five years. He conceded that the subjects were "unusually religious," likely not representative of most gays and lesbians.

Part of the controversy surrounding Spitzer stems from the ironic fact that in 1973 he played a leading role in the APA "curing" gays of their stigma of being mentally ill. He chaired the committee that removed homosexuality from a classification of mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders.

Frank Kameny led the gay activists who pressed for that change. He recently said, "Without Spitzer, removing homosexuality from the DSM would not have occurred."

But this round of research was another matter. "It's snake oil, it's not science," charged Tim McFeeley with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Antigay groups like NARTH will grasp at any straw in their effort to ostracize and attack the GLBT community."

Wayne Besen, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) , said that group had written to Spitzer last year urging him "to use objective physical measures to determine if his subjects were still attracted to same-sex partners," but he declined to do so.

One such approach used by some researchers involves attaching measuring devices to the male penis to detect arousal when pictures are flashed on a screen. A strictly heterosexual male will respond to pictures of naked women, a homosexual male to pictures of naked men, while some have varying responses in-between. One study has shown that homophobes often are aroused by gay porn but are loath to admit it. They react by attacking the object that threatens their sense of self-identity.

Many in the gay community noted that Spitzer appeared at a press conference last year [ held in Chicago and covered by Outlines ] with the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, where he opposed allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children, get married, or serve openly in the military. They believe this biased his research.

Saul Levin, a psychiatrist and past president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, rejected the simple duality of gay or straight. He pointed to the spectrum of sexual orientations made famous by Alfred Kinsey and often used by subsequent researchers.

"It isn't just a matter of who you have sex with, it's more complicated than that," said Levin. A man in prison may have sex with another man without becoming or identifying as homosexual. While homosexual men may physically perform in a heterosexual context without changing their underlying orientation. And some individuals truly are bisexual, with a varying degree of attraction to both sexes.

So Levin is not surprised that a portion of homosexuals who are unhappy with that orientation can, with extreme effort, come to better cope with living a heterosexual lifestyle.

The APA issued a statement from medical director, Steven Mirin, saying, "There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one's sexual orientation." That was a reiteration of APA policy adopted by the Board of Directors in December 1998 and May 2000.

It noted that Spitzer's paper, like many others presented at the conference, had "not been subject to traditional peer review, nor have they been published in the scientific literature." Furthermore, presentations at the conference do not necessarily represent APA policy.

Kameny says, "the symmetrical questions have to be raised at every turn" with regard to what causes heterosexuality. For example, if as some NARTH practitioners maintain, a distant father and a smothering mother produces male homosexuality, then the same dynamics theory should produce female heterosexuality. "So the question must be asked insistently," says Kameny, "Can heterosexuals change to homosexuality?"

A second paper at the APA conference was more to the liking of the gay community. New York psychologists Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder used the Internet and direct mail to groups advocating reparative therapy to recruit subjects who had tried to change their sexual orientation through counseling programs. They found that only 6 of 202 gay men and lesbians achieved what they called "a heterosexual shift."

In an interview with Newsweek, Schroeder said, "We had students at religious universities tell us that they had been mandated into therapy as a requirement of completing their education or continuing to receive financial aid. Some of them said they had to mislead their therapist in order to graduate or get their checks. This was especially true at Mormon institutions."

Shidlo added, "We found the majority of the therapists these consumers saw were very antigay and thought homosexuality was really horrible and disgusting." If they discussed the APA position on homosexuality at all, it was in a derogatory manner.

Cashing in on the controversy, "Fifteen men who have 'come out' of homosexuality have started a new web site,, telling why and how they changed." Neither the news release nor the site itself carried names of those 15 associated with the effort, while the release said the editor "writes under the name Ben Newman" ( catch the subtle symbolism ) . The site has a decidedly commercial tone and has links to NARTH, not the APA.

One interesting aspect of the controversy was the responses it generated in the news media across the country. Many "ex-ex-gays" wrote newspapers telling of failed attempts to change their sexual orientation.

A Florida columnist added to the derision. "Stay tuned for the association's future research if they really, really try, Democrats can vote Republican, how rich suburban teen-age Caucasians can pretend to be black, how Yankee fans can learn to love the Red Sox…"

This article shared 2129 times since Wed May 16, 2001
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

PBS to air queer documentary 'Things We Dare Not Do' Oct. 25 2021-10-12
- American Documentary | POV announced the national broadcast premiere of Things We Dare Not Do (Cosas que no hacemos), the second feature film from Mexican director and cinematographer Bruno Santamaría, as part of POV's 34th season. ...

Gay News

Coming Out for LGBTQ+ History 2021-10-11
- October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day established in 1988 by members of the LGBTQ+ community to encourage people to stop hiding and be open about their identity. Coming out increases visibility of the ...

Gay News

HRC marks National Coming Out Day with new resource for youth 2021-10-11
- On Oct. 11, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is commemorating the 33rd annual National Coming Out Day (NCOD) by announcing the release of a new resource, "Online Communities and LGBTQ+ Youth." "National Coming Out Day exists ...

Gay News

Monday, Oct. 11, marks both Indigenous Peoples' Day and National Coming Out Day 2021-10-07
- The Trevor Project's Coming Out: A Handbook for LGBTQ Young People is a resource that covers a wide range of topics to support LGBTQ young people in exploring what coming out safely can mean for them. ...

Gay News

Pandemic Pivot: Museum launches major digital exhibit for LGBT History Month 2021-10-05
- "In Plain Sight' offers website visitors a digital timeline of LGBT achievements including 800 entries across 10 categories Visitors to the Stonewall National Museum and Archives (SNMA) in Fort Lauderdale, one of the largest LGBT lending ...

Gay News

Chicago Reader celebrates 50th anniversary 2021-09-28
--From a press release - The Chicago Reader, a fearless, innovative, and nationally respected media voice in Chicago since 1971, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a variety of exhibitions, events, and projects. The Chicago Reader's first issue was October 1, ...

Gay News

NGLCC, Grubhub team to help LGBTQA-owned restaurants 2021-09-25
- The country's vulnerable LGBTQ+-owned restaurants and bars serving food will find help this fall, courtesy of a partnership formed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Grubhub. These small business owners have been among ...

Gay News

SOCCER U.S. women win big over Paraguay again 2021-09-22
- Five days after Carli Lloyd scored five goals against Paraguay, Alex Morgan scored a hat trick (three goals) as the U.S. women's national soccer team (USWNT) downed the same country 8-0 on Sept. 21 in Cincinnati, ...

Gay News

SOCCER Lloyd scores five goals as U.S. women rout Paraguay 2021-09-17
- Scoring five goals in a soccer match can be called a glut or even a "repoker." Whatever it's called, Carli Lloyd accomplished that incredible feat as the U.S. women's national team routed Paraguay 9-0 in Cleveland ...

Gay News

USWNT national soccer team slams contract offer 2021-09-16
- The United States Women's National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) is calling the U.S. Soccer Federation's offer of identical contracts for its women's and men's national teams a publicity stunt, according to Yahoo! Sports. On S ...

Gay News

Three Red Stars join USWNT for upcoming games against Paraguay 2021-09-10
- Three Chicago Red Stars will join the United States Women's National Team (USWNT) later this month as the squad takes on Paraguay Sept. 16 and 21. Defenders Casey Krueger and Tierna Davidson will be joined by ...

Gay News

Pleasure Chest donating to Gay for Good 2021-09-07
- Adult novelty boutique The Pleasure Chest will commemorate its milestone 50th anniversary by donating 15% of the total vibrator sales from its four storefront locations and e-commerce store on Sept. 15-30 to Gay for Good—a national ...

Gay News

HRC fires its president, Alphonso David 2021-09-07
- On Sept. 6, the national LGBTQ+ organization the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) fired its president, Alphonso David, for advising now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during his sexual-harassment scandal ...

Gay News

HIV AT 40: Global activist Phill Wilson talks Chicago, the '80s and vaccines 2021-09-01
- Phill Wilson is one of the best-known HIV/AIDS activists/educators around the globe. The Chicago native was the co-founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention. He ...

Gay News

GLAAD releases '2021 State of HIV Stigma' study 2021-08-29
- GLAAD recently released its second annual State of HIV Stigma Study, a national survey among U.S. adults with the sample supplied by research firm Cint. The survey, funded by Gilead COMPASS Initiative, measures U.S. attitudes toward ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.