Teens and Ex-Gay “Therapy”

I keep wondering what would have happened in my life if somewhere, somehow, it was safe for me to deal with the same-sex attractions as a teenager.  How would my life be different?

Considering what the current state of the art is, I’m not certain it would have been much better.

Consider this old article from ABC News:  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Health/story?id=983209&page=1

Did you read it carefully?  Did you notice something missing in this article, something to do with the therapy?  I sure did.

Where the hell are the parents?

As the article states:

The American Psychological Association says there are a number of theories about the origins of a person’s sexual orientation, but that most scientists agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. The APA says homosexuality is not a choice and that in most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age.

“A lot of harm is done by these programs,” Dr. Jack Drescher of the American Psychiatry Association told Good Morning America. “It creates shame and guilt feelings that can lead to suicidal behavior.”

Sexual orientation is shaped at an early age; even the APA believes this.  If that’s the case, then a child doesn’t develop his sexual orientation in a vacuum.  If a child is to relearn a new sexual orientation, doesn’t it make sense that the parents should be an integral part of this reformation?  I can’t claim to know all the determining factors of my own sexual orientation, but I do know that environment was an enormous part of it.

What is it about our society and modern-day parenting that makes parents strive for absolution for their child’s pending homosexuality?  When the kid in this article says…

On Zach’s blog, he wrote: “My mother, father, and I had a very long ‘talk’ … where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist Christian program for gays … I’m a big screwup to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on. So I’m sitting here in tears.”

…I want to hit somebody.  In the head.  Hard.

I am in a strong believer that the child’s sense of masculinity can be easily damaged by a careless father.  Mothers, through no fault of their own, can also keep a male child from fully realizing his sense of masculinity.  In my own family, I can see the dynamics that keep us from building closer, intimate relationships.  We are a family that is in love with the idea of family, not necessarily the emotional sacrifice needed in creating same.  There have been severe crises in our family that would have benefitted from a deeper involvement by family members, but we stand outside and watch, afraid.  That same family dynamic is the thing that kept me from what I most desired, which was closer, more intimate friendships with other men.  If the family, alleged to be this bulwark against society’s evil influcnes, can’t support, encourage, and nourish a young man’s quest for his masculinity and healthy sexual identity, then (to me at least) it seems his chances of finding another avenue outside the family during those early, formative years is very very small.  I worry about this family’s church and how they’re holding onto the idea that this kid is “diseased” and unfit to be with God?  What is this stuff that the parents are just parroting?

I pray that we’ll continue to get additional education in our churches on how best to deal with this situation.  Parents are a critical component to sexual identity; if they’re the one’s saying that their child is somehow less than desireable because of their orientation, then the best thing they can do is not wave from the driveway as the kid goes off to “fag camp,” but to pack their bags and join them.  That would take courage, though, and a sense of personal responsibility and parental love.  And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

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~ by WriterRand on December 28, 2006.

3 Responses to “Teens and Ex-Gay “Therapy””

  1. wow. powerful writing.

  2. The anger is mutual…

    The sad thing is that these recovery retreats, camps, homes, etc. do serve a legitimate purpose in the recovery process, and have left a lasting effect on many people now walking in victory. Love in Action should have a better screening process for their applicants, to ensure that people attend on their own freewill, out of a personal desire for holiness.

  3. I don’t mean to bag on these places per se. If people enter them as a sincere action motivated by their desire to be everything that God created them — a positive action vs. the “curing of a diseased mental or emotional order” — then glory to God! I’m just saying that a bunch of avuncular counselor-types aren’t the sole answer here. If the problems started with the parents, doesn’t the onus fall on the PARENTS to make some significant changes to their parenting style?

    Yeah, I know. Repeating myself here. As always, James, thanks for posting. You’re a welcome blessing in this blog.

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