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The ex-gay movement is a controversial movement that consists of several groups that seek to alter the sexual orientation of homosexual or bisexual individuals to a heterosexual orientation.Template:Dubious Most of these groups believe that all homosexual or bisexual individuals are able to make this change. Ex-gay groups believe this may be achieved through counseling, prayer, and other components of what is called reparative therapy.
The movement is primarily based in the United States (though it exists in other places such as Canada (for example, see Chris Kempling), Scandinavia and the United Kingdom) and is largely led by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.
The modern ex-gay movement has been criticized by most major psychological, psychiatric, and medical associations. Today, these associations point to a lack of scientific evidence suggesting that people with same-sex attraction can change their orientation and argue that they have no reason to do so aside from societal pressure. They say repressing those feelings would likely cause future psychological damage. These assertions are vigorously disputed by those in the ex-gay movement.
- 1 Ex-gay use of language and terminology
- 2 The ex-gay view of human sexuality and homosexuality
- 3 Ex-gay claims concerning changes in feelings and behavior
- 4 Medical view of attempts to change sexual orientation
- 5 Controversies, criticisms, and scandals
- 6 Ex-gay movement in popular culture
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Ex-gay use of language and terminology[edit | edit source]
The terminology that ex-gay groups employ regarding homosexuality is that used by the religious right, which differs significantly from common usage. In common usage, the adjectives "gay" and "homosexual" are used to refer to a person whose primary attractions are to persons of the same sex, with little distinction made between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Ex-gay groups, however, regard the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior as extremely important, and generally place greater emphasis on the latter. The term "gay" is always applied only in reference to one's sexual behavior and identity. Usage of the term "homosexual" varies; many ex-gay groups use it only in the same sense as they use "gay," while others use it more flexibly, most frequently using it as a modifier of other terms (e.g. "homosexual feelings," etc.).
The ex-gay view of human sexuality and homosexuality[edit | edit source]
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Ex-gay groups view homosexuality and its causes significantly differently from the modern scientific community. The scientific community generally regards human sexuality as a continuum from heterosexuality to bisexuality to homosexuality (see Kinsey scale). Although humans do not fully understand the causes of homosexuality, the common belief in the scientific community is that it results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors and that one's sexual orientation is probably set sometime in early childhood or before. While fluctuations in one's sexual orientation may occur over one's lifetime, it is believed that one's sexual orientation is generally not alterable. The scientific community views homosexuality and heterosexuality as traits, akin to left-handedness and right-handedness.
Ex-gay groups, however, view human sexuality in terms of a default heterosexuality. Although some may make use of the Kinsey scale, it is clear that Kinsey zero is seen as the default and that any other number is viewed as deviation from the "norm". Ex-gay groups generally believe that "same-sex attractions," as they call them, are caused from environmental factors only—defective relationships with one's same-sex parent or peers, at birth, during childhood or adolescence are most frequently cited as its primary causes. They do not advocate denial of homosexual feelings, but believe they mask a deeper underlying issue that needs to be searched out. They believe that, through treatment of these underlying issues, same-sex attractions can be controlled, diminished, and/or eliminated, and that opposite-sex attractions can be created, amplified and developed. Ex-gay groups regard homosexuality as a psychological disorder, and regard its treatment much in the same way that one regards treatment of alcoholism or other addictions. Ex-gay groups assert that the scientific community has taken its stances on homosexuality due to political, and not scientific, considerations.
Ex-gay claims concerning changes in feelings and behavior[edit | edit source]
Ex-gay groups and changes in sexual behavior[edit | edit source]
From the point of view of ex-gay groups, a change in the sexual behavior of an individual from homosexuality to either celibacy or heterosexuality is generally regarded as "change," irrespective of any actual change in the underlying sexual orientation. Many ex-gays live celibate lives. Other ex-gays marry opposite-sex spouses and remain faithful to their spouses within their marriages. Ex-gay organizations generally believe ex-gays are morally obligated to inform their future spouses of their history with same-sex attraction before marriage. Some ex-gays in opposite-sex marriages acknowledge that their sexual attractions remain primarily homosexual, but seek to make their marriages work anyway.
Ex-gay claims concerning changes in sexual orientation[edit | edit source]
- For further information, see: Reparative therapy#Mainstream medical view of reparative therapy
Many ex-gays claim that their sexual orientation has been altered as a result of their treatment. Most say they have experienced a decrease in same-sex attractions coupled with an increase in opposite-sex attractions, and a significant number claim that their sexual orientation is now predominantly heterosexual—that is, that their opposite-sex attractions now exceed their same-sex attractions. Very few, however, claim to have completely eradicated their same-sex attractions such that exposure to homosexual imagery would pose no temptations.
These claims of an alteration in one's underlying sexual orientation are hotly disputed by the scientific and gay communities, and there is scant scientific evidence suggesting that any actual changes in sexual orientation have taken place. Ex-gay groups rely heavily on testimonials, and the scientific evidence they cite are generally survey results of reported change among ex-gays. Those changes in reported sexual orientation are generally dismissed as the result of denial, wishful thinking, sexual repression, or willful deception.
Medical view of attempts to change sexual orientation[edit | edit source]
Controversies, criticisms, and scandals[edit | edit source]
Ex-gay movement in popular culture[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Reparative therapy and Aversion therapy
- Religion and sexual orientation
- Homosexuality and Christianity
- Fixing Frank, a drama film about a journalist who attempts to expose a gay-conversion therapist.
References[edit | edit source]
- Just the facts about sexual orientation and youth. Retrieved on 2006-03-22.
- USA - Gay Conversion. Retrieved on 2006-06-22.
- Satinover, Jeff. Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (1996) Baker
- No easy victory. Retrieved on 2006-03-26.
- Spitzer, Robert L. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2003, pp. 403-417.
- Throckmorton, Warren. (1998) Efforts to modify sexual orientation: A review of the outcome literature and ethical issues. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 20, 283-304
- Peer Commentaries on Spitzer in Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32(5), 419-468, October 2003
[edit | edit source]
Ex-gay websites[edit | edit source]
- Exodus International - The largest ex-gay, Christian ministry in the United States
- Courage - A Catholic ex-gay organization
Critics of ex-gay ministries/therapy[edit | edit source]
- Dear Dr. Dobson - An open video letter to anti-gay James Dobson. By Soulforce, a pro-gay Christian organization.
- Homosexuality: The Debate is Over. The Verdict is In. Not a Sickness! Not a Sin! A video by Soulforce
- "Ex-Gay Watch" - A regularly updated blog with articles and analysis of current ex-gay activities and personalities.
- "Truth Wins Out" - A non-profit organization, founded by Wayne Besen, to oppose the ex-gay movement.
- GLAAD on Ex-gays - Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) resources on ex-gays
- PFLAG responds to ex-gay movement - Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays fact sheet about the reparative therapy movement
Other[edit | edit source]
- Robert L. Spitzer: New Study On Sexual Reorientation Therapies - Presented on May 9, 2001 at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association
- Interview with Robert L. Spitzer: Homosexuality and the Reality of Change
- "Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House" - A first-person satirical play about an ex-gay residential program.
- "Finally Free" - Personal Stories: How Love and Self-Acceptance Saved Us from "Ex-gay" Ministries.
- "Fish Can't Fly" - A documentary about the lives and religious faith of people who have left the ex-gay movement.
- "I Do Exist" - A documentary about five ex-gay activists, with interviews with reparative therapists.
- "One Nation Under God" - A historical and political documentary on the proliferation of reparative therapies.
- Into the closet: Can therapy make gay people straight?.
- Gay No More?.
- Fresh Air with Terri Gross. October 9, 2006, 
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