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  • Outed - the closet heterosexuals

    In preparation of Peter Tatchell's threat to out as homosexual those bishops who act in line with Church of England rules and discipline those priests who enter gay marriages - I would like to preemptively out Tachell, and a number of others, as closet heterosexuals.

    Yes Tatchell, who claims to be a human rights activist but then stops supporting human rights when it goes against his pro-gay agenda, claims to be gay and runs the gay rights group Outrage, but is he? The same goes for Stonewall's ex-leader Ben Summerskill, militant gay journalist Patrick Strudwick, and leading gay psychiatrists Jack Drescher and Michael King.

    And what about media darlings Dr Christian Jessen, Clare Balding, Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Derek Jacobi and John Barrowman. Yes Jessen undertook the Cornell test but as I have blogged elsewhere this test is highly inaccurate and proves nothing about his sexuality.

    We can add to this major sportstars Tom Daily, Ian Thorpe, Martina Navratilova and women football's Casey Stoney. While all of these have come out as gay or lesbian I now out every one as a closet heterosexual.

    Most reading this will of course dismiss this as nonsense. These people say they are gay, are in homosexual relationships and are even - in the case of Baldwin and others - "married". But this proves nothing - they cannot prove that they are actually gay. There is no test, sorry Cornell University, to prove that someone is homosexual or not. As both the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the World Health Organisation is now admitting there is no known biological cause of homosexuality. So none of those I have listed can take any form of test to disprove the claim that they are actually heterosexual.

    But this is a serious issue. Peter Tatchell has threatened to out those bishops who he thinks are gay. When Tatchell and Outrage did this in the 1990s amongst the bishops that were targeted was a gentleman who had had a homosexual experience while at boarding school and was happily married with children! So, on the back of an isolated event in 40 years earlier, Tatchell felt that there was sufficient reason to out him as gay when all the other evidence contradicted this. Tatchell can out who he wants and they cannot disprove his claim. Using the principle of "no smoke without fire" Tatchell could falsely label people and they cannot do anything about it. His threat to out people is nothing more than blackmail, that he will destroy the reputation of the Bishops who chose to obey church law and punish those who chose to break it.

    Is Tatchell worried about this? I doubt it. If we look at his handling of the book Born Gay by Raman and Glenn we see a change of attitude towards the book to suit his audience. On his blog Tatchell states that the book fails to prove the argument that biology caused homosexuality, a position he took on radio in Northern Ireland. Yet a few weeks later, on the BBC 1 programme The Big Questions, Tatchell produced the book claiming that it proved that people were born gay - only to be embarrassed when I quoted his own blog back at him.

    So if and when Tatchell does out people, take what he says with a large dose of salt. The evidence may be very slight to support his claim and it is him playing fast and loose with the human rights of those who he does not agree with.

  • How Many Benefit From Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

    In response to yesterday's post on the motivation of those who identify as ex-ex-gay one such leader - Peterson Toscano - posted a comment in response to my claim that statistically, where we can guarantee that the research subject has been through some form of sexual orientation change efforts we find a rate of harm of around 7%. Peterson attempts to counter this by saying that on his site "Beyond Ex-Gay" he had done a survey of 400 ex-gay survivours and that he has spoken with over 1000 people who had been through some form of sexual orientation change effort for whom it has been unnecessary and harmful. Before I give reiterate my challenges to Peterson as to his post I need to point out the core failure of Peterson's research. This study of 400 people on his site that he links to is made up of those from his own site "Beyond Ex-gay" aimed at so-called survivours of the ex-gay movement. As such this survey is, like Shido and Schroder and the others I mention, made up just of those who are anti-ex-gay. So the findings that sexual orientation change efforts do not work is not an honest outcome. Since my previous post on the lack of evidence for the effectiveness or safety of gay affirmative therapy I have been contacted by over 400 people from across the world who have been harmed by this type of therapy. Now imagine if I produced a "survey" from them. What would the findings be? Would they be reliable? No - because they are taken from a specific viewpoint not all those who have been through gay affirmative therapy. But of course we have to accept the survey from Peterson - as seen in the attacks on Spitzer, Jones and Yarhouse and others on site such as the pro-gay, and unscientific, "Respect My Research". Put simply, such surveys as carried out by Peterson are propaganda not proper studies.

    Now the maths. The only studies where we can be sure that the subjects went through some form of sexual orientation change effort are Spitzer, Jones and Yarhouse, and Nicolosi, Byrd etal. Of these the only one that gives a significant statistic of harm is Nicolsi, Byrd et al which gives a measure of 7%. This is below the 10% that psychologists see as a level where above this therapies should be used with caution (that is if more than 1 in 10 are at risk of harm then we should be careful in refering a client for that particular therapy).

    So taking Peterson's 1000 people who have been "harmed". To get 1% we divide the 1000 by 7. This comes to 142.857142 reoccurring. Let's round this up to 142.86. We then, to get a total times by 100. This comes to 14286 people who have been through some form of sexual orientation change effort. If we take off the 1000 who have been harmed we are left with 13286 who have been helped by such work, whether religiously motivated or with a mental health professional. If we allow for a higher rate of 1 in 10 for very 1000 harmed 9000 will benefit. But of course we cannot allow these people to be helped can we.

    Finally the challenges to Peterson, and anyone else who want to do research in this area.
    1) Can you be sure that the person you are interviewing actually went through a sexual orientation change effort? Remember in Maryland one pro-gay activist was exposed as giving a completely false testimony and one of the people who sued JONAH only attended four sessions.
    2) What type of effort did the person go through and when? It is no use looking at the failures of hormone therapy that was used in the 1960s, which we knew then didn't work, with models such as Nicolosi's Reparative Therapy and other therapies based on sound psychological principles that we use for other conditions let alone many religious models such as Living Waters or Hope for Wholeness. Was the "counsellor", whether a peer counsellor, pastoral counsellor or mental health professional properly trained to deal with such issues?
    3) What measure of harm are you using? The only study to use a recognised measure of harm is the Jones and Yarhouse one.
    4) Did the person want to be there? As any mental health professional will tell you, one of the major causes of a therapy "failing" is the fact the client was ordered to come and does not want to be there.

    To summarise: For every 1000 people failed/harmed by sexual orientation change efforts an estimated 9000 to 13286 will benefit from the effort. All anti-sexual orientation/anti-ex-gay research relies on a biased sample of those who claim to be harmed without the proper checks and balances to ensure that these people have been through the sexual orientation change efforts that they claim. Will we see honesty about these facts? I doubt it!

  • What Really Motivates The Ex-ex-gay Movement- edited

    In recent months the ex-gay movement has, prematurely, been declared by the secular media as dead by emphasizing the shift in position of Alan Chambers of Exodus International and the self-publicity of John Paulk. Alongside this we can see the on-going campaigns of groups like Ex-gay Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center and others to attack the ex-gay movement whenever they can, aided and abetted by the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. But what motivates their bile and anger towards the ex-gay movement?

    There is not one single issue that causes these people to be part of the anti-ex-gay movement. While some of these issues may have legitimate roots, that does not mean that the actions that emanate from those root issues are to be sanctioned; however, many of these root issues are not legitimate. So what are these issues?

    Firstly, there is the misunderstanding of the nature of what homosexuality is. Recently I had a stand for my counselling life coaching and work at a Christian expo. I had three main reactions to my exhibit. It covered not just my ex-gay work but also the work I do with those addicted to pornography, BDSM and other issues.

    The first reaction was a relief that someone in the community was actually talking about these things.

    The second, especially about pornography, was an ostrich mentality of "we do not have a problem with this in our church/youth group" -- if only that were true!

    The third was the claim that people choose to be gay (I only had a few people who took the "born gay" position. All these souls needed to do was repent of their behaviour.) No, people do not choose to be gay. However, this does not mean that people are born gay - something even the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the World Health Organisation will agree with. What it does mean is that homosexual feelings develop as a result of societal, psychological and sociological factors affecting an individual. Personal choice does not come into it. "Choice" is involved when we speak of two other factors relevant to homosexuality: behaviour and identity. The feelings come about involuntarily but whether one wishes to act upon those feelings or to create a sexual identity as a homosexual, those are choices. Yet this is not what most people hear when listening to the ex-gay message. Because we say (and science backs us up), that there is no evidence indicating that people are born gay (though most of us accept that biological factors such as "sensitivity" influence our feelings), people assume that we are saying that homosexuality is a choice. They confuse the issues of feelings, behaviour, or identity and merge them together.

    On the other hand, many so-called "evangelicals" (by this I mean very ultra-conservative churches and some which are more right-wing in their attitude to people) also confuse and merge the questions of feelings, behaviour or identity. They dismiss the ex-gay movement as ubber liberals because we say people can refrain from both a homosexual behaviour and a gay identity and in some cases can overcome the feelings. Thus, over simplistically, we choose to not be "gay". Hopefully, they recognize the concept of "repentance", that those with a homosexual past (as a separate group to those who openly embrace what we see as the sinful behaviour of the homosexual lifestyle) will go to heaven. To summarize this first issue: there is a significant misunderstanding of what the ex-gay message actually is.

    The second issue involves the question of harm. In a small number of cases - legitimate hurt may be experienced as part of the therapy or discipleship process. Yes, some people have been hurt, but this is true of all therapy. During therapy, one's feelings can opened up. If the person prematurely abandons his therapy, the open wound may not be healed. The question of alleged "harm" has been over emphasized by the various pro-gay professional bodies. They uncritically use studies like Shidlo and Schroeder (who stated that their study should not be used to ban sexual orientation change efforts) as well as more recent studies that unfairly claim that sexual orientation change efforts carry an excessive risk of harm.

    I have posted elsewhere on my blog how Shidlo and Schroeder advertised specifically for those who had been harmed - but nevertheless reported that over two thirds of those who responded to their study benefited from the therapy. However, there are three newer studies who are less honest than Shidlo and Schroeder about their statistics.

    Flentje, Heck, & Cochran (2013) used listservs to specifically identify ex-ex-gays. In this study, over half of those who went through the ex-gay process (56.1%) received help from "pastoral counsellors". Often these are church leaders with little or no training beyond a session in theological college or are counsellors from a specific "religious" school of thought -- that can range from Nouthetic (also known as True Biblical Counselling) through inner healing/prayer counselling methods such as Theophostics through Gary Collins "Christian Counselling" to the "Biblical Counselling" of Larry Crabb (also the core of the training offered in the UK by CWR and others), and that's just the Christian ones -- some of which are counselling in name only with others offering no training on the underlying psychological issues around sexuality, whether the presenting issue be pornography or same sex attraction. We have no way of knowing what the qualifications, if any, of these pastoral counsellors are/were of if they were actually involved with any ex-gay groups.

    Another 16.8% saw peer counsellors, suggestive of self-help groups. However once again we have no indication of what groups these were, or the level of training available to the leaders (some are much better than others) amongst other problematic issues.

    This leaves only 34.6% who went to mental health professionals. There are major problems with this study, (which also exists in the Shidlo and Schroeder study). (1) We do not know whether these people actually went through therapy, (2) as to those who went through therapy or attended a support group, we have no idea how many sessions they went to, and (3) we do not know whether they believed the therapy was effective or not after finishing counselling with the mental health professional.

    Why are these major questions? Because of the outright falsifications and misrepresentations of many of those who subsequently identify as gay. A few examples will illustrate this point. In New Jersey, a witness for the effort to ban sexual orientation change efforts for minors, whose fraudulent testimony was initially exposed by the ex-gay movement called "Voice of the Voiceless", falsely testified before a legislative body. He claimed he had been sent to a conversion camp which did not exist. His testimony was actually the script of a 1999 RuPaul movie called "But I'm a Cheerleader." No records existed for any aspect of his false testimony after they were checked with state, local, and church officials who were allegedly involved.

    Are there other false testimonies out there? Absolutely. In the recent action filed against the ex-gay group, JONAH, one of the plaintiffs erratically attended four sessions with his licensed therapist to whom he was referred by JONAH. Nevertheless, he claimed that neither JONAH nor the referral counsellor was able to help him change his sexual orientation. As all therapists know, such a paltry number of sessions, done erratically, is not a prescription for healing. Another plaintiff, whose attendance was likewise erratic, expressed himself to several witnesses as being satisfied about the counselling he received. He continued to do so for approximately 18 months after he dropped out of his therapy sessions. However, after being recruited to bring a lawsuit, he totally changed his story in the complaint for the court action. In both the Shidlo and Schroeder and Flentje, Heck, & Cochran studies, there is no mention of how many sessions the person attended or whether they actually attended, or even if they regularly attended any therapy sessions or support groups.

    Another study, Dehlin, Galliher, Bradshaw, Hyde, & Crowell (2014), looked at individuals who were past members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Here again, most bishops in the Mormon Church are layman. They receive little or no psychological or pastoral care training. This takes us back to the problem seen in the Shidlo and Schroeder and Flentje, Heck and Cochran studies. We do not know the qualifications of the pastoral counsellors or even the mental health professionals who may have been involved with the subjects. (I am a qualified therapist but there are issues -- such as PTSD -- that I do not handle as I am not trained to deal with them). Once again, the participants were not a representative sample; they were recruited through liberal sources. Neither the LDS Church, nor the LDS ex-gay group Northstar, nor NARTH or other more representative groups were contacted for participants. No adverts were put into the LDS press.

    This last study (Dehlin, Galliher, Bradshaw, Hyde and Crowell (2014)) dismisses studies such as Jones and Yarhouse (2011) and the several studies of Nicolosi, Byrd et al. They also dismiss the landmark Spitzer study. Dr. Spitzer was the individual primarily responsible for removing homosexuality from the DSM and several years later looked at the question whether change of sexual orientation was possible and agreed that change was possible. Because of pressure from gay activists and his failing health, he ended up apologizing to homosexuals for having done the study that indicated change of sexual orientation was possible. The authors of the 2014 study failed to quote the editor of Archives of Sexual Behaviour (where Spitzer's study was published) who explained that Spitzer's study could not be retracted because his methodology was valid. They also neglected to report on the statements from Armelli, Moose, Paulk, and Phelan (2013) all of whom were subjects of the original study. They published a letter declaring that their change of sexual orientation was authentic and that they stand by what was reported by them to Spitzer. The authors further neglect to report on comments by Spitzer's wife concerning the bullying he received from the gay activists, despite his deteriorating physical and mental health (Spitzer is suffering from Parkinson’s disease). All of the above raises serious doubts about the veracity of his alleged retraction.

    All the studies that claim to show a high level of harm fail because there is no evidence to prove that the participants actually went through any ex-gay programme. So what about those studies that show evidence of participants going through some form of ex-gay programme or therapy?

    The Spitzer study showed little harm. So too does the Jones and Yarhouse study. The only study indicating a "significant" statistic is the study by Nicolosi, Byrd et al which reported a level of harm of 7%. This figure is well below the 10% number generally seen as the level of concern by the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Society and other mental health organizations. (That is to say, that any therapy where more than 1 in 10 people are at risk of harm is to be used only with caution).

    So back to the point of some having been harmed,... but clearly not as many as the ex-ex-gay movement and the pro-gay lobby would like to claim. Those who have been harmed have a legitimate concern - but what is not legitimate is to allow those concerns to be force-fed to the rest of the world as claimed by pro-gay advocates. This strategy comes with the mis-claim of the ex-ex-gay movement that sexual orientation change efforts claim to "cure" homosexuality and that they promise 100% change. This has never been the case! No guarantee of change has ever been provided. Desert Streams, First Stone Ministries, Mastering Life Ministries, True Freedom Trust, NARTH, JONAH and others have always been open and honest about the fact that not everyone will see the complete removal of homosexual feelings, that different people will see differing amounts of change, and that some will see little or no change. They have also been honest that they are not "curing" homosexuality and, despite the reporting of various media outlets, have been careful not to use the term "cure." So while the failure hurts, we must ask where the disappointment comes from? Are those who have been hurt wanting something that the ex-gay movement, and those who provide sexual orientation change efforts do not promise and are then disappointed when their unrealistic hopes are not met?

    This leads me onto the third rationale used against the ex-gay movement. It is most often utilized by parents and the family of those who identify as same sex attracted. If people are "born gay", then no fault can be laid at the doorstep of these parents and friends. Stated another way, if people are not born gay then the argument goes that parents, siblings, family members and others must be at fault. But most people do not wish to feel "guilty" or to accept responsibility for the issue faced by a loved one. We see this attitude in ministries such as Canyon Walkers, PFLAG (Parents Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays) as well as in the book Nature's Choice. By accepting this rationale, the ex-gay movement is then seen by these people as blaming people. Yet, as the World Health Organisation is now admitting, upbringing plays a significant role in the development of same sex attraction. However, it is but one variable of many. For example, we have no idea of how an action as simple as leaving a new born child in a hospital too long may affect the child psychologically, which may lead to an infant's feelings of abandonment. To run away from a false guilt by clinging to the "born gay" lie does neither the family nor the individual good. As someone once said, feelings that are buried do not die - they just lie dormant waiting to explode at the most inopportune moment.

    The fourth issue, and one I am seeing more and more, is that of narcissistic tendencies of the pro-gay advocates. Narcissism can be defined as "the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride". I see this is the behaviour of Michael Bussee, John Shmid, John Paulk and other ex-leaders of the ex-gay movement as well as "pro-gay activists" such as Wayne Besen and Patrick Strudwick. Those "leaders" have failed to be honest with themselves about their own issues, including for the ex-ex gay, why they failed to see the change they sought (were their expectations realistic?) and their motivations. They have been dishonest about the change seen in other people -- by denying change is possible. They also exhibit great inconsistency. For example, John Paulk calls his ex-wife a liar while at the same time he tells people on Facebook not to attack her. This is a very two-faced approach. Wayne Besen attacks the integrity of anyone with whom he disagrees, including those scientists who promote the fact that people are not born gay. Yet, as his latest website shows, he expects people to "Respect My Research" without question. To call his ministry "Truth Wins Out" while failing to quote research he does not like is dishonest. It is not truth. All this behaviour is classic narcissism - these people see themselves as somehow better than those who want to change but their vanity is so fragile they cannot cope with others who point out their failures. This narcissism recently seen in Paulk and Shmid and long term in Bussee and Peterson Toscano, drives such individuals to be in the public eye. Not only is embracing homosexuality easier (it takes hard work and dedication to overcome homosexual feelings, behaviour, or identity) it gives them the media opportunities to be in the spotlight that they crave as classic narcissists .

    It is this narcissism that allows the legitimate hurt to become a rabid crusade, that allows the misunderstanding to become the root of the twisting of emotive terms such as homophobia.

    In my dealings with both the ex-gay and ex-ex-gay movements (with the accompanying pro-gay "accepting evangelical" movement of Colin Coward and Changing Attitudes amongst others) through my past involvement with the Anglican Listening Process, I am yet to meet an ex-gay leader who enjoys the publicity, even from the sympathetic media such as Charisma Magazine, as the ex-ex-gay and pro-gay leaders do. The ex-ex-gay courts the media in a way that, at times is sycophantic. Someone once said that you can tell a true prophet because they do not want to be in the public eye and only accept being there because God has called them. This is the spirit that is missing in John Shmid, John Paulk, Michael Bussee, Peterson Toscano and too many others.

    Those of us who, because of our testimony and life experiences, have been forced - unwillingly - into the spotlight have learned to live with the failures of former friends, colleagues and loved ones. Recognising the roots does not make it easier to cope with what can feel like betrayal - but it is a reminder of why we need to be true to our testimony and what we have been called to do by the God who heals, saves and restores.

    (edited with help of JONAH, to correct a factual error and to correct spelling and grammar issues.)

  • Hypocritic Names

    Through a short correspondence with an American leader in the pro-gay "evangelical" movement I have been hit again at the hypocrisy of some of the names of the pro-gay movement.

    Here are some:
    Open Evangelicals (open unless you hold a traditional view on human sexuality!)
    Thinking Anglicans (? Have they read the science and not just the headlines?)
    Accepting Evangelicals (accepting unless you hold a scientifically valid or traditional evangelical view!)
    Freedom to B (you have freedom to be unless you want to leave the homosexual community)

    And how about books such as
    "Speaking The Truth In Love"?

    or the conference "Cataract Surgery for the Church: Uncovering God's Love for LGBT Christians" on how to "love" the homosexual by saying "I do not condemn you" while allowing them to live a lifestyle that the Bible calls sinful and that scientific, psychological, sociological and political research shows to be harmful?

    We could go on. Many of these names are not just inaccurate - they are dishonest! The same could be said for traditional evangelical groups and even the ex-gay movement. Thankfully the two groups that came out of the insider assassination of Exodus International North America have gone some way to having a more honest and healthier name. These two bodies are Restored Hope Network and Hope for Wholeness. They speak of wholeness and hope in Christ for what He promises not just in the future but also today. We need more honesty about what we are about and about what he offer. No, not everyone who goes through a Christian ex-gay program or a form of sexual orientation change effort will see a complete change in sexual feelings - but then we would not expect this with any psychological intervention. The "ex-gay movement" must be more honest about the amount of change - some, though not all, have not been honest in this way. But the anti-ex-gay movement needs to be honest about the failure rates of all psychological interventions and stop making an exception of sexual orientation change efforts. This includes the over highlighting of testimonies of failure and harm - people are harmed by all types of counselling and psychotherapy but when was the last time you heard a testimony of someone psychologically harmed through receiving CBT for depression or therapy for an eating disorder. The ex-gay movement are already making these steps to be honest. It is now time for the pro-gay lobby to do the same. But - I doubt they have the guts to.

  • The Church of England, Stonewall and Unrighteous Gate Keepers Pt 2

    Earlier this month I posted here (http://aflame.blog.co.uk/2014/05/18/the-church-of-england-stonewall-and-unrighteous-gate-keepers-18476533/) a brief bit about my email conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury's Correspondence Secretary. I chose specifically not to name the person at Lambeth Palace as I believe that it is the issue that is important. This issue of ex-gay information not getting into the hands of people goes beyond Lambeth Palace to the various professional bodies and their efforts to ban sexual orientation change efforts, and to the way the media portrays the issue.

    But yesterday Virtue Online posted an article, which I had no involvement with and have complained to Virtue Online about, which names the Correspondence Secretary in tones whiich I disagree with. To me this is an example of tabloid journalism at its worst. The first I knew about the article was when a friend told me about it via Facebook! Virtue Online did not even have the courtesy to let me know the article was coming out or to ask me whether I had any form of comment from Lambeth Palace following my blog post. As yet my comment below the article stating that I disagree with the tone of the article has not appeared. Due to this my comment appears below:

    As the blogger referred to in this article please may I make the following clear:
    1) I believe that, despite being factually correct, Virtue Online has sensationalised in the worse tabloid style the issue and my comments. If I had seen the article before it was posted I would not have given permission to report the issue in this way.
    2) This article, and my photograph, was created without my knowledge - the first I knew about it was when a friend told me about this via Facebook. Not only was my photograph used without my permission Virtue Online made no effort to contact me for further comment or to see if I have had any further comment from Lambeth Palace since my original post.
    3) I have contacted Virtue Online to complain about the appearance of and tone of the article and, as it is too late to remove the article to publish a clarification that I do not agree with the tone of the article, or the naming of the correspondence secretary - who I have now emailed to apologise for the appearance of such an article which turns a raising of an issue to a personal attack.

    As Virtue Online, and others, have now taken the issue and are reporting it in such tones I have decided to post the original letter and the email correspondence between myself and the Correspondence Secretary Andrew Nunn, including my apology for the Virtue Online article.

    Your Grace

    I am writing to you concerning your statement that the Church of England must “embrace” the revolution on human sexuality to express my concerns as to the inviting of Stonewall into Church of England schools to tackle homophobic bullying and to ask you to consider, what I believe to be, a much healthier anti-bullying program that is more in line both with the science and psychology around homosexuality as well as more in line with the position held by the Church of England.

    As someone who has worked as a youth worker and a community worker with gay and lesbian special interest group and now amongst the ex-gay community, as well as from personal experience as an adolescent, I am aware of how damaging homophobic bullying is. While I commend the Church of England’s commitment to stamp out bullying I am concerned that by opening the door to Stonewall, the issue will not be tackled in either a healthy way or in line with the position of the Church of England on human sexuality. Stonewall, while not taking the view too publically, believes homosexuality to be biological in cause despite evidence to the contrary. Because of this by allowing Stonewall into Church of England schools they will be given to platform to proclaim the born gay myth. There is also the issue that they are militantly anti the ex-gay message, including giving an award to Patrick Strudwick for his “exposure” of this type of therapy which included the call to persecute those therapist who offer psychological therapy sexual orientation change and their nomination of Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joint, the former Bishop of Winchester, for the “bigot of the year award” for stating in the House of Lords that many people do not believe that science has proven homosexuality to be biological and that some people have successfully changed their orientation from gay to straight, during a debate in the House of Lords.

    I also believe allowing Stonewall to bring their anti-bullying campaign into Church Schools because they are focussing on apparently homophobic behaviour at the expense of other acts of bullying. As a Cub Scout leader I know that children of primary school age use words without understanding their meaning. By allowing Stonewall or others to focus on homophobia we are allowing the children to be exposed to details that are not appropriate for that age, while at Secondary school age allowing the focus to be on anti-gay bullying creates an unhealthy hierarchy of bullying where all bullying is wrong.

    Finally I also believe that the position Stonewall takes is unhealthy as it reinforces sexual confusion amongst adolescents encouraging them to take labels for sexual orientation. This then has the same result as homophobic bullying amongst the sexually confused, whose testimonies, from ex-gay leaders such as Andy Comiskey and Rev Mario Bergner through to the Stonewall young gay spokesperson , tell as how homophobic bullying reinforced their confusion and caused them to take the label of homosexual/lesbian.

    I enclose an introduction to an alternative course from the USA entitled Acception. It is written by Christopher Doyle of International Healing Foundation as a more positive alternative to the pro-gay campaigns developed by Stonewall and their counterparts, and Mr Doyle has stated that this course could be reworked for the UK context. If you would like to discuss this or have any questions of my own esperience please do contact me.

    Your faithful servant

    (Phelim McIntyre)

    Cc Rt Rev Tim Dankin, Bishop of Winchester

    Thank you for your 19 July letter to which I have been asked to reply.
    Though opposed to same sex marriage for the reasons he gave in his speech to the House of Lords at the Second Reading debate http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5069/archbishop-justins-speech-to-the-lords-on-the-governments-gay-marriage-bill the Archbishop recognises that through Parliament society has made its view very plain that there has been a sea-change in attitude toward homosexuality.
    As you say, the Archbishop spoke about this in his Presidential Address to the General Synod http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5098/there-is-a-revolution-archbishop-justins-address-to-synod and called for the Church to be more aware of the trends in society and more alert to how our words and actions can associate us in other people's minds with the kind of homophobia that is totally inimical to the Christian Gospel.
    Elsewhere, but not in his address, he has mentioned a number of charities and organisations that do excellent work in school tackling homophobia and bullying. Stonewall is one among several such though a widely respected leader in the field.
    Yours sincerely

    To: Lambeth Palace
    Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

    Dear Mr Nunn

    Thank you for your reply to my letter of 19th July. I am sorry to have to say that I am disappointed with it as it does nothing to tackle my concerns about Stonewall's position on homosexuality that is contrary to the teaching of the Church of England, and their being asked to give advice on this subject when there are other resources available that are just as positive but not contrary to the Church's teaching. I therefore need to ask for clarification on how the Church of England is going to handle the promotion of homosexuality as normal and unsinful by Stonewall in light of the document that came out under the Listening Process instigated by the previous Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Yours sincerely

    Phelim McIntyre

    Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)
    I think you’ve misunderstood Mr McIntyre. Stonewall is among a number of organisations that have been mentioned in connection with work in schools to tackle homophobic bullying. None of the organisations are being asked by the Church to talk about homosexuality. When it comes to bullying, who better to speak about it than someone who has been bullied for being gay?

    Andrew Nunn
    Correspondence Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU,

    Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

    Dear Mr Nunn, I think that you have misunderstood my concerns. As someone who was bullied for being gay and now receives weekly threats of violence (including death threats) because I am publicaly ex-gay I have a better understanding of what teenagers go through than many. I doubt that you have been to a Stonewall anti-bullying presentation or a Schools OUT presentation as within that they state that homophobic bullying is wrong because of the person's sexuality and go further and state that people are born gay, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this position. This is part of their anti-bullying curriculum. The psychological evidence is that homophobic bullying reinforces sexual confusion, Stonewall ignores this to promote a "born gay" agenda.

    As to listening to those who have been bullied for "being gay", this is why I sent details of the Acception Course which includes testimonies of those who have been bullied for being gay but which does not reinforce the confusion teenagers feels.

    I hope that this clarifies my concerns and why neither of your responses have been adequate.

    Yours sincerely

    Phelim McIntyre

    Well Mr McIntyre, since we’re putting cards on the table, I am gay and I have no doubt whatsoever that I was born this way. You utterly contradict my experience and that of the vast majority of gay men and women by promoting a specious theory that people can change their sexuality. All research shows that they cannot. There are doubtless some people – and you may be one of them – who are genuinely bi-sexual and able to chose a heterosexual or homosexual focus to a sexual and emotional relationship, but most people aren’t and can’t. Please understand that your experience – which I do not deny or disparage – is not typical of that of the vast majority of LGBT people.
    As you will know, in the USA, Exodus, the Christian ‘reparative therapy’ group that ruined the lives of untold number of gay men and women has shut up shop and its former leaders have publicly apologised for the terrible harm their organisation did to a large number of homosexuals. And not before time.
    In the area of homophobic bullying, the Church must stop telling people what the answer is and with humility listen to find out what the question is. As far as the majority of gay people in this country are concerned, the Church is the problem, not the answer. Archbishop Justin is understandably concerned about that and anxious to listen to their experience and to learn how to move forward with them.

    Andrew Nunn
    Correspondence Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU

    Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

    Dear Mr Nunn. As to laying "cards on the table", nothing in my email was not in my original letter which raises the question as to whether you read it. In the letter I commend the Archbishop of wanting to tackle bullying but raise my serious, experience based, concerns as to the involvement of Stonewall.

    Contrary to your claims of being born gay, please may I encourage you to bother to read the scientific evidence as to the biology of homosexuality. Professor Michael King, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a practicing homosexual stated during a debate at the Houses of Parliament earlier this year that there is no evidence that homosexuality is biological in causation. The American Psychological Association, in their statement against Reparative Therapies, states that there is no evidence for people being "born gay", as does the Human Genome Project. Both Simon Le Vay, who did the research into the difference in the hypothalmus in gay and straight men, and Dean Hamer, who did the research into the gay gene, also state there is no evidence that people are born gay, infact Dr Hamer has been involved with research that has stated there is no evidence for a genetic component in homosexuality. I can provide details of all the relevant research if you wish. Also, using the Twin Registers in Australia, research has been done into the levels of when, in monozygotic twins where one is gay the other is also gay. The concordance (rate) is 13%, if we compare this to issues where we see evidence for a biological cause, such as breast cancer, we get a concordance of 80%. This raises serious doubts as to your claim of being "born gay".

    As to my testimony - I came out at the age of 13 at at the time had no sexual feelings for females. Under the various definitions I was homosexual. By the time I was in my twenties I was in a gay relationship. Now in my forties, I have not had a homosexual feeling for over 10 years. I am not bisexual by any form of definition as I have no sexual feelings for men. As supported by psychological research that has been presented to annual conference of the American Psychological Association, such as the paper by Jones and Yarhouse, all of which were read for the Anglican Listening Project which I had the privilege to be part of, I have changed my sexuality and I am disappointed that the gatekeeper to the Archbishop of Canterbury would be so discriminatory to dismiss the testimony of healing in such a naive way. You claim not to deny or disparage my experience yet claim that I am bisexual. This shows that your words are not supported by your email.

    As to your statement about Exodus International, many groups within Exodus International disagreed with the statement that came from Alan Chambers and told him so, and I can provide links to these statements. These groups have since gone on to form Restored Hope Network and Hope for Wholeness - both of which have people with testimonies for change. It should also be pointed out that Mr Chambers never underwent any form of therapy to change his homosexual feelings so is not qualified to speak out in the way he did. Across the globe there are thousands of people who have been helped and healed by groups that came together under the Exodus umbrella and they are starting to rise up and speak out against the anti-ex-gay bigotry that they are experiencing. As to how harmful these things are, are you aware that the "research" that claims harm, from Dr King and from Schildo and Schroder, carry no psychologically recognised definition of harm and no recognised measurement of harm? That the research, such as Jones and Yarhouse, and Nicolosi et al, have included the issue of harm in the research and found this type of therapy to be no more harmful than any other psychological intervention. Would it shock you to know that the prefered type of therapy for unwanted homosexual feelings, as stated by the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy, British Psychological Society, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association and other "professional" groups - therapy to accept your sexuality - has no proper research into its safety and effectiveness? That the only papers published have been by the practitioners with no independently viable statistics? That in one case the "evidence" for the acceptance of the clients homosexuality include the person engaging in promiscuous, unprotected sex, the involvement with BDSM practices and the taking of party drugs? How about that the preferred psychological intervention with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in Health (NICE) for Myalgic Encephalomylitis causes serious harm in over 25% of cases, and NICE's preferred psychological intervention causes serious harm in nearly 20% of cases treated for anorexia? This compares to less than 10% for Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. Even past presidents of the American Psychological Association who practice therapy to help people accept their sexual orientation support sexual orientation change efforts http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/07/30/sexual-reorientation-therapy-not-unethical-column/2601159/

    Please take the time to read the book that came out of the Listening Project of Human Sexuality "The Anglican Communion and Human Sexuality" (SPCK PUblishing ISBN 9780281059638) before commenting further.

    In His service

    Phelim McIntyre
    (ex-gay and proud)

    Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)
    You write “I came out at the age of 13 at the time had no sexual feelings for females. Under the various definitions I was homosexual. By the time I was in my twenties I was in a gay relationship. Now in my forties, I have not had a homosexual feeling for over 10 years. I am not bisexual by any form of definition as I have no sexual feelings for men.” – so do you have sexual feeling for women?

    Andrew Nunn
    Correspondence Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU,

    Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

    Yes Andrew, I do have sexual feelings for women and none from men, unlike when I was in my teens when I only had sexual feelings for males and none for women. This reality is something that Peter Tatchell recognises as possible.

    Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)
    So you are heterosexual. Why define yourself by reference to something that you no longer are?

    A

    Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

    Because this is my testimony. I was gay and now I am not.

    I also need to clarify my concern about Stonewall. I am a qualified youth and community worker and, as part of my job and because of my sexuality at the time, I ran gay/lesbian/bisexual youth clubs and also helped with gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender support groups. I had a number of young people who were sent to the youth group who had expressed a concern that they might be gay who were sent to the youth club because they must have been gay, in a number of cases it was because they were sexually abused by men. Taking the time to talk with them, they had strong sexual feelings towards females and little or none towards men, but when they were molested had had an erection. I have since then talked with guys who have been told they must be gay because of the slightest of things (one got a slight erection when he was tested for bowel cancer). While a lot of teenagers may be sure of their sexuality there are others who are genuinely not sure, and the position that many people take traps some of these in a sexuality that is not theirs. We need to find away to support those who are sure of their sexuality, while not entrapping those who are not yet sure. While Stonewall's position supports the former it does not help the later.

    Phelim

    Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

    Well let’s not get into a discussion about abuse. I spend a lot of time here dealing with people who have been abused by priests and so know more than you probably think about abuse survivors. And as for young people being ‘trapped in a sexuality that isn’t theirs’ – well I’ve met plenty of homosexuals who have been trapped in a straight sexuality because of social pressure but never a heterosexual who has been trapped in a homosexual one - perhaps until now.
    If you were once attracted to men and now are attracted to women, that’s fine; no one has a problem with that. There are undoubtedly a lot of people who could say the same, or the opposite. One need only think of circumstantial sexual attraction – same sex schools, prison, the armed forces. What very few do however is to self-identify by reference to that historic change, rather than their current sexual preference. It is an issue because the ‘ex-gay’ movement is so widely discredited and plainly has an anti-gay agenda. You spoke about being threatened and even receiving death threats. It’s not because you don’t fancy men any more, it’s because you identify with an American anti-gay movement that has done terrible harm to people, and which seeks to undermine the credibility of peoples lives and relationships. It is widely regarded (though not formally designated) as what the Americans call a ‘Hate Group’. And by associating yourself with it, inevitably people will hate you. Sorry.

    Andrew

    Sorry Andrew, rather than being the "hate group" that you speak of ex-gays have legally protected status against discrimination. Would a former head of the American Psychological Association speak out in support of the ex-gay movement if it was as widely seen as a "hate group" as you think?

    As to abuse, I was sexually assaulted by a woman at the age of 9 and raped by a man when I was 16. As a counsellor I regularly deal with male victims of sexual abuse.

    The threats I get are generally worded that I am telling lies because I claim to have changed my sexuality, that I am still/was never was gay, and if I continue to help others then they will use any means to stop me. My testimony frightens people, but that won't stop me sharing it.

    Phelim

    Dear Mr Nunn

    I am contacting you concerning the article about our correspondence last year, which I blogged about recently. I specifically blogged about the issue of my letter and the Acception Course not being passed on to the Archbishop and expressed my concerns that politics was preventing information getting through. I deliberately chose not to mention your name as I did not want this to be a specific attack on you as is the issue of gate keeping that is what I wanted to raise and to warn people, in the light of the call by Christian Concern for people to write to Most Rev Welby, not to expect a response. The article published yesterday (30th May) was done without my knowledge - they did not even contact me for further comment or to see if there had been any further contact from Lambeth Palace (I have since been contacted by someone from the Church of England Newspaper and the first thing they asked was whether I had any more contact from the Palace). The first I knew about this was when a friend informed me of its existence via Facebook this morning! I have written a very strongly worded letter to Virtue Online complaining about their tabloid journalism and the tone of the article which I disagree with. I have also commented below the article as follows

    "As the blogger referred to in this article please may I make the following clear:
    1) I believe that, despite being factually correct, Virtue Online has sensationalised in the worse tabloid style the issue and my comments. If I had seen the article before it was posted I would not have given permission to report the issue in this way.
    2) This article, and my photograph, was created without my knowledge - the first I knew about it was when a friend told me about this via Facebook. Not only was my photograph used without my permission Virtue Online made no effort to contact me for further comment or to see if I have had any further comment from Lambeth Palace since my original post.
    3) I have contacted Virtue Online to complain about the appearance of and tone of the article and, as it is too late to remove the article to publish a clarification that I do not agree with the tone of the article, or the naming of the correspondence secretary - who I have now emailed to appologise for the appearance of such an article which turns a raising of an issue to a personal attack.

    I used to have time for Virtue Online but after this I do not."

    Phelim McIntyre

  • The Church of England, Stonewall and Unrighteous Gate Keepers

    I have held back from telling this story but now that the Church of England, and in particular Archbishop Justin Welby, have come out and supported the use of Stonewalls anti-gay bullying resources I have decided it is time to speak.

    As an ex-gay who used to work in gay youth groups and support groups for those are were HIV positive, amongst other things, before me surprise change in orientation I decided to contact Archbishop Welby to express my concerns with the discussions between him and Stonewall concerning bullying of those who think they might be gay. I carefully explained that I am against bullying of all types but expressed my following concerns:

    1) Stonewall's position on homosexuality was in opposition to the traditional teaching of the Church as well as the statements from General Synod.
    2) Stonewall's resources are contrary to science as it speaks of homosexuality as unchanging and fixed when research shows us that 98% of those who identify as homosexual at the age of 16 identify as heterosexual at the age of 17. Because of this Stonewall's resources run the danger of forcing a sexual identity on young people before their sexual identity is actually fixed.
    3) Stonewall classifies as homophobic any teaching that is not pro-gay, including deeply held religious views and views on the dangers of gay sexual practices obtained by careful study of the research, thereby stifling any discussion on the subject.
    4) By emphasising the issue of homosexual feelings Stonewall gives the impression that this is worse than other types of bullying.

    Having expressed these concerns I asked Archbishop Welby to consider alternative resources, and provided the introductory information about the Acception course (http://www.acception.info/APCirriculumPreview.pdf). I also asked whether it would be possible to meet up with him or a representative to discuss my concerns and alternative resources. After a couple of months I emailed Lambeth Palace to chase for a response. What I received was a curt email from Dr Welby's correspondence secretary stating that no meeting could not be arranged and that my concerns would not be considered. When I emailed to explain my concerns, from personal experience, I discovered that the gentleman who replied to me was not only openly gay but also aggresively anti-ex-gay. My letter and the preview of the Acception Course had not even reached Dr Welby or his team because his correspondence secretary had deemed it unsuitable - despite it dealing with all bullying and being closer to both the science and the position of the Church of England.

    After an exchange of emails I decided to share the conversation with a number of contacts within the Church of England. With my permission this was passed on to someone who was on General Synod who has started asking questions about what it going on. But the response I got from my contacts was a "so that's why everything we have sent on this subject doesn't get to Dr Welby."

    Organisations such as Christian Concern have asked their members to write to Dr Welby to complain about the use of Stonewall's resources in Church schools, but if my experience is anything to go by those letters with be "filed" in the bin.

  • Willful Ignorance, Humanism and David Cameron's Panic

    Over the weekend the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron found himself if hot water with the British Humanist Society (BHS) and their celebrity spokespeople for defining Britain as a Christian country. In a letter to The Telegraph the spokes people for the BHS stated that Britain has now come under the influence of post and pre Christian views, as well as those from other world religions, so despite the fact that in the last census the majority of the nation identifying as Christian we should no longer see the UK as a Christian country. The list of signatories included the comedian Tim Minchen, the journalist Polly Toynbee, the writer Philip Pullman and scientists such as Dr Alice Roberts, from Time Team and Coast, and Nobel laureate Sir John Sulton as well as BHS president Professor Jim Al-Khalili. One name missing was, surprisingly, arch-atheist Richard Dawkins. If we look at this list a number of the those who signed the letter are known for their violent hatred of religion. Mr Minchin has, in an interview with the Radio Times, stated about one musical he is writing "The premise is that if fate or destiny or God exist they’re off their heads because if there is some interventionalist playing us like puppets, what sort of dope-smoking, acid-tripping, psychopathic, uncaring, racist, sexist, homophobic idiot must he be?" Toynbee is also known for having similar views while Pullman wrote a whole series of books to encourage society to kill of God. Alice Roberts has also taken a very anti-faith position with vitriolic attacks on the Creation Zoo at Bristol, stating that to teach creationism is akin to child abuse - something that echoes Dawkin's statement about sending children to Sunday School in the Catholic Church.

    But let us think about the "influences" the writers celebrate. Looking at homosexuality, as something that Minchin mentions, we see that the recent Pilling Report on homosexual marriage states that the Royal College of Psychiatrists attempted to mislead the authors on the health issues around homosexual marriage (http://www.core-issues.org/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=98&cntnt01returnid=15). The information given to the committee behind the report came from Dr Michael King, chair of the Lesbian and Gay Special Interest Group at the Royal College and who gave the same information - originally in the name of the Special Interest Group - to Parliament in the run up to the legalisation of homosexual marriage. Dr King also authored the study that he then misquoted! But this is not a relevant piece of information, in the light of the letter from the BHS, as Dr King purports to be a Christian.

    In her attack on the Creation Museum, Dr Roberts states that evolution is the best fit for the scientific evidence and that there is no evidence for a creative force behind the process. Through her Facebook page I have asked Dr Roberts to answer the two following issues around evolution and to explain how they fit in with her humanistic and atheistic belief system.

    Blood vessels have been found in dinosaur bones. As blood vessels are soft tissue cells and soft tissue cells are the first to decompose how can blood vessels be in bones millions of years old (Armitage, M. H. and K. L. Anderson. 2013. Soft sheets of fibrillar bone from a fossil of the supraorbital horn of the dinosaur Triceratops horridus. Acta Histochemica.115 (6): 603-608.)

    An epigenetic study has suggested that, in terms of Darwinistic evolution, that apes are evolved from humans not visa versa (http://www.icr.org/article/epigenetic-study-produces-backwards/) - I have had the claims checked out by people who do not hold the creationist view of ICR and they agree with ICR's claims.

    I could go on and point out that paleontologists have found skeletons with dinosaur skin (Scientists study rare dinosaur skin fossil at CLS. Canadian Light Source Media Release, posted on www.lightsource.ca on April 26, 2013, accessed May 3, 2013.) again a soft tissue that should have disappeared. That genome studies have pointed to Neandertals being fully human not another humanoid type (Vernot, B. and J. M. Akey. Resurrecting Surviving Neandertal Lineages from Modern Human Genomes. Science Express. Published on sciencemag.org January 29, 2014., Sankararaman, S. et al. The genomic landscape of Neanderthal ancestry in present-day humans. Nature. Published on nature.com January 29, 2014.). And what about the study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Massachusetts Medical School that found genetic data that ran contrary to evolution as taught in schools (Washietl, S., M. Kellis, and M. Garber. Evolutionary dynamics and tissue specificity of human long noncoding RNAs in six mammals. Genome Research. Posted on genome.cshlp.org January 15, 2014, accessed February 15, 2014.) While I am not a "seven day" creationist these studies suggest that evolution is not as simple as Roberts and her cohorts would like us to believe.

    If we look at other influences, which the BHS wish to celebrate, I have mentioned in another post the wish of people like Winston Churchill, H G Wells, Francis Dalton and others to prevent the lower classes to procreate there by improving humanity (http://aflame.blog.co.uk/2013/12/27/scrooge-chesterton-abortion-and-euthanasia-17496861/) with at least one of their number Havelock Ellis - the author on the first medical textbook on homosexuality - seeing paedophilia as healthy and to be encouraged. Others who supported the eugenics position - seen today in the pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia lobbies - included Charles Galton Darwin (the grandson of Charles Darwin and who the Eugenics Education Society took its name when it rebranded as the Galton Institute, Julian Huxley, John Harvey Kellogg (co-founder of the Breakfast cereal empire), Arthur Balfour, Neville Chamberlain, and Hans Eysenck who's work is the basis of the psychometric tests people take as part of their job applications. Is this belief that we need to provide contraception to improve the type of people, by only allowing the Middle Classes to have children, something that we should be celebrating? It would appear that the BHS would say yes.

    What is more worrying, but already seen in the writings of Alice Roberts, is the position from the British Humanist Society that anyone with a dissenting voice is to be silenced. That Christianity should be forced out of schools and the judicial system. Forget that the legal system, the health system and the education system are all based around the Christian faith, its teachings and practices - this heritage must be abandoned and those who disagree silenced. In their attack on David Cameron he has experienced what those of us who question the new creed of homosexuality experience on a daily basis.

    But beyond the tantrums of the British Humanist Society there is another issue - the timing of Cameron's statement. Next month (May 2014) there are European elections and, if the opinion poles are correct, the Conservative Party has lost voters because of the legalisation of gay marriage. It is possible that, as seen in recent by-elections, the United Kingdom Independence Party (which still defines marriage as between a male and female) will out perform both the Labour and Conservative Parties as their traditional "Middle England" voters choose to vote as a protest against a piece of legislation that was not in a manifesto and was not mentioned in the Queen's Speech - a piece of legislation that was, in the view of many, forced onto a country without proper debate. Why else would a paper in one of the cities with the largest gay population loose so many subscribers due to them showing a gay couple kissing at the end of the marriage?

    So we have two issues. On one hand we have the anti-religion pseudo-liberalism which disallows anyone disagreeing with them pushed forward by the British Humanistic Society and others. On the other we have Cameron attempting to stem the flood of people removing their support from the Conservative Party. If anything this shows the disrespect that pollutes those who claim to be about personal choice and anti-discrimination where religion,and in particular Christianity, has become a legitimate ground to discriminate despite the claims to the contrary and legislation that should protect people of faith

  • Cure Me I'm Gay - The Truth About The Latest Anti-ex-gay Pseudo-documentary

    Last Tuesday's programme “Undercover Doctor: Cure Me I'm Gay” was grossly inaccurate in its findings and extreme biased in the handling of the few facts that the programme actually contained. I did not expect it to be balanced but I thought that Dr Christian Jessen would have been better, but then having met with pro-gay psychiatrists like Dr Michael King (whose anger when you point out his own bias would be comedic if it was not so serious) and seen the emails of the "independent" experts like Dr Jack Drescher (you know, the one who before looking at the research on sexual orientation change efforts had written a book celebrating the intimidation of members of the American Psychiatric Association by the gay rights lobby and cannot see what the fuss is about the DSM V having used the term "sexual orientation for paedophilia) I was probably being naďve. But having spoken with people who were interviewed for the programme I help out hope for a half-decent scientific look at the subject. What I got was a pseudo-documentary masquerading as a proper investigation.

    There were a huge number of problems with the programme, some of which I will list for you. Firstly the programme was topped and tailed by Dr Christian Jessen, star of Channel 4's Embarrasing Bodies series, undertaking a test to see how homosexual he was devised by Cornell University. This was portrayed as infallible when it has been shown by Cornell's own findings to be no more accurate than chance. This means that Dr Jessen's result of “100% homosexual” at the end of the programme is invalid as a measure of whether therapy to change unwanted homosexual feelings work or not. Scientist magazine (December 6th 2012 www.the-scientist.com › The Scientist › News & Opinion › Daily News‎ ) said of the Cornell Test “A pupil test for sexual orientation remains as unlikely as it was in the 1960s. Researchers at Cornell University recently showed that sexual orientation correlated with pupil dilation to erotic videos of their preferred gender, but the trend was only apparent when averaged across subjects, and only for male subjects. While pupillometry shows promise as a noninvasive measure of sexual response, they concluded, “not every participant’s sexual orientation was correctly classified” and “an observable amount of variability in pupil dilation was unrelated to the participant’s sexual orientation”.”(Emphasis added). This inaccuracy (around 70% of test subjects) of the test was the reason that Voice of the Voiceless chose not to take part in the test. This was explained to Dr Jessen and his team but Dr Jessen portrayed the decision of Voice of the Voiceless not to take part as fear of being shown not to change. This was factually incorrect yet was allowed by both the producer and Channel 4 to pass.

    Secondly, Dave Pickup, who was shown on the programme, is qualified psychologist, is a member of the American Psychological Association, and is currently studying for a PhD in psychology with the University of Southern California. Christopher John Doyle, who was also shown, is a qualified and licensed Clinical and Professional Counsellor with a Master's degree is therapy. Contrary to the inference, these people are not only professional therapists and therapy is their source of income - they are not out to fleece people. Neither are they, as suggested in some media outlets, “pseudo-medicos”.

    Thirdly, the professional bodies such as National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and International Federation for Theraputic Choice (IFTC), have all spoken out against the use of aversion therapy as Dr Jessen underwent at the start of the programme (http://www.narth.com/). The programme failed to mention this fact. NARTH has support from past presidents of the American Psychological Association (APA) and IFTC includes amongst it membership officers and past officers from national psychological and psychiatric associations. Also the religious bodies such as Restored Hope Network have also spoken out against the use of exorcism in the way seen in the programme.

    Fourthly, Dr Jessen ignored the evidence for trauma as a cause of homosexuality. While it is correct that we cannot look at trauma as the cause there is good research evidence to show that childhood trauma is a factor in the development of homosexuality. There is also no evidence that biology is more than a slight influence with environmental factors, including psychological and sociological, being the strongest factors. This is supported by research published by the Kinsey Institute of Human Sexuality, and in such peer reviewed academic journals as Archives of Sexual Behaviour, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, and The Journal of Human Sexuality. What do we mean by "trauma". Jessen looked back through his life and could not see what he saw as abuse, but as anyone with some form of counselling training knows this is a false perspective. As an adult we find going into hospital disconcerting but, unless we have a serious mental health problem such as paranoia, we do not find it traumatic. If we went into hospital as a child we probably look back at it and see it as nontraumatic and understand that our parents needed to leave us - but that is the adult talking. If we stop and think about how we actually felt as a child then the sense of trauma is much more real. As a child there is the sense that mummy and daddy have taken me to a strange place where people keep prodding me and now they are going to leave me. By failing to understand, despite being a doctor, the difference between the perception of a child and an adult of a situation Christian Jessen failed to understand what Dave Pickup was saying. What is worse is that Jessen's medical training at University College London would have included psychiatric experience.

    Fifthly, despite meeting with and recording those who have not only benefited from therapy for unwanted homosexual feelings but have also changed from gay to straight, their testimonies were absent from the programme. Organisations where people have been helped, such as Joel 2:25, or the testimony of Stephen Black from Restored Hope and First Stone Ministries were not used despite having been interviewed for the programme.

    Sixthly, in the title of the programme "Cure Me I'm Gay", Dr Jessen fell into exactly the same pit that Dr King, Dr Drescher, the UKCP, Geraint Davies and certain commentators of this blog fall into. Those who offer therapy for unwanted homosexual feelings to help people become straight are not trying to cure people. Homosexuality is not caused by differences in the brain, though homosexuality could be causing differences in the brain, neither is it caused by genetics. There is nothing biological for us to "cure". Also, just because something is seen as unhealthy it doesn't mean that to tackle it is to label those involved as sick. There are government sponsored programmes for those who are part of violent gangs - yet we would not label those who are helped as sick. Social psychological research points to gang membership amongst males being partly the need to have their masculinity affirmed and often these projects work to help affirm masculinity in non-violent ways, yet this is not talked about as "curing" gang members. It is only the gay rights activists who want to manipulate emotions who insist on speaking of cure to alienate those who reject the Western philosophical, political and sociological model of what homosexuality is.

    Finally, contrary to the claims of the programme, Dr Jessen did not engage with various therapies. What Dr Jessen did do was the equivalent of someone who is overweight and happy about it going to introduction sessions of the various weight loss organisations and stating at the end that none of them work because they did not help them loose weight. In the late 2000s the APA put together two working parties, one on the validity of perception tests such as the Rorschach the other on therapy for unwanted homosexual feelings. In both cases the APA populated the working groups with those of an already stated opinion. With the perception tests all the people were pro-perception tests, with therapy for unwanted homosexual feeling all the people had already gone public stating that this type of therapy was unethical. It was no surprise when this second working party published a report condemning such therapy as this was the position that the APA wanted published. Dr Jessen has followed in the steps of the authors of this report by making a programme that does nothing but confirm his own prejudice and bias.

    As to the answered question of why there are so many therapies? The answer is simple. As I and thousands of others have found - they work (www.voices-of-change.org).

  • Psychobabbled - Can we Trust the American Psychological Association

    I have written before about the failure of the American Psychological Association (APA) to give sexual orientation change efforts a fair trial, that they chose the authors of their report on such therapy from those who were publicly anti-ex-gay. If this was a one off this would be bad enough but it appears that the APA has a habit of creating "working groups" that are one-sided.

    In researching for my post on Evelyn Hooker I cam across the following mini-article on the Rorschach Test in the British Psychological Society's The Psychologist journal as part of their wider article on the potential harm from psychological therapies (http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm/volumeID_21-editionID_155-ArticleID_1290-getfile_getPDF/thepsychologist%5C0108jarr.pdf).

    "Psychological assessments that cause harm

    Another area where psychologists can potentially cause harm by using techniques that lack empirical support is in assessment. Many feel that projective techniques like the Rorschach inkblot test and the Thematic Apperception Test are articularly problematic. The Rorschach is still used widely, especially in the United States
    (www.thepsychologist.org.uk archive search term: Rorschach). According to Jim Wood, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso, the most serious problem with the Rorschach is not that it is invalid – that it doesn’t measure what it is supposed to be measuring – but that its norms and decision rules grossly pathologise normal, healthy people. In fact, Wood says, studies show that 70 per cent of people with no psychopathology will come out according to the Rorschach as if they are seriously disturbed. This can have dire real-life consequences in contexts such as custody cases.

    So what about the idea of creating a database of psychological assessment tools that could potentially cause harm, akin to Lilienfeld’s list of harmful treatments? Wood says such a database would be extremely useful, but that in the US at least, this would be difficult to implement because of the political situation in psychology. ‘Rorschach people carry a huge amount of clout in the APA. A few years back they formed the “Psychological Assessment Working Group” to talk about psychological assessment and it was just packed with Rorschachers – there were no critics put on it. So I think the idea of putting together a list is great, but politically, if it were handled by the APA, I think it’s predictable that it would be a whitewash.'"

    This journal article in from the January 2008 edition (Vol 21 No 1). I doubt that the author of the article (Dr Christian Jarrett) realises the importance of what Wood said but there is one phrase which is worrying. Here it is again "Rorschach people carry a huge amount of clout in the APA. A few years back they formed the “Psychological Assessment Working Group” to talk about psychological assessment and it was just packed with Rorschachers – there were no critics put on it." Notice that no critics of the Rorschach test were included on the working group and that the author is worried that the report would be a whitewash for the Rorschach Test. Sound familiar?

    The American Psychological Association put together a working group to look at the validity of such tests as the Rorschach Test and appointed only supporters of the test to the group.

    The American Psychological Association put together a working party to look at sexual orientation change efforts and appointed only critics of this type of therapy to the group.

    So here we have two different subject handled with exactly the same heavy bias. Yet it is to the American Psychological Association that the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, the British Psychological Association and other professional bodies refer to when they condemn efforts to help people overcome unwanted homosexual feelings. What is worse, as we can see, the British Psychological Society is aware of this history of bias but does not see it as a problem where sexual orientation change efforts are concerned. Can we trust the American Psychological Association to be even-handed? No, but it also appears that we cannot trust the British Psychological Society either.

  • Psychobabbled - How "ground breaking" was Evelyn Hooker?

    If you look into the history of the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual in 1973 you will eventually come across the name Evelyn Hooker and her 1957 study "The adjustment of the male overt homosexual". This study is also referenced in the American Psychological Association's (APA's)report against therapy for unwanted homosexual feelings. Before questioning the inclusion of Hooker's study in this report we need to understand the importance of her work - that this was one of the first studies to suggest that homosexuality was not, as Freud and others suggested, pathological.

    Hooker came to want to do this study after meeting a student, Sam From, while a teacher at UCLA who introduced her to the gay and lesbian sub-culture of that time. After befriending many gays and lesbians Hooker came to believe that most of those that she met were as psychologically well-adjusted as the heterosexuals she knew and set out to prove it. Having gained funding from the National Institute of Mental Health Hooker contacted the gay rights group The Mattachine Society to find 30 homosexual men who fitted the criteria of the study. Hooker also found 30 heterosexual men who she subjected to the same range of experiments using the Thematic Apperception Test, Picture Arrangement Test (also known as the Make-A-Picture-Story Test) and the Rorschach Test. Thematic Perception Tests use a series of ambiguous images which the subject is to make up a story about. The Picture Arrangement Test uses three images which the test subject is to put into an order and write a sentence about. The third, and most relevant to the issue, test uses a series of inkblots with the test subject describing what they see in those ink blots. This inkblot test, known officially as the Rorschach Test, was seen at the time as the best way of diagnosing someone as homosexual.

    All three tests have problems. In 1958, the year after Hooker published her study, Zygmunt A. Piotrowski published a paper that showed that patients with schizophrenia scored as more normal using the Picture Arrangement Test than non-schizophrenics. Similarly the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) has been questioned with various studies, including those that are contemporary to Hooker's study, showing that the success rate for clinical diagnosis from TAT results were little better than guess work. The Rorschach Test has also been questioned. While the originators of the test created strong guidelines to attempt to prevent the researcher leading the subject towards the answer they wanted. These have generally been ignored to the point where this test has been labeled as useless by the US Court system and such bodies as the British Psychological Society (BPS) raising concerns. The BPS's journal The Psychologist states "According to Jim Wood, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso, the most
    serious problem with the Rorschach is not that it is invalid – that it doesn’t measure what it is supposed to be measuring – but that its norms and decision rules grossly pathologise normal, healthy people. In fact, Wood says, studies show that 70 per cent of people with no psychopathology will come out according to the Rorschach as if they are seriously disturbed." (http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm/volumeID_21-editionID_155-ArticleID_1290-getfile_getPDF/thepsychologist%5C0108jarr.pdf). All of this must raise concerns about a study, whether historic or modern, that relies on perception tests for diagnosis.

    Having applied these perception tests to her subjects Hooker then sent the unlabelled results to experts on these tests who had no better success than guesswork in telling who were gay and who were not. So - as people like Jack Drescher and his fellow authors of the APA's anti-SOCE paper would say - homosexuality is not pathological. But there are problems which Drescher et al are not willing to talk about.

    Firstly Hooker recruited homosexuals who fitted the aims of the study - to show that homosexuality was not pathological. While the subjects were those who had a history of treatment for mental illness the wording of the study, as well as the writings who have looked at Hooker's work, suggests that she left out those who did not fit her aims. Put simply the study was anything but random.

    We also have the problem that the study was very small. 30 may be suitable for a pre-study to show that more research is needed but not to show the type of conclusion that the pro-gay lobby claims.

    Then there is the problem that Hooker's study has been contradicted by other studies using the Rorschach Test. Hardman in 2009 and Loren and Jean Chapman in 1982 both found that there were notable differences in the homosexual responses to the inkblots and the heterosexual responses with the failure to diagnose being with the clinician not the test results.

    So did Hooker show that homosexuality was not a pathology? The reality is no. What she did do was show the unsuitability of such tests as Thematic Apperception and Rorschach for diagnosis of many conditions.

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