A young man who’d recently accepted his sexuality was being forced by his father to have at least one session with a Sydney based conversion “therapy” leader. Nervous about what he might encounter, he came to me for help. We talked about the history of the “ex-gay”/reparative/conversion “therapy” movement, its flaws and things the leader would try to tell him. I also sent him away with these 20  questions that reinforced our conversation and he could ask.

20 Questions for “ex-gay”/reparative/conversion “therapy” leaders and those ‘helping’ people with unwanted same sex attraction:

  1. Do you know of anyone who was completely gay (not bisexual), who has become completely heterosexual? How do you know?
  2. Scientific research confirms homosexuality is not caused by sexual abuse or poor parenting. What do you think made you gay?
  3. Would you honestly say that you are a ‘normal’ heterosexual person at every level of your being?
  4. Can you guarantee me that if I go through your program that I will be completely heterosexual? Would I be completely heterosexual without being married, or would I have to become married to prove it?
  5. What accountability mechanisms do you have in place to ensure that you don’t ‘fall’. If you were truly healed, would this be necessary?
  6. Do you have the same accountability in place to stop you having sex with a person of the opposite sex? Why not?
  7. If you were to be unfaithful to your spouse, would it be more likely to be with someone of the same sex or the opposite sex?
  8. Even though it may not have been your experience, do you think it is possible to be gay and live in a long term, monogamous relationship?
  9. Do you think that long term same-sex relationships are built on sex or love, support and respect? So what is the difference then between gay and straight couples?
  10. There seems to be many former conversion “therapy” leaders here in Australia, the UK and the US who are now coming out and apologising for the negative impact they previously had on people they’d taken through their programs, saying they acted in ignorance. How do you respond to that?
  11. We now know that people have suicided, self-harmed or attempted suicide because of the enormous pressure they were under whilst going through conversion “therapy” programs. How do you feel about that and how do you personally deal with the knowledge that you have contributed to this?
  12. It seems that almost everyone who is supposedly “ex-gay” lived a tormented life of sexual addiction and self-destructive behaviours. Heterosexuals have the same experience but don’t blame their sexual orientation for this. It seems to me that you get sexual addiction and abuse mixed up with sexual orientation. Shouldn’t you be working on helping people with their addiction and not concentrating on the sexual orientation?
  13. Are you a qualified and registered psychologist or counsellor? (usually the answer is no). So if I find your program has a negative impact on my mental health, can I sue you for damages?
  14. In some situations, like prison and other all male environments, men have sex with men, but after leaving prison they return to living as heterosexuals. It’s called ‘situational homosexuality’. How different is that to you now being married and having sex with your wife?
  15. How frequently are you tempted to have sex with someone of the opposite sex, like any ‘normal’ heterosexual man would?
  16. Considering that there are now 100,000s of gay Christians who have come out, live moral lives, have a strong faith and believe that God loves them just as they are, hasn’t your “ex-gay” message become redundant and obsolete?
  17. Do you agree with all the directions that the American organisation Exodus has taken? In what areas do you differ from them?
  18. If success is classed as changing from homosexual to heterosexual, what substantiated figures, not just anecdotal, do you have on the percentage of successful outcomes from your program?
  19. Considering the majority of conversion “therapy” ministries reject the growing scientific evidence that same-sex-orientation happens prenatally through both genetic and hormonal influences, how do you respond to those who are born with gender or genital ambiguities which are obviously biological?
  20. If I can respect your right to get married and live as a pseudo heterosexual, can you respect my right to live as a non-closeted gay man?

There are some extremely pertinent questions (which are inappropriate to put on my blog) that can be asked of an ex-gay ‘married’ person about the sexual behaviours with their spouses; practices that most heterosexuals would enjoy but would be uncomfortable, or even repulsive, to many same-sex-oriented people. When asking such personal questions, of course the person would protest that what they and their partner did behind closed doors was none of my business. To which I would reply, “Exactly, I agree these are very offensive questions. So why do you feel it is your right to talk about the way my partner and I make love behind closed doors and label it disgusting, perverted or sick. Surely the intimacies of our love making in private is no ones else’s’ business but ours”.  

It should also be noted that some people suffering from sexual abuse or addiction gain support and relief through some conversion “therapy” organisations. We need to understand though, that heterosexuals who have experienced sexual abuse don’t say it made them heterosexual. Also heterosexuals with a sexual addiction never blame their sexual orientation or try to reject it. They understand that the addiction and their orientation are two separate things.

Please note:

I would like to thank the Australian conversion “therapy” leaders who have come to the place of honestly acknowledging that the goal is not to become heterosexual and that the gay never actually goes away. Your honesty has helped people make a more informed decision about how they will live their lives.