Tomorrow, the Assembly Business and Professions Committee will hear Senate Bill 1172, Equality California’s bill to ban therapists from subjecting minors to discriminatory and dangerous sexual orientation change efforts. Testifying at the hearing is Ryan Kendall, a survivor of the practice who testified in the Perry v. Brown challenge to Prop 8. During his time in the program, he was paired with another gay kid, Gabriel Arana, as a “therapy partner.”
Gabriel Arana was once a gay kid, put into therapy by scared but well-meaning parents, but instead of that therapy working to support him as he came to grips with being a healthy, fulfilled adult, that therapy was based on the idea that being gay was bad and that he could be cured.
Recently, he wrote about the experience for the American Prospect, “My So-Called Ex-Gay Life,”. Stunningly, his article sparked an apology and retraction from the only credible scientist to ever investigate the issue, Robert Spitzer. Here’s more about his story and how “My So-Called Ex-Gay Life” came to be:
“Part of the reason Spitzer agreed to talk to me is that I’m one of [Dr. Joseph] Nicolosi’s patients,” said Arana. Spitzer was old, and quiet now. He’d loved controversies in his earlier days — he was one of the psychologists that led the charge to have homosexuality removed from the second volume of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), when it was reprinted in 1974. But he had also authored a controversial 2001 paper that seemed to support the idea that people could change their sexual identity.
After a slow start — “I had trouble finding his house,” said Arana — they began to talk.
“The initial focus was on some of his 1973 work. What does it mean to have a mental disorder? Then I meant to transition. I was not expecting him to walk back his study.” Read the rest of this entry »