The apologies from those who advocated the position that gay people can change their sexual orientation through “therapy” or prayer continue to accumulate. The latest came this week from Alan Chambers, the president of the 37-year-old Exodus International, which was the leading organization in the “ex gay” movement.
In an open letter to the LGBT community, Chambers talks about his own ongoing same-sex attractions, “There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there.”
He goes on to apologize for the harm caused by spreading the message that it is possible to change a person’s innate sexual orientation and by the attempts to do so, saying “Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse.”
He apologizes for spreading the idea that LGBT people may be unfit parents, saying “I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.”
Chambers apology joins other notable apologies, such as from Dr. Robert Spitzer, who renounced his study suggesting that therapy to change sexual orientation works with some individuals who are “highly motivated.” Dr. Spitzer went on to apologize to the gay community and anyone who “wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy.”
These vocal apologies and condemnations of attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation are consistent with the fact that in the U.S., all major professional mental health organizations denounce “conversion therapy” as ineffective and potentially very harmful.
Dr. Mustanski is the Director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program. You can follow the Sexual Continuum blog by becoming a fan onFacebook. I periodically live tweet from research conferences on sexuality and you can follow me @sexualcontinuum
Photo credit: http://exodusinternational.org