Sources have informed TruthWinsOut.org that Monday's symposium featuring infamous "ex-gay" therapist Dr. Warren Throckmorton may be cancelled. The forum, "A Pastoral Approach for Gay & Lesbian People Troubled by Homosexuality," suffered a major blow when panelist, Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, pulled out of the event. Robinson expressed concern that the symposium, scheduled to take place the same week as the APA's annual meeting in Washington, would be used as a public relations gimmick for Focus on the Family.
"The cancellation of this forum is welcome news because it gave the wrong impression that the American Psychiatric Association endorsed 'ex-gay' therapy, when, in fact, the organization soundly rejects such therapies," said TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen.
Predictably, on his blog, Throckmorton claimed that the APA is "apparently afraid of a conversation." What he conveniently failed to mention was that this discussion ended three decades ago and his side was defeated because they lacked scientific credibility. They have yet to provide a shred of evidence supporting the efficacy of ex-gay therapy, while there is evidence that such methods cause a great deal of harm.
"Throckmorton 'counsels' vulnerable gay people to either live a lifetime of loneliness or a lifetime of lies. This is neither healthy nor therapeutic and it's a diagnosis for disaster," said Besen.
David Scasta, the openly gay psychiatrist who shamelessly promoted the seminar, has not publicly confirmed the events cancellation.
Dr. James Dobson Focus on the Family Colorado Springs, CO 80995
April 30, 2008
Dear Dr. Dobson,
I want to draw your attention to a gross misrepresentation of our research at the website of "Focus on the Family" (see http://www.family.org/socialissues/A000000682.cfm). In the third paragraph of the article, "Myths and Facts," our research is cited in support of the statement: "During early adolescence, many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can easily be influenced in either direction."
First, please note that the citation itself is incorrect. The original article was published in Pediatrics, not Journal of Pediatrics. The correct reference is: Remafedi G, Resnick M, Blum R, Harris L. Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents. Pediatrics. 89(4):714-721, 1992. More important, had the authors of "Myths and Facts" actually read the article, they would have found no support for their contention that "many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can be influenced in either direction." The word confusion does not appear in our article; nor did we find that anyone can influence a young person's sexual identity.
The purpose of our study was to explore patterns of sexual orientation in a representative sample of more than 34,000 Minnesota students in grades 7 to 12. We found that the percentage of student who reported being "unsure" about their orientation steadily declined with age from 25.9% in 12-year-old persons to 5% in 18 year-old students (p. 716). Youth who were "unsure" were more likely than others to entertain homosexual fantasies and attractions and less likely to have had heterosexual experiences (p. 720). These and other data suggested that uncertainty about sexual orientation "gradually gives way to heterosexual or homosexual identification with the passage of time and/or with increasing sexual experience" (p. 720).
Please ask the authors of the misstatements to correct them as soon as possible. In the interest of accurate translation of research into practice, a copy of this letter will be posted at www.truthwinsout.org. Thank you for your attention. Respectfully yours,
Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H. Professor, Department of Pediatrics University of Minnesota 428 Oak Grove St. Minneapolis, MN 55403
Sources have told TruthWinsOut.org today that Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson has pulled out of a controversial symposium featuring an infamous "ex-gay" therapist. The May 5 symposium, at the APA's 2008 convention in Washington, was dealt a major blow with the news of Robinson's decision. TruthWinsOut.org opposed the panel because it featured Dr. Warren Throckmorton, an unlicensed psychologist who compares "leaving" homosexuality to quitting smoking.
"We are pleased that Bishop Robinson has not lent his credibility to a political right wing platform disguised as a scientific symposium," said TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen. "The debate over whether homosexuality is a curable metal illness was settled decades ago and is not debatable. This forum is nothing more than an underhanded way for anti-gay activists to make their outdated and intolerant views look respectable."
When I first came out in 1988, if two young gay people met, the reaction often was, "You too! I thought I was alone." As my twenty-year high school reunion approaches, I witnessed an identical response in a seminal New York Times Magazine cover story. At a coffee shop in Boston, two gay men, Aaron and George, met for the first time.
"I thought I was the only one." "Me too!"
What differed was that these two young men were relieved to meet because they were legally divorced and had not met peers who had experienced similar situations. While we have a long journey towards full equality ahead of us, it is a dramatically different world than the one I came out in.
In fact, more than 700 gay men 29 or younger have married in Massachusetts through last June, the latest date for which statistics are available. While Massachusetts is still the only state that allows same-sex marriages, gay men who are my age, 37, never dreamt these unions would occur in our lifetime.
Indeed, much of our social culture was built around men cheating on their wives. The rest stops, parks and bathhouses were all geared toward the "quickie." If a gay man did not get home in time for dinner with his family, he'd find that his goose was cooked. The double lives and hypocrisy forced on gay men by a repressive society took an awesome psychological toll.
The gay bars in the 1970s-90's were geared for men in their 30's-50's who were often living a belated adolescence. Anyone who has seen a half-naked 50-year-old man at a circuit dance party twirling a glow stick with a pacifier in his mouth knows what I am talking about.
I sometimes hardly recognize the gay community's social scene. When I first came out, many gay bars had a back room, which was a dark crevice where men furtively had sex. Today, a dark room likely means a gay couples' row house den with mood lighting. Contemporary gay bars have largely gone from seedy to chic and - for better or worse - often attracting many straight people.
An older friend of mine who visited Boston half-jokingly complained, "There's something morally wrong with a city where it's easier to marry a boyfriend than find a gay bar."
His observation was spot on. Boston Globe writer Robert David Sullivan told National Public Radio this week that he noticed the number of gay bars in Boston had been cut in half in recent years.
Massachusetts is not the only place the gay social scene has been transformed. Fortune Magazine named gay bars as one of the 10 businesses it thinks is facing extinction. It joined a list of has-beens that includes record stores and crop dusting. Additionally, overt street cruising is out of fashion and demure glances have largely replaced outright ogling.
The decline in the public sex culture and gay bars can be attributed, in part, to the rise of the Internet. However, a larger trend, captured by the Times magazine article, is at work. A good portion of men in their mid 20's have been out of the closet for more than a decade. (They were barely in) Having had a normal adolescence, they are already burnt out on gay bars and ready to start families.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited Washington and met up with the friends I used to party with in the mid to late 90's. Today, they are all in long-term relationships and in bed by the time they used to wake up from their disco naps.
The changes in the gay social scene have happened so fast that they are sometimes difficult to comprehend. It's as if someone slipped a roofie into the GLBT community's mimosa and while we slept Rudy Giuliani swooped down in drag and cleaned up our Times Square.
Sometimes, I fondly reminisce about the good old days. Then, I recall that that the endless party was a product of our oppression. The storied "days" were actually really late nights - and as I get older, I want to be up on Sunday morning in time to watch "Meet the Press."
Caught between the wild party and wedding party generations, the rapid pace of change can seem unsettling, yet reassuring.
In a disgraceful example of journalistic malpractice, the college newspaper The Daily Mississipian printed right wing talking points - while calling it an op-ed.
"Homosexuality is unhealthy," writes Zack Williams, "Not in the way that cigarettes and booze are unhealthy, but in the way that drinking a shot of turpentine every Wednesday afternoon while perusing real estate catalogues for houses near nuclear waste dumps is unhealthy."
I read the anti-gay rant by Zack Williams with a mix of horror and amazement. How could a real newspaper allow such transparent lies to find their way into print? His error-laced article is not only profoundly immoral, but statistically and scientifically inaccurate.
For example, Williams cites that the life-span of gay men is 20 years less than heterosexuals. This lie came directly from Dr. Paul Cameron, a discredited psychologist who was kicked out of the American Psychological Association and Nebraska Psychological Association for distorting statistics about gay men. One would think that the Mississippian would fact check before it prints a hateful article that defames an entire population by citing a debunked researcher. Clearly, you have shoddy journalistic standards. Shame on you.
Furthermore, Williams' assertion that there is no gay gene is sophistry, at best. While technically accurate, he conveniently fails to mention that for the past three decades, there has been an enormous amount of research suggesting that sexual orientation is biological. For the record, there is also no "left handed gene," but no serious person suggests that left handedness is a learned or unnatural behavior.
I can understand your desire to have a healthy debate - but you have broken a very basic journalistic rule: One does not sacrifice accuracy for the sake of "balance."
For example, you would not have a person write that the world is flat, just because you have someone write that the world is round. (Or, maybe the Mississippian actually would.)
Please apologize immediately for this miscarriage of journalism, before the reputation of your newspaper suffers further and irreparable damage. In the future, you will find that basic fact checking goes a long way in enhancing credibility.
I hope you elect to print this letter in your newspaper, so your students can actually get some accurate information. Remember, college is supposed to be a place of education - not right wing indoctrination. Printing the talking points of the American Family Association in the guise of an honest op-ed is simply disgraceful.
Wayne Besen Executive Director TruthWinsOut.org
MEDIA ALERT: Please send your own letters to the editor of the Daily Mississipian, Marti Covington, at: email@example.com