For years now the issue of gay-cure therapy has been creeping into the news for one reason or another. The most common cause for it springing up is because some people adamantly believe that this type of therapy can work, despite a number of international health bodies saying that they are both ineffective and counter-productive, posing serious health threats to those treated.
The reason that I am bringing it up, as some of you may already know, is because at the end of January a debate surrounding therapy to cure gay people was held in a committee room within the Houses of Parliament. The event was hosted by Core Issues, who are a Christian group that have been critical of LGBT initiatives in the past. The debate itself looked at the subject of whether people should be allowed to change their sexual orientation, which they explained as ‘a debate about the legitimacy and freedom to offer sexual reorientation when many professional bodies are banning such therapies’.
Now I can’t be the only one who finds this completely and utterly insane, can I? Firstly, if you, like me, are gay then you will know that you’ve been gay for as long as you can remember. You may even remember things from when you were a child that make you go “oh yeah, I’ve always been gay.” My personal favourite is when I remember seeing Adam Rickitt’s music video for ‘I Breathe Again’ back in 1999. Yes I was only nine years old at the time, but I can remember watching that video with great intensity. I probably still would now.
I seem to have strayed a little off point there on my trip down memory lane, but if you do remember those times, then you’ll know that if you’re gay, then you’re gay and no amount of pretending to be straight can change that. The thought that this type of therapy can convert someone to being straight is preposterous. You couldn’t use therapy to convert someone from heterosexual to homosexual so how on earth do these people think that it can work in reverse?
Obviously we have all heard of ‘converting them to the cause’ which is a stupid joke about converting straight people into being gay. Some people, of the “backs against the wall lads” camp, still believe gay men and women are trying to do this. Seriously, it’s enough hassle sometimes as it is, without more of us (I joke).
But back to the point that has been made by other therapists: this gay cure therapy can be dangerous to the patients involved. This news about the debate comes during the week that it was revealed by a study from Université de Montréal and McGill University that coming out is actually good for you.
The study itself found that gay men and lesbians who came out were in better physical and mental health than both straight people and those who were still in the closet. Now I for one can believe this, as I assume many of you out there can, because when I came out it was like a great weight being lifted off my previously closeted shoulders. Many of my friends have said exactly the same.
However, the study did mention that it might only be beneficial for those in places where social attitudes and laws etc. are tolerant of gay people. If gay people are being told that they can cure themselves in a country such as Great Britain, where the laws for gay men and women are progressive, then what hope do people in other countries have? I worry that those who are still in the closet will see something like this and truly believe it. This could result in years of mental and possibly physical scarring through careless encouragement of denial, trying to resist something that can’t be changed.
It’s a sad state of affairs that in 2013 people are still churning out hate speech and proposing possible cures for homosexuality, when in actual fact we are perfectly normal. Society as a whole sees us as perfectly normal, and accepts that there’s nothing wrong with us. The bottom line of it is there’s nothing to cure.
Whilst the majority of us can go on laughing at these people who we may dub as ‘crazy’, just think about those who will be beating themselves up about the fact that they think they can change, or are subjected to intense pressure from those around them who believe the lies and denial. Others will take the presence of this debate as a validation of their bigotry and set about filling their minds with all kinds of homophobic nonsense. It makes you wonder how long it will be until the true issue of residual homophobia is cured from everyone’s minds and the reality of normality can break through.