Due to the work I needed complete on my dissertation before I set off on my journey, I was unable to devote as much time to the George Rekers story as I would have liked. Earlier this week, he “resigned from the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)”.
Because NARTH promotes the idea of “reparative therapy,” the idea that through treatment, we can overcome our same-sex attraction, this notion is once again in the news. And Rekers’ recent behavior, like ex-gay activist John Paulk’s 2000 visit to a Washington, D.C.-gay bar, suggest that their “best” efforts notwithstanding, many “ex-gays'” (or social conservatives obsessed with homosexuality) longing for intimacy, emotional, sexual, sensual or otherwise, with men does not always disappear through therapy.
Now, I have occasionally met some men who acknowledge having had (sexual) relationships with other men in their high school, college and early post-college years and then find themselves dating women in their mid to late 20s. That suggests that for some people, their sexuality is less fixed than it is for others. So, I wonder if when the ex-gay groups (like NARTH) tout their “success” rate, they are merely citing those men (and women) who found their sexual attraction shifting naturally, or, find that while they’re bisexually inclined, when it comes time to choosing a life-partner, they want someone of the opposite sex.
After studying the ancient Greeks, who were remarkably tolerant of male homosexual behavior, I am aware that only rarely do they talk about homosexual relationships as being on the same plane as traditional (yes, even back then) marriage. We do get that in the Symposium, with the relationship of Pausanias and Agathon and Aristophanes’s speech. Otherwise, they accept that married men will, from time to time, seek sexual relationships with other (usually younger) men. Or, that some men, like Alexander for example, often had relationships with both men and women.
All I am saying here is that while for many of us, our attraction seems fixed in one direction, for some it is not.
And another thing; those acquaintances now dating women who once dated men don’t define themselves as “ex-gay.” They don’t see their homosexual past as a sinful aspect of their lives. It just happened. By contrast, there seems, to me at least, to be a certain insecurity to those who go around advertising this “ex-gay” status.
I realize my thoughts here aren’t as organized as I’d like them to be, but wanted to get them out there while this story was still fresh in people’s minds. And I do have more to say on this. I’ve hardly touched on the pseudo-science of “reparative therapy” (save to suggest that it cases where it’s said to work, they’re just furthering along a naturally occurring process). I should note also that the ex-gay groups are not working with the universe of gay men, but a self-selected group. So, any statistics they offer on some “cure” rate are based on individuals, who of their own volition, sought them out.
And then there’s the entire purpose of discrediting Rekers et al. Is the purpose of discrediting him to promote greater understanding (and social acceptance) of gay people or as an excuse to promote greater government intervention ostensibly to benefit gay people?
I do hope this post leads to a spirited–and civil–discussion. And do hope to find time to better organize my thoughts in the near future.