BY NOREEN FAGAN – On Mon, Aug 1, National Public Radio (NPR) in the United
States ran a segment on conversion therapy. According to reporter Alix Spiegel,
the “controversial psychotherapy that tries to help gay men and women become
straight is in the news again.”
while it seemed innocuous, it did make me question why the station was giving time to something deemed to be an unethical treatment.
It turns out I was not the only one wondering.
An article in The Advocate pointed out that the segment, which portrayed the “merits of
conversion therapy as still up for debate,” had outraged many bloggers. In fact
one guy, Zach Ford at ThinkProgress, accused NPR of spreading falsehoods.
"The reality is that there is no debate about ex-gay
therapy, and by providing a platform for Wyler to continue propagating the
myths about its potential, NPR is contributing to a culture of harm.”
In the piece, Spiegel profiled two men who went through the
therapy. Peterson Toscano was against it — he underwent 17 years of therapy and
was traumatized by it. The other man, Rich Wyler, says that the therapy changed him
in a positive way: “the actual dynamic between me and the male world
Wyler is obviously gung ho about the therapy and adamant
that the American Psychological Association (APA) has got it all wrong.
APA’s stance on conversion therapy is simple. A report
issued a few years ago states that it is “concerned about ongoing efforts to
mischaracterize homosexuality and promote the notion that sexual orientation
can be changed and about the resurgence of sexual orientation change efforts.”
According to the association, “homosexuality per se is a
normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.”
Wyler’s argument was that APA’s stance implies that people
like him do not exist, that it’s impossible for someone attracted to the same
sex to change that orientation. He also said that it made no sense that the
association won’t endorse the therapy but it will help a “man who wants to
become a woman.”
One of the arguments against the segment was that, although
Spiegel gave both men equal airtime, NPR didn’t include one important fact — that
Wyler makes a living by saying gays can be cured.
Wyler charges $650 (US) for his workshop Journey into
Manhood, which is described as “a 48-hour immersion on intensive
emotional-healing work, specifically for men who are self-motivated and serious
about resolving unwanted homosexual attractions.”
I am not too sure what makes me more infuriated: that it
takes only 48 hours of therapy to be cured or that people are duped out of
hundreds of dollars?