Back in June of 2013, the nation's largest ex-gay group, Exodus International, made headlines by announcing that they were shutting down. This was big news indeed, since the non-profit, interdenominational group had been claiming to convert gays to heterosexuality since the mid-1970s. Finally admitting that they had been wrong to assume that Gay Conversion Therapy worked, and issuing an official apology through their current president, Allen Chambers, seemed like a good start. But many of us are waiting to see what will come next in their story, since their website still exists, and asks for donations to their new "Speak. Love." mission. (The new group's focus remains unclear, although Chambers has hinted that their mission may be to make it "more comfortable" for gays and lesbians to live celibate lives. Stay tuned.)
Although it had strong ties to pseudo-therapists, Exodus International had always operated primarily as a religious organization. Now, the largest ex-gay therapy-based organization, NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality) has announced a major rebranding effort. Re-named Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity, this "new" organization seems to be concentrating a great deal on the legal issues surrounding Gay Conversion Therapy.
This makes sense, as two states (California and New Jersey) have already passed laws banning the practices on minors, and a third (Michigan) is poised to pass similar legislation. Although these laws, so far, only apply to citizens under the age of 18 years, and only ban the practice for those licensed by the state and does not apply to unlicensed practitioners or religious leaders, they are a sign that voters have seen the light. That's bad new for organizations like NARTH, since it threatens to put an end to their reign of pseudo-therapeutic false hope and hypocrisy.
Upon visiting the new website, a voice-over (staged to sound like a breaking news report), greets you by stating that "to meet the needs of a new generation," the NARTH board of directors has announced a "major expansion of our mission." It also states that NARTH will operate within this larger organization to "focus on matters pertaining to psychological care." This so-called "care" includes, as I stated recently in a talk at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, convincing gays and lesbians that they are mentally ill, and that talk therapy (combined with an acceptance of heterosexuality as the only normal form of sexual orientation) can cure them of their same-sex attractions.
Recently, a group of 9 ex-leaders in the Gay Conversion therapy movement signed a statement apologizing for their involvement in the potentially destructive practice, which was posted by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. These included Brad Allen, Darlene Bogle, Michael Busse, Catherine Chapman, Jeremy Marks, Bill Prickett, Tim Rymel, Yvette Schneider, and John Smid, each of whom is joining the group's #Born Perfect movement, aimed at expanding state bans on Gay Conversion Therapy.
Only time will tell what comes next, but the arc of that moral universe that Dr. King reminded us about not long ago seems to be bending toward justice after all. And by showing themselves to be on the defensive, the leaders of Exodus and NARTH reveal that they know it.
You can watch Alliance's new video introduction below. I have to say, that's a lot of cleavage for a group who's so closely affiliated with religious organizations...or, maybe that's part of the therapy for gay men?