The Media Research Center has a thing about insisting that gay conversion therapy works, despite the lack of any scientific evidence to back it up. The latest to try it is Robert Oscar Lopez, an instructor at Southern Baptist Seminary, in a Jan. 18 NewsBusters post complaining about coverage of the issue.
Lopez complained about the "cliched and vague styles" used by critics of the therapy, then pushes the unsupported claim that apparently all gay people were sexually abused:
The U.S. Dept. of Justice reports that 17% of males are sexually abused as minors, overwhelmingly by other males. Nobody claims that 17% of all men are gay, so tens of millions of men will have homosexual history but not necessarily a homosexual future. One must wonder if “authentic” or “loving” policies should silence discussion with such men about their conflicted feelings and anger over what has happened. Many, including therapists and former homosexuals whom I have interviewed (see here, here, here, and here) see a valuable message to offer such individuals: the act of abuse does not define them forever.
Nor should a entire group of people be dismissed as abuse victims as a way to deny their sexual identity, but Lopez missed that part.
From there, Lopez attacked a Univision report on conversion therapy for not conforming to anti-gay attitudes:
[Anchor Ilia] Calderón’s characterization of the issue starts out by implicitly accepting the often-repeated claim that homosexuality is an “orientation” - a part of a person’s identity like race, sex, or religion. Experts still have no strong evidence from science or cultural history. Direct testimonials vary. Some people never changed their sexual patterns while others who engaged in homosexual activity went on to live normal heterosexual lives (I count among the latter.) Neither Calderón nor Univision correspondent Danay Rivero acknowledge in their reporting the fact that many who seek “conversion therapy” suffered trauma or want to overcome obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that are themselves harmful.
Univision’s Rivero interviews Dr. Lisset Ivery, who contends that reparative therapy is “very harmful” since “from infancy as a child you already begin to form your gender identity…and if the person is having some psychological disorder, then what you do is identify the disease that the person is suffering.”
Rivero also interviews pro-gay conversion ban Arianna Linto, a “Trans-Latina activist” who in her interview mentions that almost 41% of suicides by LGBTs are by people who have mental problems.
Both Ivery’s and Linto’s claims are disputable. Even if we accepted them, the Broward ban makes little sense. Such a high rate of mental problems co-existing with LGBT lifestyles looks rather like co-morbidity. It would seem that new policy actions should focus on changing whatever this network of individuals does that causes so much dysfunction and unhappiness.
Interestingly, Univisión’s report centers around the case of a self-described trans schizophrenic, Kathy Morón who says she has tried to kill herself twice. It is unclear why Broward County would in effect want to only surround Morón with people whose suicide rates and mental health pose so much danger.
Missing from Univision’s report? Perspective from experts like David Pickup, a well-known reparative therapist in Dallas and co-plaintiff in the federal case, Vazzo v. the City of Tampa, suing over a similar ban. In an interview with MRC Latino, Pickup said Americans cannot promote inclusion, protection, authenticity, or love by banning and penalizing people who help clients deal with unwanted homosexual feelings. Instead, Pickup sees such laws as violations of free trade, parents’ rights, patients’ rights, and religious rights.
Lopez doesn't seem to consider the possibility that gays have more mental problems because of societal ostracization for their orientation, not to mention people like himself who would like to force highly questionable conversion therapy on them.
Lopez goes on to claim that "Pickup describes himself as an authentic reparative therapist, as opposed to the quackery so often reported and vilified by the liberal media." Actually, Pickup does engage in quackery; not only is he a board member of the virulently anti-gay group NARTH (as highlighted on his own website), he was (and maybe is) a senior staff member for the Mankind Project, which runs a purported "New Warriors Training Program" conversion therapy program that involves participants going naked at one point to affirm their masculinity, or something.
Lopez then insists -- again without basis -- that Hispanic boys are more likely to turn gay because there aren't enough men around, thus purportedly making them prey for gay recruiters:
Also lost in their coverage is the special risk to their target audience: Latinos are more likely than non-Latino whites to be fatherless, incarcerated, or in placement by Child Protective Services. These are situations that tend to coincide with less than constant supervision and potential misconduct by a high-risk individual who can get them alone (for example, a mother’s boyfriend).
In other words, they are more likely to be in situations where they could experience same-sex abuse and might need a therapist like David Pickup to assist them in avoiding lifelong behaviors that would allow their abusers to force on them a homosexual life they do not, and should not, want for themselves.
We'll pass on Pickup's so-called therapy, and so should everyone else. We'll also pass on Lopez's self-published anti-gay gay erotica (a cover of which is pictured above).