Friday, December 19, 2008
Controversy rages over whether people with same sex attraction can be cured of the disorder. During the 1980s, Paul Martin was at the helm of an 'ex-gay ministry movement' - one that tried to cure people of “same sex attraction” (SSA).
At the time he was providing 'treatment and religious counselling' to hundreds of men and women, the group still operates in cities across the country.Mr Martin, 45, "At the time I truly believed I was on a journey to being repaired, I was convinced my sexuality could be changed," he said.
This is opposed to what numerous studies have found. SSA is not a stable condition. The majority of those who experience SSA during adolescence find the problem has disappeared by the time they reach 25 without any intervention.(1) Those who seek therapy or spiritual counseling can achieve various levels of freedom from SSA.
Research has documented the benefits of therapy.(2) In fact, a study specifically designed to document the damage done by therapy directed at resolving SSA found that a number of subjects reported being helped by the therapy.(3) Mercator
Despite the research, Mr Martin claims that "some think being gay is a psychiatric disorder, against the will of God and therefore inherently evil ... they believe homosexuals can change through healing." Of the dozens of so-called reformed gays Mr Martin worked with 20 years ago, only a few are still heterosexual and the majority wound up leading "messy lives", he said. "Some of those people got married but it inevitably ended in divorce and the sad part is most situations involved children."
It is important to note regardless of whether same sex attraction is curable or not, people who take part in homosexual acts are at risk. In spite of intensive AIDS education, young men of any age who have sex with men are at extremely high risk for infection with STDs, including HIV/AIDS, involvement with alcohol and drugs, in particular crystal meth, and depression.(4)
Condom education with this population has been a failure. While condoms properly used provide limited protection against certain STDs, research shows that those most at risk do not use condoms with every sexual contact. The combination of drugs and high risk sex has reignited an STD/HIV epidemic among men having sex with men (MSM).(5) Mercator
Anyone who experiences a same sex attraction and would like help can go to NARTH or Exodus International
(1) National Health and Social Life Survey (1994). In. E. O. Laumann, et al, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 294-296); Nigel Dickson, C. Paul, P. Herbison, (2002). "Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: prevalence and persistence in early adulthood," Social Science & Medicine, 56, 1607-1615.
(2), 573-578; Theo Sandfort, et al (2001). "Same-sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders: Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (Nemesis)." Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 85-91.
(3) Ariel Shidlo & Michael Schroeder, (2002). "Changing Sexual Orientation: A Consumer’s Report," Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33 (3), 249-259.
(4) Gary Remafedi, et al (1991). "Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth," Pediatrics. 87 (6), 869-875.
(5) US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004). HIV Testing Survey 2002, Special Surveillance Report Number 1: 1-26.