When I learned that “ex-gay therapy” pioneer Joseph Nicolosi had died, my first response was, “Thank God.” And not like, “Thank God, he’s in a better place.” More like, “Thank God he isn’t around to destroy any more gay and lesbian lives.”
I don’t contend that this was the best response. Or the holiest. And I’m not even proud to share it with you. But that’s what I felt, plain and simple.
If you’re not familiar with “ex-gay therapy,” it is a therapeutic approach built on the assumption that sexual orientation can be changed. That is, that gay people can be made straight with enough of the right kind of counseling. It treats homosexuality as a curable mental health disorder, and also goes by the names “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy.”
Reports of what is involved in this kind of “therapy” vary widely. In the past, some used electroshocks or nausea-inducing drugs to associate same-sex erotic urges with pain. Some include “naked therapy” where patients are stripped of their clothes. And some patients, including one I spoke to recently, have been encouraged to watch straight pornography.