Opinion

Commentary: Sowing poison in the name of 'curing' homosexuals

Self-hatred promotes hatred of others and sows poison everywhere. It is an evil defense mechanism.

No group of humans is exempt from this malady. People who suffer from self-hatred are toxic, not only to their family and friends, but to the entire community. They are also a threat because they know how their victims think, are familiar with their fears and speak the same language.

In general, from the outside, it is hard to identify who they are. Among gays, however, one group stands out: the fundamentalists who preach a doctrine to "cure" homosexuality through so-called "reparative" or conversion therapy, which covers a range of methods aimed at changing sexual orientation of men and women.

The believers of this dreadful treatment often project an image of champions of family values and often are very devout — until they get caught hiring sex workers as escorts, masseurs and. . .

When these cases come to light, it is a victory for the public, because you open your eyes to the veiled nature of these two-faced individuals. And, hopefully, you will better appreciate those who are honest with themselves and others.

That is the merit that I accord the psychologist and anti-gay activist George Rekers, who was paid $120,000 in taxpayers' money to demonize homosexuals in court with the goal of preventing them from becoming parents. Later, behind the scenes, he apparently took off his mask.

Rekers announced last week his resignation from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a bastion of reparative doctrine where he had been an officer. In a statement he said: "I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever. I am not gay and never have been."

If he isn't, then why does he care what others believe and say? Why waste so much energy defending himself?

I don't have to talk to him to find the answers. Two weeks ago, leaving the movie theater I ran into a man about my age, well-educated and mature. I was stunned to hear that he had recently gone back to being gay after several years of activism in the ex-gay movement, where he had supposedly changed his sexual orientation to hetero.

He believed he could be "cured" through adherence to the pastoral and secular programs. He tried to find the root of the problem, strengthen his masculine identity and, obviously, ended up marrying a woman. Finally he got divorced and accepted himself, although he lives in and out of the closet.

I've heard even more terrifying testimonials. A businessman from a wealthy family whose parents sent him to those who perform exorcisms to rid him of the demon of homosexuality. The appalling thing was that he agreed to go.

But the repression of sexual orientation, feelings and desire never ends well. Sometimes it results in depression, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, workaholic and compulsive sex.

Sexual orientation cannot be changed, science tells us. By trying, many people lead two lives. On the outside they are like Rekers: they accuse gays of being immoral and incapable of love. On the inside, they are like him, too: escaping to Europe with a sex worker who is 40 years younger to feel loved.

Then come right-wing fanatics who use them as puppets in order to reduce the limited legal protections afforded the gay and lesbian community.

Take, for example, Florida Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum, who hired Rekers as an "expert" witness against gay adoption.

Yes, Rekers is an expert . . . in hypocrisy.

This issue is not only about gays, because those who are homophobic are bound to reject other minorities, as well. McCollum on Thursday expressed support for the anti-immigrant measures in Arizona. It brings to mind the famous phrase of the German pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller, an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist./ Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist./ Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew./ Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

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