A well known gay conversion therapist, co-author of the Journey into Manhood program, and active member of the “ex-gay” community, has announced that going forward he will be living life as a gay man according to the watchdog group Truth Wins Out (TWO).
David Matheson, described by TWO as the “nation’s most notorious conversion therapist,” apparently had his lifestyle change announced in a private Facebook group by his former ex-gay cohort Rich Wyler. The post was later obtained by TWO.
“David…says that living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible’ for him, so he’s seeking a male partner,” Wyler wrote. “He has gone from bisexuality to exclusively gay,” Wyler reportedly wrote in the post.
Matheson, who is a Mormon, reached out to TWO, and expanded on his decision to leave the ex-gay movement in a written statement.
My time in a straight marriage and in the “ex-gay” world was genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me. I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others. But I had stopped growing and was starting to die. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process. I wasn’t faking it all those years. I’m not renouncing my past work or my LDS faith. And I’m not condemning mixed-orientation marriages. I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity. With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.
According to TWO, Matheson’s statement was “surprisingly unrepentant and failed to apologize for the grave harm he has caused many of his clients.”
Speaking to TWO, Chaim Levin says he was psychologically damaged by Matheson and Wyler’s program.
“While I am pleased for Mr Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr Matheson himself,” Levin said. “I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included.”
Gay conversion therapy is still revered in right-wing Christian circles by practitioners and ‘patients’ alike, but has been roundly debunked as substantially damaging, especially when practiced on young people.
During the 2016 Republican National Convention, McClatchy reported that “delegates voted to approve a platform that backs the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.”
“The platform makes no specific mention of gay conversion therapy,” McClatchy noted, “but critics say that passage is aimed at accepting the notion that one’s sexual orientation can be changed.”
Speaking to The Advocate in 2017, Carolyn Reyes of the National Center for Lesbian Rights pointed out that the American Psychological Association “has linked conversion therapy to depression, substance abuse and even suicide — risks that are particularly acute for youth.”
A growing number of states and jurisdictions have banned the practice for minors.
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