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11 Ridiculous, Strange, And Terrifying Gay Conversion Therapy Methods For 'Curing' Homosexuality

Gay Conversion Therapy

First Posted: 11/01/11 10:08 AM ET Updated: 11/01/11 10:31 AM ET

For as long as humans have found displeasure with the idea of homosexuality, there have been attempts to "cure" afflicted individuals of their "unnatural" urges.

Though same-sex attraction was once considered a dangerous, unwanted condition by medical professionals, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, today doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists all agree that not only is homosexuality not an illness, but there is no proven method to relieve a person of his or her sexual orientation (nor is there any reason to attempt it).

Still, believe it or not, there are many organizations alive and well (and well funded) in the world who endeavor to convert gay men and women to heterosexuality and it seems hardly a week goes by without some new report on victims of "repairative therapy" -- or ex-gay leaders, like former Love In Action Director John Smid, admitting that the entire movement is a sham.

Earlier this year Marcus Bachmann, husband of presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, was accused of running a conversion therapy clinic and just last week the Australian newspaper the Brisbane Times reported on a group known as Exodus Global Alliance that relies on "exorcisms, hugging, behavioural management and marriage," to treat homosexuality.

But exorcisms are -- frighteningly -- just the beginning. From bicycling to testicle transplants, below find 11 ridiculous, strange, and terrifying methods for "curing" homosexuality:

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  • Bicycling

    American neurologist Graeme M. Hammond suggests bicycling as a cure for homosexuality. <a href="http://web.me.com/lookoutfilms/Ten_More_Good_Years/LGBT_History_files/timeline only.pdf" target="_hplink">He believed</a> "homosexuality was rooted in nervous exhaustion and that bicycle exercise would restore health and heterosexuality."

  • Exorcism

    In 2009 Manifested Glory Ministries came under fire when a 20-minute video posted on YouTube showed a 16 year old <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31528426/ns/us_news-faith/t/church-creates-stir-gay-exorcism-video/#.Tq8TLGVPlcg" target="_hplink">being subjected to an exorcism</a> to "cure" him of his homosexuality. The boy is shown writhing as church members stand on his feet, hold him under the arms and scream, "Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!"

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy

    Electroconvulsive therapy has long been a go-to tool for "curing" homosexuality and is still used to this day. In October Nathan Manske, <a href="http://www.imfromdriftwood.com/" target="_hplink">the founder and Executive Director of I'm From Driftwood</a>, a 501(c)(3) non-profit forum for true lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories, shared the story of Samuel Brinton on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-manske/gay-conversion-therapy_b_997330.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost Gay Voices.</a> Brinton was raised in rural Iowa and he spoke of growing up gay in a conservative, Southern Baptist family that subjected him to forced Christian conversion therapy. "We then went into the 'Month of Hell,'" Brinton explains in the video above. "The 'Month of Hell' consisted of tiny needles being stuck into my fingers and then pictures of explicit acts between men would be shown and I'd be electrocuted." <em>Clarification on November 13 at 5:45pm ET: Though Brinton uses the term "electrocuted," this actually refers to death by electric shock. The correct term is electroconvulsive therapy.</em>

  • Prostitution

    Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, a German psychiatrist who practiced during the 19th century, prescribed a trip to a brothel, preceded by lots of drinking, to cure men of their homosexuality. Women who were "afflicted," <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=Ra4bT-kE0Z4C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=hypnosis+Albert+von+Schrenck-Notzing+homosexuality+brothel&source=bl&ots=HwcZAb_yJ-&sig=ywfKk0u0g3UbrC-Qzt61RnzT33s&hl=en&ei=9hOrTsXHLOrn0QG549WBDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink">it's noted</a>, "were referred only to their husbands."

  • Hypnosis

    Hypnotism was a common tool used during the 19th century to "cure" homosexuals. When Schrenck-Notzing wasn't busy sending gay men to brothels, he was hypnotizing them. In 1892 the German psychiatrist <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDEQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.unav.es%2Ficf%2Fmain%2Ftop%2Fdiciembre09%2FNarth_What-research-shows-homosexuality.pdf&ei=Ns-" target="_hplink">reported success in treating</a> 32 cases of "sexual perversions." Of the 32 cases, 12 were classified as "cured," meaning "the patients were completely able to 'combat fixed ideas [about homosexuality], deepen a sense of duty, self-control, and right-mindedness.'"

  • Fetal Intervention

    Günther Dorner, who worked with the Institute for Experimental Endocrinology in the middle of the 20th century, <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=4-kcUVAOTWYC&pg=PA193&lpg=PA193&dq="G%C3%BCnther+Dorner"+gay&source=bl&ots=RHRSLdreln&sig=rVv6DW4_3UnTLH9QlrCqdhrvonA&hl=en&ei=0d-uTs78E4bt0gHCmeSbCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink">believed that homosexuality</a> is "determined by prenatal gendering of the brain caused by endocrinological disturbances." He hypothesized that if you could alter any hormonal imbalances present in the womb -- as he attempted to do with fetal rats -- homosexuality could be prevented before it even developed.

  • 'Overdosing' On Homosexuality

    In the 1960s British psychologist I. Oswald would pump a gay man full of nausea-inducing drugs before surrounding him with glasses of urine and playing audio recordings of men having sex. Oswald was attempting to "overdose" gay men on homosexuality in hopes that they would "<a href="http://www.glreview.com/article.php?articleid=42" target="_hplink">turn to women for relief</a>."

  • Cold Showers

    In June of 2011 Hong Kong <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hJrR2qwJP3LebrZk-UYhAXq1ZzPA?docId=CNG.fb6f66e08eae0ce02ece50a72ee19eda.1f1" target="_hplink">reportedly hired a psychiatrist</a> to give a government-sponsored training session on conversion therapy. Among the techniques Hong Kwai-wah suggested for "curing" homosexuality were cold showers, prayer, and abstinence.

  • Transplants

    Eugen Steinach (1861-1944), director of the Biological Institute in Vienna, believed that homosexuality was the result of hormonal imbalances. To prove his hypothesis, the scientist implanted sex organs in neutered rats and Guinea pigs and claimed to have conducted successful "sex change" operations on the rodents. Steinach's research didn't end with animals. He <a href="http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/29/turner.php" target="_hplink">also transplanted testicles</a> from heterosexual men into gay men in hopes of "remasculizing the recipient."

  • Cocaine, Strychnine, Genital Mutilation

    Physician Denslow Lewis believed that women brought up in wealthy 19th century homes could develop "sexual hyperesthesia [excessive sensitivity to stimuli]" and become lesbians. In order to cure these women <a href="http://www.glreview.com/article.php?articleid=42" target="_hplink">he prescribed</a> "cocaine solutions, saline cathartics, the surgical "liberation" of adherent clitorises, or even the administration of strychnine by hypodermic." Though he claimed that some of his patients were "cured" and became wives and mothers, one went insane and died in an asylum.

  • Praying

    "Pray the gay away!" has become the battle cry of the conversion therapy movement. From <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/161883/michele-bachmann-husband-ex-gay-therapy" target="_hplink">Marcus Bachmann's alleged conversion clinic</a> to <a href="http://outspokennyc.com/shoutout/scuse-me-gay-sashay-away" target="_hplink">an ex-gay iPhone app</a>, those who believe homosexuality is not only wrong but curable rely on the power of prayer to make a miracle happen.


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Filed by Noah Michelson  |