A controversial "Dr. Oz Show" episode has sparked the ire of the nation's most high-profile lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy groups for promoting the "dangerous and harmful practices" of reparative therapy.
The episode, which aired Nov. 28, debated the merits of so-called reparative, or "ex-gay," therapy. Among the featured guests was Julie Hamilton, a representative of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (or NARTH) which has routinely been at odds with American Psychiatric Association and other scientific organizations.
Among those to decry Dr. Mehmet Oz's decision to represent NARTH on the show was the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamamtion (GLAAD). “The idea of therapists attempting to change a patient’s sexual orientation has been proven ineffective and dangerous, and has been soundly and conclusively rejected by the entire medical establishment," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. "This line of thinking is outdated, ultimately harmful, and in modern media, should be treated like lobotomies or medical mercury."
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) felt similarly, saying they would not have particpated in the broadcast had they known NARTH would be represented. “The Dr. Oz Show provided a platform to a fringe organization promoting dangerous and harmful practices that every major health, mental health and education organization has consistently repudiated as harmful to youth," Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard is quoted as saying. The Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) were more pointed in their response to the show, adding in an email statement: "Although the show also featured guests who condemned the idea and practice of 'reparative therapy,' Dr. Oz himself never weighed in, and the audience was misled to believe that there are actual experts on both sides of this issue."
In a blog post on his website, Oz defended Hamilton's appearance, saying that he "felt that we needed to include all parties who have considered reparative therapy to hear the stories of people who have tried these treatments. Although some viewers may disagree with this tactic, if we want to reach everyone who might benefit from understanding the risks of this therapy, you have to present multiple perspectives."
He then went on to note:
"After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments."
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Bachmann's Alleged Involvement
In July,gay advocacy group Truth Wins Out released video footage allegedly shot undercover at the Christian-affiliated Minnesota clinic owned by Michele Bachmann and her husband, and claimed to find evidence of conversion therapy being performed on the premises. "Michele Bachmann wants to be in the Oval Office and wants to be the president of the United States," Wayne Besen, "It's important to know what her true beliefs are and what goes on in this clinic."
'Gay Barbarian Horde' Invades Bachmann's Clinic
Last July activists dressed as "gay barbarians" traveled to Bachmann's clinic to protest its alleged "pray the gay away" practices. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/michele-bachmanns-glitter-prank_n_906165.html" target="_hplink">A press release issued by the group reads:</a> <blockquote>Today a horde of gay barbarians descended upon Michele and Marcus Bachmann's "pray away the gay" clinic and demanded that Marcus come out and discipline them for their "deviant" behavior. Marcus Bachmann, who conducts "reparative therapy" at the clinic intended to convert homosexuals, has said that gays are "barbarians who need to be disciplined." The horde requested to speak directly with Bachmann and experience some "discipline" for themselves. When Marcus was no where to be found, the barbarians glittered the empty waiting room and reception area while chanting, "You can't pray away the gay -- baby, I was born this way!" The action was organized by the same young man who threw glitter on Newt Gingrich, starting a national trend in political protest of anti-LGBT sentiments from political candidates and campaigns. "Michele and Marcus Bachmann think gay people are barbarians?" asked LGBT activist Nick Espinosa. "I think its clear to everyone who the real barbarians are, based on the Bachmanns' archaic views on LGBT equality."</blockquote>
Gay Conversion Therapy Victim Comes Forward
Earlier this month, "I'm From Driftwood" featured a video interview with Samuel Brinton, who was raised in rural Iowa and subjected to forced Christian conversion therapy. "We then went into the 'Month of Hell,'" Brinton explained. "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."
Prominent 'Ex-Gay' Doctor Retracts Claims Made In Key Gay Conversion Therapy Study
This week the psychiatrist who published a controversial 2001 study proclaiming that "highly motivated" gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/robert-spitzer-ex-gay-psychiatrist-retraction_n_1417679.html?ref=gay-voices" target="_hplink">retracted his initial claims.</a> Psychiatrist Bob Spitzer, who had ironically led the effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973, told American Prospect that he now wants to retract his study, while addressing several of the ample criticisms against its findings. "In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct," said the 80-year-old Spitzer, who is now retired and suffering from Parkinson's disease. "The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more."
John Smid Discusses 'Praying The Gay Away' With Chris Matthews
The former director of the ex-gay Christian ministry Love in Action <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/20/john-smid-former-ex-gay-minister-sexual-orientation-_n_1022417.html#s423190&title=Gay_Conversion_Therapy" target="_hplink">came forward last October</a> to say that not only that he is gay, but that he believes it is impossible to change one's sexual orientation. Though Smid admitted he did "experience homosexuality" on the show, he arguably stopped short of embracing his sexual orientation. "I would say predominately, I am attracted to men," he said. "At the same time, I've chosen to be married [to a woman] and a lot of people make that choice."
Not Born This Way?
Richard Cohen, director of the International Healing Foundation and author of "Coming Out Straight" and "Gay Children, Straight Parents," believes that people can change. "There is no credible scientific evidence to suggest either a genetic or biologic basis for homosexual desires in men or women," he said. "So people are not born this way...it's always a confounding of many different factors that lead people to experience these desires...people don't choose this, the choice is: do they want to lead that life, or do they want to change?"
Gay To Straight With Prayer?
In an appearance on "Dr. Drew" earlier this year, psychologist Joseph Nicolosi -- a founding member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) -- said he continues to support conversion therapy: "People can change, people have a choice, people should be given a choice," he said. "If a person chooses to exercise his heterosexual potential...we provide that therapy...it doesn't work for all people, but it works for some."
Pat Robertson Advises Father To Seek Conversion Therapy For His Gay Son