The idea that a gay person can be "cured" of his or her homosexuality is not a new one. For centuries doctors, therapists and religious figures have tried a wide variety of techniques -- from praying to surgery to exorcism -- to "convert" men and women "suffering" from same-sex attractions.
But we have to admit that the "reparative" therapy used by Raymond Bell, pastor of the Cowboy Church of Virginia, is one of the strangest we've come across.
According to Gay Star News, Bell claims that the use of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, or sessions involving the stroking of horses, can aid in the "curing" of maladies and "addictions" like homosexuality.
"EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in any way," he told Gay Star News.
Though it isn't clear exactly how EAP works to rid a gay person of their "affliction," Gay Star News notes that it can supposedly make gay men more masculine and that it is used to "identify how a person got 'involved' in homosexuality to begin with... for example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse and having low self-esteem."
Bell does not believe that homosexuality is genetic. Instead he claims, "Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction. It is not 'curable' as a disease because it is a 'choice driven' by the person."
"Conversion therapy" has become a hot topic in recent months as California became the first state to outlaw the practice on minors. Though a bill was passed by the California Legislature and was set to take effect on January 1 after being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September, last week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency order putting the law in limbo until it can hear full arguments on the issue.
Related on HuffPost:
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."
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 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>
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."
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.'"
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>."
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.
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.
"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.