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Matt Salmon's Gay Son: Reparative Therapy Built My Confidence, Helped Me Talk With Men

04/16/2013 11:53 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

The openly gay son of Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) tells Anderson Cooper that his time in reparative, or "ex-gay," therapy helped him become more comfortable around men.

Matt R. Salmon, 24, spoke at length to Cooper about his father's controversial opposition of same-sex marriage, noting that he hopes the elder Salmon will eventually change his position.

"I couldn't expect my parents to fully accept me unless I could accept them and their views," Salmon said. "No matter what our differences in opinion are, we just have to love and support each other ... I hope that he changes his position. I hope to get married someday, so I hope that I have that support."

Of his experiences with reparative therapy at age 18, Salmon notes, "Looking back, I don't regret it. The goal was to become straight, and it turns out what I took away from it was an increased confidence."

He adds, "A big part of it was really teaching me to make relationships with straight men because that would help me to kind of take on this straightness and so it really helped me actually learn how to talk with men."

The elder Salmon raised eyebrows earlier this month when he told Phoenix station KTVK that he didn't support same-sex marriage despite having a gay son.

"My son and I have had a lot of dialogue about it," he said at the time. "I will say this: you know, my son is by far one of the most important people in my life. I love him more than I can say."

He went on to note, "My view is while I don't believe we should be vitriolic and try to enact harmful policies, by the same token, I'm just not there as far as believing in my heart that we should change 2,000 years of social policy in favor of a redefinition of the family...It just means that I haven't evolved to that station. Rob Portman apparently has. I haven't."

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