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Myths

Sometimes misinformation is spread by word of mouth or by the news media. This section exists to provide answers to common myths.

Myth: People don't overcome same-sex attraction.
Myth: People are born gay. It's all genetic.
Myth: The psychological associations in America denounce trying to change. It is unethical to even try.
Myth: All the efforts to make people change are doing more harm than good.
Myth: Organizations that try to help people to change are failing.
Myth: Evergreen uses torturous aversion therapy to make people straight.
Myth: You can encourage same-gender sexual relationships and still be aligned with Church doctrines

Myth: If you don't agree with the gay activists, you are a homophobe

 

Myth: People don't overcome same-sex attraction.
One common myth is that people don't overcome same-sex attraction. Some people would like the public to believe that no one really changes. They claim that individuals who say they have overcome it either (1) didn't really experience same-sex attraction in the first place or (2) they are only suppressing their true feelings and will someday realize it. The truth is that many people find success in overcoming homosexual behavior, diminishing same-sex attraction, resolving internal conflicts, and living according to their personal and religious values. For proof of the many who are successful,  read the testimonies on this Web site, read books that recount their experiences, or attend conferences and workshops. The following information may also be helpful:

Just the Facts  by David Pruden, Executive Director of Evergreen International

In their ongoing war of misinformation, activists spread rumors that all those who have written books or otherwise publicly shared their story of change either do not exist or have returned to a gay identity. This just isn't true.

Gay-To-Straight Research Published In APA Journal

The American Psychological Association's prestigious journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice has just published a comprehensive research paper on sexual-orientation change. Clients have the right to pursue change, the author says, because "sexual orientation, once thought to be an unchanging trait, is actually quite flexible for some people...."My literature review contradicts the policies of major mental health organizations because it suggests that sexual orientation, once thought to be an unchanging sexual trait, is actually quite flexible for many people, changing as a result of therapy for some, ministry for others and spontaneously for still others."

Dr. Spitzer recognizes that some people can and do change

Dr. Robert Spitzer, who was one of the key figures behind the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) decision to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual in 1973, now believes that "some people can and do change. Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe this to be false."

Is Sexual Re-orientation Possible?  by Warren Throckmorton, PhD

For some, answering this question...is a simple matter of finding an instance of sexual reorientation. And they are easy to find, if you look. So for them, this question is quickly answered in the affirmative. However, for others, the question is theoretical. Some have decided that sexual reorientation is impossible and therefore any change that an individual might claim could not possibly be sexual reorientation.

Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change: A Review of 31 Published Studies 

[This article was previously published at New Directions, Canada, but is no longer available online.]

This study looked for changes in behavior, identity, attractions, desires, and fantasies to see if a homosexual person can become exclusively heterosexual. Rather than looking for stories of those who claim to have experienced change or statements made by psychiatrists and psychologists, they focused on actual research to provide evidence for change. They found major changes (such as exclusively homosexual people becoming exclusively heterosexual) and they found small changes (such as a homosexual person gaining the ability to be sexually involved with the opposite sex in satisfying ways).

Their conclusion: “Our research has shown the statement ‘homosexuals can't change' to be a generalization. Various sources provide evidence for a partial or full shift in sexual orientation. Such evidence does not mean that every homosexual person should change. It does not mean that everyone can change. It does not mean that change is easy. It does mean that, at least for some people, change of sexual orientation is possible.”

John Paulk

John and his wife appeared in the national media to tell their story of overcoming same-sex attraction. Later, John was spotted in a gay bar and the gay media reported it as proof that he had gone back to homosexuality. While it was a serious mistake, it does not mean that John has reverted to homosexuality.

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Myth: People are born gay. It's all genetic.
Some scientists have intently tried to discover scientific proof that homosexuality is genetic, and therefore, cannot be changed. Some studies hint at a biological component, but have not proven that same-sex attraction is simply caused by genetics, or that such a potential cause overrules the possibility that people can change such attractions.

What Causes Same-sex Attraction?  by Jason Park

It is difficult to develop theories about the origins of same-sex attractions because no single theory fits every situation. Sexual and emotional issues are the result of a complex interaction of personality, biological inheritance, and developmental experiences.

The Innate-Immutable Argument Finds No Basis in Science: In Their Own Words: Gay Activists Speak About Science, Morality, Philosophy  by A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D.; Shirley E. Cox, Ph.D.; and Jeffrey W. Robinson, Ph.D.

Scientific attempts to demonstrate that homosexual attraction is purely biologically determined have failed. The major researchers now prominent in the scientific arena–themselves gay activists–have in fact arrived at such conclusions.

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Myth: The psychological associations in America denounce trying to change. It is unethical to even try.
Many professional organizations have made statements about the ineffectiveness and potential damage that can be caused by reparative or conversion therapy. They claim that the potential risks of such therapy include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. The American Psychological Association's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues Committee lobbied for years against the right of individuals to receive treatment for unwanted same-sex attractions and have pressured the APA to ban scientists from studying the viability of gender-affirmative therapy.

The Bottom Line: Evergreen does not advocate any particular form of therapy. However, if a client make a personal choice to reject a gay lifestyle and seek any form of therapy for any reason (including religious or spiritual reasons), the ethical implication for any professional is to respect the client's choice. One of the most efficient ways to ensure that an individual makes a free and voluntary choice within an ethical framework is through advanced informed consent to treatment. As a science that emphasizes the celebration of individual differences, psychological associations and practitioners should preserve the rights of all people–including those with unwanted same-sex attraction–to choose and pursue their own values, lifestyle, and especially, treatment.

It is unethical for a therapist to try to convince a client that he/she should change from homosexuality to heterosexuality. However, it is equally unethical for a therapist to tell a client to remain in homosexuality when he/she has determined that homosexuality does not fit with his/her personal values and has come to the therapist for help in overcoming it. Ethical therapy is where the therapist presents alternatives, and lets the client make decisions for him/herself. Individuals have a right to know that prevention and effective treatment are available. A variety of studies have shown that between 25% and 50% of those seeking treatment experienced significant improvement.

Gender-affirmative therapies have recently found increasing interest by organizations and therapists who believe in helping people who have determined for themselves that they want to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.

Consider the words of the Executive Director of the American Psychological Association, Raymond Fowler: "The APA's position on reparative therapy is that those who wish to explore developing heterosexual feelings or behavior have a right to do so as part of every client's right to self-determination. If an individual is comfortable with homosexuality, it is not the role of the therapist to convince the client otherwise. If one's feelings are ego-dystonic and there is a desire to talk about changing, that is an acceptable choice and a psychologist may participate if he or she desires."

Background

In the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality is not a disease or disorder and they expunged such descriptions from their literature.

APA Journal Article Says Gender-Affirmative Therapy Should be Available

A 2002 article published by the American Psychological Association journal Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training defends the ethics and effectiveness of gender-affirmative therapy.

Psychology Today Editor Says APA Does Not Condemn Change Therapy

In an editorial titled "Am I Anti-Gay? You Be the Judge" in the Jan./Feb. 2003 issue of Psychology Today, editor Robert Epstein, Ph.D., defends gender-affirmative therapy as ethical and responsible.

Dr. Spitzer recognizes that some people can and do change

Dr. Robert Spitzer, who was one of the key figures behind the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) decision to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual in 1973, now believes that "some people can and do change. Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe this to be false."

Tolerance - APA Discriminates Against Ex-Gays: Robert Spitzer, MD -- From "Gay" to Straight?  By Dr. F. Earle Fox

Twenty eight years ago, in 1973, Dr. Robert Spitzer played a major role in the change of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) stance on homosexuality, beginning the move toward the full acceptance of homosexuality as normal rather than pathological. In recent years, the APA let it be known that it does not approve of "reparative" or "transformational" therapy.... But recently the same Dr. Spitzer has come to believe that at least some homosexual persons can indeed come out of that lifestyle and lead normal heterosexual married lives -- causing no small storm in the homosexual community.

Don't Forsake Homosexuals Who Want Help  By Charles Socarides, Benjamin Kaufman, Joseph Nicolosi, Jeffrey Satinover and Richard Fitzgibbons. From Letters to the Editor, The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 1997.

Every day young men seek help because they are experiencing an unwanted sexual attraction to other men, and are told that their condition is untreatable. It is not surprising that many of these young men fall into depression or despair when they are informed that a normal life with a wife and children is never to be theirs.... Young men and the parents of at-risk males have a right to know that prevention and effective treatment are available. They have a right to expect that every professional they consult will inform them of all their therapeutic options and allow them to make their own choices based on the best clinical evidence. A variety of studies have shown that between 25% and 50% of those seeking treatment experienced significant improvement. If a therapist feels for whatever reason that he cannot treat someone of this condition, he has an obligation to refer the patient to someone who will.

Some Psychologists Say Reparative Therapy is Unethical: Yet Modern Methods are Healing and Client-Centered  by Charlotte Rosenak, Ph.D. The Counseling Psychologist, 27 (5), 722-742.

There is an abundance of clinical data that suggests reparative therapy can help clients achieve more responsiveness to the opposite sex....To not provide clients with what they request when the request is a reasonable one is irresponsible and unethical. It is also our social responsibility to let people know that the development of homosexuality as we know it today has not been proven to be a genetic inevitability, and that alternatives to embracing the homosexual lifestyle do exist.

Research Published In APA Journal 

The American Psychological Association's prestigious journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice published a comprehensive research paper on sexual-orientation change in June 2002. Clients have the right to pursue change, the author says, because "sexual orientation, once thought to be an unchanging trait, is actually quite flexible for some people."

Many  Professionals Support Clients' Rights for Gender-Affirmative Therapy

Former heads of the APA and other professional associations state that a client has the right to pursue change and that such therapy can be helpful.

Clients Have a Right to Seek Change

The American Counseling Association defends the right of people to determine whether or not they should seek counseling to change sexual identity.

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Myth: All the efforts to make people change are doing more harm than good.
People sometimes try to discredit the efforts of people who are changing their lives, saying that the stress and effort to try to change only tears families apart and causes more harm than good. In reality, their are thousands of people who improve their lives by resolving their internal conflicts, so they can live according to their personal values and keep their families together. Of course, there are those who do not succeed. Some of these people are vocal and try to convince others that no one is succeeding. For proof of the many who are successful, read the testimonies on this Web site, read books that recount their experiences, or attend the annual Evergreen conference. The following information shows the positive effects in people's lives.

While it is true that no one should be coerced into treatment, the reverse is also true that no one should be denied treatment if they want it. Ultimately, it is an issue of personal freedom and self-determination.

Psychology Today Editor Defends Gender-Affirmative Therapy

In an editorial titled "Am I Anti-Gay? You Be the Judge" in the Jan./Feb. 2003 issue of Psychology Today, editor Robert Epstein, Ph.D., defends sexual gender-affirmative therapy and responds to recent criticism from the gay community.

Is Sexual Re-orientation Possible?  by Warren Throckmorton, PhD

Where's the evidence for the contention of harm? The only place I read about harm is in the statements of the professional associations. However, they give no references, advance no research showing harm. The objective of conversion has never been demonstrated to be harmful in itself.

Some Psychologists Say Reparative Therapy is Unethical: Yet Modern Methods are Healing and Client-Centered  by Charlotte Rosenak, Ph.D. The Counseling Psychologist, 27 (5), 722-742.

...reparative therapy as it is currently practiced today, has not been demonstrated to harm clients. There is an abundance of clinical data that suggests reparative therapy can help clients achieve more responsiveness to the opposite sex....To not provide clients with what they request when the request is a reasonable one is irresponsible and unethical. It is also our social responsibility to let people know that the development of homosexuality as we know it today has not been proven to be a genetic inevitability, and that alternatives to embracing the homosexual lifestyle do exist.

Treatment is Ethical

While it is true that no one should be coerced into treatment, the reverse is also true that no one should be denied treatment if they want it. Ultimately, it is an issue of personal freedom and self-determination.

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Myth: Organizations that try to help people to change are failing.
Some people are intent on discrediting the organizations who help people who want to change. In reality, Evergreen and other organizations are stronger today than they have ever been. Read the State of the Organization messages given at Evergreen's annual conferences. The following articles also provide some interesting facts.

Are Exodus Ministries Flakey?  by Bob Davies, Executive Director Exodus International of North America (Exodus is an umbrella organization of Christian ministries around the world)

A survey published on the Internet says that 70 percent of Exodus agencies have failed, mostly because the director returned to active homosexuality. In reality, only eight (5%) have dissolved in the past 18 years due to a director's return to homosexuality.

The Top Five Myths About Ex-Gay Ministry  by Bob Davies, Executive Director Exodus International of North America (Exodus is an umbrella organization of Christian ministries around the world)

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Myth: Evergreen uses torturous shock therapy to make people straight.

In the 1960s and 1970s, some therapists experimented with aversion shock therapies in an attempt to help reorient clients. In these therapies, when a male client was shown pictures of attractive men, he would also receive an electric shock or be caused to vomit, which presumably would produce an aversion for his attraction toward men. Shock therapies were used for a short time for a number of behavioral problems, such as alcohol dependence, drug addiction, and depression. Today, such treatments are considered unethical and are not performed by reputable therapists.

Evergreen was organized in 1989 and has never participated in, nor recommended aversion shock therapy. Click here for more detail.

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Myth: You can encourage same-gender sexual relationships and still be aligned with Church doctrines.

Some LDS groups encourage same-gender sexual relationships, yet pretend to still be completely aligned with the doctrine of the Church. They rationalize that when individuals are attracted to the same sex, they have no hope of a heterosexual marriage and family, and therefore should be allowed same-gender sexual relationships. Some of these groups even maintain a vague association with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Evergreen International is the only known organization that supports Church teachings and practices "without reservation or exception."

Aligned with the Church?  by David Pruden, Executive Director of Evergreen International

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Myth: If you don't agree with the gay activists, you are a homophobe
Although activists fight for gay rights, they seem all too eager to limit the free speech of those who don't agree with their agenda.

Reggie White

When Reggie White, pro football player and minister, spoke about homosexual behavior as a sin, it brought a tidal wave of harsh language from gay activists who branded him as "ignorant," "stupid," and "backward."

Seven Things I Wish Pro-Gay People Would Admit  by Bob Davies

Bob lists seven areas where the extreme pro-gay agenda could be tempered to be more fair to those who are not happy being gay and want to change their lives.

Homophobia by Jason Park

Homophobia is defined as an irrational hatred or fear of homosexuality. Although there are legitimate cases of homophobia, modern use of the term has been expanded to take on social and political meanings.

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