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So How Many People Have Gone from a Gay Orientation to a Straight One?

How many people have experienced a change in sexual orientation from gay to straight? John Smid, who headed up ex-gay group Love in Action, has said that he has

“never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual,”

Some people will tell you that such a change is basically impossible. Matthew Vines for example, in his infamous youtube video, said that –

“Gay people have a natural, permanent orientation toward those of the same sex; it’s not something that they choose, and it’s not something that they can change.”

Others will contradict this, telling you that –

“thousands have found freedom from homosexual attractions.”

Or that

“Numbers of people who have changed towards exclusive heterosexuality are greater than current numbers of bisexuals and homosexuals combined. In other words, ex-gays outnumber actual gays.” (ref.)

Some even state it as part of their own testimony. EG Janet Boynes’ published statement;

“There are thousands of individuals like me who have found freedom from same-sex attraction”.

And those who have lived a gay life, should know, right?

Some well-meaning Christians will attempt to counter the sceptics, by asking “dont you think an all powerful god could change a person from gay to straight?” And the answer of course, is yes of course He could. Just like He could theoretically cure all those who suffer from cancer. But whether He could, is a different question, to whether He actually does do so in our present world.

Ive lived long enough to know that nobody can categorically claim that it’s impossible for sexual orientation to change from gay to straight or that such a change has never happened. But Ive also followed this issue long enough to know that there are few people (including sincere Christians) that do change sexual orientation  from gay to purely straight for the rest of their lives. There are quite a number that temporarily change their behaviour from gay to straight, or even change their behaviour long term, eg having a lasting heterosexual marriage. But this blog post is not about expressed behaviour. Rather it’s about orientation – inner inclinations which are involuntary. Clouding the issue is the fact that of those who are trying to change their orientation from gay to straight, tend to involve faith in the process, and this tends to mean believing that the change has taken place even when it doesnt feel that way. IE believing that they are cured of homosexual temptation, in expectation that that very belief will lead to the desired change. This is a Biblical principle as illustrated in Matthew 17:20. So some Christians with ongoing same-sex attractions, will not accept the label of being ‘gay’, saying that this is because they wont let it define them. And it’s that tendency to deny (even to self) the ongoing reality of homosexual attraction, that led people like Alan Chambers, John Paulk and others to misrepresent to others for years, that their homosexual inclinations had gone.

The belief that if a person is willing, their sexual orientation can change from gay to straight, is not entirely rare, EG in Australia, or in the USA, although there are many conservative Christian groups who acknowledge that such change is not always acheived or even unlikely to be achieved. There was even a study done by the American Psychological Association (APA) that looked into whether attempts to change sexual orientation are successful. But reports by the APA are dismissed by some, with claims that the APA was taken over by members who were politically motivated rather than scientifically unbiased. But lets briefly look at this APA study, because the details are interesting. The study was released in 2009, under the title of Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The abstract in the report states that they “… conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful …”. The appendices reference some familiar names on the conservative side, including Spitzer and Nicolosi. The executive summary states that some people who have lived homosexual relationships, have gone on to live in a heterosexual relationship instead. It also states that –

“The review covered the peer-reviewed journal articles in English from 1960 to 2007 and included 83 studies. … We found serious methodological problems in this area of research, such that only a few studies met the minimal standards for evaluating whether psychological treatments, such as efforts to change sexual orientation, are effective. … We concluded that the early high-quality evidence is the best basis for predicting what would be the outcome of valid interventions. These studies show that enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon. The participants in this body of research continued to experience same-sex attractions following SOCE and did not report significant change to other sex attractions that could be empirically validated, though some showed lessened physiological arousal to all sexual stimuli. Compelling evidence of decreased same-sex sexual behavior and of engagement in sexual behavior with the other sex was rare.”

These details, especially in combination with the findings of psychologist Evelyn Hooker, make it easier to understand why so few psychologists now seek to change a person’s orientation.

Anyway, enough of the background – here is the news. Recently in 2013, some ex-gays (IE former homosexuals, of some sort) decided that it was time to unite and become a community force. It was decided that an ex-gay pride month was to be held. As part of this, an ex-gay rally and press conference was scheduled to be held at the Supreme Court at Capitol Hill on July 31st.  Plans were announced to the media, and released in articles and on radio. The theory was that there are many many individual ex-gays around the US, and organisers hoped for thousands of them to gather and utilise their strength in numbers as political power. But after the plans were initially announced, the plans changed, with organisers advising the media that this was because of threats to the safety of attendees. Although some events were postponed to September, the original rally/press conference still went ahead, and the organisers advertised on their website encouraging people to register to attend on July 31st. And the day before the event, the key organiser was still party to public comments (here) that thousands would attend!

So how many turned up to this rally to demonstrate the thousands of ex-gays in USA? A conservative Christian source says around a dozen, and the organiser said the total was 9 ex-gays. Yes, there are many who resist homosexual temptation, but as for those who no longer experience homosexual temptation? Their numbers are few.

An index to further in-depth analysis can be found here.


One Comment on “So How Many People Have Gone from a Gay Orientation to a Straight One?”

  1. sam says:

    The thing is that the only way to objectively find out if someone’s sexual orientation has truly changed is by testing and measuring their arousal patterns, and most people who identify as ex-gay won’t subject to that.

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