L.A. Jamison on Reparative Therapy – Sexual Conversion Attempts – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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This week Joe discusses the controversial world of Reparative Therapy, which is sexual conversion attempts to turn people from gay to straight. His guest is Larry Jamison, a writer, educator and activist, who has spent ten years exploring ex-gay ministry and reparative therapy. Larry wants people to understand why someone might choose to do sexual conversion therapy and that it’s not about ‘crazy’ people, but very vulnerable people trying to get help. “There’s nothing good about going to war with your sexuality,” says Larry.

Connect with L.A. Jamison:

Speaker 1: Welcome back everyone to my current listeners and hello to all my new listeners this week. This week we’re going to be talking about reparative therapy, sexual conversion attempts. This week I’ll be looking into the controversial world of reparative therapy, which is sexual conversion attempts to turn people from gay to straight. My guest is Larry Jamison, a writer, educator, and activist who has spent 10 years exploring ex-gay ministry and reparative therapy. He wrote a book about his experience called discoveries in the closet. A young man’s struggle with faith and sexuality. Larry wants people to understand why someone might choose to do sexual conversion therapy and then it’s not about crazy people, but very vulnerable people trying to get help. Welcome Larry.

Speaker 4: Hey Joe.

Speaker 1: Really good to have you here. You know, my early work spent a lot of time and attention on repairative therapy. Even though I was not a product of it, I was never drawn to it. The, my, my focus was on the lies in the repairative therapy that, uh, I would read all the books, all the materials. I was obsessed with it because of all the gas lighting at the time of saying, well, we’re not anti-gay. And then, uh, you would get into the book within pages or our chapter would say there’s nothing gay about being homosexual. So I’m so glad to help you. Help us, you know, think this through.

Speaker 4: Yeah, it’s a really complex topic and I’m glad that you know, you’re, um, wanting to have this on your show today.

Speaker 1: So let me start with my first question. Am I, it’s my first question here says, why did you choose repair to therapy? Is that a choice you made to study it or to be in it or both?

Speaker 4: Um, uh, both, but mostly to be in it. Um, I was, you know, by the time I found Rickard of therapy, I was already seeking answers because, you know, society and religion had already geared me towards being afraid to identify myself as gay. Um, and so I was looking for an answer because I, I, unlike, you know, a lot of people that end up in these kinds of things, I did not want to be gay because I was afraid of what that meant. Um, and I already had a disdain for it. Um, and repairative therapy basically, uh, spoke to my core wounds. I was pretty much a poster boy for what they said, um, would be the core wound of a homosexual. And yeah, so they, they attribute, you know, they attribute to your core wounds, a disease which they call homosexuality or unwanted same sex attraction,

Speaker 1: which is also known as you SSA. Right?

Speaker 4: Yes. Yup.

Speaker 1: And when you say core wounds, do you mind what do, what do they mean? What are the core wounds?

Speaker 4: The core wounds that they essentially focus on is, uh, uh, difficulty with the relationship with your father. Um, I mean, uh, and even Carl Young’s work, uh, he talks about, you know, father son wound was, so a lot of guys have that, um, also pure rejection, any kind of trauma or abuse, usually sexual abuse. Um, and sometimes you might be a mama’s boy, which I was. So, um, those were the, those are the big ones. There’s other ones, but those are the biggest,

Speaker 1: and they would say that. Yeah. Right. And I do too. Actually. I was actually abused. I had a bad let, well, my father had a bad relationship with me and I was a mama’s boy. All of those things. So they would say that when you’re that profile, you are, um, uh, potentially able to, that made you gay really? Isn’t that what they said?

Speaker 4: Yeah. Yeah. They take the, the part of a young man’s life where, uh, you know, you’re admiring men and you might admire meant so much that you sexualize them. And for my experience with young, young kids and myself, there does come that point where you’re, you’re confused and they say, because of these core wounds, you never transition out of that phase.

Speaker 1: Right? And it’s also very old fashioned psychoanalytic treatment and psychodynamic treatment and therapy. They would say, you know, that if you, your, your adolescence was your second chance to come out of any kind of homosexual interest. And if you didn’t, then you were stuck in your adolescence. I mean, there was so much pathologizing, and I’m sorry that happened to you, that, that you, uh, found it as something that could be helpful to you, but it wasn’t right.

Speaker 4: Yeah, exactly right. Um, and, and that’s, uh, people don’t understand. It’s a really loaded weight to have on, you know, um, you know, to have that on top of, you know, any trauma you’ve been through, um, to say, okay, well, you know, that’s terrible that you’ve had that trauma. Now you also have this disease, homosexuality, so let’s try and get rid of that too.

Speaker 1: So in other words, right, it doesn’t work. There’s lots of research that show, uh, over and over and over again. It doesn’t work. Um, but you’re saying basically, so we’re sorry that trauma to you, but we’re going to further trauma. You traumatize you. Right. But they don’t know they’re doing it. They, I really don’t believe the people that are doing this, I think they believe what they believe. Don’t you? Or do you think they’re doing it intentionally?

Speaker 4: Um, I think for the most part, I agree with you. I, it’s, their intention is to fix you and, um, you know, uh, some of it is hate, but it’s, it’s more covert. Like they don’t even realize it. Um, I found a lot as a leaders would keep a certain painful distance from me as if I had a disease that they didn’t want to catch. Like I remember one, one guy, um, I had written to, cause he had an article in the paper that he was leaving homosexuality and we get together and I was at his church and I would say about the second and third church visit, he had to stop contact with me and leave the church because I was a temptation to him. You know, it’s just, yeah. Um, yeah, I agree with you. It’s not necessarily an overt, we hate you kind of thing.

Speaker 1: No. And you know, Joseph Nicolosi sr, who has now deceased, um, wrote all those books on healing homosexuality, uh, repair it of therapy. And then he, he started realizing that they were coming after him. So he wrote a book called preventing homosexuality so that people couldn’t say he was trying to change anyone. He was just trying to prevent someone. And so then he died and his son now, same name kind of. I was like, how can there be a new article by Joseph Nicolosi? Um, you know, and then it was a son and he’s basically come out saying, well, my dad was really, really the in the forefront of talking about sexual fluidity. Bull shit. God dammit, such a goddamn bullshit lie. I’m sorry. Your dad was an anti gay homo negative, um, bigot and he didn’t give anybody a chance, um, to allow for anything other than heterosexuality. Would you agree?

Speaker 4: Exactly. And just so you know, I’m, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but his organization that he ran, which is that was the national association for repairative therapy, um, called nurse his reforms since he died, uh, under something called the Alliance for therapeutic choice in scientific integrity and

Speaker 1: keep going. Yeah. But keep going. They don’t know that.

Speaker 4: Yeah. Yeah. And, um, a lot of that’s what happens with a lot of these organizations like Exodus international, that was a big one that close. But now, um, there’s restorative hope network, um, and Exodus global, which originally wasn’t really all that, um, hard line on converting people, but now that exit is closed, it has, you know, kind of gang busters. So that’s what happens. These places close and people aren’t sharing and thinking it’s over. And it pops up in other little places where people regroup.

Speaker 1: Yes. Now sometimes it closes because people realize this is bullshit for me. I’m gay and I’m coming out. And then other times leaders fall in love with each other and they realize, no, I feel good. Right. That happened with Exodus, didn’t it? Right.

Speaker 4: Yeah. Yeah. The founders, uh, Michael PC and Gary Cooper, um, ended up getting married and then, um, later years later they formed what was called ex ex. Yeah. And

Speaker 1: say what that is, I want you to say it. You know what it is?

Speaker 4: Yeah. That’s X day is just people who have come out against being, yeah. It is complicated with peace terms, but, um, it’s largely on Facebook. It’s a Facebook group and, um, there is a gay Christian convention that happens at a lot ofX , X days go to. But you know, to Joe, there’s, there’s really an important difference too between acts gay and repairative therapy, even though they borrow from each other. So you might not have a lot of people that are in repairative therapy next necessarily in the X game. Um, so they, they, you know, I did a timeline, two timelines on my website, got words that orgy. And one is a timeline of the history of X and another is a timeline of repairative therapy. So they borrow from each other, but they’re, they’re different.

Speaker 1: Yeah. It’s really the first time I started seeing somebody attack the ex-gay therapy movement was, um, uh, Wayne Besson. He wrote this book, if you know the book, yeah. Anything but straight. And on the cover was an a guy John Polk, who had, uh, been seen in a gay bar and they called Wayne Besson cause he was sort of the, the guy who was like on top of all this. And they said, come on down and bring your camera. He’s here. And he’s saying he’s ex-gay, but he’s, he’s in a gay bar flirting with guys. And he did. And he and John Pollock saw him and then started fleeing the gay bar. And John and Wayne Besson took pictures of him. So on the cover of the book is Wayne Besson running ears, back, hair flying back, not wanting to be in the picture. And it was the cover. I remember being on a plane, my shoulders were jumping up and down. I was laughing so hard because, you know, and it’s really, it’s not funny. I don’t mean to make light of it, but what’s funny is it’s so incredibly stupid. And, um, and it’s, you know, sexist and, and biased and so obviously, but people who are troubled and vulnerable, like you say, they have much don’t want to be gay because of their religion, their relationships, whatever there they buy into it.

Speaker 4: Right. And you know, there’s so much, there’s so much to stain for and scare being scared of the medical community, um, even in society and especially in religion to doubt it. I remember when I heard about the APA, um, saying that homosexuality was no longer going to be considered a mental illness. And you know, by Zana I remember my reaction was, what is the APA now? Because I had already been indoctrinated by society to doubt, you know, medicine and especially my religion, which said, Jesus is the great physician, so only depend on him and America to me, warships, the Bible more than they worship God. I’m still spiritual.

Speaker 1: Ooh, wait, wait. That was good. America worship the Bible more than they worship God. That’s profound. Yeah.

Speaker 4: Yeah, it really is. You know, it’s like the King James just plopped right out of heaven. And let’s just take this literally and out of context and just read it. And I worshiped that. And you know, that’s what gets us into trouble. But you know, you think about it Joe, I mean, I’m a dead natural health stuff and even in that area, you know, you have people that, you know, don’t get your kids facts unaided, don’t trust the medical community. So when they come out with this stuff, we can all revert back to all this, you know, buy lists and big a tree and, you know, snake oil salesman. And that’s what I kind of consider repairative therapy and [inaudible] ministry. It’s like, you know, here it follows these steps and you know, plaster through scriptures on your wall like I used to do and get this indoctrinated in your head and then you will become straight.

Speaker 1: When I was, when I first got into practice. And, um, uh, well, I mean I’ve been doing it almost 35 years, but private practice in 93 specialized with gay men. And I remember this older gay man at the time, he was my age now, but at the time I was like 30 and he was in his fifties and he said that, um, the day he had been in psychoanalytic treatment to change his sexual orientation three times a week for many, many years. And one day his therapist came in and said, I want to apologize to you. I don’t believe in this anymore. You’re, you’re gay is being okay. And I’m sorry for all this. And my F my client looked up, got out of the couch and said, go fuck yourself. You ruined all these years of my life. You took all my money and that, and I ended up having to help him recover from the hole, the trauma that the therapy did itself. So my question to you would be, what do you think are the dangers of repair to therapy? What does it do to someone?

Speaker 4: Yeah. Well, you know, back in the olden days they used, you know, electric shock, um, really physical stuff. But with repairative therapy since that, that’s still done today, but not as much. And when you have repairative therapy and conversion therapies, a focus is more emotional and mental exploitation. So again, like we talked about earlier, um, adding more cure trauma because now you have this disease, um, which is, uh, [inaudible] or homosexuality and you know, it takes years. I still struggle with it. And you know, for some people it leads to suicide. I used to, Joe, I used to have in my twenties, my twenties were torture. I had several mental breakouts and I didn’t have anybody to turn to but religion. So I pretended I had the flu. I would be out of work liquid, this really bad flu for almost a month. But it was a really a mental breakdown because I couldn’t do anything with my sexuality. And you know, my pants were rubbing the wrong way and Oh my God, you know, what am I going to do? I’m so horny and this is so bad. And you know, it’s, it’s a mess and people kill themselves over those as much as the good intentions are of people that facilitate it. And also the, the idea of that we, you know, somebody wants to be godly and they think this is a way to do it, it leads to a really terrible, terrible crisis,

Speaker 1: right? If suicidality, depression, and really putting you at war with your sexual identity, right? There’s nothing good about going to war with your sexuality. Right. I always quote, Jack Morgan used to have this great quote of you go to war with your sexuality, you’ll lose and caused more chaos and problems and you started and that’s what it sounds like for this. Would you say that there’s any benefits to being in repairative therapy, trying to change yourself from gay to straight?

Speaker 4: You know, it’s interesting. That’s a tough question. I know some people might revolt at what I’m about to say, but just once and all the way through, um, repairative therapy, the people that were involved in BARR borrowed a lot of tactics of their processes from the men’s movement, which I was also a part of called the mankind project as an example of that. Um, those processes, which I’ll get into in a minute, um, in, in the public with the media taking, uh, you know, doing, um, expo things on repairative therapy and the processes they use and take those very good processes out of context. And, um, you don’t see the benefit. You just see the crazy cause it looks crazy, but they use things like psychodrama or um, uh, embracing somebody or somebody being represented by beating a pillow. It’s, it’s out of context. But those processes have been used for years and years in other settings and there is some benefit.

Speaker 4: Um, but for repaired and syrupy, it comes as a false miracle because any kind of emotional catharsis set you have, uh, comes with more baggage because you don’t become strength. And I’ll give an example really quick. Um, the father’s son wound and I talked about earlier is something a lot of men have. Uh, just a, you know, a hard relationship with your dad. And, and that is what I had. And, um, you know, it was, that’s what they focused on. Hey, you have a, you have a bad relationship with your dad. Um, and that compelled me to what I was trying to heal my relationship with my dad. Now was that, was that a bad effect with that? That was that, that a benefit that I tried to heal my relationship with my dad. Of course it was a benefit. Um, but when it didn’t do anything for my sexuality, then I’m like, Oh God, well what else do I do then? You know, and you know what you ended up doing with all these little minor, these other benefits that dip from it. You’re like, try and falsely believe that this is helping you in some way. So, you know, it just hasn’t taken hold yet, but it eventually will. And this is what sends people into getting married because, well, maybe it’ll end up working out because I’ve had all these other benefits and then it doesn’t, and you know, you’ve just ruined somebody else’s life in your own.

Speaker 1: I really like what you’re saying and let’s, let’s, let’s spotlight it for a minute that, um, the fact that it does help you heal your relationship with your father. It is, um, it’s intent is to help you with your own masculinity. But you’re right. I love what you said. The false miracle is that you’re not going to death. None of that is going to change your sexual orientation. And that promise is so horrible because then you’re left further devastate. I’ve done all this and I’m still gay. There must be something wrong with me.

Speaker 4: Yeah. It’s, it’s so heavy, especially when you’ve had trauma. I’ve had, um, sexual abuse and stuff like that and, and really bullied very severely for being, for being gay, like, and, and um, you know, it ended up being like PTSD and to have this thing about me not being masculine enough and not straight enough.

Speaker 1: Yeah. You have the hole and it’s hard to believe that still goes on because gender is exploding now. Right. What, what anyone thinks gender is or should be or sexual orientation is or should be? I used to, um, I mean, and we’re talking about this from male perspectives, it does target males more and males do, because I always say this, women when they have a non heterosexual thought, they’re fetishized. And when a man has a non heterosexual thought, he’s, he’s stigmatized. So we run to, you know, it’s horrible. Um, what else would you want to say? We have a few more minutes. What else would be another really important point you want listeners to get out of conversion therapy?

Speaker 4: Well, you know, if, if I had just a few minutes would I would want to speak to is people that are seeking and they might be looking at repairative therapy right now. And um, I, you know, in my book and talking now, I don’t want to put people up that are like, you know, I don’t want to come across as like, this is just terrible and just believe me because it’s terrible. Right, right. You know, this is nothing I would say, do your research, talk to others. There’s books on it and you know what, talking to people on both sides. And you know, I just want people to know that I wasted about 15 years of my life because I was wounded enough to just go ahead and believes these people. Um, you have places now which weren’t there when I was younger or you, um, you have the LGBT centers like affirmations in Ferndale and they’re all over the country and you can go there and talk to people or there’s groups.

Speaker 4: Um, so you know, I recommend that, um, no LGBT history before you judge because it’s very easy to say, well, games and stuff. Yeah, they just go to the bars and they’re just having sex and all these, well, of course it’s bad. Well, you don’t know what, what they’ve been kicked out of churches that kicked out of their homes. They haven’t had places to go. Now that’s changed. We’re having a lot more other places to go and healthy things to do. So people are able to do that and there’s better role models than we’ve had. Um, but just don’t people want the answers. And as you know, Joe and all your shows to me really emphasize this, is that sexuality is so complex and it’s fluid. Yes, there are no set answers. So don’t just sit down with your pastor or don’t just believe parents or people that haven’t walked through this research junior research. That’s what I would say.

Speaker 1: I love it. I really agree with you. 100%. Um, so your book is discoveries in the closet, a young man’s struggle with faith and sexuality. Where can people find that?

Speaker 4: That is ad words. Dot O R G and the book is also on Barnes and noble and Amazon.

Speaker 1: Oh good. All right. Those are easy to get to. And where can they find you, Larry working. If they want to hear more from you,

Speaker 4: Dan can, um, my contact information is on the website, but they can email me at out a Jamison, J a M I. So N et got word stop or G. and let me tell you, I’m willing to talk to anybody. I’ll talk to you on the phone or email and you’ll get my honest, unbiased viewpoint.

Speaker 1: It’s really true. I find you to be one of them. And I’ve felt this way since I met you. Very authentic, very gentle. You know, I’m like, I am my stuff. I have to be honest, I’m kind of angry about certain things. So my anger shows and I, I’m swearing and you know, and you’re just like, you’re just eat. And people I think in here evenness better than they can hear in my reactivity. But it’s, it’s the same. It’s the messages, you know, uh, you’re really saying to people, trust yourself. Yeah. You listen to your pastor, listen to your religion, listen to your family, whatever, but then come back to you and what is right for you. Who are you separate from? What people want you to be.

Speaker 4: Right? And, and look at both sides. Research both sides. Don’t be afraid. Look at the voice that sinks something different. What you want to hear.

Speaker 1: Exactly. And you are very accessible and I want people to hear that. So I hope they do contact you and I really appreciate you being on the show. Thank you so much, Larry.

Speaker 4: Oh, thank you, Joe. You’re wonderful. And thanks for all that you do and I find you equally as authentic and just so compassionate. So I’m just glad you’re in my life too.

Speaker 1: Thank you so much. All right. See you.

Speaker 4: Alright? Okay. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex, smart love. I’m dr Joel court and you can find me on Joe kort.com that’s J O E K O R t.com. See you next time.

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