Sexual Orientation Change Efforts
Wichita State University
Homosexuality and sexual orientation change efforts have been depicted comically in the 1999 movie, “But I’m a Cheerleader”. Natasha Lyonne plays the sexually confused high school cheerleader, Megan. Everyone, from her football quarterback boyfriend to her conservative Christian parents knows she’s a lesbian; that is, everyone except her. They stage an inter-gay-tion and send her to a reform school for homosexuals. There she discovers why she is gay and how to ‘fix’ her lesbianism. Ultimately she falls in love with Graham, a shunned lesbian that has accepted the reality gayness cannot be fixed. Or can it? Decades have been given to the notion that conversion therapy, reparative therapy and aversion therapy can fix homosexuality, along with unconventional forms of “therapy” such as “pray the gay away”. Some researchers suggest it is a positive tool to facilitate heterosexual orientation in people with homoerotic tendencies, yet others contend that it is a damaging paradigm that should be illegalized worldwide.
In a perfect world, laws wouldn’t be necessary, there wouldn’t be any pain or suffering and homosexuality wouldn’t exist. That’s not to say that if homosexuals disappeared the world would be a better place. Lots of pain and suffering have come from living an alternate lifestyle and many laws have been at the forefront of a lot of the pain; stemming from the notion that people somehow chose to be gay. Early examples of sexual orientation change efforts belong to Nazi Germany. Prisoners charged with a homosexual crime were forced to wear a pink triangle and participate in weekly sexual encounters with Jewish and gypsy woman. If the prisoners were able perform sexually (as observed through peepholes by the Nazi Germans) they were deemed “fit” to serve in the Dirlewanger penal division of the Nazi military (Murphy, 1992). Even though “research” conducted by Nazi Germany gave the world insight into otherwise unethical and immoral studies, many scientists refuse to the data. America and the sexual orientation change effort movement could learn a great deal about homosexual behavior and the lack of success in efforts to change it. Upon first glance, there is no evidence that Americans who oppose the homosexual agenda are similar to Nazi Germany; nevertheless they are very much alike. It’s less about the act of “hating” homosexuality and more about the motive. It’s about control; it’s about thinking you are better than another person and believing you know what’s best for them, to the point of forcing your beliefs on them. Social work, psychology and society do not have room for this kind of behavior.
Another common notion toward sexual orientation change efforts is putting trust in God’s power to “change” a person’s homoerotic desires. Exodus International, an organization who’s catchy phrase was “pray the gay away”, closed its doors in...