When discussing American politics, people often use how racist, sexist and homophobic people are as a benchmark of political competency. During the Donald v Hillary presidency campaign last year, many LGBT+ people were concerned that they may be made to feel even more unsafe if certain politicians were to be given certain roles in Congress. One particular recurring issue was that of gay conversion therapy, which isn’t actually illegal in every US state, and whether or not it could become more or less practised.
Most people don’t really know what gay conversion therapy entails, so we did some research to try and find out just what GCT means.
To try and find businesses and charities that offer such a service, we knew we wouldn’t just be able to type in “gay conversion therapy” and find what we were looking for. These organisations know that they need to word it a little more cleverly and use terms such as “family healing” and “sexual sin therapy”. Once we discovered the terms they use, we found a load of organisations that offered some sort of “sexual abnormality healing”. Below is a map of these organisations and their location in the US:
Many organisations take a “restoring manhood” approach and the actual therapy takes the form of group discussion and meditation with other men. What was quite curious is that all of the services were aimed at men and there was nothing available for women with “sexual sins”. Some of the services had flashy brochures and even offered to pay for transportation costs.
The following quotes are taken from the organisations’ websites and should help you understand what the therapies usually entail:
“Journey Into Manhood is also appropriate for any man, regardless of his sexuality, who wants to address unresolved issues around men and masculinity in a safe, supportive yet challenging group environment.”
“Is Falling Forward [organisation name] for me?
“Falling Forward is for all men, age 18 and up who struggle with sexual purity and want to be free from the damaging effects of sexual brokenness and addiction. Young and old from all church backgrounds are welcome!
“What is the format?
“Weekly meetings include worship, teaching and small groups. In each group, participants are given a chance to check in, discuss the teaching and then receive prayer within the small group. Accountability and prayer are two of the major components of the small groups.
“Men who have resolved, diminished or made peace with their unwanted same-sex attractions supporting others seeking similar change.”
For all there is a homophobic undertone to these statements, it seems that GCT isn’t always a brutal process. Of course, programs about acceptance of sexuality would be a million times better and for every organisation that offers GCT, there’s a group that are fighting to oppose it.