Contrary to conventional wisdom, gays can go straight

Cal Thomas (syndicated columnist), May 11, 2001

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia
University.  In 1973, he persuaded the American Psychiatric Association to
remove homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual of mental
disorders.  At the time, Dr. Spitzer was hailed by many as a scientific
Moses, leading homosexuals out of their closeted captivity.

Last Wednesday, Dr. Spitzer spoke again to the APA at its meeting in
New Orleans.  This time he had a different message: ¡§Contrary to
conventional wisdom, some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of
change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual
orientation.¡¨  In other words, according to Dr. Spitzer, once homosexual
does not necessarily mean always homosexual.

Dr. Spitzer interviewed 200 men and women who said they had
experienced a significant transition from homosexual to heterosexual
attraction and had sustained this shift for five years.  ¡§Like most
psychiatrists,¡¨ Spitzer says, ¡§I thought homosexual behavior could only be
resisted and that no one could really change their sexual orientation.  I
now believe that to be false.  Some people can and do change.¡¨

When Dr. Spitzer offered his views to the APA 28 years ago, he was
presented as an unassailable expert.  Now, after studying the matter
further, he says his views have changed.  Is he still an expert?  Of course
not, because he now confronts the only force greater than science, theology
or public opinion: political correctness.

Dr. Spitzer must now be silenced or discredited by those for whom ¡§gay
rights¡¨ is a holy grail.  Other ¡§experts¡¨ who toe the party line are being
produced to undermine his conclusions.  Because many of those studied
testify to a religious and/or ¡§reparative therapy¡¨ model leading them to a
different orientation and behavior pattern than before, their conclusions
are immediately rejected because they supposedly lack scientific
credibility.  Never mind that various scientists, some homosexuals
themselves, have been trying to force the ¡§gay gene¡¨ theory on us with
flawed models and a good deal of political, not scientific propaganda behind their conclusions.  They remain credible in some minds because of their objective, which is total acceptance of homosexual practice as normal, even good.

The essence of real science is the ability to alter conclusions when
new facts are observed.  But political correctness is about holding a view
in spite of the facts.  Political correctness demands that new ¡§facts¡¨ be
created in order to serve the ideological and social ends of certain groups.
That¡¦s why in science, religion and politics, new models have replaced old
models because the old ones lead to conclusions and destinations to which
the PC crowd does not wish to return.

Many homosexuals with whom I have spoken are not aware of the
availability of nonjudgmental counseling to help them escape the ¡§gay life.¡¨
Many feel trapped in their ¡§orientation,¡¨ not because of dwindling cultural
disapproval but because of pressure to conform to gay society.  They are
told that a desire to change indicates they hate themselves and that it is
impossible for them to reject their ¡§true identity.¡¨

Dr. Spitzer says that many of those he studied were motivated to
change because of disillusionment with a promiscuous lifestyle and unstable,
stormy relationships.  Others reported a conflict with their religious
values, or a desire to be, or to stay, married to a member of the opposite

One finding that surprised Dr. Spitzer was that 67 percent of the men
who had rarely or never experienced any opposite sex attraction before the
change effort, now report significant heterosexual attraction.  Even those
whose orientation did not change, but who gave up homosexual practice,
testified to a significant improvement in their emotional health.

When Dr. Bernard Nathanson ran the nation¡¦s largest abortion clinic in
New York, he was frequently cited as an authority on abortion rights and
regularly interviewed.  But when he converted to the pro-life side, he was
denounced by his former colleagues and now is rarely sought out by the
media.  I suspect Dr. Spitzer will share the same fate.

For those homosexuals who are not into the politics of gay rights and
who desire help, Dr. Spitzer¡¦s findings offer hope.  And hope is one of the
greatest gifts a psychiatrist can give a patient.
      • Cal Thomas is a political columnist based in Virginia.