Therapy helped gay man go straight
by Eric Erickson
(Southern Voice, a pro-gay paper)

Thursday, 17 May 2001

Tom Cole is married with four children. That's today. In the 1970s and early '80s, Cole said he was "very gay."

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Ex-gay Tom Cole was part of a controversial study released last week that said gays can go straight. Cole married a former lesbian after he started reparative therapy.
"I just never experienced real satisfaction in the gay community. I just never felt happy or content," Cole said.

Cole had his first gay sexual encounter at age 13 with a friend, a relationship that continued for six years. He came out of the closet in college in Detroit.

"I was appalled and sickened to think about sex with women. I did not find women attractive at all, [but had] very strong attractions to men and pretty healthy sex life with men. So I considered myself totally gay, " Cole said.

But everything in Cole's life took a dramatic turn when he said he committed his life to Christ and decided to try and change his sexual orientation.

"Dealing with the pain of being tormented and beat up and rejected by my peers, I had a very violent childhood because of my perceived sexuality. I didn't tell anyone I was gay but it was perceived that I was, so I was the playground punching bag," he said.

Cole entered a reparative therapy group in 1986. His transformation from gay to ex-gay was not immediate, but soon Cole and a close friend, a former lesbian, started dating and married two years later.

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"About four years after we were married, I was still going through a lot of the process," Cole said. "We were functioning heterosexually. I enjoyed sexuality with her, but there were still some deep issues that I had not dealt with."

Cole completed his reparative therapy in 1992 and found that his "attraction to men was gone." He began his life as an ex-gay running Reconciliation Ministries in Michigan. Like the therapy groups Cole attended, his organization focuses on changing the heart, not just behavior.

"I can see a man; I can see he's good looking. That doesn't mean I want to sleep with him; it's not real sexual," Cole said.

Cole was one of the 200 people Dr. Robert Spitzer interviewed for his study on whether gays can go straight, released last week during a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New Orleans.

"[Spitzer] goes into a lot of detail and a lot of probing in a 45-minute phone interview," Cole said.