The Christian Institute reports Professor Michael King’s research findings as “A significant minority of mental health professionals are attempting to help clients with unwanted homosexual desires.” The Institute’s report accurately says: “There is very little evidence to show that attempting to treat a person’s homosexual feelings is effective and in fact it can actually be harmful.”
That doesn’t fit with conservative needs, however, so instead of continuing to report Michael King’s research, they report work undertaken at Columbia University in 2001 by Professor Robert Spitzer. This shows that homosexuals could become “predominantly” heterosexual through psychotherapy. “Predominantly” heterosexual – what does that mean?
Then they turn to James Parker for support. He has been a client of a Dr Paul Miller who was referred to by Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson last year when she said therapy can help homosexuals change to become heterosexual.
Homosexuals are homosexual. They can no more change to become heterosexual than a heterosexual can change to become homosexual.
So, 41 year old James Parker praises Dr Miller and says he thinks everyone who wishes to avail of his services should have the freedom to do so. I wouldn’t dispute that. I’d just disagree that Dr Miller is a reputable therapist working with a model accepted by other therapists.
Mr Parker reveals that he: “came out as a young gay man at 17 in London without any hostility from anyone and was very active in the gay lifestyle.” Later he met a group of Christians. “I learnt it was possible to have friendships which were non-sexual”. “I saw this new community which was centred around other people and I noticed the community I was in was narcissistic and self-centred in comparison. I began to question my identity - was it simply my sexual orientation? “Through therapy I began to deal with some traumatic incidents in my past where I had been raped and sexually abused. I had found sexual abuse gave me human attention but in a perverted sort of way.” Mr Parker has now been happily married for two years. “I don’t have homosexual feelings any longer,” he said.
Mr Parker’s experience is extremely atypical. He was raped and sexually abused. His earlier life was perverted and abusive. He was in a narcissistic community.
Conservative evangelicals often produce this kind of evidence, as if it proves that this is typical gay experience. It isn’t. It certainly isn’t true to the experience of the majority of Changing Attitude supporters or of lesbian and gay Christians I know well.
Then he met a group of Christians who were person centred and as a result of that began to question his identity. He no longer has homosexual feelings. Perhaps he never was homosexual. Who knows?
His own report and the intervention by Dr Miller are not going to reveal whether he was homosexual and still is but has successfully repressed his same-sex desires or has always been heterosexual but for complex reasons indulged in a very unhealthy environment when he was younger.