Reparative therapy. For the sake of full disclosure I’ve never been through reparative therapy as far as meeting with a counselor on a regular basis but I’ve definitely been to a support group that taught it, spoken with pastors that believed it, read books, articles, and been to an Exodus Internation conference that taught it. I’ve watched videos, documentaries, and studied the teachings of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi in as much as I could without actually being counseled one-on-one with him. With that said, here is how I understand the views of reparative therapy and the reasons a boy will turn out gay as he grows into a man.
For those unfamiliar with the reparative therapy, the belief is that we’re all born “straight” and at some point in early childhood development, around 2 years old, something happens through the nurture environment (domineering mother, distant father/absent father) which distorts the male child’s emotional makeup and his image of his own masculinity. This then causes the male child to feel more feminine. When puberty hits the male child becomes attracted to what is opposite of himself, masculinity, and due to raging hormones the attraction becomes sexualized and boy becomes GAY. I’ll give you the highlights of this below:
At birth Joey is an average infant boy. Perfectly healthy. Although a bit on the melancholy side. His emotional makeup is quiet, not a showboater, meek.
By age two it’s clear he is very much attached to his mother and doesn’t seem to be as close to his father. He shy’s away from loud, aggressive behavior. He’s labeled a “mama’s boy.” He’s gentle, not overbearing like his brother that’s just 14 months older.
According to Dr. Nicolosi it’s around this age that a boy should separate from his mother and bond with his father where he’ll LEARN masculinity. If this doesn’t happen, he’ll take on more feminine traits and qualities like his mother, and the relationship with his father will be broken, unhealthy, and the boy will never “feel” like a man.
By age four-six he’s expressed some interest in slightly more feminine things such as cooking and wants an easy bake oven, doesn’t like sports, wants to be an actor, is more on the “sensitive” side as his mother says.
And this goes on. Joey doesn’t quite fit in with boys in school that are macho, into sports, loud, & full of aggression. He is quiet, polite, thoughtful, and spends more time with female classmates. He is into acting, writing, creativity, and art. He likes to make things with his hands and is a deep thinker, sensitive to the feelings of others. He feels rejected by his peers when he should be learning how to navigate among them.
Do I deny any of this? Not at all. This was my story. I wouldn’t say my mother was domineering though or my father was absent though.
It all sounds so simple. Just unlearn what’s been learned, fill the void, fix what’s broken. But to Dr. Nicolosi I say, what if what you think has been broken has always been? What if it’s not my father’s fault that our relationship was troubled? What if it was me? What could my father have done so vastly different between the birth of my brother J. who is 14 months older than me and my birth that he treated me so differently I turned out gay? What if it was me? What if MY personality couldn’t jive with him? What if *I* pulled away from him by MY own nature and felt more comfortable with my mother? I’m tired of blaming my father for this. I’m tired of blaming my mother. She wasn’t some awful domineering creature and he wasn’t some angry aggressive monster.
I was simply born a meek, sensitive, artistic, feeling child that had a hard time relating to the rough character my father was but it doesn’t mean he didn’t love me? My father LOVED me dearly. He would have killed for me in a heartbeat. I’m crying as I write this because in the reparative therapy mindset I was so convinced my father had SO failed me that it was HIS fault I was broken, his fault I was gay, his fault I would never be a man… when the whole time my father was loving me just the way I am. Is it true our relationship was troubled at times? Of course but that can be said for millions of fathers and sons.
Is there ONE person in this world that can pinpoint when their sexual orientation came about? The specific moment they learned to be masculine or feminine? The specific moment they chose to be attracted to the opposite or same gender? In my previous post I mentioned my earliest recognition of being enthralled by a blonde headed teenager break dancing in my yard… that was Halloween 1983/84 so I was either going on 4 or going on 5 because my birthday is November 10, 1979. Where did that attraction come from? Being so wowed by that guy and his floppy blonde hair as he danced in my yard?
I don’t have all the answers, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I know this isn’t a choice. I know that this is part of me and it always has been. And though Dr. Nicolosi’s theory sounds amazing and sure on paper it looks like it makes perfect sense but what does it prove? How does it help? I’ve tried his methods for years. I’ve identified the root cause of my homosexuality and applied his methods of “reparative therapy” for YEARS and nothing changed. Not a single thing. I was and am still to this day a gay man. And it’s not my father’s fault!
Here is what my father DID teach me, Dr. Nicolosi! He taught me art and creativity. My father taught me to appreciate cinema… I remember one Friday night in the 80s watching Empire of the Sun and The Last Emperor on HBO with him. He always talked about wanting to put me in dance classes. He always talked about me becoming a writer one day and encouraged me to keep on writing poetry. He listened to classical music all the time when he went to sleep and taught me to appreciate classical music as well. He knew I was sensitive, he knew I was different, he knew I needed my mother more than my brothers and he didn’t care. He let me be. He lost his own mother when he was just five years old so to him, his youngest son having a mother was a blessing, something beautiful, and he got a kick out of my being so attached to my mother. I was his baby, his youngest. My parents loved me. They did the best they knew how and I’m eternally grateful for all they did for me. My father and I may not have had everything in common but he knew I belonged in the arts and he helped me find my way there, as a writer, an observer of people, and for that I simply say, Thanks, Da. I love you. It’s not your fault.