Gay-affirmative therapy is supposed to be the “cure” for unwanted homosexual desires, according to gay activists and the major therapeutic associations (whose professional motto seems to be, “If we can’t figure out how to fix it, it must not be broken”). The problem, they say, is not with the desires, but with the fact that they are unwanted.
But we didn’t want to be affirmed as gay. We wanted to be affirmed as MEN. We needed to heal lifelong feelings of being different from other guys.
We needed to heal our “father wounds” and “father hunger.” We needed to heal our sense of estrangement from men and our own masculinity. Affirming our “gayness” could never accomplish that. Only affirming our manhood – affirming our place in the world of men — could bring us the healing we needed.
After all, our wounds, at their root, were not about sex. They were about a little boy’s deepest needs to feel loved and wanted and to feel okay as a male. Sex could never heal them. Only brotherly love could heal them: the love of God, the love of other men, of mentors, of fathers and father figures, and especially love of ourselves, as men.
Call it “gender-affirmative” therapy: learning to experience at last, in non-sexual ways, the masculine love and affirmation we had secretly longed for all our lives. In many ways, that is what those of us who sought out reparative therapy or inner-child therapy experienced.
As David writes:
“My therapeutic work wasn’t about switching the gender of my sexual preference. It was about escaping the problems underlying them – anxiety, shame and fear… I worked with (my therapist) for two years, focusing on building relationships with other men, getting past my incapacitating shame, and developing a strong masculine identity. The ‘great divide’ in my life between me and other men began to close… And yes, my sexual orientation changed too.”
Gay activists have lambasted and politicized reparative or sexual re-orientation therapy and persuaded the major therapeutic professional associations, out of political correctness, to vilify and condemn it. Deliberate mis-characterizations of reparative therapy abound.
But those of us who went through reparative therapy found it to be a deeply healing experience. It helped bring us out of shame. It helped us release anger. It helped us heal lifelong hurts and emotional wounds. It taught us how to “repair” childhood yearnings for male affirmation and acceptance by fulfilling them, often with new heterosexual male friends and mentor-father figures, instead of repressing them. Instead of focusing on our sexual orientation, reparative therapy focused on healing with other men (especially our fathers and peers) and with ourselves as men.
As the client, we directed the therapy. We were never coerced. We were never shamed. (And we certainly never received electric shocks, as some claim!) And because good reparative therapists act more as a compassionate mentor than an aloof, disinterested professional, we began to learn to trust men and overcome our defensive detachment from them, sometimes for the first time in our lives.
Almost as a byproduct of our inner work and our relationship work with men, our sexual desire for men began to subside. The stronger we felt in our own masculine, the less desire for men and the more interest in women we began to feel.
One successful client writes of his experience:
“With my eyes closed and the music playing softly, I heard the strong, deep voice of my trusted therapist affirming, ‘You are a man. You are strong. You have broken the power that once tied you to your mother’s identity. You have proven yourself as a man among men. You are whole. Not perfect, but you’re okay not being perfect. You are whole.’ ” Tears rolled down my face. I believed him! It was true, and I finally knew it. I was whole! I no longer desired men sexually. I was one of them, not their opposite. I didn’t need a man to complete me. Yet the irony is, I felt more bonded and connected to men and manhood than I had all of my life. THIS is what I had been seeking all those years from all those men. THIS is what I had really wanted all along — this REAL connection, not the fantasy one. Connection to men. Connection to my own manhood. A real connection to God. Wholeness within myself. I felt my heart almost burst out of my chest with joy.”
So what could be so wrong with such healing reparative therapy? Only that it is political incorrect in today’s society for someone who experiences homosexual urges to not want to be gay.
But we are not talking about politics. We are talking about our very lives, and our freedom to heal. “Going straight” is not a hate crime. For us, it is an affirmation of our true identity as men.