Last month, Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychologist who helped declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder, disavowed a study he published just a decade ago suggesting that ex-gay therapy could be effective. Acknowledging the many flaws in his research, he apologized “to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy.” He even published these remarks in a letter to the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, essentially retracting the study to the fullest extent he can.
Nevertheless, ex-gay organizations have continued to use his study and previous remarks defending the study against his wishes. The Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International insisted it will still use the study, calling it “good science,” regardless of Spitzer’s admissions to the contrary. Another ex-gay organization, PFOX, is still using video of Spitzer defending the study, as well as the study itself. In a new interview with Truth Wins Out, Spitzer specifically addressed the PFOX video, but admitted it’s unlikely ex-gay groups will ever subside in their “hateful” efforts:
SPITZER: I ask that PFOX stop showing this video. This is quite misleading. I had no way, really, of knowing when I examined any particular subject whether they really had changed or whether they were deceiving themselves or even outright lying when they claimed that they had changed. So, please don’t show this to anyone. […]
The people who are pushing the ‘ex-gay’ idea are so full of hatred for homosexuality, really, that I don’t think they can respond in an ethical way.
If people can recognize that being a homosexual is something that cannot be changed and that efforts to change are going to be disappointing and can be harmful, if that can be more widely known that would be very good. If somebody is troubled that they are homosexual, what they ought to do is face up to that and so something so they are more comfortable living with the way they are, because any attempt to change is misguided.
Watch the full interview:
Spitzer’s study may have been faulty, but the 80-year-old researcher seems to be doing everything he can to make amends for it. Any organization that claims his prior work as valid proof that sexual orientation can be changed is lying with malicious — and harmful— intent.