This past December, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints published a new resource about homosexuality, suggesting that it was moving away from its harshest condemnations of gay people. The counsel it included acknowledged that same-sex attractions are not chosen, and seemed to embody a “love the sinner, hate the sin” not unlike the Catholic Church’s. However, the so-called Center for Gender Wholeness, founded by Mormon ex-gay therapists, has launched a new resource that reinforces some of the most tired and offensive myths about homosexuality and encourages Mormons to subject their loved ones to the shame-based treatment.
Here’s just a sampling of the many bizarre claims and dangerous tips provided on the site. (Note: All of the resources are geared toward male homosexuality, because “the Center for Gender Wholeness does not have expertise in working with female homosexuality.”)
- Gay people are more likely to have a history of experiencing trauma and emotional and psychological problems.
- Among the supposed “causes” of homosexuality are unhealthy childhood relationships with females, distorted concepts of gender, feeling incongruent with one’s own gender, problems in relationships with other males, sexual conditioning, sexual abuse, certain biological and physical issues, and certain emotional and psychological problems. [Obviously, this approach completely conflates transgender identities, despite gender identity being a completely independent variable from sexual orientation.]
- People trying to help their gay friends should ask about how they have acted on their attractions, but should be careful not to give them ideas of behaviors they haven’t tried.
- Therapy is “necessary” if an individual “reports unsuccessful attempts to diminish their same-sex attractions.”
- Mormons should encourage (opposite-sex) marriage as a solution to same-sex attractions.
- Mormons should recognize “the hope window,” when people with same-sex attractions are most optimistic about change.
- Therapy can help resolve the “issues that underlie unwanted same-sex attraction.”
- Treatment can include an addiction recovery program and medication.
- The therapists apparently use “brainspotting” to determine “where a person is holding trauma or other negative experience in their brain.”
The promotion of this therapy seems to conflict with what the Mormon Church now says about homosexuality, and the small-text disclaimer at the bottom of the screen is telling:
This site was not created by, or with support from, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Center for Gender Wholeness (CGW) is not affiliated with the LDS Church. The contents of this site represent the veiws [sic] of CGW, which is solely responsible for its content.
Still, the site is designed to look like it’s official guidance from LDS, including detailed resources for training Church leaders on ex-gay therapy.
The American Psychological Association has found that ex-gay therapy is not only ineffective, but reinforces stigma and can thus have harmful effects. The proper therapeutic response when people are struggling with being gay is affirmation — which is coincidentally the name of the organization that supports LGBT Mormons.