Dr. Drew was not the only television doctor talking about ex-gay therapy on Wednesday. Dr. Oz dedicated his entire show to the “controversy,” providing ample time to those who profit from the harmful therapy to promote their quackery unchallenged. Representatives from NARTH and People Can Change were presented as “experts” who were offering one side of a debate that the medical community has already settled.
GLAAD, GLSEN, and PFLAG all condemned the episode, explaining how thoroughly the practice of ex-gay therapy had been debunked. GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard participated in the show, but explained that she and other LGBT advocates were not informed NARTH would be represented — let alone featured. During his final thought, Dr. Oz argued that he believed the sides needed to talk to each other, then followed up on his blog that only after the show did he have the epiphany that therapists should affirm gay identities:
Some guests argued that they have been changed thru these treatments, but I was overwhelmed by the pain of individuals hurt by the experience. After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments.
My biggest epiphany occurred after hearing where the opposing groups found some common ground. The guests who appeared on my show on either side of this debate agreed that entering into any therapy with guilt and self-hate is a major error. Trying to change who you are instead of loving who you are leads to broken spirits and broken hearts. Encouraging self-acceptance is the only way to help alleviate the shame experienced by those who are struggling with their sexuality – and help them reach a place where who they are matches who they want to be.
It should not require an open, unchallenged airing of harmful lies to agree with the established medical consensus. There is no way for self-acceptance and ex-gay therapy to coexist; NARTH and others rely upon shame. Their business depends upon clients having “unwanted sexual attractions” and believing the faulty promise that the attractions can be treated. Because of the visibility of his show and the expertise entrusted in him by his viewers, Dr. Oz performed a massive disservice by treating the issue of ex-gay therapy as an open question.
Clips of the entire episode, as well as post-show reflections from the guests, are available online.
Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out notes that they offered Dr. Oz’s producers to provide America’s top scientists who deal with sexual orientation, but they “arrogantly declined” the assistance.