A recent letter to the editor at the Fredericksburg, Va., Free-Lance Star:

A recent letter by Cris Elkins seemed to express a phobia of former homosexuals [“The ‘ex-gay’ movement is flawed in its premise,” April 17]. Contrary to Elkins’ assertions, gender-affirming therapy is advocated by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a scientific organization of medical professionals who practice sexual reorientation therapy.

Moreover, Dr. Robert Spitzer’s recent Columbia University study of former homosexuals shows that same-sex attractions may be overcome. Ironically, Dr. Spitzer is the psychiatrist who initiated the removal of homosexuality from the psychiatric diagnostic manual in 1973.

Dr. Raymond Fowler, CEO of the American Psychological Association, also says that gender-affirming therapy should be available to those who wish to explore developing heterosexual feelings or behavior as part of every client’s right to self-determination. What happened to the right of choice?

Estella Salvatierra

Salvatierra neglected to report Dr. Spitzer’s finding that attractions are rarely overcome. And she misnamed the “gender-affirming” therapy that reinforces traditional gender roles: Men are counseled to play sports and restrain their emotions, women are counseled to wear makeup and show deference toward others.

More importantly, Salvatierra neglected to mention that (as of July 2002) she was vice president of the antigay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays. This is a critical omission from her criticism of Elkins, because Elkins was responding to a letter by PFOX executive director Regina Griggs.

Salvatierra’s disapproval of “choice” is a matter of public record, for she manages PFOX’s online support group. What do they discuss? Much of the time, mothers share how disappointed they are in their adult gay children. Several mothers blame their divorced or gay-tolerant husbands for their grown sons’ homosexuality, and they receive group support for doing so. Other discussion topics include psychiatric institutionalization of gay teens, exorcism of homosexual demons, and the “truth” that most gay men die from fecal diseases by age 30.

Salvatierra is a self-described “civil rights attorney” who opposes proposed laws against bullying in Maryland and Virginia classrooms. In the online support group, she and Griggs have put PFOX on record against nondiscrimination because “sexual orientation” — in PFOX’s opinion — somehow does not include ex-gays.

In managing the support group, Salvatierra (with guidance from Griggs) intercepts all group e-mail. She routinely edits participants’ e-mail messages without their permission and without admitting to the group when specific messages have been reworded or blocked.

Gay-affirming participants are prohibited even if they are tolerant or supportive of ex-gays.

In other words, Salvatierra seems to oppose “choice” except when it is a choice to reject and discriminate against gay people.

Give the group a try and see for yourself.

Comments submitted to XGW’s former blog location:

“Much of the time, mothers share how disappointed they are in their adult children.” Sounds pretty much like mothers of all sorts of children.

What bothers me is the talk about institutionalizing teenagers. I thought this was no longer possible. That insurance companies would not pay for it and that medical professionals would not support any such thing. What is going on, and how is it going on? Is Lamda Legal on this in any way.

What further bothers me is this is stuff I have unearthed in my researches. Which all the nice sideB people at BA swear up and down is not a part of sideB. or at least not any longer. And some of these have also stated they know and like Regina Griggs. Very troubling.

—Dale • 5/9/03; 9:10:37 PM

Love the name:Estella Salvatierra

Wouldn’t that make the most wonderful nom de’drag? Have Estella Salva Tiara come out and do a Betty Bowers type act? Fabulous

—Dale • 5/9/03; 9:12:36 PM

There was one mother in particular, in the Gilroy-San Jose, Calif., area, who had institutionalized her kid once or twice and frequently talked about the demons possessing him. Needless to say, it seemed like he was becoming more messed up, not less. The support group, well, supported this mother.

It apparently remains possible to institutionalize kids in private facilities if you have cooperative doctors using diagnoses that skirt around the edges of gender and sexual orientation. Unless the people claiming to do this are phonies. Anything is possible on the Internet.

Whatever the case, the group supported this mother’s tactics.

Mike A. • 5/10/03; 12:46:49 PM

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