Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, head of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, reportedly displayed sexism and an insensitivity toward child abuse at the November 2002 “Love Won Out” conference organized by Focus on the Family.

Even before the meeting, Nicolosi’s organization was known for advocating therapies that worsen children’s struggles with gender roles and self-esteem.

The conference offered a veneer of extreme politeness toward gay visitors who were assumed by ex-gay activists to be going to Hell. Behind the smiles, the speakers and sponsors were on public record supporting discrimination in education, employment, housing, government services, insurance benefits, and participation in church.

According to a report in the Washington, D.C., gay newspaper Metro Weekly:

Nicolosi approaches the podium. He starts off sensitive, but then the phrase “sinful, degenerative perverts ” slips out. Oops. He tells parents to be concerned about sons who don’t establish good relationships with their fathers, because they may turn out to be mama’s boys, and we all know what that means. …

Dr. Nicolosi is particularly sexist, asserting that women tend to just
watch kids while men tend to play with them. He makes a joke about how
fathers don’t know how to carry babies and always forget to support their

“If the father drops the kid and the kid gets brain damage, at least he’ll
be straight. Small price to pay, ” laughs Nicolosi. The audience chuckles
at the thought of a straight baby with brain damage.

The conference attendees were almost entirely white and conservative, and many were heterosexuals who had never experienced or struggled over same-sex attraction.

“Unfulfilling” quickly becomes the catchword of the day. It seems that most ex-gays leave homosexuality because they suddenly realize that they feel unfulfilled by cracked-out anonymous sex. This realization is treated as nothing less than God-sent epiphany. But because gay life is portrayed as basically synonymous with drug use and casual sex, getting sober and monogamous without getting straight is a virtual non-option.

The message that one could not be sober or monogamous without changing one’s sexual orientation had no apparent medical or scientific support.

When asked if he thinks that a faithful, lasting and meaningful gay relationship is impossible, Haley says “Not impossible, but almost.”

Is Haley happier now that he’s left gay life behind?

“Couldn’t be happier, ” he smiles.

Not everyone finds the transition so smooth. Between the “Pro-Gay Theology ” breakout session and the “Why Is What They’re Teaching So Dangerous? ” seminar, Jim [not his real name], a 44-year-old salon owner, is chain-smoking Marlboro reds in the parking lot. Jim has come all the way from North Carolina for this conference. He’s made the decision to go ex-gay three months ago.

“I still get tempted, ” he admits. “When I see a pretty little thing, I still want to touch him, so I basically just try to avoid being near them. It’s like, you don’t bring an alcoholic to a bar.”

Jim’s nine-year same-sex relationship ended when he cheated on his partner. That was the breaking point. He still worries that he’ll relapse into gay life and confesses that he’ll probably never completely shake his attraction to men. He says he could never have a true relationship with a woman. Has he sworn off romance for life?

“Basically, yeah,” he responds.

Same-sex-attracted celibacy seemed to be the rule, with few exceptions, for the ex-gay attendees. Love Won Out offered few visible victories over homosexual attraction. But despite its failures, the regularly scheduled event raises money for Focus on the Family to promote discrimination and harassment against gays, and to tear apart gay couples and gay marriages wherever it can find them.

Celibacy is a valid and healthy option for gays who decide that an active sex life isn’t right for them. Indeed, a few of the nation’s leading gay activists have chosen celibacy while continuing to advocate for gay equal rights and affirmation.

But instead of fostering the self-esteem required to practice celibacy successfully,Love Won Out appears to undermine participants’ self-esteem. Exodus and Focus on the Family tell attendees that they will be promiscuous, drug-addicted, and rejected by God unless they adopt an intolerant ex-gay ideology and a round of unproven therapies approved by Nicolosi and his associates.

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