I originally wrote this testimony/speech for the press conference at Love Won Out Atlanta, and realizing it was pretty good I figured I should show the world. Here’s my story:
Huge thanks to Eteban for shooting this.
Transcript after the jump
As requested, a transcript of the video for those who are hearing impaired (Thanks to Jim Burroway for transcribing this):
My name is Daniel Gonzales. I’m a contributing author with the web site Ex-Gay Watch.com, and I’m also a former patient of ex-gay therapist, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.
Dr. Nicolosi is the founder and former president of NARTH, that’s the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
I grew up in the Baptist church, going to youth group. Really, I didn’t have a whole lot of exposure to gay people – really just two. One was the HIV-positive gay man that spoke to my high school health class. And two, one of my next door neighbors, who was clearly struggling to reconcile his faith and sexuality, attempted suicide by lighting himself on fire.
I really finally reached the point where I kind of realized my sexuality was something that was not going to take care of itself when I went off to college. And at that point I was still believing sort of the two biggest lies that drive people into ex-gay therapy, and that is 1) that you cannot be gay and Christian, and 2) that being gay is not a viable or fulfilling way to live your life. And I really believe that if someone chooses, … that if someone buys those two lies then they will have no choice but to pretty much believe anything that an ex-gay group tells them.
A real common question I get is why I went with the therapeutic approach with Dr. Nicolosi instead of a faith-based approach with Exodus. Growing up like so many gay youth with a religious upbringing, I spent countless occasions in prayer begging the Lord to make me straight. And he never did. And so I felt as though I had tried my faith and it had never produced results. And that’s why I went with therapy because that was something I hadn’t done up until that point.
Dr. Nicolosi practices what’s called “reparative therapy”. He actually wrote the book on reparative therapy. The basic idea behind that is that your own sense of masculinity is somehow broken, and you try to make up for that deficiency by being attracted to people who represent the things that you feel you’re lacking. And part of that therapy is that you take those attractions when you have them and you try to figure out what they represent about yourself that you’re somehow lacking.
And you take it and you analyze it and you twist it and you obsess over it until you convince yourself that it doesn’t matter and you push it aside. And that’s just not something that I could keep doing for the rest of my life.
What I learned about “change” is that you can change your behavior, and you can change how you perceive yourself and how you perceive the world, but you can’t change your sexual orientation.
Simply put: Ex-gay therapy is just an elaborate attempt to convince yourself that your same-sex attractions are something other than what they actually are, that they have some other meaning.
To quote an exchange ex-gay survivor Peterson Toscano had with his father from the documentary Fish Can’t Fly:
So my Dad says to me, “Son, you did your best. Besides, you can’t make a fish fly.” And Dad’s right. You can’t make a fish fly. But you could chuck a fish across the room, and for a few fleeting moments, it really believes it’s flying – until it smashes its head against the wall.
What did ex-gay therapy accomplish? In the end… well I was in therapy for about a year and a half. And it was at least another year before I wanted anything to do with gay people – so two and a half more years of repression. And my insurance didn’t cover the therapy so that was all out of pocket – thousands of dollars.
But most tragic was the loss of my faith. For so many people – gay people – who grew up as religious people, their faith is just a part of themselves that is so painful that they can’t allow it to continue to be a part of themselves. They have to purge themselves of it in order to move on.
And groups like Exodus really just want to bring people closer to God (and turn them straight obviously). But the sad thing is that in my case and so many people like me, the exact opposite ends up happening.