Randy Thomas Weighs in on Haggard’s Three Month Recovery
The Associated Baptist Press reports that both those who favor and those who doubt reorientation effectivity are skeptical about Ted Haggard’s newfound heterosexuality. On the pro side, Randy Thomas echoed Alan Chambers’ word on CNN.
“To be honest, I’m not aware of the specifics of what Mr. Haggard went through. But in my own personal experience that’s not the case — and in the experience of everyone I’ve talked to,” said Randy Thomas, vice president of the Florida-based group Exodus International.
Psychologist Lee Beckstead* provided an explanation for Haggard’s position.
Beckstead, like the majority of mental-health professionals, believes much of “ex-gay” therapy is psychologically harmful for people with homosexual orientations. However, he has done extensive research into the effects of sexual-reorientation therapy on people who have strong religious motivations for avoiding homosexual contact. Beckstead has argued among his peers for a more nuanced understanding of the psyches of such people before dismissing all aspects of “ex-gay” therapy.
People with religiously based antipathy toward homosexuality “need to see themselves as heterosexual, and their communities need to see them as heterosexual,” he said. “And so that kind of pressure kind of distorts the facts and distorts the information they present to other people.”
This need to be perceived both by oneself and one’s community as heterosexual could help us all understand some of the contraditory statements that seem the calling card of ex-gay leaders.
Thomas seemed to agree with Beckstead to some extent.
Exodus’s Thomas said that Haggard’s worldview may prevent him from confronting a sexual attraction to men head-on.
“There’s a lot of people who deal with same-sex attraction who never identified as gay, who would never adopt that worldview. That might be the perspective he’s coming from [but] I’m not positive,” he said.
Although the Associated Baptist Press presents Lee Beckstead as having a “differing opinion” on sexual-reorientation therapy, it should be understood that Beckstead is a defender of some change therapy (under certain circumstances) and
is a referred and presents himself as a source for from the LDS Church (the Mormons).
Beckstead has done some research and his conclusions are that while orientation (attraction) did not change in any of his study participants, some did report positive responses including reconciling self-identity, control of behaviors, and less intensity of same-sex attraction. He also reported that harm can result from the traditional forms or reorientation therapy (ie false expectations, internalized failures, and demonization of gays and lesbians).
Much of Beckstead’s thinking appears to me to be similar to the values-based counseling currently being discussed by Dr. Warren Throckmorton. We may discuss Beckstead further in that context.
Lee Beckstead is currently counseling a dear friend of mine, and so far has helped to save his life. A summary of Beckstead’s research into the effectivness of Reorientation Therapy can be found here.
Thanks to Mr. Kincaid and Howller I have some reading to do. This is a new one for me. Just by skim reading a little at that link I found I have displaced a little of my seething anger…just a little. I see from reading there are internal conflicts with the LDS Church authorities and its members. Then I asked myself: Why would I think there wasn’t such an articulate and erudite discussion happening somewhere? (shrug shoulders) Maybe because I have arrived at a point in my life where religion is meaningless and the struggle for gays in the LDS Church seems futile.
Interesting reading, though. Something to do this weekend; wrap up in my Pendleton blanket and read by the glow of my LCD monitor.
Using the identity label “same-sex attracted (SSA)” is healthier, more fulfilling, and productive than using the identity labels lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB).
Well at least the music is good in 1984.
it should be understood that Beckstead is . . . a referred source from the LDS Church (the Mormons).
Just so that there is no misunderstanding, Beckstead is a therapist who regularly works with homosexual Mormons, but he would never be referred directly by the LDS church because he is openly gay.
As one who is very interested in the ex gay theory, I have met personally with Richard Cohen of the International Healing Foundation, read all of his work and attended his seminars. Additionally, I’ve met with Dr. Niclolsi’s practice. I find their research and approach to reparative therapy quite credible. They have dispelled the “born that way” myth, but the mainstream press ignors the facts. Various types of emotional wounds at an early age seem to the biggest contributing factor.
Obviously, this therapy isn’t for everyone, but I’ve seen it work for those who want to change are committed to doing so. People should know that this therapy is available, it can work and they should have the right of self determination. That is true diversity and tolerance. Please don’t discredit the efforts of reparative therapists and don’t be afraid of them. They won’t hurt you and won’t change you unless you want to change. As for Ted Haggard, his reparative therapy isn’t finished yet.
I appreciate your comments, Jeff, but they are factually incorrect.
First, I am suspect of anyone who champions Richard Cohen. As those who read this site well know, he is a bizarre individual who believes that orientation can change by hitting a pillow with a tennis racquet and by cuddling. There are certainly more credible voices on that side of the debate – and very few who are less credible.
No one has dispelled any “born that way myth”. The truth is that no one is certain how orientation is formed. However, it is pretty much concluded that for some people there are genetic and/or other prenatal factors that play a stong part in eventual orientation. This cannot be dismissed. There are just too many studies that show physical differences or correlations (eg. maternal chomosome activation).
It may also be true that there are, for some people, some postnatal factors. But to claim that “emotional wounds at an early age seem to the biggest contributing factor” displays either ignorance or willful deception. There is exactly zero evidence to support the “emotional wounds” hypothesis.
A few things you said are true: It is true that this therapy is available. And it is also true that each person is entitled to their own self determination.
However, it is not true that “it works”. Other than one small study with significant flaws, there is nothing AT ALL that supports the notion that someone wishing to change their orientatation can do so.
And even for those who claim success, change is not to orientation or to gender attraction but rather is change in behavior and self identity.
Further, there is some evidence (though from flawed research and anecdote) that reparative therapy may indeed be harmful to some people.
Your further input is welcomed, but please be aware that those who participate at this site are very conversant with what is or is not factually supportable. Broad claims will not fare well and claims to the authority of the disreputable will discredit your arguments.
I hate to sound stupid, but this right that we’ve been given of “self-determination” is just not computing to me. I listened to Mr. Chambers use it; I’ve heard Mr. Thomas use it; Jeff is using it. On it’s face, it all sounds well and good, but the more I think about it, the more confused I get. This right seems to imply that I get to determine my own reality. Sounds great so far. Perhaps it’s because I’m just a layman and this term is just too “high-brow” for me, but it appears to me that this “right” taken to it’s logical conclusion means I can defy all logic because I declare something. “I am a monkey!” And by making that self-determination, I am a monkey…errr, wait…the problem still exists that I am not a monkey and no amount of “self-determination” is going to make it so.
Ted Haggart, and from my understanding Alan Chambers, buy in (to some degree or other) the “name-it-and-claim-it” theology. My pastor does as well. This gives rise to all sorts of assertions. I’m claiming to be heterosexual…therefore I am. Then you are suppose to act as though you are whatever it is you claim. It’s living in some sort of alternate universe that isn’t based in reality…just something you wish to be.
I can claim heterosexuality all day! I can claim to be a monkey all day long as well! Self-determination! Isn’t it really more like self-delusion?
And by the way, Alan Chambers said that his life today isn’t anything like it was 16 years ago. Hmmm…neither is mine. 16 years ago, I was 21, hated God, the Church and anyone remotely associated. Strung out on drugs! Today I’m in a committed long-term relationship and we’ve got a child. I’ve found my faith again! My life has changed!!! It’s better!
I find their research and approach to reparative therapy quite credible.
Are you really sure you want to go on record as saying that Richard Cohen’s approach is “quite credible?”
Obviously whether you have met with anyone is not verifiable at this point but let’s take the following:
They have dispelled the “born that way” myth, but the mainstream press ignors the facts. Various types of emotional wounds at an early age seem to the biggest contributing factor.
No one has dispelled anything to my knowledge, the matter is still very much under scientific investigation. Anyone on either side of this issue would be either mistaken or dishonest to state otherwise.
Please don’t discredit the efforts of reparative therapists…
Discrediting inaccurate theories is how we get at the truth. If what they say is accurate, then it will be vindicated. Why be afraid of truth?
No one here is against self-determination – quite the opposite. But we are against false claims being presented to hurting people as a “cure.”
Jonathan, the right to self-determination as I understand it simply means that you have the right to lead your life as you see fit as long as you don’t interfere with the same right of another. You can chart your own path, take the roads you think are best, even if they turn out to be bad ones.
We try to educate people so they understand what they are getting into, when someone is lying to them, what the science says, etc. We also try to point out when people might have motives which are not necessarily the best for the individual in question. But in the end, that individual has the right to chart their own path.
the right to self-determination as I understand it simply means that you have the right to lead your life as you see fit as long as you don’t interfere with the same right of another. You can chart your own path, take the roads you think are best, even if they turn out to be bad ones.
I can accept that statement. Of course we all have a right to do whatever the heck we want to do or be whomever we want to be as long as it’s (i) not illegal and (ii) doesn’t hurt anyone else. It does however boggle the mind to watch one give the appearance of deluding themselves under the guise of “self-determination”.
On a side note, has Alan ever addressed his apparent double talk? I know he visits this forum on occassion and would assume, given his recent higher public profile, that he would be checking in to see what was being said here.
Timothy wrote: “This need to be perceived both by oneself and one’s community as heterosexual could help us all understand some of the contraditory statements that seem the calling card of ex-gay leaders.”
The contradictory statements by ex-gay leaders could also be understood within the context that they are living a lie and trying to force that lie onto the rest of us.
I find it highly unlikely that ex-gays are actually perceived by their community as heterosexual. It would be very interesting to do a poll of Evangelicals and find out if any significant percentage believe these ex-gays when they say they are heterosexual. My gut feeling is that most of these Evangelicals would be chuckling in their pews while Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas droned on about how heterosexual they are.
Beckstead has published an impressive and interesting series over the years. Much of it about counseling homosexual/bisexual people from within anti-gay religious communities, and often with collegue Susan Morrow. Salt Lake City provides him with many opportunities for study…
From a time before his thesis (1998?), Beckstead has made an important contribution to issues around counseling such individuals.
“The Counseling Psychologist” published a solid edition on the subject in 2004. Beckstead has also contibuted some fascinating chapters to the Drescher / Zucker book and to the Drescher / Shidlo / Schroeder book.
The sharp-eyed will note the dates: contrary to the claims by some therapists, and Exodus et al, the conseling community has long been aware of the issues that this minority of homosexually oriented clients present with. (Haldeman, Drescher and others have been commenting on the subject for well over a decade). It has as long been noted that such clients are often drawn into the clutches of virulently anti-gay therapists who use this very process of “values clarification” to amplify the anti-gay feelings held by the client. And this, of course, often leaves a conflicted and self-hating mess for other therapists to clean up after the client has “failed” to become heterosexual (as they almost certainly will).
So, Lee Beckstead is not either a “change therapist” or anti-gay (to the contrary, actually). He does, however, also have a well-grounded understanding of the difficult place that some homosexual and bisexual people from anti-gay religious communities find themself in.
Beckstead is certainly not trying to make life more difficult for either “side” — which is more than can be said for either Warren Throckmorton or Mark Yarhouse (to name but two anti-gay professionals who have belatedly galloped toward “values clarification” in recent times).
Beckstead is also quite forthcoming about the type of harm that such counseling can cause people — a potential for harm that is intrinsic to the very process itself, and not simply caused by using a “bad” therapist. It is this intrinsic potential harm that others (eg Throckmorton and Yarhouse) are all too dismissive of, or even outright hostile toward admitting. [eg, and click through and read the rather disturbing last paragraph from Throckmorton’s own piece]
In a nutshell: Beckstead wants those clients with religious conflicts to be at peace — and has studied focus groups to help achieve this — but he also wants to reduce the negative social and cultural forces that propel homosexual and bisexual people into exgay therapy in the first place. Others do not.
PS if you go looking, it’s helpful to look under the full “A. Lee Beckstead”. And anyone with Athens access is welcome to accidently email the pdf files from, say “The Counseling Psychologist”, to us … not that you should, of course, that would be naughty.
I’m not gay, but often I have mentioned that their are other forms of cultural context that require comparison and are important to discussions a person’s self worth and self image.
As well as self determination.
Religious belief hasn’t isolated gays and lesbians in the past, but other people as well.
It’s important to note, that the necessity for conversion is not evidenced by risky behavior alone.
Risky behavior is qualified by certain inevitable results.
Homosexuality doesn’t reconcile with religious belief, but religious belief doesn’t square with fairness or tangible realities.
Being religious, choosing which faith to follow is a choice.
It always is. This is without question.
And fortunately there is no law that requires to what degree a religion is practiced.
However, there is also no requirement that influential religious groups engage the truth. That allows for social integration on equal terms in civil access.
It’s evident that lies are told. That evidence is dismissed or goes unused.
If someone like Thomas is so invested in truth and consequences….it also requires that it’s all out on the table for everyone to see and make their own informed decisions.
The thing is, ex gay therapy and ministry can’t qualify or define the commitment.
And they are literally down to solely addressing homosexuals.
When I’ve cruised websites that are definitetively anti gay or ex gay-you’d think that they had no time to engage the public about domestic violence, child abuse, divorce or single parenthood….except when they suspect it among gays and lesbians.
To hear them tell it, the status and integration of gay people is considered the most important socio/politically radioactive advent in this century.
I’m surprised they aren’t exhausted yet in trying to keep up this pretense at social responsibility and exaggeration of influence to a beneficient end.
Thomas can’t address what tools were directly used for Haggard to come out of this situation as he has.
No one can qualify it, and those closest to him, won’t talk.
But this is a deeply intimate issue.
And analyzing it to it’s finite degree is difficult, because those involved…understand the honesty required.
So, I’d say it looks like self deception and self denial to me as well.
And the rest is putting a blanket of deception and denial over the public.
In a heterosexual intensive culture, that’s trying to sell the virtue of heterosexuality (when it’s not a virtue at all), that still threatens, violates and isolates gay young people, it should be no suprise if a gay person doesn’t want to be gay.
Not admitting to exploiting that is that framework of deception on which this ministry and therapy is built.
How can anything be good that is built on fear, deception, denial and coercion?
One of the great things about our readers is that when we are somewhat less informed about a person there will be someone else in our XGW community who is better informed and will share that with us.
Such was clearly the case with Beckstead, about whom I was woefully ignorant. Thanks to all that provided additional points to consider.
Hey, I’m listening to Daniel Gonzales on NPR’s Weekend America. Right now! He had the last word after Richard Cohen. Both were on after a short segment about Ted Haggard’s three week cure. Well done, Daniel!!
Podcast here (after 3 PM PST 02/10/07… but after 02/17/07 you’ll have to go to the “archives” page).
Jay, may I ask which segment he was in, hour 1 or 2?
Hour 2 on my NPR station… maybe about 10 minutes into the hour. The hosts also mentioned Daniel’s presence in Phoenix this weekend, and the news conference (making me think I should have posted this in that thread).
I am wondering if everyone is reading the same apology to the church and media. In the letter I read Ted Haggard says, he will have those “feelings” as long as he lives. He went on to say, “I have determined in my heart that I’m committed to a monogamous, heterosexual lifestyle and relationship with my wife.” That is a far cry from him saying he is cured of being gay.
I am not a defender of Rev. Haggard but it seems to me that everybody is reaching the wrong conclusion, unless there are statements out there that I haven’t read.
Phil, just like we’ve observed that Randy Thomas and Alan Chambers change what they say according to the audience they are speaking to, it’s no surprise that Haggard would do the same.
There is more than the theatric here…Haggard is ‘giving what the people want’.
He might insist he’s no longer feeling those feelings.
And he has the fallback wife and kids to shelter him.
But he described his feelings as despicable and disgusting and as a part of his entire life.
And he used a prostitute…something that might allow him to be gay, but without all the messy attachments like say, oh….a real, committed relationship to ascribe homosexuality to.
Those aren’t supposed to happen.
Reminds me of those white segregationists whose public persona was definitetively anti black, but was secretly seeing a black woman on the side.
This is sexual exploitation, of a group who is never seen as a social or political equal.
Haggard was in control of a church, and it’s income-if not his sexual proclivities.
He’s equating his activity and orientation with perversity.
But the real perversity is the exploitation of his orientation and his church’s exploitation of the prejudice against gay people in particular.
Isn’t truth to oneself the real key to freedom and by that definition, frees others?
Again, I think it’s more than high time to call on these captains of moral destination to be challenged, not only on their sense of direction, but if they are qualified at all to lead anything.
Still, the church will go on, and fill it’s coffers.
Haggard will go on to obscurity. In the meantime, a lot of damage has been done.
Yet, the other side is far fron conceding how much they cause and contribute to the problem, and how little they show successes (other than the size of their churches) that make their efforts worth any of it.
In general, the comments were mostly made in the context of Rev. Ralph’s claims that Haggard is “completely heterosexual”.
Ya know what gang…I think their definitions of heterosexual would be funny, if there weren’t so many casualties of it.
How in the world would Rev. Ralph even know?
Can any of you scholars of Scripture tell me if there is a Biblical definition of heterosexual?
Or a reference to heterosexual supremacy?
Does Haggard’s handlers plan on doing any score keeping in the Haggard bedroom?
Just how much confessing is Haggard supposed to do, as a gay person struggling with ssa…as opposed to the straight folks struggling with everything else BUT that?
Ya know, now that I”m on a roll here….is there a hetero card or certificate of authenticity these people qualify orientation with?
I’d almost pay to see how that happens.