Update: Full transcript added.
The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet hosted an ex-gay leader, a former ex-gay, and two therapists — one gay-affirming, the other pro-exgay — during a segment this morning.
Here’s the first half of the segment:
Thanks to XGW commenter Emproph, we have transcripts (and discussion) for both segments. Read on….
The first half of the segment opened with a taped introduction to Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, which profiled a childhood in which, starting around sixth grade (age 10-12), Chambers prayed every night not to be gay anymore. It didn’t work: By 18, he was dating men — “diametrically opposed to what I had grown up being taught.” Chambers adds: “It was a combination of giving in at times to the thoughts and to the fantasies and the behaviors and at the same time feeling tremendously guilty and condemned when those things occurred.”
MIKE: Can therapy turn a gay person straight?
JULIET: As we speak, a special committee of the American Psychological Association is reviewing the research. They’re trying to determine the answer to that question.
MIKE: The process is called conversion therapy, and one man has a definite opinion on the subject.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP] ALAN CHAMBERS: Pretty much on our first date I knew that I was in love with her.
VOICE OVER [MIKE?]:Alan and Leslie appear to have the ideal family. Married for ten years, two children, but before they wed, Alan lived a much different life.
CHAMBERS: I was, gay.
VOICE OVER: He says he used to be homosexual. Feelings that first surfaced in sixth grade.
CHAMBERS: The first person that I was really attracted to was another kid in my class. I remember thinking, I wish I was a girl so I could be his girlfriend. It was an immediate conflict, something that, every night I went to bed praying would go away, only to wake up the next morning feeling exactly the same way. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t want it, and something diametrically opposed to what I had grown up being taught.
VOICE OVER: By eighteen he was dating men, living a gay lifestyle, but emotionally he was at odds.
CHAMBERS: It was a combination of giving in at times to the thoughts and to the fantasies, and to behaviors, and at the same time feeling tremendously guilty, and condemned when those things occurred, and, it was just, it was a walking conflict.
VOICE OVER: He turned to Exodus International. A faith based group claiming to help people overcome homosexuality. After years of therapy, Alan made a decision.
CHAMBERS: I realized, this isn’t who I want to be. I chose to pursue a life apart from homosexuality.
VOICE OVER: He decided to be straight. Eventually meeting and marrying Leslie.
LESLIE: I’ve never really worried about Alan going back, to his, homosexuality. He’s always pursued me first, and so I’ve always had the confidence, that he loved me.
CHAMBERS: Despite the fact that my feelings–I had lingering feelings, lingering attractions, I no longer wanted a relationship with a man. I used to be a gay man and I’m not today.
[END VIDEO CLIP] MIKE: He’s right here with us, Alan Chambers, and his wife Leslie.
JULIET: We also have conversion therapist Jayson Graves. And Peterson Toscano, he calls himself an ex-gay survivor, and we’re going to get the definition of that in just a second, but let’s start with you [Alan]. Ok, so first of all we heard that in the package there, you were a young kid, and you were attracted to men. Were you not attracted to women?
CHAMBERS: I wasn’t. You know when I was–about sixth grade, my guy friends were attracted to other, to little girls, and I was attracted to my guy friends. So it was something that was, it was, a huge conflict for me, starting then.
JULIET: And then at age eighteen, what happened?
CHAMBERS: Well at age eighteen, I’m sitting in a place where I can decide what I want to do with my life. And though I didn’t want to be gay, it was something that was appealing to me, and at the same time I’m trying to decide I don’t want to do this, but these are my feelings. I chose to pursue both.
JULIET: Why did you not want to be gay? What’s wrong with being gay?
CHAMBERS: Well for me it was in conflict with, number one–my faith, but who I wanted to be, everything I thought was–everything I wanted to be in life. I wanted to be a husband, a father, you name it. And certainly society played into that at the time, but it was different from what I imagined my life being.
MIKE: But you could be a husband and a father. You could adopt and live with a man, marry a man
CHAMBERS: You can, and that’s why I chose to live out my homosexual feelings and desires for a period of time, trying to see if that was what would make me happy.
MIKE: But you said that lifestyle was empty, why?
CHAMBERS: What I found was that homosexuality was for the young. There was a time when I wasn’t going to have hair anymore. There was a time when I wasn’t going to work out every day, and lay out in the sun, and be as much a commodity as I was when I was eighteen.
MIKE: But I know chubby, bald, gay men.
CHAMBERS: I do too.
CHAMBERS: I do too.
CHAMBERS: But you know what I found was, for me, that that was empty. The relationships that I found myself in–I had great friends, I’m not saying that I couldn’t find great friendships in the gay community, but I didn’t find relationships that lasted. I never saw relationships that lasted.
JULIET: But something happened there, because you said that there was a point in your life where you were going through some personal issues. And the people that you could rely on happened to be straight people, you’re gay friends weren’t there for you. So do you feel like maybe…
[NO AUDIO: 2:52-2:30] CHAMBERS: …wife. I am attracted to my wife in every way.
MIKE: Well how’d you click over, and all of a sudden Leslie’s attractive to you?
CHAMBERS: Well you know, it was–it wasn’t like a light switch. I didn’t wake up one morning and go, oh I think I’m going to try to be straight today and it all of a sudden worked. For me, it was a long process and what I found was that it was rigorous. It wasn’t hocus-pocus, it was just–I made a decision, this isn’t who I want to be, and regardless, regardless of whether I’m going to find a relationship with a woman or not, I want to pursue something different.
JULIET: But there are a lot of folks out there who are probably, Jayson [motions to Jayson], saying, he’s just telling himself he’s not attracted because he doesn’t want to live this lifestyle. He’s forcing himself not to feel the feelings that he really does have. What is your response to that?
JAYSON GRAVES: Well, there are people that say that for sure, but all I know is that people want to have these options, have these alternatives, to be able to pursue change if they’d like. That’s what America’s all about–is about options and choices, and freedom, and so…
MIKE: Ok, so like he wants to make the choice. Conversion therapy is what you do, how do you turn a gay man straight?
GRAVES: Good question.
MIKE: Take us through the exercises.
GRAVES: Mike, well, we’d need another show, so.. ‘could do it tomorrow, so…
MIKE: Well I gotta, try to mix ‘em in here a little bit, ‘cause I gotta know what you’re doing in this therapy session.
GRAVES: You bet. Basically we help people look at the issues in their life, just like any therapy would do. The things that they’re unhappy about, the things maybe from their past, that there are unsettled. And we help them walk through that, and grow through that. So a little bit bigger than the moment in terms of the span of the question, but essentially there are factors Mike, that are common amongst my clients, and many people who pursue this type of help
MIKE: What is it? Give me one?
GRAVES: Well there are several, but I’ll give you a few. There’s neurological factors, psychological factors. Things having to do with the brain. Things having to do with the spirit, or the psyche. Our feelings, our…
MIKE: Some people were born gay.
GRAVES: …relationships, so family things. Ok, so..
MIKE: Some people were born gay.
GRAVES: Right, well, ok. So, I…
MIKE: Are there not?
GRAVES: Well I don’t know if I’m really qualified to answer that question. But I know that I was born as a person–and I want to help people look at things globally, and treat the whole person, not just their sexuality. ‘Cause we are more than that of course. And I’m speaking not just as a person who helps people, and I’m not a conversion therapist, I’m just a person who helps people through therapy. But I’ve also walked this road myself. So I’m a person who’s come out of these same gender attractions.
JULIET: Peterson, you call yourself an ex-gay survivor, we want to know that as we have to take a quick break, and when we come back [END]
We pick up with the second half (thanks again to Emproph):[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itYxTiIrcMI[/youtube]
MIKE: We’re talking about gay conversion, and can therapy turn a gay person straight.
JULIET: With us, we have Alan. He says he was gay, he no longer is, and he has a wife, Leslie. She’s not worried, she says he’s attracted to her.
MIKE: He’s not going back.
JULIET: Nope. We have a therapist, Jayson Graves, joining us as well. Peter Toscano, who sa–Peterson, excuse me, who says change therapy does not work, and he’s an ex-gay survivor. And then joining us now is Doctor Andrea Macari who believes the treatment isn’t just harmful, it’s ridiculous, we’re going to get to you in a second. Peterson though, gotta talk you about what an ex-gay survivor is. Did you try?
PETERSON TOSCANO: Yes, I spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three different continents, trying to be ex-gay. Ten of those years was actually here in New York City. I tried a variety of therapies, programs, ministries, counselors – all trying to either change, or suppress or help me find freedom from my same-sex attraction.
MIKE: Why’d you want to change?
TOSCANO: Well I thought initially it was because of my conflict with my faith, but as I’ve unpacked it, I realize so much of it had to do with the ideal dream of being that heterosexual married man.
MIKE: Tell us about the different therapies. I mean is there like aversion therapy, like a…
TOSCANO: There’s all different types, and it’s a whole variety of things. Everything from, exorcisms I’ve had, where they’ve tried to cast out demons of homosexuality. Things that maybe Alan wouldn’t agree with but things that I experienced in Exodus program. Things trying to butch me up, make me more masculine. Teaching me how to change the oil in my car.
JULIET: Well how did that end up making you feel?
TOSCANO: Um, how did it make me feel? Well it was funny, when I told my dad about the whole thing about changing the oil, ya know, he’s from the Bronx, he’s like, I just go to Jiffy Lube, and I was like, dad that’s so gay. But over a time, what it made me feel, was so discouraged, and so depressed, and deflated, because although I tried everything that was set out before me, it not only didn’t help, but thing grew worse in my life. And I grew more depressed to the point of suicide.
JULIET: Well I can imagine that the gay community might not be so happy about what you’re saying [to Alan now] and what you’re doing. I mean I know that we have some in this room who are not too thrilled about this, and who are a little bit offended by it. Because they feel like this is something that they can’t change, that they wouldn’t have chosen, maybe they would have chosen, who knows? But they didn’t choose. And this is part of them, it’s not something you just decide you’re not going to be.
ALAN CHAMBERS: You know, I think based upon how we feel, we all have a decision to make. And for me, for a period of time I decided that was how I was going to live my life. It was in conflict with who I wanted to be. And you know, I’m offended by the things Peterson says. Those aren’t things, you know, I don’t know how to change my oil, I probably don’t sit correctly. I love to shop. HGTV’s my favorite channel. But those things don’t need to change.
MIKE: But here’s something.
JULIET: But Leslie aren’t you worried?
LESLIE CHAMBERS: I’m not, I’ve been married to him for almost ten years. I don’t think about–it’s not apart of our life, it doesn’t dominate our life. His past does not dominate our life. And, because he’s been open about who he is, and what he’s gone through, it’s actually enhanced our marriage.
MIKE: But you know that Jayson says that sexuality’s kind of malleable. [to Jayson now] If I went through the conversion therapy, could you turn me gay? I’m straight.
JAYSON GRAVES: Well..
MIKE: Does it work the other way around?
GRAVES: That’s a good point. I think that… Well I couldn’t, because that’s not how I work with people obviously, but again, it goes back to choice. People don’t choose to be gay, obviously. But, somebody said in the audience, you know, who would choose to be gay? I didn’t choose these feelings, but, I did choose to act on the feelings, and to therein feed the development of those feelings.
JULIET: Doctor, give us your assessment of what’s going on here.
DR. ANDREA MACARI; CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well first of all, let’s stop calling this therapy. Because therapy is based in hard science, not in hateful, political, and religious agendas, number one.
MIKE: You think this is all a religious agenda?
DR. MACARI: These types of conversion pseudo therapies, really are stemming from faith based ministries, so we have that at the bottom of all this. Second of all, they’re not changing who anybody is. They’re just helping people suppress who they are.
LESLIE CHAMBERS: Can I say, can I say that living with him for ten years, he couldn’t suppress that deep of a secret, for that many years–as close and as open as we are.
ALAN: The truth is though that…
DR. MACARI: You can when the shame and guilt that you’ve been made to feel is that powerful, you can suppress almost anything. But I will tell you cannot fool your heart and soul for that long.
ALAN: You know what though, can I… The sad thing is that people are denying other people a right to information, a right to live the life, how they best see fit. I’m not ashamed of who I am. I love for the first time in my life, I love who I am. This is my wife..
MIKE: Does your religion say that homosexuality is absolutely wrong?
CHAMBERS: My religion says a whole lot of things aren’t the best for how we live.
MIKE: Does it say that?
CHAMBERS: It says homosexuality isn’t God’s creative intent for sexuality, but you know what, the truth is, we live in a free and tolerant society. People can choose to live how they want.
JULIET: And we’re going to leave it at that because we do have to get going. This is really really interesting. We want to hear your comments, so write us at MandJShow.com and we appreciate you for sharing your story–coming here. Thank you very much. [END]
Reacting to the segment, Exodus youth activist Mike Ensley writes:
I got peeved at the show pretty much right off the bat because of the way they previewed the segment, asking viewers, “Are people born gay, or is it a choice?” Which, as I’ve said, is a deeply flawed question to begin with. Secondly, they did what most controversial-sound-bite-minded and un-thorough media outlets do by describing Exodus International as “an organization that promises to turn gay people straight” and referring to what we do as “conversion therapy.” It’s amazing how people who are supposedly conducting an interview or doing a story will try so hard to convey an image of you that’s entirely of their own making–despite whatever you say or do.
On that much, Ensley and I may agree.
Of the counterpoints to Chambers and ex-gay counselor Jayson Graves, Ensley writes:
Balancing out the panel was Peterson Toscano, a self-proclaimed “ex-gay survivor” (a term I find a little ridiculous–I mean, what am I? Dead?) and some therapist lady I’ve never heard of before who came out swinging with a bunch of culture-war rhetoric. Thankfully, she was only given a few seconds at the end of the segment, which she used to smear Alan and Leslie’s story as a “hateful religious agenda.” The audience inexplicably applauded her stupid statement, which she didn’t back up with anything or relate to anything that had already been said.
Macari could have substantiated her allegations with references to Exodus’ efforts to promote job discrimination, to oppose gay marriage and civil unions, to oppose inclusion of gay people in existing hate-crime laws, and Ensley’s own efforts to overturn antiviolence programs in public schools.
But she didn’t — and somehow I doubt Ensley really truly wanted Macari to document his own antigay activities.
She stated matter-of-factly that no one ever changes and “ex-gays” don’t exist-
But she didn’t say that, at least in the portions that I was able to hear.
-even going so far as to attack Alan and Leslie’s marriage.
No, in fact Macari simply told the truth that married ex-gays generally suppress their sexual attractions rather than free themselves of those attractions — and that such suppression may last decades, contrary to the suggestion by Leslie that a 10-year marriage is evidence of husband Alan’s ex-gay cure.
Ensley calls Macari a “no-name therapist” — overlooking that Graves is also relatively unknown in the professional field.
Instead of accepting responsibility for his on-the-job promotion of abusive local Exodus ministries, Ensley shrugs off the trauma of former ex-gays as something that he thankfully hasn’t suffered:
I’ve got to say, too, that if my experience had been anything like Peterson’s, I would probably be pretty disillusioned with the whole “coming out of homosexuality” thing myself.