Direct link here. (JiM is second segment, about 6:30 in)
Patterned after the equally bizarre Mankind Project, Journey into Manhood is nothing new to those who keep up with pseudo-therapies which make wildly unscientific claims of success in changing people from gay to straight. JiM’s founder, Richard Wyler, doesn’t even try to claim a professional background that would qualify him as a therapist or a researcher. Claims made by the organization have as much factual weight as those made on behalf of “male enhancement” pills on late night cable — anyone can claim anything.
Yet in spite of all this, and the dearth of any credible evidence that sexual orientation can be changed as an act of will, gay men still pay the $650 to spend a weekend with the boys, chanting about manhood, elevating males to mythical positions, hugging and holding each other (while naked en masse according to former attendees).
Since JiM invited Nightline cameras into the normally secretive reunion weekend, things were probably less intense. Also, this was a reunion, not an actual weekend — JiM refused entry to those. Even so, it gets rather strange. And inevitably the question arises, as it does with many of these groups, are these people — leaders included — simply fulfilling their needs for male intimacy through the activities created to drench the weekend in maleness? Is this really a wink wink, nudge nudge farce, where most everyone knows what’s really going on, but uses the pretext because it is a safe way to experience the intimacy without guilt?
If so, not everyone plays along. Nightline also talks to a couple of men, Ben Unger and Chaim Levin, who were steered to JiM through JONAH, the group known mostly now for the criminal record of it’s founder, Arthur Abba Goldberg. These two men expected some semblance of professionalism, and instead found themselves asked to do things they were unprepared for and unwilling to do.
And what of the “successes?” The wife of the person they highlighted and who seemed most positive about his “change” later said that they often look at men together, but his type is different than hers.
Update: The ABC piece isn’t really investigative journalism, as they took whatever JiM spooned out to them. Check out a more thorough undercover piece here.
Edit 11/10: Replaced expired promo video with full version from Hulu.