Matthew Scott Montgomery

Last year we reported on an interview with Disney actor Matthew Scott Montgomery on Christy Carlson Romano’s podcast Vulnerable. In it he described his experience with reparative therapy under Joseph Nicolosi Jr., son of the late Joseph Nicolosi Sr. The latter was the well-known co-creator of reparative therapy who passed away in 2017. If you haven’t already, take some time to read that post and watch the interview.

We recently received an email from Matthew telling us that he wanted to retract some of the statements he made in the original interview. He claimed that Dr. Nicolosi Jr. had demanded this.

I request that you promptly remove the article that you have published. Dr. Nicolosi Jr. has demanded, and I have agreed, to send this notice and demand to you.

From the sound of things, Nicolosi may have come down on him hard, possibly with legal threats. The video retraction above explains things but here is the point-by-point.

  • He used the term “conversion therapy” when Nicolosi wanted it to be called “reparative therapy.” Matthew wanted to also clarify that it was never presented to him as conversion therapy. It is important to note that, since that term has collected so much negative baggage, and is specified in bans in many states, Nicolosi and others are obsessive about not allowing their practices to be associated with it. Conversion therapy is the colloquial equivalent to Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (S.O.C.E.) which would seem to cover what we know about reparative therapy from Nicolosi Sr.
  • He had said or implied that he was sent to therapy but in fact he signed a consent form and was over 18 at the time. We should remember that one can be 18 and give consent but still have been sent or felt compelled to go. It is usually described as a very stressful and intimidating process in the first place.
  • He described having gone through electroshock therapy when it was instead, according to Matthew, something Nicolosi called a “tac/scan device.” He described it as plastic rods he held in each hand “which produced bilateral vibrations to my hands through small plastic vibrating motors.” The only thing we could find under the term “tac/scan” was a video game. Also, we asked experts in the field of psychology who said they had not heard of it, and that it sounded “quacky.” (see update below)
  • He said he was told, as part of his “homework,” to apologize for being gay to his parents. He now says that, while he felt compelled to do so, no one instructed him to. It’s hard to understand exactly what one would apologize for.
  • He described having done “science equations” in a workbook. He now says the books were about “SSA” and situations that might trigger it. This sounds like a diary of such situations day-to-day in his own life, which would be more likely.
  • He made a comment (joke) about Nicolosi Sr. that he now describes as “not funny, it was thoughtless, careless, rude and uncalled for.” He did not specify but we suspect it was at about 19:20 on the original video where, speaking of Joseph Nicolosi Sr., he says “he has a [practice] — he had, he passed away. God works in mysterious ways — I’m kidding!” While in poor taste, it does fit Matthew’s jovial style.
  • He also got the timeline incorrect of when he attended therapy. He was there starting April 12th, 2010, took five months off for work, and then returned to therapy until February 6th, 2012. This is approximately what we speculated in our previous post. It isn’t clear how this is significant.

Again, we got the sense that Nicolosi had given Matthew little choice in this. Nicolosi Sr. was a bit of a bully, but I don’t recall him ever making these kinds of demands of anyone. Nicolosi Jr. has added a number of new therapies to his mix, while his father was a true believer that reparative therapy was totally effective, i.e., if you do what I say and mean it you will change.

We have listed each issue so you can see what was important to him. What is perhaps even more significant is what Nicolosi ignored. Matthew described Nicolosi’s Encino office as a place where gay actors come to get straightened out.

This place specifically was for gay men who wanted to be turned from gay to straight and make it as a straight movie star in Los Angeles. That’s what this place was.

He went on to describe elaborate precautions, a routine choreographed with special indicator lights and waiting rooms to keep various (perhaps famous) clients from bumping into each other. He also emphasized that it was overtly Christian. Nicolosi Sr. protested the claim that his practice was religious, though he certainly spoke in Christian settings and incorporated some of those beliefs in his presentations.

While demanding all those other things be retracted, some relatively minor, Nicolosi doesn’t seem to have cared about that last bit at all. This certainly could indicate validation. Whatever else it may mean, it gives us a peek into Nicolosi’s priorities.

Matthew requested we take down the article entirely. That isn’t generally how these things are dealt with. The original interview happened and we wrote about it. We don’t erase history, good or bad. Instead we have reported on the retraction in detail which is bound to be more effective anyway. Making something disappear does not deal with the people who have already read the post and perhaps referenced (as we originally did) or even duplicated it.

Matthew indicated that this entire ordeal had caused him great stress. This is another reason we think Nicolosi landed on him so hard. However, he has fulfilled his obligation by contacting us. This is how we have chosen to deal with the corrections. We don’t know if any of the retracted items might, in fact, be true, with Matthew retracting them under pressure. We asked him but he declined to answer. Hopefully Nicolosi is out of his life for good now.

Update: We searched under different terms and found something that sounds similar to the “tac/scan device” Matthew mentioned. This device is one of many different devices used in EMDR therapy. Apparently, anything that alternately stimulates both sides of the brain can be used, so this may well be legitimate for treatment of trauma.

Transcript of retraction video provided by Matthew (PDF): Transcript

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