Of course, the whole basis for this bill is the alleged harm done to minors who have been subjected to counseling for same-sex attractions, and the testimony offered by Brielle Goldani, born male but now identifying as female, offered poignant confirmation of these alleged abuses.
Goldani described how he/she was sent by his/her parents to a religious camp in Ohio called “True Directions,” allegedly run by the Assemblies of God, a conservative Christian denomination. “Goldani told lawmakers she was given electric shocks and drugs to induce vomiting as part of the treatment.”
Christopher Doyle, a professional counselor and himself a former homosexual (yes, these do exist, by the thousands), testified before the Senate against the bill, but he was deeply troubled by Goldani’s story, prompting him to do further research. What he uncovered was that: 1) “According to the office of the Ohio secretary of state and attorney general, no such camp called True Directions has ever existed.” 2) The Assemblies of God, including the local church that allegedly sponsored the camp, never heard of it and would never sanction such barbarous treatment. 3) Licensed therapists in Ohio completely disavowed such treatments.
So where did Goldani’s horror story come from? Doyle reports that “it came from a 1999 film titled ‘But I’m a Cheerleader,’ starring RuPaul. In the film, the main character is suspected of being a lesbian by her family, who then proceeds to send her to a ‘conversion therapy’ camp called True Directions.” Amazing!
Worse still, it appears that gays being sent to “True Directions” camp may be something of an urban gay myth. According to an email from a man struggling with his own homosexual desires, “I don’t know why but it never occurred to me that many of these stories of barbaric gay to straight therapy might be fabrications. In particular one I have heard about several times is a camp called True Directions in Ohio.”
What then are the facts? First, even if such barbaric treatments did take place, there is not a licensed therapist in America who engages in them. What then was the relevance of this (apparently fabricated) testimony? Absolutely none.
Second, contrary to popular perception, a task force for the American Psychological Association did not find sexual orientation change therapy dangerous. Rather, it claimed that “there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” quite an understated conclusion when you realize that every member of the task force was either gay or radically pro-gay. (For detailed documentation of this, see A Queer Thing Happened to America.)
Third, with every counseling intervention, be it for obesity or depression or alcoholism or unwanted same-sex attractions, some have a positive outcome, some see no change, and some report harm. In fact, gay psychologist Richard Isay describes how one married man whom he was helping to become gay committed suicide (see his book Becoming Gay).
Fifth, according to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, homosexual sex continues to be extremely risky, yet the New Jersey Senate is considering outlawing a counseling intervention that could help steer an individual away from such unsafe sex.
People of New Jersey, will you stand for this outrage or will you speak up?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.