Ex-Gay Advocates: ‘Change’ Depends on the Definition

It depends on what your definition of is … is.

We all recall President Bill Clinton’s parsing of words during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Now, the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), composed of psychoanalysts and other therapists who believe that gay men and lesbians suffer can be “cured” through therapy, is engaging in a similar two-step.

NARTH, in a new statement on its website, argues that any opposition to the idea that a person’s sexuality can change through treatment is based on a faulty understanding of what “change” means.

According to the statement, “Those who are highly pessimistic regarding change in sexual orientation appear to have assumed a categorical view of change, which is neither in keeping with how sexual orientation has been defined in the literature nor with how change is conceptualized for nearly all other psychological challenges. … With this in mind, NARTH remains committed to protecting the rights of clients with unwanted same-sex attractions to pursue change as well as the rights of clinicians to provide such psychological care.”

So let’s get this straight –– change is possible, and NARTH can offer it, but let’s all agree on what change means? Confused? So are we.

What is unclear about the statement is whether it is a defiant manifesto to address a sociopolitical climate in which the change it promises is under increased scrutiny, or a clarification for prospective patients on what to expect from reparative therapy. Maybe it’s both. Either way, one thing is abundantly clear: NARTH remains defiantly proud and categorically committed its dubious premise.

“Change” is possible, NARTH says –– so long as we all know what change means.