One of the most prominent gay conversion therapists in the country has come out as gay.
Mormon David Matheson has devoted his career to attempting to “treat” gay men for their sexual orientation, as if being gay is an illness or defect. He is the clinical director of the Center for Gender Wholeness, an organization devoted to keeping so-called “ex-gay” people straight and examining the root causes of their homosexuality. In 2006, he co-wrote a paper that likens same-sex attraction to a mental illness. Matheson is also the author of Becoming a Whole Man, described on Amazon as a “result of a six-year quest to understand and respond to the most difficult challenges facing men with unwanted homosexuality.”
LGBTQ nonprofit Truth Wins Out first broke the news, after which Matheson wrote a Facebook post confirming his orientation. “I know my work helped many, many people because they’ve told me so,” Matheson wrote. “But I’m sure I’ve hurt some people too. Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what ‘emotionally healthy’ can look like. They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. And I’m sorry for the confusion and pain my choice may be causing others.”
“Even today, as a newly-out gay man, I still find too much homophobia in myself. But I’m a much more accepting person now than I was 6 years ago before I started dialoging in a mixed-ideology group that included several gay-affirming therapists,” he continued. “We spent literally hundreds of hours learning about each other and solving problems together. I love them, and their gracious acceptance of me—arrogant as I was—more than I can describe.”
Conversion therapy, which has been denounced by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, has been banned in 15 states. According to a 2018 report by the UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute, a think tank devoted to sexual orientation and gender identity policies, “efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity are associated with poor mental health, including suicidality.”
“Conversion therapy employs guilt and shame to browbeat desperate and vulnerable people into renouncing their humanity,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen in a statement. “This is the latest evidence that conversion therapy is consumer fraud and ought to be outlawed in all 50 states.”
While Matheson now embraces his gay identity, NBC News reports that he refuses to renounce his work, however. Chaim Levin, a former participant in Matheson’s program and a plaintiff a lawsuit that successfully sued a Jewish gay conversion therapy organization, told Truth Wins Out that Matheson’s verbal apology does not go far enough in atoning for the harm he inflicted on the LGBTQ community.
“While I am pleased for Mr. Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr. Matheson himself,” he said. “I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included.”
Read Matheson’s full post below: