As gay rights and equal marriage debates continue to take center stage in the media it’s interesting that the largest opposition to the LGBT communities are churches and religious parties. Many of these same groups preach to their congregations about not judging others. Today we came across a headline about the Mormon faith launching an “ex-gay” site. This new site is based off a Salt Lake City clinic that has been giving “ex-gay” therapy sessions and is now looking to have a Mormon specific online presence. The problem is the relationship of this new site and its connection with mormonsandgays.org which looked to welcome LGBT’s yet isn’t keen on supporting equal rights. This “neutral” stance is seen as more detrimental to the LGBT communities than helpful, and looking to “coach” people out of being gay isn’t exactly too welcoming to the community either. Article below.
A Salt Lake City-based clinic that practices so-called ‘ex-gay’ therapy has launched a Mormon-specific web site. The blog Joe.My.God brought to our attention the Center for Gender Wholeness (CGW), and their new Mormon-specific program (http://genderwholeness.com/lds).
According to the organization’s press release, CGW is attempting to build on the controversial web site www.mormonsandgays.org, which was launched by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in December of 2012. Mormonsandgays.org attempted to stake a middle ground, one that wished to ‘welcome’ gay and lesbian people in the Mormon Church, while still opposing equality for LGBT people in the rest of their lives.
Noticeably absent from Mormonsandgays.org, however, were means by which LGBT Mormons could attend to their spiritual and emotional health given the church’s ambiguous posture. CGW Clinical Director David Matheson and life-long LDS member takes advantage of that ambiguity by promoting their own ‘ex-gay’ programs to attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation.
“We are extremely encouraged by the church’s new Web site and the outpouring of love and support it represents,” Matheson said. “I believe it fosters understanding and compassion among the general membership and hope for those with same-sex attraction.” At the same time, Matheson said, “there appears to be very little practical information to help people who want to make effective and lasting changes in their lives.” Matheson expressed concern that “hope only lasts so long if real help isn’t available.”
While Matheson’s comments may seem to be positive, a quick survey of the CGW website betrays the kind of “help” Matheson and his colleagues are offering. Married, straight couples with one gay partner are encouraged to stay together and seek counseling to make the rest of their time together work; LGBT people are told to examine their pasts to root out so-called “causes” of their sexual orientations (adolescent issues with parents; unhealthy realtionships with females in childhood; etc). At no point is celebration and embrace of one’s unique sexuality advocated. This, it seems, would be the greatest help that could be offered to LGBT Mormons.
The new CGW site is not connected to Mormonsandgays.org, though they do seem to be attempting to build off the momentum the official LDS site. Mitch Mayne, an openly gay official within the LDS church, explains:
What they’re doing is cleverly linking to Mormonsandgays.org to establish themselves as the de facto next step for leaders who want actionable steps they can take for LGBT Mormons. One of my criticisms of mormonsandgays is that there were no clear actions or next steps. This seeks to take advantage of that missing piece, when in reality the most informed and Christ-like next step would be to leverage the LDS materials offered by the Family Acceptance Project.
So-called “reparative therapy” cannot be tolerated, and the CGW, while purporting to help LGBT Mormons is actually complicit in a network of harm. GLAAD understands the severe risks that come with undergoing so-called “ex-gay” therapy, and stands with the APA in denouncing the practice as unethical and, ultimately, destructive. For a list of links to resources that unmask so-called “ex-gay” ministries, check out our website here.