After reading a few books on reparative therapy by proponents, I asked my therapist whether he thought it would be a good idea to read books debunking the idea. I wondered if he would respond like a priesthood leader might if you asked about reading anti-Mormon literature after having just finished the scriptures, but he did not. He strongly encouraged me to read up on their arguments, to be as informed as I could about all sides of the issue, and to assess it all for myself. Who, I asked, would be a good author to start with? He promptly suggested Jack Drescher, the national leader in the psychiatric field in opposing reparative therapy.
As it turned out, I was able to not merely read something by Drescher, but to meet the man and hear him speak in person at a professional meeting not long afterward. Unfortunately, a few days later I moved across the country and have yet to find the handout and my notes from the presentation! So, regrettably, all I have to go by now is memory.
He introduced the science, the politics, and the history of reparative therapy. The interplay between homosexuality and medical and psychiatric scientists is pretty darn dramatic. Gay advocates got some traction from a gay psychiatrist who agreed to be part of a panel at a national psychiatric conference--as long as he could wear a rubber Nixon mask! Drescher discussed the remarkable way gay rights activists organized and started a cultural revolution of gay tolerance. They began framing homosexuality as an identity characteristic that requires non-discrimination protection under federal law. It was brilliant.
But alas, it wasn't long before Drescher began bashing. It always amazes me how people can become so committed to a worthy cause like opposing hate and bigotry that they then slip into allowing themselves to hate and be bigoted against those they see as enemies. Drescher sees nothing, nothing at all, redeeming about what reparative therapists do. He sees it as unethical. He sees it as harmful. And he sees it as something to spend a great deal of his time and effort to write and speak out against. I respect all of this. It's when he then falsely described the methods of reparative therapists, vilified the practitioners, and derisively described religious conservatives as hypocrites--not some, but all--that I started losing respect. He called NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) Narth Vadar. Clever. Especially if you're a propagandist. I expect something a little less sensational and perhaps respectful from a scientist.