NEW YORK – Lost amid all the media reports and controversy over Michele and Marcus Bachmann’s Christian counseling clinics using “reparative therapy” to heal gays of their homosexuality, is a story about a prominent New York gay-rights advocate who has opened a similar, yet alternative clinic to heal straights of their heterosexuality.
Steven A. Null, a former heterosexual and psychologist, who authored the best-selling series, Healing the Hetero and Date the Straight Away, officially launched his Over the Rainbow (OTHER) treatment center a day after New York’s historic bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
“It’s something I’ve been working on for a while, but I wasn’t sure it would gain acceptance. The passage of the marriage bill definitely gave me the confidence to go ahead with it. The timing seemed perfect. Now that gays and lesbians can legally marry, heterosexuals can choose to be gay and still enjoy the same rights afforded to them as straights”, he said.
Indeed, recent polls show that a number of heterosexuals secretly want to be homosexual, but have been reluctant to do so due to the social stigma of being considered a second-class citizen. Legitimizing same-sex marriage has not only removed a legal hurdle but, more importantly, a psychological barrier that prevented many straight people from going gay.
Reparative therapy, or conversion therapy as it’s sometimes referred to, has long been the subject of intense controversy in the United States. Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have seriously called into question the motives and techniques of using such therapies to change a person’s sexual orientation.
Once considered acceptable by psychoanalytic theory, the idea that sexual orientation is a choice is no longer in vogue with the mental health establishment today. In fact, several mainstream organizations and experts have been outspoken about their concerns that such therapies are not only outdated, but could potentially be harmful, as it treats homosexuality as a mental disorder, instead of a normal variation in biological development.
However, many Christian conservative groups disagree and, in fact, tout the use of prayer and peer pressure as being successful in helping homosexuals overcome their affliction. And it’s not just religious organizations endorsing such treatments. The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), offers their own secular version of conversion therapy to overcome what they call, “unwanted sexual attraction to the same sex.”
In a queer way, they now have an ally in Mr. Null, who admittedly borrows NARTH’s mission statement, but simply replaces the word ‘same’ with ‘opposite’. As Null explains, “Look, if the debate has always been whether or not sexual orientation is a choice, then logic would dictate that you could choose either way, right? Well, we take the next step and offer those who have unwanted attraction to the opposite sex a place to finally be that gay person they’ve always wanted to be.”
Of course, converting to the gay lifestyle is something Null has experienced himself. “I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s as straight man, so I know what’s it’s like. The infatuation with Farrah Fawcett, Rambo, playing sports, being popular and fitting in, you know, all that stuff. I had lots of girlfriends, but I always felt something was missing. I studied the history of psychology, and I started thinking about whether or not the same therapies that were successful for gays could potentially apply to straights as well. So, I experimented on myself and, eventually through trial and error, found a system that worked”, he said in a statement.
According to the clinic’s brochure, that system includes the same aversive treatments previously used on homosexuals, albeit with a limp-wristed twist. Electric shock therapy to the genitals, nausea-inducing drugs administered simultaneously with the presentation of hetero-erotic stimuli, masturbatory reconditioning, and subliminal messaging to recondition the brain to love Judy Garland, Lady Gaga, and Broadway musicals. There are also ongoing classes on grooming and fashion tips for the men, and masculinity training for the women, along with estrogen and testosterone supplementation.
If all this sounds eerily reminiscent of a scene out of Clockwork Orange, the clinic’s supporters say not to worry and point out that these types of treatments were used on homosexuals for decades with great success and few long-term side effects. They argue that what’s good for the homo-goose, is good for the hetero-gander, so to speak. To bolster their claims, proponents offer several testimonials from current patients that attest to the efficacy of the treatments.
Jay D., of Queens, NY offered his glowing assessment after going through therapy this past June. “For me, living a life as a heterosexual male just wasn’t fulfilling. To be honest, I was tired of being accepted by mainstream society. So, I took a chance and went through the program. And it worked like a charm. I finally stopped lusting after Angelina Jolie, and started fantasizing about Brad Pitt, something I’ve always really wanted. And I couldn’t be happier”, he said.
Richard T., who traveled all the way from Culver City, CA concurred, adding that, “I was so sick and tired of watching shows on ESPN, The History Channel, and Spike TV, that I was really at my wits end. A friend of mine told me about OTHER, and so I decided to give it a try. Finally, I can enjoy Bravo, the E! Channel, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians without salivating over Kim’s body. Now I focus on her fashion sense instead.”
Almira G. from Topeka, KS spoke about how conversion therapy helped her to finally explore her inner lesbian. “I had experimented in the past, but it wasn’t until I enrolled at the clinic that I knew I could make the commitment to being with femmes only”, she confided.
For Null and his associates, testimonials like these are what motivates them to keep going, despite their growing chorus of critics. “Look, I understand not everyone agrees with our methods. But, there are a lot of heterosexuals out there suffering. I want them to know they’re not alone. There are people who can help. Never forget that being straight is a choice, and if you’re committed to living the gay life, you can be free from heterosexuality forever. And remember, there’s no place like homo.”
For more information you can visit them online, or to set up an interview, call (800) 555-5428.