From “Conversion Therapy” to Calling for Equality

This week saw two prominent gay advocates share their stories of “conversion therapy” (or, “reparative therapy”), an inhumane and ignorant practice which treats homosexuality as a mental illness.

Republican Representative Matt Salmon opposes same-sex marriage. His son, on the other hand, is gay. In an illuminating interview, the son described his own journey to self-acceptance; before he was comfortable with his sexuality, he underwent conversion therapy. He remains on good terms with his father, despite their differences.

Richard Socarides provided another perspective on the same topic. Socarides is an attorney, writer, and advocate for equal rights; he also happens to be gay. His father, in a cruel irony, was one of the originators of conversion therapy: Socarides writes:

As I became an advocate for gay rights, I wanted very much for that work to stand on its own, and not viewed in the context of my father’s reputation. I was also sometimes embarrassed for him, as his professional reputation became interconnected with a theory that was, over time, wholly discredited.

Socarides’ reputation certainly stands on its own; we continue to follow his thoughts on the rapidly evolving civil-rights landscape for LGBTQ Americans.