from Social Issues
On the opening day of the American Psychiatric Association's annual conference held in Washington D.C. on May 16th, a group of ex-gays staged a demonstration demanding the right to sexual reorientation therapy.
The group's actions were prompted by the A.P.A.'s recent resolution discouraging reorientation therapy.
Led by Anthony Falzarano of Transformation Christian Ministries (TCM), the group of about 20 protesters met the A.P.A. conference participants in front of the hotel as they stepped out of their buses.
"Thousands of psychiatrists from around the world attend this meeting," said Mr. Falzarano, "yet we met with outright hostility from only five or six." TCM protesters said they distributed about 800 NARTH brochures to the psychiatrists as they arrived. A few tore up the brochures and made disparaging comments, he said, but others had sympathetic words for TCM's efforts.
"Some people said, 'Yes, I do believe homosexuality is a disorder and it should still be in the psychiatric manual,'" Mr. Falzarano said. "Others said, 'I know there's no 'gay gene,' and I believe the APA decision to remove homosexuality was political."
TCM protesters carried placards saying, "Homosexuals Can Change--We Did--Ask Us," and "Don't Affirm Me into a Lifestyle that was Killing Me Physically and Spiritually." Other placards read, "The APA Has Betrayed America with Politically Correct Science," and "APA--How Do You Explain 20,000 Former Homosexuals?"
News media covering the protest included Family News in Focus, The Washington Times, the Human Rights Campaign (a gay group monitoring the action), conservative columnist Mike McManus, and a religious radio station. CBS television also interviewed Mr. Falzarano on the 4:30 news. He was originally scheduled to debate an APA representative, but that person declined to debate Mr. Falzarano directly, and instead spoke to the interviewer separately.
Mr. Falzarano conducted other interviews with radio stations in Baltimore and Chicago, and with the Washington Times Weekly Magazine. "But most of the liberal media pulled the plug on us," he said.
"During the picketing," said Mr. Falzarano, "I noticed Dr. Robert Spitzer on the sidelines. He played an important role in the 1973 removal of homosexuality from the diagnostic manual, and I thought he seemed genuinely moved by the picketing, so I walked up to him and told him, 'Dr. Spitzer, you need to hear the other side.'
"The following day he came to our press conference," Mr. Falzarano said, "and told us he would work on putting together a forum presenting both views on sexual-orientation change for next year's American Psychiatric Association meeting. I think Dr. Spitzer is beginning to see the very real options that are out there."
At the time of this writing, a panel was forming on the possibility of sexual-orientation change, with two panelists speaking from the perspective that change is possible, and others opposing. Invited participants from the perspective that change is possible are Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D. of Grove City College (author of "Attempts to Modify Sexual Orientation: A Review of Outcome Literature and Ethical Issues," in the October 1998 issue of the Journal of Mental Health Counseling); and Wheaton College professor G.E. Zuriff, Ph.D., author of "Psychology's Sexual Dis-Orientation," published in the April 1997 issue of The World and I. (Both articles have been reprinted in previous NARTH Bulletins.)
Robert Knight of Family Research Council at the podium.