from Social Issues
Shortly after the ad appeared, a lesbian activist and psychotherapist named Betty Berzon contacted Psychology Today's editor Robert Epstein to express her outrage.
Berzon was incensed that the magazine would accept an advertisement for A Parent's Guide, a book which views homosexuality as a developmental condition rather than a core identity. Berzon claimed that Epstein's magazine should have refused to print the ad. She threatened to organize a boycott against the magazine, and then followed up by sending out a flurry of postings on gay and lesbian internet sites in order to gain support for an organized boycott.
Berzon challenged editor Epstein to explain his own views on reorientation therapy. Dr. Epstein defended reorientation therapies for people who choose them, noting that the American Psychological Association has not condemned such therapy. And Epstein said that he had seen some "interesting data" supporting the ethics and effectiveness of reorientation therapy. He also noted that therapists help their clients to control many kinds of unwanted behavior which could be considered "natural" in some sense, such as compulsive eating.
A story about the conflict was published in the December 10th issue of the gay magazine The Advocate, by columnist Michelangelo Signorile.
"When the editor in chief of Psychology Today reveals his support for so-called conversion therapies to turn gays straight, what does that say about the state of American psychology?" asked Signorile.
Signorile then described Epstein and his work as editor of Psychology Today in unflattering terms. He said the editor was a publicity seeker who "might view such a position [advertising a non-gay-affirmative book] as an attention grabber."
However, Signorile warned, editor Epstein would do well to remember what the gay community had succeeded in doing not so long ago to Dr. Laura. In a series of acrimonious and very public protests, gay activists were instrumental in forcing Dr. Laura's television show off the air by flooding the airwaves, the print media, and the streets outside the TV studio with protests that frightened off her advertisers.
Dr. Epstein had published the advertisement for A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, and expressed support for reorientation therapy for unwanted homosexuality, "perhaps not realizing," Signorile said, "that the last celebrity 'doctor' who stepped into the homosexuality debate with dubious assertions--Laura Schlessinger--soon saw her multi-million dollar career deflate, as gay activists supported successful advertiser boycotts of her show amid a bruising campaign against her."
---by Linda Ames Nicolosi