Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Business of Being Straight

     Salon.com's Mark Benjamin made some striking comments to Rachel Maddow on his experience of going undercover to investigate gay "reparative" therapy by Richard Cohen and the International Healing Foundation, whose teaching have been used in Uganda in drafting the proposed gay death penalty bill.  Benjamin stated:
     There's a death toll here.  I mean, I came across people who had attempted suicide and people I was told did commit suicide because they tried and tried and tried to not be gay and they couldn't, and eventually, they didn't see any way out.
     As someone who nearly joined the likes of those who have killed themselves for being gay, I commend Mr. Benjamin for taking these risks to uncover something that I know from personal experience to be harmful.  To read the four part series from his undercover investigation click here for part one, part two, part three, and part four.

     As the lead in to Rachel Maddow's interview with the International Healing Foundation's Richard Cohen on her show last night, Maddow spoke with Benjamin about his undercover experience of the gay "reparative" therapy.  Maddow's lead in also shows a number of the products that Richard Cohen and company sell that will make you straight.  Becoming straight is a business and is not approved by the American Psychological Association.

     Here is the clip:    

There Will Be Gay Blood: Rachel Maddow & Richard Cohen's Smackdown


     In her research on Uganda's Bill Number 18 that would put some gay people to death in Uganda, Rachel Maddow has uncovered connections between numerous U.S. politicians (the Family), religious leaders (Rick Warren), and the International Healing Foundation, whose mission is to help people "come out straight" from their unwanted homosexuality.  Founder of IHF is  an unlicensed psychotherapist and proponent of the hug-away-the-gay-method Richard Cohen, who was interviewed on Rachel Maddow last night.

     I will give Cohen credit for these three things: he condemned the Ugandan  bill, said that he's fine with homosexuals "choosing" to stay gay, and said that his therapy is for those with "unwanted" homosexual feelings.  Of course, growing up in the Catholic church and going through the seminary system, someone like me was conditioned by "well-intentioned" men like Cohen to believe that any and all homosexual feelings were bad and unwanted.  (I did have one counselor that broke that mode, whom I will write about at a later time.) Still, what child doesn't want to please his/her parents and their god?

     On the other hand, I must discredit Cohen, whose words and scientifically discredited claims (in his books Coming out Straight and Gay Children, Straight Parents) have been used to stoke fear of gays molesting children, to justify laws against gays including killing gays, and also most likely by parents who have forced their children into ex-gay therapy.

     Ms. Maddow calls him out on this stating:
     This is made up, fake authoritative stuff that in other countries is being taken as science and used to justify, quite literally, killing gay people.
     I do think that you've actually got blood on your hands here, because the way you have been used, and your organization has been used, and your staffers have been used to make this legislation a reality in Uganda.
     Watch Ms. Maddow's interview below.  My favorite moment starts just before minute 10, when she challenges Cohen's statements about what "causes" homosexuality and he doesn't even know what's written in his own book, concerning race as a cause of homosexuality.  This is a guy that has it all together.