A top US "gay conversion" therapist has just come out as – you guessed it – gay, before apologising for his previous "homophobic and narrow mindedness".
In a public Facebook post dated 22 January, David Matheson, from Sandy, Utah, describes experiencing attractions to men while being in a 34-year marriage with his wife.
A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life. I realized I couldn't stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay.
I enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage with my wife for many years. Overall, it was a beautiful relationship and being "straight" became a core part of my identity. But I also experienced attractions to men. Much of the time these were in the background. But sometimes they were very intense and led to pain and struggle in my marriage.
The Mormon defended his former work, which was actually denounced by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association almost 20 years ago.
But I’m a much more accepting person now than I was 6 years ago before I started dialoging in a mixed-ideology group that included several gay-affirming therapists.
We spent literally hundreds of hours learning about each other and solving problems together. I love them, and their gracious acceptance of me—arrogant as I was—more than I can describe.
But Matheson also apologised to his many patients, and for causing confusion saying:
I know my work helped many, many people because they’ve told me so. But I’m sure I’ve hurt some people too. Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what “emotionally healthy” can look like.
They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. And I’m sorry for the confusion and pain my choice may be causing others...
They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people
The full Facebook post can be read here:
While reactions were mixed, one man, called Chaim Levin, who lived through the program Matheson ran and later was part of a lawsuit that shut down another conversion therapy effort, issued a statement to Truth Wins Out, saying:
While I am pleased for Mr Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr. Matheson himself.
One of the conversion therapy courses Matheson led was called "Journey to Manhood", and he also wrote a book called Becoming a Whole Man.