A once-prominent Mormon 'conversion' therapist has come out as gay and wants to start dating men.
David Matheson, one of the best-known practitioners of the condemned pseudoscientific practice of trying to change sexual orientation, came out in a social media post on Monday in which he stated that "being in an intimate relationship with a man was no longer something I wanted to avoid."
However, despite his announcement, he still didn't completely renounce 'conversion therapy', stating that although he knew he had hurt people, his work was still "helpful" to many others.
Matheson, who was married to Peggy Matheson for over 30 years, wrote in a Facebook post that being with a man had become a "non-negotiable need."
"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," he wrote. "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."
He continued to open up about his marriage, saying: "Much of the time these were in the background. But sometimes they were very intense and led to pain and struggle in my marriage. Still, the marriage truly did work for us both and I don’t regret it. But things started to change a few years ago. Our personality differences became very pronounced. The relationship dynamic became strained and difficult. Things gradually turned painful.
"Toward the end of this decline, I also realized that being in an intimate relationship with a man was no longer something I wanted to avoid. It had become a non-negotiable need. [sic]"
The Mormon therapist, who trained under Joseph Nicolosi of National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), admitted that even as a gay man he still found "much homophobia" in himself.
Matheson, who has stressed that he never participated in 'aversion therapy' which includes induced vomiting or electric shocks, wrote: "I used to be caught in an ideological prison of my own. 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. Even today, as a newly-out gay man, I still find too much homophobia in myself."
"But I’m a much more accepting person now than I was 6 years ago before I started dialoguing 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. [sic]"
However, for many people out there, Matheson's apology is not enough. Chaim Levin, one of the men who underwent the therapy devised by the former therapist, is angry that someone who caused so much harm to so many gay men is showing little remorse.
He told Truth Wins Out, a campaign group that battles against gay ‘cure’ therapy: "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. I hope that Mr Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included."
Nearly every major health association, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, has denounced 'gay conversion' therapy. In January 2019, New York became the 15th state to ban it.