In this section:
You Can’t Make Someone Straight
There is nothing you can do to change someone’s sexual orientation. Some people would propose that orientation is a fluid thing, (i.e. “Fluid sexuality”; on-going changes in sexual orientation over brief or long periods of time. There is a school of thought that highly sexually fluid people don’t really fit the labels of bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual). Regardless, bisexuality, lesbianism, homosexuality and transgenderism are real; and are normal variations of human sexuality. Once our spouses come out of the closet, they are not likely to change their mind about their sexuality.
The Straight Spouse Network considers most important thing for straight spouses is to be concerned with is what is best for themselves and their children. That may mean divorce or it may mean staying together in some new or modified relationship. There are those who attempt to change a person’s orientation, but it is rarely successful and is usually unhealthy and injurious for all parties involved.
Sexual Conversion Therapy & Transformational Ministries
Sexual conversion therapy, or reparative therapy, refers to psychotherapies used to eliminate an individual’s sexual desire for members of the same sex and to increase desire and attraction to the opposite sex. Transformational Ministries” and Ex-Gay groups use religious tenets to try to change sexual orientation.
While respecting the rights of individuals to make their own informed decisions, the Straight Spouse Network opposes conversion therapies and transformational ministries. These therapies are proven to be ineffective and psychologically harmful.
The straight spouse is offered a false sense of hope, which can lead to a deep sense of betrayal. From the perspective of straight spouses of gay, lesbian, and bisexual partners, the Straight Spouse Network supports only therapies and ministries that enable gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals to accept themselves and to choose their actions with integrity and truth.
Practitioners of Conversion Therapy don’t think of homosexuality as a normal variation of human sexuality. They believe it is a mental disorder in need of a cure. Their views have been rejected by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counselling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers. These organizations represent more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals. In addition, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association and the defining standard of the professional mainstream, has excluded homosexuality as a mental disorder since 1973.
More recently, the American Psychiatric Association stated that the potential risks of conversion therapy for clients include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in its Policy Statement on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues, also states that no data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective and that the therapies may be harmful. According to NASW, stigmatizing attitudes and behaviors are widespread and are a primary motivating factor that leads some people to seek ways to change their sexual orientation. In addition, many patients report that they were never told by conversion therapists that they might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships nor were they given an opportunity to discuss alternative approaches to deal with the effects of societal stigmatization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Transformational ministries provide no scientific evidence of success in changing people’s orientation. However, some individuals have been convinced to change their behaviors and may no longer identify as gay. Any changes these clients may achieve are generally the result of being made to feel guilt and shame about their sexual orientation; not a healthy way to live. Likewise, it is questionable that such an approach offers much chance of happiness for the straight partners of LGBT individuals. They become victims of false hope, betrayal, and emotional fallout when such therapies fail to change orientation.
However, some individuals choose to change from homosexual to heterosexual behavior, for reasons other than shame or outside pressure, embracing the possibility of leading an integrated life.* The Straight Spouse Network, therefore, respects the rights of all individuals to make choices that make sense to them given the circumstances and values they hold in their lives at the moment.
*Adapted from (1999) Just the facts about sexual orientation & youth: A primer for principals, educators, and school personnel, disseminated by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns (addressing a movement begun in 1998 to promote reparative therapy in public schools), and positions and resolutions of the American Psychological Association, Division 44. www.apadivision44.org Further information is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_therapy