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'Former' Gay Man Who Inspired GOP's Reparative Therapy Plank Speaks

(KRLD) -- "I have a friend in my precinct who introduced me to the idea of 'reparative therapy,'" says Cathie Adams, President of the Texas Eagle Forum.

The Tea Party group spearheaded the effort to get the Texas GOP to endorse psychological treatments that seek to turn gay people straight. "This therapy that was something that was very healthy and good and positive in his own life."

That friend of Cathie's is Jeremy, a 36-year-old North Texan, who for fear of retaliation did not want his last name released.

"I don't think I would've gone on much longer being as conflicted as I was," Jeremy said, who thinks reparative therapy changed his live. "I tried gay affirming therapy and I realized that wasn't going to work at all."

Jeremy's journey began several years ago, and up until that point, he identified as an out gay man.

"I did for about 12 years actually, starting in high school and up until about 4 years ago," he says. "I lived a pretty active gay life, even though for me, it was something that never felt right."

He says finding a fulfilling relationship in the "gay" world was a major issue for him. "I didn't really have my own sense of being a man; I felt that I was constantly trying to obtain manhood from other people and become a man through them," Jeremy said. "There was never any one man that would work and so I was constantly going from one relationship to the next."

And thats when he tried "reparative therapy" under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi in California, who was one of the founders of the controversial National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

"My attraction to my own gender has decreased a lot," Jeremy said. "And it has been about 4 years since I've had any interaction with any kind of gay relationship. And the desire for that is about half of what it used to be."

Former Gay Man Speaks Out

Jeremy says he even sees himself married with a family and kids in the near future. "I would like that, yeah, I hope that happens someday. I think that's definitely a possibility for me."

Since he started his journey to become a heterosexual, Jeremy says its brought him closer to his family.

"My dad's been joining me in one of the prayer groups I've started. So it's actually drawn us really close together."

Jeremy is a Roman Catholic and has started a religious ministry out of his house to help other gay men who may want to make the conversion. "It's called Joel 2:25 and is based on the idea of restoration."

He says his group has more than 400 members in 73 countries, who he Skypes with on a regular basis.

Jeremy thinks that other gay men can reap the benefits of reparative therapy. "Obviously I would say give it a shot -- it can't hurt... I think anybody can benefit."

But many mental health professionals disagree.

"Reparative therapy is dangerous," says Stuart Couch, a License Marriage and Family Therapist who has been practicing in the Dallas area for over 40 years. "It's like trying to take a duck and make it sound like a chicken -- it can't be done."

Couch believes that in the long run, this type of therapy could actually make a person become more conflicted with who they are.

"I've carefully studied this, and the overwhelming majority of professionals say that it is not only nonsense, but that doing it is actually unfair to the person who has the expectation of being 'repaired,'" he says. "They may be thinking that they have been 'cured' after they've gone through years of this therapy... However the change is not permanent, after a certain period of time the person will return to their natural instincts and then they will feel very, very guilty. They will feel that they have failed, if it was a spiritual counseling they will feel that god doesn't love them or they will have suicidal thoughts."

Couch adds, "There's nothing wrong with a person who is gay; there's nothing to 'cure.' The only thing to do is to work with a person so they accept themselves exactly as they are and exactly as they are not."

Ray Hill, an LGBT activist out of Houston who's worked with gay men who've gone through this type of conversion therapy, also thinks that the idea of being "cured" of homosexuality is bogus. "I've only met one person who claimed to have successfully been cured, but the last time I saw him was at an adult video store coming out of the arcade -- so go figure."
Regarding the issue of "reparative therapy" for gays and lesbians, Equality Texas, which advocates and lobbies for the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation issued this statement:

We don't have an issue with adults who might choose "reparative therapy". Our issue is the use of such "therapy" on minors. The laws in New Jersey and California are limited to a prohibition of "reparative therapy" for minors. These laws mirror the warnings from clinical health organizations about the dangers presented by such "treatments" on minor children. Such treatments are not voluntary when a parent believes that their child must be "cured".

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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