Dear Reparative Therapists: We Don't (And Never Will) Have Daddy Issues

6.15.2011

By Mike Berlin

 

 

I don't claim to be a psychological expert (unless falling two credits short of a psych double major in college counts?), but Pickup's comments summarize the oldest and most dated attitudes about homosexuality today. From him speaking on the stem of homosexuality in men (reparative therapy often focuses just on dudes):

They were wounded by their fathers emotionally. They were told they were sick or horrible or not man enough, and they were bullied by their peers and they were put down, and mother was too intrusive on her needs on them and they sort of identified with the feminine during those crucial developmental years and so the male gender identity was wounded.

Here are two wrong (and really obnoxious) tenets of this argument:

1. Homosexuality is rooted in gender identity. Gays come in all different flavors of gender. Sure, gender and our relationships to it are often tied into sexuality. Many of us idealize certain gender profile sexually within ourselves and others. But gender is not the same as sexuality, and two will never go together uniformly or neatly for an entire population. The lack of masculinity that some gay men struggle with growing up doesn't often relate to their natural desire to become more masculine, but instead to the cultural pressure imposed on them to be something they're not.

2. Homosexuality can be attributed to (bad) parenting. We don't have daddy issues, and we love our close relationships with our moms! No one can make blanket statement about the kind of parenting that produces gay children. It's insulting to parents of gays to say that an "overbearing mother" or a "removed father" causes homosexuality, and it creates misguided ideas about how to parent appropriately. In "The Sissy Boy Experiment," Reker asked Kirk's parents to punish him with harsh beatings whenever he displayed feminine traits or desires. No one should be discouraging their children from exhibiting something as fundamental as gender or sexuality unless they plan on loading their kids with unresolved emotional baggage for the future.

I'm not really sure as to whom Pickup, Reker, and other reparative therapists think they are ultimately helping: political interest groups or "patients"? If it's the latter, I say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

--MIKE BERLIN

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