Activist and author Wayne Besen is scheduled to visit Oregon State University today to make the case that so-called reparative therapy meant to fix homosexuality in an individual is only part of a larger movement meant to discredit calls for gay rights.
His talk is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Journey Room.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Besen explained that many reparative therapy programs meant to convince patients they are heterosexual formed in the 1980s and 1990s and often operate under large religious umbrella organizations.
Although they might project a sense of warm-hearted caring, Besen said, but their underlying goal is to further their own agenda. Their message is that because homosexuality can be fixed through prayer and therapy, there’s no need for laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination, same-sex marriage or progressive adoption policies for gays.
“We don’t exist; we don’t need rights, we need help — that’s the whole gist,” Besen said. “This is more of a marketing campaign than a movement by the religious right.”
The American Psychiatric Association announced its opposition to reparative therapy of homosexuality in the late 1990s, and many mental health experts say such therapy can lead to anxiety and depression. But public figures from these religious organizations continue to claim that it’s possible to be ex-gay.
“They get away from it because they’re using the guise of faith,” Besen said.
Besen, founder of the nonprofit organization Truth Wins Out, released the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” in 2003, and founded Truth Wins Out in 2006. He’s advocated for education on reparative therapy since 1998, and regularly speaks at college campuses nationwide.
Truth Wins Out received attention in July when the organization reported that Bachmann and Associates, a counseling center run by Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, was practicing reparative therapy. Besen said Bachmann and Associates doesn’t operate under the umbrella of a larger ministry and added that reparative therapy isn’t the center’s defining message.
As part of her social conservatism, Michelle Bachmann opposes same-sex marriage.