Straight to Hell

When Gays Go Hetero, the Consequences Can Be Anything But Redemptive

Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder, two New York psychologists who are studying the effects of conversion therapies, say they have five out of 150 participants in their study who are happy with their change to a heterosexual life, though all of them still have homosexual desires. Shidlo says, "We want to follow them over the long term," says Shidlo, "because many of our other subjects say they were happy with their change for months or even years, but now look back on that period as a time of not accepting their true desires."

Some ex-gay leaders focus on behavior only. "I don't believe men and women can go into therapy and come out the other end heterosexual," says Johnston. He says that God has changed his own sexual desires from gay to straight but, he insists, "I don't think most of us have experienced that in the long run." To promise a cure is "setting someone up for a great deal of frustration. Christian law is not about eliminating sinful desires, it's about overcoming them."

Thus, the vast majority of people who try to change their sexual orientation can expect years of hardship followed not by a genuine transformation of their erotic attractions but by a suppression of their feelings, what ex-ex-gay Lemon calls "living a lie."

This tangled web often ensnares other people. At the height of his effort to become straight, Kelly Kirby of Tulsa, Oklahoma, "proposed to three women in six months, and the third one said yes. I didn't have a loving bond with her, in the sense of this is the person I want to spend my life with, but I thought, 'She would make a good wife and this is what I need to do."' Kirby stayed married for 13 years and had four children before he finally accepted being gay.

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