‘Gay Cure’ Psychiatrist: I Owe The Gay Community An Apology

Once supporting the idea of a “gay cure,” Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, considered by some to be the father of modern psychiatry, is now stating that he owes the gay community an apology.

Dr. Spitzer, who turns 80 next week and suffers from Parkinson’s disease, recently wrote a letter published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, reports the Guardian, stating:

“I believe I owe the gay community an apology. I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works.”

Dr. Spitzer overturned the notion that homosexuality was a mental disorder in 1973, but years later in 2001 risked his career by publishing a study concluding that “gay cure” therapy could make gay men straight.

Spitzer’s study looked at the experiences of 200 people undertaking clinics and therapy sessions at which people try to become heterosexual through counselling, something gay rights activists refer to as “pray away the gay” groups. He would ask the subjects a particular set of questions, analyze their responses to the therapy and their feelings and sexual urges afterwards. In his conclusion he found that many of those in the study reported a change in their sexual desires from homosexual to heterosexual.

Dr. Spitzer withstood years of merciless criticism by both his scientific counterparts as well as the gay community for his study regarding reparative therapy and the claim that being gay was something that could be ”cured.”

He says of the study in a long interview with the New York Times:

“You know, it’s the only regret I have; the only professional one. And I think, in the history of psychiatry, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a scientist write a letter saying that the data were all there but were totally misinterpreted. Who admitted that and who apologized to his readers. That’s something, don’t you think?”