Index of FAQ about Homosexuality

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Why Do Gay Activists Deny that Homosexuals Can Change Their Sexual Orientation?

“FACT: Sexual orientation is neither a choice, nor is it something that can be changed through prayer or therapy. All attempts to do so are rooted in shame, religious bigotry, political propaganda and ignorance.” This was the declaration of Wayne Besen, an American homosexual rights advocate who is the founding Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, the Center Against Religious Extremism, and author of the book Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the homosexual debate is the question of whether homosexuals can change their sexual orientation. Many ministries and organizations exist to help those who wish to change their orientation away from homosexuality, such as:1

- The National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)
- Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH)
- The Presbyterian organization, OneByOne
- The African-American Christian organization, Powerful Ministry Change Group
- The Mormon organization, Evergreen International
- The non-religious organizations, Gender Menders, People Can Change, and German Institute for Youth and Society

Of course, organizations also exist which help those who wish to change their sexual orientation away from heterosexuality, although they would never describe their efforts in this way. Organizations such as the GLBT National Help Center and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network provide literature designed to encourage the heterosexual to question his sexual orientation and are happy to assist and provide those questioning with support, advice, and resources. There also exists a pool of gay-affirming therapists. A former advertisement for psychotherapist Dr. Fran Brown on the website Gaylife read, “Quick therapy tips for gay men struggling with heterosexual to gay transitions, same gender parenting and coming out.”2

Despite the fact that there is a concerted effort on both sides to “change” people’s sexual orientation, the standard mantra is, “Once gay, always gay.” This stems from the belief that people are born gay; therefore, they have no choice in the matter. However, we have already discussed the scientific and theological errors of the born gay argument. Therefore, the once gay, always gay argument is the practical application of an unsubstantiated theory that people are born gay. Nevertheless, it is common to hear dogmatic declarations such as in Kevin Naff’s Washington Blade editorial “Lock up the ‘ex-gays,’” “[T]here is no such thing as ‘ex-gay.’ There is ‘repress-my-innate-immutable-characteristics-and-deny-their existence,’ but no such condition as ‘ex-gay.’ … Right-handed people can’t choose to be lefties, those with brown skin can’t choose white and gays can’t choose to be straight.”3 Similarly, Eric Marcus wrote in his book Is It a Choice?, “[N]o matter what anyone claims, you cannot change a person’s sexual orientation.”4 And Robert Goss wrote in his book Jesus Acted Up, “All ecclesial attempts to change gay/lesbian sexual identities to heterosexual or demand that queers practice celibacy disembody them as human beings.”5

Homosexual activists afford absolutely no possibility of change in one’s sexual orientation provided that the change is from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Beyond this, they are determined to silence all talk regarding such a possibility. To bolster their position, these activists frequently call upon the mental health community for support. A representative example comes from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s publication Just the Facts:6

The most important fact about “reparative therapy,” also sometimes known as “conversion” therapy, is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 447,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a “cure.”

Impressive as this list of authorities may be, it is negated by the history of their decision in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is considered to be the Bible of psychiatry and psychology. Dr. Simon LeVay summarized this history in his book Queer Science, “Gay activism was clearly the force that propelled the APA to declassify homosexuality.”7 Through militant, but non-violent, confrontations and threats, homosexual activists pressured the American Psychiatric Association into capitulating to their demands, and this in turn led to the other mental health organizations accepting this diagnosis in order to maintain unity.

The important thing to realize is that the once gay, always gay doctrine is based upon an unsubstantiated theory; it is not based upon genuine science. Even the scientific organizations which are often cited in support of the mantra can offer no replicated scientific evidence that a person’s sexual orientation is immutable. Although the American Psychiatric Association opposes reparative therapy, they have declared, “No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. … [T]o date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse.”8 In other words, if science cannot determine what causes sexual orientation, then science cannot determine whether it can be changed. Therefore, it is not surprising that in 2009, the American Psychological Association released a 2-year study that concluded there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not conversion therapy works. Significant is the fact that the task force was comprised entirely of activists in gay causes—most of whom were themselves gay.9 Despite the blatant bias in favor of the homosexual position regarding whether sexual orientation can be changed, the best that this task force could do was cite insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of conversion therapy. Thus, the born gay, always gay argument is based upon speculation and theory, and it is far from being established scientific fact. It is the practical application of the unsubstantiated theory that people are born gay.


1. Brown, A Queer Thing, 451.
2. Ibid, 424.
3. Ibid, 420–421.
4. Ibid, 421.
5. Ibid, 418.
6. Ibid, 422–423.
7. Ibid, 454.
8. "LGBT-Sexual Orientation."
9. Brown, A Queer Thing, 479–480.

Works Cited

1. Brown, Michael. A Queer Thing Happened to America. Concord: EqualTime Books, 2011.
2. “LGBT-Sexual Orientation.” American Psychiatric Association. Accessed April 28, 2014. .


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Author: Timothy Zebell, 2015