My grandmother used to say all the time, "Ye who protesteth the loudest, do it the mostesth!"
That echoes in my mind as I report that a prominent therapist in the so-called conversion therapy industry has announced he has left the ‘ex-gay’ movement and is actively looking to date men.
Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit think tank and advocacy group that fights against anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination, obtained screen captures of a private Facebook group that shared the news David Matheson, who penned the controversial ‘ex-gay’ book, Becoming a Whole Man, is now living his life as an openly gay man.
During his career as a therapist, Matheson has authored several ‘ex-gay therapy’ programs including the notorious Journey Into Manhood program.
Rich Wyler, Journey Into Manhood’s director, broke the news in the Facebook group writing, “David…says that living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible' for him, so he’s seeking a male partner.”
Wyler added, “He has gone from bisexuality to exclusively gay.”
TWO reached out to Matheson and received a statement which was appallingly absent any regret for his actions in the past. He also shares he plans to remain in the Mormon Church.
“My time in a straight marriage and in the ‘ex-gay’ world was genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me,” Matheson said in text messages to TWO. “I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others. But I had stopped growing and was starting to die. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process.
“I wasn’t faking it all those years,” he added. “I’m not renouncing my past work or my LDS faith. And I’m not condemning mixed-orientation marriages.”
“I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity,” he wrote in closing. “With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.”
At least one former client of Journey Into Manhood rejected the announcement.
“While I am pleased for Mr. Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr Matheson himself,” said Chaim Levin, who claims he was psychologically harmed by the program Matheson helped design for Journey Into Manhood. “I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included.”
A 2007 New York Times article revealed Matheson had earned a master’s in counseling and guidance from Brigham Young University. He began full-time practice in New Jersey in 2004, where he charged clients $240 per 90-minute session.
Matheson helped develop the ‘program’ for Journey into Manhood, which took gay men go into the forest where they were encouraged to engage in “manly” activities in an effort to change their sexual orientation.
“For some people ‘gay’ is never going to work,” he told ABC’s Nightline in 2010 while discussing Journey Into Manhood. “That kind of life, and that kind of living, is never going to gel — ever — with their value system.”
“For those men, that’s why we exist, so that they can have another way, another approach of dealing with their sexual feelings,” Matheson added.
Since the publication of TWO's report, Matheson has posted a lengthy coming-out essay on his Facebook page, which reads in part:
Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what “emotionally healthy” can look like. They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. And I’m sorry for the confusion and pain my choice may be causing others.
Even today, as a newly-out gay man, I still find too much homophobia in myself.