Call it a victory for the gay rights movement. Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist who published a study in 2001 that claimed it was possible to “cure” homosexuality, has renounced his controversial work. As Rachel Maddow said Wednesday on her MSNBC program, many anti-gay groups in the United States base their stance on “a core pseudo-medical argument that being gay is a curable thing, that you can change your sexual orientation if you work on it.” And such views often have found crucially needed support from Spitzer’s infamous study. Now the man who conducted that study says the challenges it generated among gays, their supporters and many others were well founded.
Spitzer’s retraction came in an article titled “My So-Called Ex-Gay Life” that appeared last week in The American Prospect magazine.
“In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct,” Spitzer said. “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.” —TEB
The American Prospect:
Spitzer said that he was proud of having been instrumental in removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. Now 80 and retired, he was afraid that the 2001 study would tarnish his legacy and perhaps hurt others. He said that failed attempts to rid oneself of homosexual attractions “can be quite harmful.” He has, though, no doubts about the 1973 fight over the classification of homosexuality.
“Had there been no Bob Spitzer, homosexuality would still have eventually been removed from the list of psychiatric disorders,” he said. “But it wouldn’t have happened in 1973.”
Spitzer was growing tired and asked how many more questions I had. Nothing, I responded, unless you have something to add.
He did. Would I print a retraction of his 2001 study, “so I don’t have to worry about it anymore”?