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Homosexuality — facts and myths

We present an article based on lectures given by Dr Joseph Nicolosi, a leading specialist on homosexuality therapy, founder of NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and author of many books on the subject.

Homosexuality — facts and myths

In 2011, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced its position on the reparative therapy of homosexuality. It claimed that there was not enough evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. Additionally, the APA advised against attempts to change sexual orientation and portray homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Myths about homosexuality

How can the APA claim there is not enough evidence for the change of sexual orientation through psy- chotherapy?

NARTH, of which I am a member, has spent $10,000 on research related to the three accusations made by the APA against reparative therapy. These are the accusations:

People cannot change their sexual orientation as a result of psychotherapy.

Efforts to change one’s orientation aggravate people’s problems: self-loathing, depression, attempted suicide.

The level of pathology (understood as self-destruction, self-punishment, and behaviour attesting maladaptation) is not higher in the gay population than in the heterosexual population.

We have reviewed all the available literature on the subject and have twenty pages of references to very many professional studies published in scholarly journals showing that a change in orientation in fact does occur in response to psychotherapy. They also indicate that there is no evidence for the claims that people are harmed by this therapy more seriously than in the case of any other therapy.

Homosexuality is a sexual identity disorder. It is about the lack of a sense of belonging to one’s own sex, especially in the case of men

As regards pathology, however, we deal with both medical pathology and psychological pathology related to homosexuality. When compared to heterosexuals, homosexual people have a higher rate of suicides, are more prone to depression and neurosis, tend more to abuse drugs and alcohol, experience relationship breakdowns more often, indulge in debauchery, anonymous sex, sadomasochist sexual behaviour and more “exotic” sexual practices — to put it mildly.

“We wanted to change”

Why, in the first place, have we bothered to document the problem of homosexuality?

We have not done so in order to fight homosexuals. Our purpose was to collect scientific data for people to learn. When approached by a young man who says: “I believe I’m gay”, any knowledgeable clinician, priest, parent or teacher will be able to tell him: “If you take this road, you’ll face many difficulties. If you want to avoid them, you may take another road; we are responsible for informing you about this.”

Young people are not told about the threats related to the gay lifestyle. Mental health professionals are so deeply involved in protecting the gay minority that they risk the health of the entire population of young people.

In the 1970s, when the American Psychiatric Association was discussing the question as to whether homosexuality was “normal”, Robert Spitzer led the movement to remove the label of pathology from homosexuality. Its aim was to free homosexuality from the aura of pathology.

The second myth says that homosexuality is congenital, that there is a gay gene. In reality, however, there is no gay gene. No research has confirmed its existence

Twenty years later, Spitzer was walking down the street to attend an APA convention and saw people picketing outside the convention venue. What did they say? “Acknowledge our change, homosexuality is wrong.”

Spitzer thought that these were gays and asked them: “Didn’t I solve this problem twenty years ago?” To this they replied: “No, we are not gays — we are ex-gays. We are those who identified ourselves as gays, but we wanted to change. We want the APA to support us, instead of telling us repeatedly that we must accept our homosexuality because we were born gay.” Spitzer is an open-minded person without any prejudices. He grew curious who these people were and wondered to what extent they had been able to change their sexual orientation. This curiosity made him initiate and conduct research for which he recruited 200 people who had experienced a meaningful change (152 males and 48 females). These individuals not only reduced their level of homosexuality, but also adapted heterosexually. In some cases, this led to marriage.

his was a follow-up study, conducted five years after the end of therapy. The results aroused controversy, particularly in gay communities, which denied that it was possible to get out of homosexuality. From then on, the main supporter of the gay cause began to be perceived as an enemy of gay people. But that was only one of many studies documenting the reality of a change in sexual orientation.

Unscientific research

Let’s get back to the question as to how the APA could claim that no changes occurred if we have such incontrovertible scientific evidence for changing from homosexuality. Two years ago, the APA resolved to solve this problem and check whether people could change their sexual orientation. APA members formed a task group — a team of six psychologists — who were to review the relevant literature and inspect the evidence. Whom did they choose? They selected six gay psychologists.

NARTH also put forward for the task group scientists who believed that changes were possible, but all of them were rejected. Only gays and lesbians were selected. All of them are gay activists. It is understandable that these people will take a negative attitude to literature documenting a change of orientation.

Adopting a gay identity means that you must give up hope and accept that it is not possible to change your sexual orientation to heterosexual. You must surrender and accept a gay identity. Something has to die for something new to be born. Hope for becoming a heterosexual must die — then a person of gay identity is born.

What does this mean for the research under discussion? People who had given up the struggle and surrendered by declaring their gay or lesbian identity took the place of experts sitting in judgment over scientific literature on the therapy of homosexuality. How could they believe that a change of sexual orientation was possible if they themselves had given up any hope of change?

Informed objection

Homosexuality is not a sexual problem, but a problem of gender identity. Homosexuality is not about sex. It is about a man’s or woman’s sense of self. It is about his or her relationships and self-image. Homosexual impulses and behaviour always betray a masked sense of inner emptiness. This is so important that I shall keep repeating it. I have a client, a doctor, who came to me for therapy. After more or less three months, he understood that he only thought that his problem was homosexuality. It dawned on him that the problem was his relationships, the way he treated his children, his wife and himself. He said: “The good news is that I have understood that my problem is not sex. The bad news is that I have a problem with everything else.”

Gay myths

Let’s now discuss four basic gay myths which are widely circulated.

The first is a claim about “10 per cent of the population being homosexual.” Wrong. Homosexuals account for 1.2 to 2.0 per cent of the population at most. The lie about 10 per cent comes from Alfred Kinsey’s fifty-year-old publication and is still repeated. It turns out, however, that Kinsey purposefully inflated the percentage to make the problem look more “universal”. As a matter of fact, Alfred Kinsey was a homosexual himself — a masochistic homosexual, drawing pleasure from pain. He was considered a great expert on sex and dominated the discussion of sexuality for over fifty years.

The second myth says that homosexuality is congenital, that there is a gay gene. In reality, however, there is no gay gene. No research has confirmed its existence.

Another myth: “anyone who is gay will always be gay.” A part of gay propaganda is making people think that you are either gay or hetero: one or the other. Testimony of change is a huge threat to the gay movement. When somebody says: “I used to be gay, but I am not anymore”, he or she points to the possibility of inducing change in a human being.

The fourth myth: homosexuality is normal in all aspects. This is a myth which is propagated by the media. Each time you see a gay person on television, he or she is very healthy and handsome, wellgroomed, happy, even-tempered, free from a sense of guilt and shame. It is the heterosexual protagonist who is shown unattractively as a person uncertain of his or her sexuality; it is they who are ridiculed.

Tolerance should be distinguished from acceptance. We must make this distinction in our own minds

If people could be made to believe in these four myths, a wholesale acceptance of homosexual behaviour could take place. That is the gay objective: total acceptance.

However, tolerance should be distinguished from acceptance. We must make this distinction in our own minds. We may tolerate people. I am tolerant towards gays. I believe that gays have the right to pursue happiness or enter into such relationships as they wish; however, this does not mean that I have to accept this. Relying on the knowledge I have gathered from all scientific sources possible, I assert that homosexuality carries a lot of bad things, so I cannot accept it. So we are talking about an informed objection — an objection based on knowledge and education.

An informed objection is not homophobia. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Here, it’s not about fear but about reviewing the evidence, getting to know what the science says, reading books and attending conferences. If you are a Catholic, your understanding of human sexuality may become richer and more comprehensive thanks to Catholic anthropology and the teaching of the Church.

The problem of identification

I always make a strict distinction between a homosexual and a gay. It is important that we understand these concepts. Being gay is a social-political identity. In principle, it says: this is who I am — I am normal and natural. Homosexuality, in turn, is a simple description of sexual preferences. This is a psychological state. A few months ago, I got a phone call from a father who said: “Our fifteenyear- old son has just told us that he is a homosexual. We are looking for a trustworthy psychologist who will tell us if he is a homosexual or not”. I said: “He is not”. My interlocutor asked: “How can you tell if you haven’t talked to him?” I replied: “I don’t have to. He’s got a male body, a body designed for sex with women; he is heterosexual. There is no such thing as a homosexual. There are only heterosexuals and some of them have sexual problems. Our bodies are designed for sexual activity with the opposite sex.”

I remember watching an ex-gay on television. His name was Richard Cohen. He not only was married but had children and grandchildren. He was talking on a television show with a lesbian about sexual adjustment in same-sex relationships. He kept repeating: “it doesn’t fit together, it won’t work.” This greatly frustrated the lesbian, because she could not find any answer to this. But that is the reality: body parts in same-sex relationships do not fit together. Finally, she said: “Okay, okay, Richard, that’s enough” — this was her only defence … Why don’t people want to speak about this openly? Because it clearly follows that homosexuality is a sexual identity disorder. It is about the lack of a sense of belonging to one’s own sex, especially in the case of men. It is a problem with one’s sex.

Reparative therapy

Reparative therapy meets all therapeutic standards. NARTH has gone further and developed Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions and Behaviour. These are eleven therapeutic guidelines going beyond the standards developed by the American Psychological Association.

Robert Perloff, a former APA president, said about our programme: “An individual has the right to choose if he or she wants to accept a gay identity. It is his or her decision and not the choice of an ideologically-oriented interest group. Discouraging a psychotherapist from working with a client who wants to change his or her sexual orientation is inconsistent with the attitude becoming a researcher, unscientific and unethical as far as the pursuit of the truth is concerned.”

Nicholas Cummings, another former APA president, spoke in the same tone: “I remain an ardent supporter of the freedom of choice for all people, especially where the right of selecting the objectives of their individual psychotherapy is concerned.”

An informed objection is not homophobia. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Here, it’s not about fear but about reviewing the evidence, getting to know what the science says, reading books and attending conferences

And of course Robert Spitzer, whom I mentioned earlier, must be cited in this context. He, in turn, said: “People have the right to explore their heterosexual potential”. As a result of his extensive research, he stated: “Contrary to a common belief, some motivated people, by taking various efforts, may obtain a considerable change of many sexual orientation indicators and function well as heterosexuals.

Our work is based on the experience of many thousands of men and women. Our clinic in Los Angeles is the largest clinic in the world in which work with homosexuals is done. We conduct 135 therapies per week and employ seven therapists: six therapists working with male clients and one therapist working with lesbians. We believe that clients should be given an opportunity to go through their relationship with the parent of the same sex, because for a man, the fundamental problem is his relationship with his father and for a lesbian — the relationship with her mother. Hence, work with the person of the same sex facilitates the therapy.”


Dr Nicolosi’s lectures are available on a CD attached to the book Bóg kocha homoseksualistów [God loves homosexuals] (Poznań: Agape, 2013).

“Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of selfmastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2357, 2359)


The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in September 2020.

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