Former “gay conversion” therapy practitioner David Matheson has expressed regret for taking part in the practices, and said he acknowledges the damage it’s done to the LGBTIQ community.
Before coming out as gay on Facebook last week, Matheson was a high-profile “gay conversion” leader in the US, whose publications were used world to subject LGBTIQ people to dangerous treatments attempting to make them straight.
In an interview with the UK’s Channel 4, Matheson said he regretted the hurt he had caused people and admitted that the therapy provided doesn’t work.
“It is horrifying to think that I was part of a system that held people like me down,” Matheson said.
“I regret my part in perpetuating those ideas … that being gay is a pathology, a disorder. Perpetuating the idea that God is not okay with people being gay.
“That, I regret. I mean, it held me back and it held lot of other people back.”
Matheson was asked if he feels remorse for all the damage he caused his clients and their loved ones.
“Are you kidding? I mean it is horrifying to think that I was part of a system that held people like me down and I’ve had some conversations with other people who have been harmed by it,” he said.
“It creates a lot of sorrow. I will say I repudiate the idea that therapy can and should be used to change a person’s sexual orientation because it just can’t.
“I do regret my part in propagating that view because I was in a sense kind of an agent of a repressive culture and that makes me really uncomfortable.”
When asked if he supports calls for the harmful practices to be banned in the United States, he said he agreed.
“Any therapy that is based on the idea that being gay is a psychological disorder, which it’s not – that believes that being gay is wrong or bad, which it’s not, and that it can be changed and ought to be changed,” he said.
“Any therapy based on that idea has great potential to harm people, and that kind of therapy should be stopped.”
Matheson admitted his participation in causing damage stemmed from his own struggle with both his sexuality and his upbringing in the Mormon faith.
“I can think of things that I created that I put into these weekends and I think back on them and honesty I want to crawl into myself because there’s this sense of, there’s this cringe, there this sense of, ‘Oh my gosh I used to think that was a good idea.’
“It was very much motivated particularly in the beginning by the idea that I need to believe I can change and so I need to try my hardest to help you change.”
A report released last year by Australian researchers documented the long-term harm the “gay conversion” therapies had done to local survivors.
Last November, a practitioner of “gay conversion” therapies was allegedly sprung cruising gay hookup sites under the profile name “Hotnhairy72″.