It’s not a shock, nor is it a surprise. NBC News reports that a man described as the “intellectual godfather” of anti-gay “conversion therapy” is now living his life as a gay man. David Matheson was once a big-time Mormon Church “conversion therapist.” But according to a post on Matheson’s Facebook page, he had to leave his marriage this past year because “it was time for me to affirm myself as gay.”
The Facebook post, which you can read below, goes on to explain that his marriage to his wife of “many years” was a good one, but he continued to have feelings for men. It came to a point as he and his wife became more distant.
Toward the end of this decline, I also realized that being in an intimate relationship with a man was no longer something I wanted to avoid. It had become a non-negotiable need.
After explaining how his coming-out is being used as an ideological football by both the “right” and “left” to push “agendas,” Matheson says this:
I used to be caught in an ideological prison of my own. I know my work helped many, many people because they’ve told me so. But I’m sure I’ve hurt some people too. 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.
It’s a little more than a “flaw,” Mr. Matheson. It’s a criminal enterprise, considered criminally and psychologically cruel in some states and cities. Matheson has received both supportive and angry comments on his post. To be clear, Matheson co-authored a book called Journey Into Manhood that the Advocate describes as explaining away homosexuality as something that “stemmed primarily from an inability to relate to masculine activities.”
Many have wondered whether or not Matheson will be as proactive about reconciling the damage he has probably caused many people as he was in inflicting his psychological quackery on those people in the first place. Chaim Levin, a man who says he was damaged by one of Matheson’s Journey Into Manhood programs, tells Newsweek he is still wary of Matheson.
“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,” Levin told TWO. “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.”
Matheson made a lot of money on “conversion therapy” quackery, charging hundreds of dollars per hour. It will be interesting to see what his next moves are as a therapist. In an interview released on YouTube Thursday, Matheson says he is continuing to work with a men’s group that essentially sublimates their homosexual urges—but he feels that that group is still a healthy program. He also says that he plans on staying with the Mormon Church, but is not sure they will allow him to stay.
He explains to Salt Lake City station KUTV that he had grown up in a homophobic community, but had slowly repudiated many of the tenets of “conversion therapy” years ago, specifically the idea that homosexuality was a disorder and must be fixed. He says that he plans on continuing to work on helping LGBTQ people dealing with shame and many other psychological hurdles facing that community as a result of systematic homophobia.
And while he says he now supports legislation that would ban the type of conversion therapy that is based on the classification of homosexuality as a psychological disorder, he wasn’t ready to call out the homophobic religious community just yet: “Ask me in a year.”
Here is an excerpt from Matheson’s Facebook post:
“A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life. I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay.
I enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage …”