Rob Buchanan tuned in to Channel 4 for Dr Christian’s gay cures show expecting some light entertainment. Instead he was horrified.
I imagined the show, Undercover Doctor: Cure Me, I’m Gay, on Channel 4, in which Dr Christian Jessen explored the world of gay cures, might have been faintly amusing, or maybe a little saddening. Instead it turned out to be an exploration of the downright abhorrent.
I have long grown immune to the medieval homophobic rhetoric spewed by glassy-eyed, scientifically illiterate morons. There were plenty of morons in evidence during the Dr Christian gay cure show, with hilariously hair-brained talk of gay demons and different coloured areas in the brain. However, the scenes of Dr Christian undergoing so-called ‘aversion therapy’, where the inducement of nausea and electrocution were used to turn him off being sexually attracted to men, chilled me to the bone.
Part Pavlovian freak show, part Orwellian torture chamber, it represented the deeply sinister ways in which a minor amount of understanding of human physiology can be hijacked by charlatans and witchdoctors to pervert the human natures of the gullible and the guilt-ridden.
There was so much here to upset any rational human being. It was a horror show, populated with dead eyed ‘ex-gays’, whose attempts at feigning heterosexuality were deeply disturbing. Then there was the line-up of charlatans and religious fanatics offering all sorts of equally chilling rituals. There was no sense of a Hippocratic Oath, let alone common decency from these snake oil salesmen – only a deep-seated, cynical greed, mixed with levels of self-delusion that should have earned these people their own tickets to an actual psychiatric ward.
Behind the eyes of the individuals who claimed to be ‘cured’ were silent screams of fear and insecurity. They didn’t want to be gay because someone had told them, or shown them through violence, that it was wrong. They pathologised their own sexualities, disowned their bodies, and by pursuing these ‘cures’, condemned themselves to lives destroyed by the twisting of science in attempts to warp nature.
Where does all this delusion and self-loathing come from? The answer is simple – terror. In certain societies that are dominated by religion, existing outside very narrow definitions of normality is deemed sinful because it means a loss of control for those in power. Therefore, individuals who don’t assimilate are targets for destruction.
Living with a fear of being destroyed engenders contradictory thinking. The person believes what they feel is wrong, yet they know what they feel to be real and true at the same time. To overcome the contradiction, they blame themselves, they blame demons; they attach their feelings to unreal illness. And for every imaginary illness there’s an imaginary cure, and if you want to conform safely in your society, you can be coerced into taking it.
But what about the adults who want these false cures? There is a dangerous grey area here, where on the one hand grownups should be able to choose whatever they want – if they wish to fork out money for snake oil, then so be it. But, on the other hand, these people are not neutrally seeking some cosmetic alternative therapy. They are damaged, self-hating people who have been poisoned by the harmful discourse and opinions about homosexuality in society who are seeking help to deny their true natures. They are being sold lies at high prices by unscrupulous con men. Plus, they are also willfully selling on this nonsense to other frightened, wounded people.
All that can be done to help is to present them with hard evidence and hope they make rational choices. But the fact is that once the environment they live in is hostile to homosexuality, their overriding drive for self-preservation, their terror of destruction, may make them ignore the truth.
The real sadness at the heart of this is that people are being forced to sacrifice love and sanity for conformity. We can’t stop them from going down that road, but these people must not be allowed to pass it on, they must not be allowed to pollute the minds of children with their delusions. Because what’s being attempted here is the murder of the very soul.
The absolute finding of the Dr Christian gay cure show was that these cures do not work. Instead they ruin families and force people to sham marriages. They shatter lives due to the creation of memories of sexual assault in childhood. They make people suicidal, disassociated, and hate-filled. Instead of curing, they make people and their societies sicker.
There is a sea-change happening in western society, where we are seeing the first glorious generations of queers born into a world where they won’t need to come out, where their first flushes of love will not be tainted by shame. It is this kind of world that all children deserve to grow up in, and until every household and every community becomes part of that world, there will always be people who will have their spirits crushed trying to fix something which isn’t broken.
The truth is that a cure is needed, but not for homosexuality. The world instead needs a cure for pathological self-hatred.
© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.