And he’s back at his copy desk at The World’s Worst Newspaper writing under the name “Erik Echolm.”
“For most of his life, Blake Smith said, “every inch of my body craved male sexual contact.”
HUBBA-HUBBA! We all know those strange twilight urges dudes like you inspire — don’t we Mr. Sacks?
“Mr. Smith, 58, who says he believes homosexual behavior is wrong on religious grounds, tried to tough it out. He spent 17 years in a doomed marriage while battling his urges all day, he said, and dreaming about them all night.”
“But in recent years, as he probed his childhood in counseling and at men’s weekend retreats with names like People Can Change and Journey Into Manhood, “my homosexual feelings have nearly vanished,” Mr. Smith said in an interview at the house in Bakersfield, Calif., he shares with his second wife, who married him eight years ago knowing his history. “In my 50s, for the first time, I can look at a woman and say ‘she’s really hot.’ ”
The operative term is “nearly.”
Having failed the first time out Mr. Smith now seems to have found the Triumph of the Will & Grace Marriage he’s always wanted.
“Mr. Smith is one of thousands of men across the country, often known as “ex-gay,” who believe they have changed their most basic sexual desires through some combination of therapy and prayer — something most scientists say has never been proved possible and is likely an illusion.”
“Ex-gay men are often closeted, fearing ridicule from gay advocates who accuse them of self-deception and, at the same time, fearing rejection by their church communities as tainted oddities. Here in California, their sense of siege grew more intense in September when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law banning use of widely discredited sexual “conversion therapies” for minors — an assault on their own validity, some ex-gay men feel.”
Well don’t this beat all? Out and Proud gay men are now “oppressing” self-loathing closet cases!
“Signing the measure, Governor Brown repeated the view of the psychiatric establishment and medical groups, saying, “This bill bans nonscientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” adding that the practices “will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
But many ex-gays have continued to seek help from such therapists and men’s retreats, saying their own experience is proof enough that the treatment can work.”
Here’s one satisfied customer — a “sissy” no more!
“Aaron Bitzer, 35, was so angered by the California ban, which will take effect on Jan. 1, that he went public and became a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional.
To those who call the therapy dangerous, Mr. Bitzer reverses the argument: “If I’d known about these therapies as a teen I could have avoided a lot of depression, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts,” he said at his apartment in Los Angeles. He was tormented as a Christian teenager by his homosexual attractions, but now, after men’s retreats and an online course of reparative therapy, he says he feels glimmers of attraction for women and is thinking about dating.”
The operative term is “thinking”
“I found that I couldn’t just say ‘I’m gay’ and live that way,” said Mr. Bitzer, who plans to seek a doctorate in psychology and become a therapist himself. “
PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF!
“Many ex-gays guard their secret but quietly meet in support groups around the country, sharing ideas on how to avoid temptations or, perhaps, broach their past with a female date. Some are trying to save heterosexual marriages. Some, like Mr. Bitzer, hope one day to marry a woman. Some choose celibacy as an improvement over what they regard as a sinful gay life.”
“Whether they have gone through formal reparative therapy, most ex-gays agree with its tenets, even as they are rejected by mainstream scientists. The theories, which have also been adopted by conservative religious opponents of gay marriage, hold that male homosexuality emerges from family dynamics — often a distant father and an overbearing mother — or from early sexual abuse. Confronting these psychic wounds, they assert, can bring change in sexual desire, if not necessarily a total “cure.”
It’s just like being “slightly pregnant.”
“(While some women also struggle with sexual identity, the ex-gay movement is virtually all male.) “
Let’s have a moment or two of silence to think about that parenthetical remark, shall we?
“Major mental health associations say teenagers who are pushed into therapy by conservative parents may feel guilt and despair when their inner impulses do not change.”
No shit, Sherlock!
“Reparative therapy suffered two other major setbacks this year. In April, a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer,
publicly repudiated as invalid his own 2001 study suggesting that some people could change their sexual orientation; the study had been widely cited by defenders of the therapy.
Then this summer, the ex-gay world was convulsed when Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, the largest Christian ministry for people fighting same-sex attraction,
said he did not believe anyone could be rid of homosexual desires.”
Clutch those pearls like there’s no tomorrow!
“Joseph Nicolosi, a psychologist and clinical director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, Calif., which he describes as the largest reparative therapy clinic in the world, disagreed.
“I don’t believe that anybody is really gay,” he said. “I believe that all people are heterosexual but that some have a homosexual problem, and some of these people attempt to resolve their conflict by adopting a sociopolitical label called ‘gay.’ ”
By unearthing family trauma, Dr. Nicolosi said, many patients find their homosexual urges dissipating.”
You’re really gay, Joe — and so are the pathetic suckers you’ve conned. Turning childhood memories into “trauma” is Nicolosi’s principle Three-Card Monte game.
“Jeremy S., 34, a corporate contract officer in Dallas, says he is among them. Jeremy, who did not want his last name printed to avoid embarrassing his parents, said that from his teens until three years ago he lived as a gay man, at times having sex almost daily. “It wasn’t working for me,” he said.
After two years of therapy via Skype with Dr. Nicolosi’s clinic, he said, “my attraction to men was drastically diminishing.” He said he has not had sex with a man for more than two years and does not think about it more than once a month, adding that his Catholic faith has also deepened.”
Don’t get in too deep, Jeremy.
“Critics like Wayne Besen,
the executive director of Truth Wins Out, which fights antigay bias, liken such therapy to faith healing, with apparent effects that later fade away.
They also point out that the failures of such therapy are seldom reported.”
“S. Marc Breedlove, a neuroscientist and psychologist at Michigan State University, said there was overwhelming evidence that sexual orientation is affected by both biology and environment. Clearly, he said, reparative therapy helps some people alter sexual behavior. But that is far different, he noted, from transforming instinctive sexual desires, something never proved in scientific studies”
Who needs scientific studies? Try Exorcism!
“Cameron Michael Swaim, 20, said he is in the early stages of his struggle to overcome homosexual desires. Mr. Swaim is unemployed and lives with his parents in Orange County, Calif., where his father is a pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church of the Southwest.
He tried the gay life, but “it just doesn’t settle with me,” he said, and ultimately decided “there’s got to be a way to heal this affliction.”
Lay off the Sondheim, take a couple of Aspirin and call me in the morning.
“Through weekend retreats and participation in a Southern California support group Mr. Swaim has started to explore his family relations, he said, something that has been painful but seems to be helping.
“I’m building my confidence around men,” he said, “ and that has built my confidence around women.”
Five years from now, Mr. Swaim hopes, he will be engaged or married. In the meantime, he is trying to scrape together enough money to start seeing a reparative therapist.”
The operatve term is “scrape.”
That The World’s Worst Newspaper has goe back to its old homophobic ways is most interesting.
Here’s Larry Gross
“The New York Times is not just another newspaper. In the words of former Times columnist Sydney Schanberg, it is “the newspaper that interprets the establishment to the establishment; that tells the establishment what it is doing and how it should be done.” The immense power of the Times generally has made the paper fairly slow to notice or respond to changes in society, as the paper seems to feel it has a responsibility to serve as a brake rather than a locomotive. At least this was the case in the 1960s as gay people began to become more visible in American society. The Times’ well-known motto is “All the news that’s fit to print,” and for a long time it was clear that gay people’s stories were unfit.
The news media are well known for not having clearly stated rules of procedure, but rather relying on an instinct known as “news judgment”—knowing what is and is not a “story,” whether a story deserves front-page or back-page placement, and how a story should be presented. In fact, of course, there are rules. Some are written down in the guidelines that most media organizations maintain, but the most important rules are those learned by editors and reporters by observing what happens when someone breaks one. Such critical incidents provide everyone in a news organization with dramatic evidence that an unwritten rule exists and must be observed, and it was in this way that editors and reporters at The New York Times learned that the topic of homosexuality was not popular with the higher-ups.
In 1975 the Sunday travel section ran an article that was certainly unusual for The New York Times. Not only was the piece open about sexuality in a fashion that was not typical of the Times—the paper did not print the word “penis” until 1976, when it appeared in a Personal Health column about impotence—but the sexuality the article was open about was homosexuality. The story was called “The All-Gay Cruise: Prejudice and Pride,” by a free-lancer named Cliff Jahr, and it described a weeklong ocean cruise taken by 300 gay men and lesbians. The article was hip and sexy in a most un-Times-like fashion—Jahr quotes one man as boasting, “I’ve met three Mister Rights before lunch.” It was also imbued with an awareness of the gay experience, noting that the cruise gave the passengers a respite from the oppression of closeted lives.
Publisher Arthur Sulzberger was furious. According to some accounts, travel section editor Robert Stock and Sunday editor Max Frankel were nearly fired over the incident. Another person who was angered by the piece was then managing editor Abe Rosenthal, whose reign as executive editor was to last from 1977 to 1986. As Rosenthal ascended to the top of the Times ladder, his prejudices defined the unspoken but nevertheless unmistakable rules for deciding what was fit to print. As journalist and writer Charles Kaiser, who worked at the Times under Rosenthal, put it, “Everyone below Rosenthal spent all of their time trying to figure out what to do to cater to his prejudices. One of these widely perceived prejudices was Abe’s homophobia. So editors throughout the paper would keep stories concerning gays out of the paper.”
One such story happened in November 1980, when a homophobic gunman went on a rampage in Greenwich Village, killing two gay men and wounding seven others with machine-gun fire.”
An incident that took place directly following the release of William Friedkin’s Cruising – which clearly inspired it.
“The story was front-page news in the Post and the Daily News but not in the New York Times. The metropolitan editor knew Rosenthal’s feelings about gays and knew, as he later said, that “you had to be careful with the subject.”
Abe Rosenthal’s homophobia was felt at the Times in two ways: It ensured that lesbian and gay reporters stayed firmly in the closet, and that the word “gay” was not used in the paper to describe gay people. The furor over the travel section article was the critical incident inscribed in the paper’s unwritten rule book. As Jeff Schmalz, a Times editor, later recalled, “There was a lot of shouting about it. Abe thought it was a mistake and that we never should have done it. And we’d used the word ‘gay.’ He said we could never use that word again.” And, for the most part they didn’t. The word crept into news stories and headlines from time to time, but the paper’s official policy ruled the word “gay” out of order, while at the same time the gay liberation movement was exploding all around it. Rosenthal was not limited in his biases to anti-gay prejudice—he also refused to allow the word “Ms.” to be used until 1986—but his homophobia proved tragic when the AIDS crisis erupted on his watch.
As the AIDS epidemic began to emerge, the silence of the media in general, and of The New York Times in particular, contributed to the magnitude of the unfolding tragedy. Although the death toll mounted in the early 1980s, the Times maintained a disdainful distance. As gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile put it, “Rosenthal, who attacks anti-Semitism in the media, never realized that the way he was treating the AIDS epidemic wasn’t much different from the way that news organizations treated the Holocaust early on.”
Ironically, the media blackout that broke the patience of many gay activists was not the report of a medical breakthrough but a fundraiser. In April 1983 the Gay Men’s Health Crisis arranged a circus benefit that sold out Madison Square Garden, filling it with 18,000 lesbians, gay man and others. The arena was not only jampacked; it was star-studded: Leonard Bernstein led “The Star Spangled Banner.” The event was covered by television and the newspapers, but not The New York Times.
A group of lesbian and gay activists wrote to the publisher demanding a meeting and was offered an “off the record” meeting with a Times vice president. The meeting was not successful in obtaining changes in policy, but it did result in a second meeting, this time with Executive Editor Rosenthal. Rosenthal admitted that not covering the circus benefit had been a mistake, and even agreed that the paper should do more to cover AIDS. But he was unwilling to budge on the use of the word “gay” or to move very far in any direction toward meeting the demands of the lesbian and gay community. Yet even this small opening permitted some fresh air to penetrate the Times’ closeted atmosphere, and several people from the paper called to thank the activists for their efforts. The real changes at the Times did not come until there was a changing of the guard on 43rd Street.
As journalist Sam Anson later put it, “the relief that swept through the newsroom the morning of October 16, 1986, was palpable, almost giddy.” Abe Rosenthal had reached the mandatory retirement age of 65, and was replaced as executive editor by Max Frankel. Rosenthal’s reign was described by many as a period of paranoia and terror at the Times—one reporter said, “He was like the czar; people would get gulaged at the drop of a hat.” But if the feeling of relief was general, it was especially felt by lesbian and gay employees. Frankel lost little time in letting people know that times had indeed changed, and that included the paper’s attitudes toward gay people and stories affecting them.
One of the first areas in which Frankel’s piloting of the Times became apparent was the coverage of AIDS. Within a few months of his taking over, the paper published its first serious articles on the impact of AIDS on New York—a four-part series, each installment of which began on the front page. Within a year a media writer for the Los Angeles Times quoted medical authorities and other journalists as rating the New York Times AIDS coverage as some of the best then appearing anywhere.
In the summer of 1987 Frankel made a second major change by authorizing a memo from the managing editor: “Starting immediately, we will accept the word ‘gay’ as an adjective meaning homosexual, in references to social or cultural patterns and political issues.” According to a former Times staffer, Frankel sent a memo to publisher Sulzberger, “Punch, you’re going to have to swallow hard on this one: We’re going to start using the word gay.” Frankel was aware of the impact this change would have on the morale of the lesbian and gay employees at the paper—“I knew they’d had a hard time, and I knew they weren’t comfortable identifying themselves as gay”—but he may not have been aware of the extent to which the change signaled the start of a new era in the Times’ coverage of gay issues.
In reporting on Abe Rosenthal’s funeral on May 14, James Barron wrote that William Safire, a former Op-Ed columnist who writes the “On Language” column for The New York Times Magazine, noted that Rosenthal had often said that he wanted his epitaph to be, “He kept the paper straight.”
Jeff Schmalz, cited above, died of AIDS in 1993. He spent the better part of his career at the NYT in fear of Abe Rosenthal, his most important superior, would find out that he was gay.
“Jeffrey Schmalz, a journalist who wrote with passion and insight about the determination and despair of AIDS sufferers, died of complications of the disease yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 39.
When his illness was discovered three years ago, Mr. Schmalz, who spent his entire two-decade career as a reporter and editor at The New York Times, saw his situation not only as a patient but as a journalist.
Returning to work after a year of battling AIDS-related illnesses, he persuaded his editors to allow him to cover AIDS and gay issues. His writing gained him national attention as he brought readers into the world of gay politics and of people with AIDS in a blunt and sometimes startling way.
Mr. Schmalz was deputy national editor in December 1990 when he suffered a brain seizure at his desk that led to the discovery he had AIDS.
Part of the price of his ascent at The Times, Mr. Schmalz long believed, was that he hide his homosexuality from at least some of his superiors. But after his illness became known, and with his sexual orientation no longer a secret, he became an eloquent spokesman for the frustrations of people with AIDS and an outspoken supporter of equal rights for gay people. In public speeches, he frequently apologized for coming late to the cause.”
Better late than never. As for today’s NYT one must ask why it’s decided to dig up Abe Rosenthals’ rotting corpse.
Finally, regarding poor Mr. Swaim, Captain Jack Harkness and his friend Daniel Boys have a song for you.