Joseph Nicolosi

Joseph Nicolosi, Founder of Modern Ex-Gay Therapy Movement, Just Died

Joseph Nicolosi, a major proponent of modern ex-gay conversion therapy, died today of complications from the flu at the age of 70.

Gay journalist Zack Ford called him the “father of the torture known as ex-gay therapy.”

Nicolosi was a major figure in the field of ex-gay treatment. He founded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization focused on trying to turn gay people into straight people.

Nicolosi’s theories about homosexuality were denounced by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association. His therapies were also banned from being used on minors via legislation in five states: Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, and California, The Daily Beast notes.

Gay conversion therapy isn’t just ineffective — it’s actively harmful. Many of the “treatments” are cruel and abusive, and many patients end up committing suicide.

Nicolosi devoted his life to harming gay people, many of them minors. And now he’s gone.

  • Jess Mee

    Rot In Perdition.

  • Ahmanson

    Let me just say, as a long term patient of Dr. Nicolosi’s, that he did NOT employ cruel or abusive techniques to rid clients of same sex attractions, or regard my same sex attractions in anything remotely resembling judgment. He simply took the view that what I really wanted was a father, not a male sexual partner, because of my own father’s inability to connect with me. I could talk with him about my same-sex attractions and the rest of my life quite freely, and he was kind and understanding and actually listened.

    You can disagree with his philosophy, but he was not the monster you imagine. I’ve had plenty of psychological trauma in my life, but none of it came from him. His office was a safe space for me for 13 years.

  • Ahmanson

    And I guarantee that none of HIS patients committed suicide because of him. I realize that barbaric methods of “conversion therapy” do exist, but he did not employ them.

  • Jess Mee

    This is the man who told his clients that gay men working in restaurants ejaculated on hamburgers to spread HIV. How does someone who spread lies like this merit any sort of fond memorial?

  • Ahmanson

    I wasn’t one of those clients, if any. This is the first I’ve heard of that, and I saw him for thirteen years.

  • Jess Mee

    He’s also on record as having said “I do not believe that any man can ever be truly at peace in living out a homosexual orientation.”. Does that sound like a man with no ax to grind?

  • Ahmanson

    What do you mean, ax to grind?

  • Jess Mee

    A young man named Ryan Kendall who went to Nicolosi for therapy has a different story to tell:

    “As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. Though I lived in Colorado, the conversion therapist my family relied on practiced out of Southern California.

    At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide. For the next decade I struggled with depression, periods of homelessness, and drug abuse.

    I am here today because as a young teenager I dreamed that one day adults would pass legislation to protect people like me. I am here because youth subjected to these discredited therapies deserve a voice in the room. They are the ones living the trauma and horror that conversion therapy inflicts on people for no reason, with no evidence, merely because of who they are. If any of these youth are listening, they should know that there is nothing wrong with them; they are perfect, beautiful, and deserving of love.

    It took me a decade to rebuild my life, but we know that too many people are not so fortunate. Conversion therapy inflicts harm by sending the message that there is something defective or immoral about people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It justifies discrimination by arguing that we can and should change and do not deserve any legal protections. It misleads families into believing that there is something wrong with their child or their loved won. Tragically, it harms the most vulnerable among us – children. This must stop.”

    www DOT thenewcivilrightsmovement DOT com SLASH prop-8-witness-ryan-kendall-testifies-before-california-assembly-on-conversion-therapy SLASH news SLASH 2012 SLASH 06 SLASH 26 SLASH 42221

  • Jess Mee

    A young man named Ryan Kendall underwent therapy with Dr. Nicolosi. His experience was quite different:

    As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. Though I lived in Colorado, the conversion therapist my family relied on practiced out of Southern California.

    At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide. For the next decade I struggled with depression, periods of homelessness, and drug abuse.

    I am here today because as a young teenager I dreamed that one day adults would pass legislation to protect people like me. I am here because youth subjected to these discredited therapies deserve a voice in the room. They are the ones living the trauma and horror that conversion therapy inflicts on people for no reason, with no evidence, merely because of who they are. If any of these youth are listening, they should know that there is nothing wrong with them; they are perfect, beautiful, and deserving of love.

    It took me a decade to rebuild my life, but we know that too many people are not so fortunate. Conversion therapy inflicts harm by sending the message that there is something defective or immoral about people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It justifies discrimination by arguing that we can and should change and do not deserve any legal protections. It misleads families into believing that there is something wrong with their child or their loved won. Tragically, it harms the most vulnerable among us – children. This must stop.

  • Ahmanson

    I wish I could ask Joe Nicolosi about this, but I would point out that the above does not give details about the therapy or mention Dr. Nicolosi by name, even. It says a lot more about his genuinely horrible family and his a priori rejection of the idea of reparative therapy than about Dr. Nicolosi personally or his particular methods.
    And let me say, I absolutely abhor the coercive attitude the parents in this case took, that they thought they could send their kid to a therapist and he would be “fixed”. It doesn’t work like that. And it should always be voluntary.