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Homo- and Hetero-statistical
Can homosexuals become "ex-gay"? Some people think so. The leading conversion group, Exodus International, refuses to publish any verifiable statistics on success rates. Another program, Living Waters, claims a 90% conversion rate without any evidence. Two independent researchers found that only 15% of people who entered the Exodus program were converted to heterosexuality after three years. An additional 23% are now assexual. Hooray! That's a win?

My problem with "ex-gay" success rates is that all the participants of Exodus International actively searched out the program and entered it with a strong desire to change. It's a self-selecting sample, creating a huge bias. I'd like to test that theory, with your help.

So, my question is: how many of you out there have ever tried to change your sexual orientation? Of course, this is also a self-selecting sample, only recording my gay, lesbian, and transgender friends who read my LiveJournal, and who felt like responding. The best idea would be randomized sample of all people, gay or straight... but doing that large of a survey would be impossible (finding subjects, people refusing to answer, lying, defining homosexuality, etc.) However, I want to see how many LJers have tried to become straight and failed.

Have you ever tried to change your sexual orientation? And how?

Entered a dedicated long-term "ex-gay" conversion program
Attended one or a few short-term sessions, each lasting a weekend or month or so
Went to a few "ex-gay" meetings or lectures, but never seriously joined any program
Tried to "pray the gay away" with a church group or counselor
Studied on your own, reading "ex-gay" books or websites
Used pure force of will to banish gay thoughts, or stopped masturbating
Never ever tried to change your sexual orientation
I am "ex-gay"

Without prejudicing the results by sharing my hypothesis, I'm guessing that 99% of my gay friends have tried not to be homosexual at some point in their lives. Either during adolescence and puberty, or perhaps at a catastrophic low point in our lives. I'd bet that almost all gay men in the US have tried to become straight, even if only for a week or two (or a day) and failed. That's over 12 million failures.

Exodus International only has 120 local ministries in the US. Even if one hundred men are enrolled at each ministry (a huge overestimate) and if it is indeed true 90% of them are cured each year, that's only 10,000 successful "ex-gays". That's not even 0.001% of the total estimated US gay population! Is Exodus International proud of the fact that only one *thousandth* of a percent of gay men in the US are converting sucessfully to become "ex-gay"? Are they saying that their cult is the only one that works?

Note: results and comments are not anonymous

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The concept of "ex gay" doesn't admit of the concept of bisexuality. Someone might be, say, 75% gay - so there's some attraction to women they can express. My personal feeling is that these programs just force people into expressing whatever attraction for the opposite sex that they already have while suppressing expression of their attraction for the same sex.

That's on top of the fact that, as you say, they're self-selected to want to do this.

I answered "never ever" - because I haven't. I don't consider some angst over the issue while coming to grips with it to really count. Once I realized that, yes, I'm gay - over and done with.

(cough) My dirty little LJ secret is that I'm actually bisexual but I don't say it out loud. I think women are hot, particularly kinky ones who have fetishes and are into no-strings-attached sex. So yeah... I'm attracted to women (and transpeople in both directions) who act like gay men!

I was wondering about angst. So, internal turmoil really doesn't count? My theory is that some attempt to be straight had to be made by taking a notable action: dating only girls for an extended period of time, or throwing away a collection of gay pornography. Did the angst last longer than a week?

Edited at 2009-03-16 10:27 pm (UTC)

My dirty little LJ secret is that I'm actually bisexual but I don't say it out loud.

That intrigues me. I call myself queer, and I'm primarily into guys. I don't consider myself bisexual. A good friend of mine is a bisexual activist, and she and I have interesting conversations about why people who might fall into the bi category choose not to identify as such.

So, if you don't mind my asking, why don't you say that you're bisexual out loud?

Ah, I haven't figgered that out yet. Politically, I like saying I'm gay. You know... adding another one to the column, so it looks like there are more gay people in the world. I've never understood identifying as queer. At the age of 39, they didn't have that category when I was growing up. I'm not used to it. Sometimes, I'll wear a "bisexual pride" pin or button, but I don't feel like it's an issue I want to wave a flag about. I don't know why not.

I do get this though, as I don't tend to 'admit' that I'm bisexual out loud if I can help it.

I identify more as a lesbian than queer, though for no good reason. I'm definitely only really attracted to women, and women that look like boys, and FtMs.

I'm pretty much a Kinsey 6. I can enjoy looking at women, but it's like looking at a landscape, or something - an aesthetic experience, not a sexual one.

As for angst - I don't think one can authentically decide to be an "ex-" something until one has admitted/accepted that one is that "something." So a teenager trying to figure out what turns them on? No. I did try to fantasize about women for a while but there always wound up being another man in the picture and I eventually just realized I was gay and that was that. Now, if at THAT point I had tried to "force" myself to fantasize about women or whatever - then that would count as an attempt to "de-gay" myself.

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