Dr. Robert Spitzer made headlines recently when he apologized for his 2001 study that claimed “highly motivated” gays and lesbians could change their sexual orientation.
Spitzer, who led the charge to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) back in 1973, came under fire for the report, which critics found to be both harmful and full of errors.
Last week, Spitzer spoke for the first time on-camera about his change of heart, with Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen and filmmaker Lisa Darden. “This is an historic moment and it was crucial that we recorded it for posterity,” said Besen.
Here are excerpts from their discussion:
What do you have to say about the conclusions of your 2001 study?“I was quite wrong in the conclusions that I made from this study. The study does not provide evidence, really, that gays can change. And that’s quite an admission on my part.”
What made you go public with your change of heart?
“If I really have all these doubts about the study, I had to face up to whether I had a responsibility to acknowledge that.”
Is there a message you would like to impart to the LGBT community?
“I’ve been thinking about the study for many years. I felt that I needed to say that, the study is not valid, but I thought I should also say to the gay community, I apologize for any harm I have done to them because of the study and my initial interpretation. And I certainly apologize to any gay person who because of this study entered into reparative therapy and wasted their time and energy doing that.”
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) is still misusing your study and a video featuring you remains prominently placed on the group’s website. Would you like to address PFOX?“I ask that PFOX stop showing this video. This is quite misleading. I had no way, really, of knowing when I examined any particular subject whether they really had changed or whether they were deceiving themselves or even outright lying when they claimed that they had changed. So, please don’t show this to anyone.”
Is the “Ex-Gay” Industry capable of unbiased research on homosexuality?“The people who are pushing the ‘ex-gay’ idea are so full of hatred for homosexuality, really, that I don’t think they can respond in an ethical way.”
We criticized Spitzer harshly after his apology came out–calling it too little, too late—but we appreciate his continuous efforts at setting the record straight (no pun intended).