In what raises all sorts of questions about journalistic objectivity (and we at Queerty are ones to talk, though we happen to love our tinted glasses), out British TV personality/doctor Christian Jessen has undergone various forms of gay conversion therapy to test the merits (or lack thereof) of the pseudoscience.
And guess what? It worked! He’s as straight as they come now.
Oh, wait. No, it obviously didn’t. And therein lies the problem.
When the good doctor embarked on Undercover Doctor: Cure Me, I’m Gay for Britain’s Channel 4, he already knew the outcome of his story. He’d get whatever quacks would agree to go on television (which already limits him to the fringes of “professional conversion therapists”) to talk their game while he pretends to listen, then ultimately show them for the shams they truly are.
Which is fine and all, but what does it really prove except that there are and always will be crazies out there? The Telegraph took the documentary to task; Niel Midgley, a gay writer himself, called it a “disgrace” and wrote:
“The practice of gay ‘cures’ presupposes that the practitioners believe homosexuality to be a disease or a disorder. In pretending to approach those cures on their own terms, the programme never said, loud and clear, that that belief is false and harmful. Indeed, large chunks of the programme effectively went along with the idea that homosexuality might have a ’cause’, particularly in childhood, that can be ‘cured.’”
We’re not sure it’s quite as sinister as that, but perhaps subjects more worthy of pursuing are the patients who willingly submit to conversion. It’s one thing to point out the flawed logic of practitioners, but there is something much more culturally systemic at play in the mind of someone who a. believes these methods can actually yield success and b. have an earnest desire to see them through.
You can find most of the program on YouTube, which does have some interesting moments, like this first clip where you see Jessen drinking a vomit-inducing concoction while looking at homoerotic images. Which as I type it sounds utterly preposterous.