It’s rare we find a journalist covering gay issues that we actually respect. Kerry Eleveld and Patrick Range McDonald are among the few obvious names. But we’re going to add Patrick Strudwick to that list. Because he’s going after conversion therapists in a whole new, awesome way.
This month Strudwick, based in the U.K., published “The Ex-Gay Files,” an in-depth look at how an “evangelical band of psychotherapists” were trying to “cure” patients of their homosexuality, where Strudwick posed as a pretend patient looking to be cured so he could expose all their nefarious treatments. The muckraking expedition left him with this: “The purpose of this investigation was to find out how conversion therapists operate. What I didn’t expect was that I would learn how their patients feel: confused and damaged. I began to constantly analyse why I found particular men attractive. Does that man represent something that’s lacking in me? Do I want him because he looks strong which must mean I feel weak? Did something happen in my childhood? The therapists planted doubt and worry where there was none.”
But now he’s going one step further, and launching something called the Stop Conversion Therapy Taskforce. For now, it’s just a Facebook group; it also has 1,800+ members already. But unlike some grassroots activist efforts that are destined to go nowhere, Strudwick & Co. already have their first mission.
Our first target is a conference of conversion therapists taking place on 19 February in Northern Ireland. Mario Bergner is the guest of honour. He wrote Setting Love In Order, a book in which he claims to have become heterosexual through prayer. He also says that he was in hospital with “eleven symptoms of Aids” before being visited by “the Spirit of the Lord”, who made him better overnight, and so later tested negative for the virus.
So why go through all this work? Because at his core, Strudwick is a do-gooder:
The belief system of conversion therapy, that gay people aren’t just ungodly and wrong but are inherently damaged and that they can be “healed” or reprogrammed constitutes a fascistic, fundamentalist ideology. Mental health professionals who harbour such an agenda are a supremely dangerous proposition.
Of course he’s just branded himself as an activist journalist, of which only activist judges are worse. Right, FOTF?
(NB: We also love Strudwick’s takedown of magazine listicles about “influential gays,” which are nothing more than popcorn infotainment.)