Out British TV Doctor Submits To Gay Conversion Therapies, Uncovers His Own Bias

undercoverdoctorjp_2855225bIn 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.

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  • Stache1

    Is religion always involved either directly or indirectly with these conversion organizations and the people seeking them out?

  • TampaBayTed

    I just want to shag the doc.

  • SteveDenver

    Columnist Amy Dickinson, who writes “Dear Amy,” had a brilliant idea for a religious parent who felt betrayed when their son came out as homosexual: Change your own sexuality for a year to show him how easy it is.

    Good for Dr. Jessen: people who perform this work or parents who send their kids need to be branded as utter idiots.

  • dazzer

    Just to add some context here, a Private Me4mber’s Bill has been suggested in the House of Commons to outlaw all these so-called ‘conversion’ therapies – at least for people under the age of 18.

    Jessen is no fool. He was aiming his programme at a level that it would garner publicity and outline the extreme silliness – and potential evil – of ‘conversion’ therapies. He didn’t just make the programme to entertain and inform viewers, he also pitched it at a level that could be understandable by legislators.

    Oh, and I would be exceedingly wary of using the Telegraph to back up any arguments. It is a viciously anti-gay newspaper that will pay any gay shill it can find to write something attacking the increase in LGBT rights or protections.

  • Paulie

    These “conversion therapies” are much worse than simply ridiculous, they can destroy a person’s (especially a teen or pre-teen’s) self-esteem, I’ve heard stories on the news about kids who attempted, or committed suicide, after being forced to go through these so-called “therapies”. This insanity should be outlawed everywhere, it only damages people, and ruins lives

  • mezzacanadese

    Once again: It’s in the genes. It is not a lifestyle, it’s a life. These nutcases who practice conversion therapy should be put out of business. Maybe someone should start a therapy practice which promises to cure people of being straight.

  • Daverk

    The problem with these’conversion therapies’ is they see it as an addiction or routed to childhood trauma. Oh dear, circular thinking at it’s best

  • ChuckGG

    @Stache1: I’m no expert by any means, but it certainly seems that way. The objections I receive about being gay are 99% religion-based. The other 1% is just some dumb knuckle-dragging redneck.

    Even the “therapy” itself seems to hint to religion and morality, or their interpretation of morality.

    It seems to me the only people who object to being gay are those who do so based upon religious reasons. Otherwise, why would anyone object? Consequently, the perceived need for therapy and the style of the therapy all seems to have an element of religion, or as a consequence of religion, their interpretation of what is right and wrong, which is unbending.

  • jabba3445

    I am watching this show as i type and it just seems that i don’t understand why anyone pays attention to these documentaries. It seems to me that until there is actually a definitive answer for if sexuality is psychological or genetic i think these shows just hi light how little we all know about it but the fact is that while there shouldn’t be prejudice against any choices sexuality wise, it is impossible to ignore how interesting it would be to find out exactly what causes homosexuality. I personally would like to know and will always be interested in research into this area.

  • jonjct

    @ChuckGG: stop bashing religion. america is the most anti-christian, anti-religious, intolerant place on the planet. that said, now this. I am gay, and I’d prefer not to be, but that’s not based on any religious foundation, just based on some practical issues. first, i don’t want this whole “different” thing surrounding my sexuality, really, just plain straight sex is enough for me. I don’t want to cover up my boyfriend, travel with my “friend” or get really awkward at holiday family things. I was married before, had a family and i felt much better about myself then. frankly, being gay for me is just a pain in the ass. well, you know what i mean.


    he’s a ride….dreamt about him last nite

  • rextrek

    jonjct – from the tone of your comment – you NEED therapy to find out WHY you’re self-loathing…..and FYI – Religion in Merikkka is PART of the problem where Hate and Bigotry Ferment…the way people react to your “boyfriend” is THEIR Problem dude..not yours…..again, seek therapy.

  • jonjct

    @rextrek: thank you for your observation. but “self loathing”? isn’t that kind of an extreme exaggeration? Just b/c I’m not thrilled about being gay doesn’t make me want to jump off a bridge or have to seek the kind of emergency intervention (therapy) that you are advising. you might be overstating thing a bit. but then, drama is one of the founding principles of gayness, right?

  • AxelDC

    If a patient must believe he is sick before the alleged cure can work, then the disease is not real and the cure is a sham.

  • Stache1

    @ChuckGG: Thanks. Yeah, that’s kind of what I thought. These Christian groups don’t understand much about Biology but they sure know how to judge and hate.

    I also don’t think there’s much irony in the fact that most of these conversion groups are funded by anti gay hate groups.

    It would be comical if it wasn’t for the sad people that fall for them.

  • JoshwaarJ

    Dude, the fact that you “would rather not be gay” is really sad.
    If someone would “rather not be black” I’m sure you’d be rather horrified and point out that being black is just part of who they are, something unique and something to be celebrated.
    Not wanting your life to be tougher: well ofcourse you don’t, unfortunately, the times we live in make this difficult when you’re gay, just like being a person of race did and often still does.

    Now you may not want to stand up and try and make things better: not everyone does, not everyone has to. But rest assured, there are people out there who spend every day trying to make small changes that will ultimately result in a big change: maybe not even in there lifetimes, but it will happen. Eventually, people won’t wish to be straight, because being gay will be seen as just another difference in the patch work that is the human race.
    Until that day: good luck, I really feel for you, I hope that one day you can except yourself and be proud of the man you are. Because once you have that, you’ll not give a jot what anyone else things.

  • jonjct

    @JoshwaarJ: Dude, you made some thoughtful comments, but that whole blending in thing that you mention, you know, just another difference in the patchwork that is the human race doesn’t hold much coin for me. gay life and the lifestyle is lonely. you go out, hook up, guys don’t want (or need) to see you again the game moves on. straight ppl don’t behave that way. now don’t fall off your chair and start lecturing me about how gays are getting married these days, staying together etc., i know that, but the differences in lifestyles are significant ones, and they will exist for the near future. gay lifestyle sucks if you ask me. gay men see each other as disposable, interchangeable, temporary. i did that scene in NYC, really hard, for a couple of years and i am alone today. the lonesomeness is pretty much insurmountable. ask any gay, he’ll tell you all about it.

  • enlightenone

    @jonjct: As a mental health professional, specializing in the wellness of gay men and boys, I have nothing to add to JOSHWAARJ’s thoughtful comment. I would only emphasize that as a gay man, you have a life and you create the lifestyle you want. There is no gay life/gay lifestyle per se, but there is gay culture, gay sensibilities (some homosexuals don’t have), gay history, and a shared gay “pain” we all suffer to some degree in this hetero-oriented world we were birthed into. And yes, there is a degree of self-loathing, but there is a cure!

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