Why Does Ex-Gay Therapist Alan Downing Have Patients Strip and Touch Themselves In Front of a Mirror?

Alan Downing, the ex-gay counselor at Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), teaches homosexual Jews how to be less homosexual. Two former patients (clients?) say he does this by having them disrobe behind closed doors and touch themselves in front of a mirror.

In an undercover investigation British journalist Patrick Strudwick exposed quacks like Dr. Paul Miller (former advisor to Irish lawmaker Iris Robinson) as repressed homosexuals who treat their clients as sexual objects. In Strudwick’s case, his counselor had him mentally masturbate over Skype. With Downing, ex-patients Ben Unger and Chaim Levin say they faced similar unethical treatment, as they explain in the above video posted by Wayne Besen.

Downing (pictured right) is also a counselor at Journey into Manhood, the ex-gay camping series that reporter Ted Cox exposed as a joke.

At one point during a camp weekend, participants were told to perform a hold with each other that’s similar to how a parent would hold a child, Cox said. Another hold involved one man leaning back into another’s chest. The positions were not sexual in nature, Cox said, but he doesn’t see how they could help someone become straight. “I would think that some of the things we did at the camp would be counter-productive,” said Cox, who called the weekend “literally the gayest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Cox said the ex-gay movement is all about trying to find something in gays’ lives that made them gay. As with other programs he’s researched, Journey Into Manhood set out to find something that may explain why participants had same-sex attractions. “They’ll take any sort of negative event in your life, any kind of negative thing in your childhood and say, ‘A-ha! That’s why you’re gay,’” Cox contended, claiming one participant struggled to come up with something in his life that made him feel isolated; the man then pointed to a time in childhood when his father shooed him away because he was reading a newspaper.

The participant proceeded to act out beating his father with a bat, Cox said.

Though it’s nice to see Jewish groups taking cues from their Catholic peers about what to do in private with young men, huh?

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  • L.

    $1 mil the mirror was see-through and there was a camera behind it.

    More seriously – how sad that these “therapists” cannot be prosecuted. The guys’ testimonies made my skin crawl.

  • Kris

    mommie, Mr. Downing made me touch my pee pee and watched me through a “see through” mirror

  • james_from_the_great_city_of_cambridge

    Listen, at this point everyone and I mean everyone just assumes that if you are viciously anti-gay, you are a big ol’ fairy yourself. People like Alan Downing are a joke thanks to the Larry Craig’s, Ted Haggard’s, the George Rekers of the world. It’s over for them, even if they don’t know it yet. It’s over for them even if more anti-gay politicians are elected this fall, because in the long run, having these people in office seems to help us. Look how we came into our own under Bush (Massachusetts, Iowa legalizing gay marriage, other states granting civil unions, us becoming incredibly visible in the culture, etc.) Their strident anti-gayness creates a backlash even within their own movement. And every time someone like Bush is exposed as a hypocrite who didn’t even believe in his anti-gay bullshit, or someone like this Alan guy exposed as a perv, their movement gets discredited even more. Let’s not get upset; let’s lie back and watch the flaming wreckage while toasting marshmallows over it.

  • Jeffree

    How tragic that these “therapists” are allowed to continue to practice their completely unfounded methods on desperate people ! It not only doesn’t work, it’s damaging.

    — — —
    [Gotta say though potential here in the realm of comedy. If you ever see a movie called “My Ex-Gay Camping Trip,” well, you know who had a hand in it….]

  • L.

    @james_from_the_great_city_of_cambridge: I would agree – or at least hope – that their days are over.

    But still, I’m sure many troubled youths are put through this even today, and I feel for them. It won’t help them, it may f*ck them up, and all for nought.

    So while Downing and his ilk may well be going the way of the dodo, still probably hundreds of your women and men will be mentally tortured uselessly.

  • Jeffree

    If your doctor told you that the only way to cure your hypertension was to have your toes removed, most of us would — I hope– question the logic, get a second opinion and file some legal action. Eventually, that doctor would lose his/her license.

    That’s not seemingly the case for these therapists.

  • Troy Boy

    I didn’t know you could “pray the gay away.” Is there a similar prayer for bigotry? If so, maybe they should start with that one instead.

  • Sug Night

    WHY, you ask? Because he’s a dodgy perv of a closet case!

  • jackdawson

    This actually makes me laugh. These guys look like men who are in there mid 20’s. I dont think allen downing put a gun to their heads and said take off your clothes or ill shoot you. Nothing is forced there, if they didnt feel comfortable than they shouldve walked out. Yes, maybe that method seems weird and unorthodox, but it doesnt make him a sex perv. I have personally met with allen before for about a year, and even though i am openly gay now, im so happy i got to meet him. If it wasnt for him and jonah, i would have never gotten to where I am today. For a guy who comes from a really religious background its hard to know what to do, and whether jonah works or not, its good to have a place like that for guys like that. For them, its like a hope that makes them feel better. When you come from a religious background with family that would NEVER accept you, this seems like the best way out in the begining. I feel bad for these 2 guys in the video, only because they obviously have nothing going for them in their lives. Anyone who knows allen would tell you hes a really good guy, and these 2 guys obviously just need attention. Hopefully , theyll realize that by trying to bring other people down it wont make them happier.

  • Middleman

    I agree with you Jackdawson. YOU BOTH ARE NOT CHILDREN! if you were uncomfortable in any way, you should of said something. and now that you are “comfortable” with being gay, all of sudden Allen is a monster, all of a sudden the man you probably went to for a lonnng time sexually violated you. It is funny how quick you are to turn your back on something that once brought comfort to you.
    STOP trying to get attention!,” SURVIVOR of ex gay therapy” Omg grow up! Go be gay no one cares, but please do everyone else a favor and stop bashing those people who DON’T want to be attracted to men. What do they do? kill themselves? Be depressed forever? hate themselves??? No. that is why people like Allen exist. He tries to help you be Content with who you are and less obsessed with whether you’re gay or not. NO ONE EVER said JONAH is a cure for homosexuality, because nothing in life is THAT simple.So get your facts right before you falsely accuse and unjustly label someone as a fraud. Not everyone believes you are born gay so stop trying to impose your beliefs on others.and yes things in your past CAN LEAD TO HOMOSEXUALITY just like victims of sexual, physical, emotional abuse can develop physical, emotional,and psychological problems. Events in your childhood mold you into who you are. so STOP mocking something that you don’t understand. I am thankful that people like Allen exist and JONAH exist. it provides comfort and acceptance to those who want to improve themselves and change. like i said, go be gay and proud but not everyone else wants too.

  • lovemypiano

    I knew Alan and his family for many years, way before he came out of the closet. I was quite surprised at this development. Before I submitted this comment I read all the materials on internet and spoke to his ex-wife too. This is all very sad. One has to know couple of things about him.
    First off is that Alan is really a wonderful guy.
    Another is that he himself believes in his “therapy” method, whether successful or not or agree with him or not (I personally don’t, while being pro-gay I don’t think one can change that nor one should change that), but he is deeply religious and that creates a conflict within a person because being a believer he cannot be gay and must change. That is his problem.
    All I can say is that I am very saddened by this. I always liked him and I will in spite of all that I learned.

  • ilovemyself

    I am with Middleman, love my piano and jackdawson here. I am with them a whole 100%

    I also know Alan Downing myself personally and I agree that he is wonderful human being who is very loving, caring and shows compassion for his fellow man. He is impartial as he shows love for anyone regardless of skin color, race or creed.

    Looking at this with an open mind, I know what Alan’s intentions are. His intentions are simply non-sexual in nature. What he is trying to do, convey and show to these young men by stripping and looking at themselves nude in the mirror, he is trying to show the young men, or any man at any age, is that each and every man is a mirrored image of you. They are the same as you are inside and out. They have the same things that you have outside and inside. Alan also uses this method to build up young men’s confidence about being nude with other men in the locker room as many who struggle with their same sex attractions. Many of these young men have low self confidence and low self esteem in regards to their bodies and Alan uses these approaches to try and build up a man’s self confidence and self esteem in their bodies and their own intrinsic maleness by also helping them in accepting their own intrinsic maleness and also, to help them learn to accept the intrinsic maleness of other men. Also, Alan uses these approaches to help these men in accepting their own gender identity, which is male, and that they are also a man. Aside from being a human being, that is all that they are; male and a man.

    I also attended a JIM Weekend myself years ago. I was psyched for a while leading up to to it and though I was still psyched when the time was coming up, I was also a little nervous, but in the end, I felt that it was the greatest thing that I ever did. For that weekend, I felt no sexual attraction towards other men and I left there feeling something in a psychological way that I never felt before. Thanks to the weekend, I felt more like a man than I ever did before that and that made me feel good. This showed me that I could change myself and I can keep on working to change myself. It was great and I am still communicating with many of the men that I met at the weekend. I met many men who were married to women and had families that they didn’t want to hurt as a result of these unwanted sexual feelings that they had for other men. To me, men who stay with their wives and families despite having these particular feelings are worthy of respect. I respect any man or anyone regardless of gender identity that choose to do the right thing and stay with their wives and families despite the feelings that they feel in this particular area.

    A wise man also said this: “It only works for you if you let it work for you.” I use this when it comes this type of thing. It does work if you let it work for you.

    Acting out on any type of sexual desires is a choice and not an inevitability as it is often preached. I do have same sex attraction, but I can choose whether I want to act out on them or not. I, today, simply and willfully refuse to act out on these desires. That is my choice and I stick by it every day. It’s a struggle, but I am in this for the long haul.

    Thanks Middleman, lovemypiano and jackdawson.

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