And while it’s a good thing that Spitzer finally recanted his study, how could he not recognize the error at the time? Doing phone interviews with supposed “ex-gays,” some of whom were obviously politically motivated? Believing their stories that they were “cured,” when the “ex-gay” ministries themselves have admitted, for over a decade now, that they can’t cure anyone, they can’t change a person’s sexual orientation.
I’m glad Spitzer has recanted, and he gets credit for being intellectually honest about it. He does not, however, get credit for getting us into this mess in the first place, when he should have known better.
And one day in March, Dr. Spitzer entertained a visitor. Gabriel Arana, a journalist at the magazine The American Prospect, interviewed Dr. Spitzer about the reparative therapy study. This was not just any interview; Mr. Arana went through reparative therapy himself as a teenager, and his therapist had recruited the young man for Dr. Spitzer’s study (Mr. Arana did not participate).
“I asked him about all his critics, and he just came out and said, ‘I think they’re largely correct,’ ” said Mr. Arana, who wrote about his own experience last month. Mr. Arana said that reparative therapy ultimately delayed his self-acceptance as a gay man and induced thoughts of suicide. “But at the time I was recruited for the Spitzer study, I was referred as a success story. I would have said I was making progress.”
That did it. The study that seemed at the time a mere footnote to a large life was growing into a chapter. And it needed a proper ending — a strong correction, directly from its author, not a journalist or colleague.
Here’s Gabriel talking about this story on Rachel Maddow’s show.