The day Richard came out to his dad, an expert on “curing” gays

Richard Socarides is a friend. His father was evil. It’s hard enough coming out to your parents at all. Coming out to your dad, when your dad is one of the top, if not the top, “expert” claiming that gays can be cured – Charles Socarides – is a whole other level of scary.

Richard’s dad helped found NARTH (an anti-gay “ex-gay” pseudo-scientific group that has taken the lead in claiming, falsely, that you can “cure” homosexuality).


Richard’s dad, Charles Socarides, in an infamous CBS documentary blasting gays in 1967.

Kudos to Richard for doing this video, and for coming out to his dad at all. Charles Socarides died in 2005. You might not have heard of him, but he was a huge deal in ex-gay-land in the 1990s.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the former editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Bill MacKay

    What a brave man.

  • d3clark

    I was thinking Bela Lugosi

  • Papa Bear

    Oh, great — now I’ve got THAT visual in my head…

  • d3clark

    No, better if he were still alive and seeing marriage being legalized and hating every minute of it. Seeing conversion therapy being discredited, seeing Marcus Bachmaniac in action. Watching politicians “evolve”. DADT getting repealed. DOMA in trouble. Truly a fate worse than death for him.

  • karmanot

    He comes across as a good, kind soul…There’s no crime in loving one’s parents, but no crime if you don’t.

  • Melvin Dean Baker

    It’s a lovely story of course, but you cant help but wonder if his son might have been able to at some point after coming out to his father been willing to tell this story, so that his father couldn’t murder the souls of other gay men who he tried to “cure.”

  • BeccaM

    I don’t mean to knock Richard’s efforts at all. I mean, yeah… his Clinton years were not his finest. I wish he’d spoken out more back then. Those of us who lived through the 90s know we had far more set-backs than advances. But he’s worked hard since then in gay rights advocacy, so I have to give him credit.

    It’s just weird to hear that he received a nice, conciliatory letter from his father, apologizing profusely for his initial bad reaction to Richard’s coming out, and then contrast that with some of the things his father said over the years and the books Charles wrote. “The Overt Homosexual” — 1968. “Preoedipal Origins and the Psychoanalytical Therapy of Sexual Perversion” — 1988 (equates homosexuality and transgenderism with voyeurism, sadism, masochism, exhibitionism, fetishism, and pedophilia). “Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far” — 1995 (self-explanatory). “Objects of Desire: The Sexual Deviations” — 2002 (also portrays homosexuality as pathology and deviancy, including recommended therapies for a “prehomosexual child” and “transvestite behavior” in preschool-age boys).

    Richard’s father clearly believed that to be gay was a terrible mental illness in need of serious psychiatric treatment. I wish I knew how Richard can reconcile that and be at peace with him, considering the damage his father did to gay rights as a deliberate career choice as an academic and public figure.

  • karmanot

    Doesn’t Dr. Scary look like that old vampire, Bishop Fulton Sheen?

  • John Aravosis

    Don’t know, but I do know Richard – he’s a good guy, and has done a lot for the community since his days in the Clinton White House (meaning, regardless of your take on his years there, he’s done a LOT since).

  • karmanot

    I know, even Phyllis Shafley’s son loves his mommie.

  • BeccaM

    I’m glad that Richard had a good relationship with his father, and am a little surprised he received acceptance, as opposed to the quack psychiatry his father dispensed across his entire career.

    The Charles Socarides broke the Hippocratic Oath rather extensively with the rest of us, however. What’s not clear in the video is whether Richard truly accepts the fact his father spent decades calling people like himself “deviants,” and asserting that gays are, quite literally, recruited and conditioned to be that way.

  • karmanot

    “You might not have heard of him,” Oh, I know about that old bastard alright. “Charles Socarides died in 2005.”—-the best part of this story.

  • John Aravosis

    OMG. Did you parents know about that?

  • Elijah Shalis

    Interesting video. I am too young to know about it. I had my own surprise when I got my birth grandfather’s naval record and he was caught having sex with another man in the 1950s. That is a whole nother story.

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