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Right-wing Heritage Foundation trolls Pride month by declaring June 2 “Ex-Gay Visibility Day”

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The headline on the Heritage Foundation’s “news” site The Daily Signal reads, “Finally, a ‘Visibility Day’ for the People the LGBTQ Movement Finds Inconvenient.”

The oppressed minority previously unheralded: ex-gays.

Their benefactor: conservative scowl Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of The Ruth Institute — an organization that was formerly associated with the anti-LGBTQ+ National Organization for Marriage — and an activist Catholic dedicated to turning back “the ongoing negative effects from the State pushing the agenda of the Sexual Revolution.”

Morse has declared June 2 “Ex-Gay Visibility Day,” to the delight of no one except the source of her “group’s” funding.

With their conservative mouthpiece’s announcement, The Heritage Foundation, the far-right wing activist organization obsessed with “traditional values,” was ramping up its traditional Pride Month backlash, with the inevitable question coming just two paragraphs into the story about the ex-gay conservative canard.

“Why should ‘Pride’ have the entire month of June?”

“That’s a question Jennifer Roback Morse, president of The Ruth Institute, asked herself,” came the answer in the story by the Signal‘s managing editor Tyler O’Neil, author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “She came to the conclusion that if so much of America’s culture is going to celebrate people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, she might as well highlight the Americans who rejected those identities.”

She might as well, because America needs “a fitting response to the White House’s commemoration of ‘Transgender Day of Visibility.'”

“Amid all this ‘Pride,’ the men and women who rejected a homosexual lifestyle will be forgotten,” O’Neil writes, using a term as outdated as the conversion therapy hoax Ruth Institute founder Morse actively promotes.

“26 U.S. States & several countries around the world have banned client chosen & directed talk therapy based on the assertion that it increases suicide,” Morse recently wrote on X referring to the debunked practice.

“The data actually show that suicide risks actually decrease, even with talk therapy that doesn’t work,” she claimed.

Gays might as well, because what’s the worst that could happen?

“It’s not politically correct to talk about ex-LGBT people,” Morse said in a press release “provided early” to The Daily Signal. ‘To the gay lobby, they don’t exist, or they’re just lying to themselves or were never really gay in the first place. But I have met many people who have journeyed away from an LGBT identity and are living happy, fulfilled lives with opposite-sex partners.'”

And there’s nothing wrong with that, if it’s true. But an overwhelming amount of evidence shows that conversion therapy doesn’t work, is based on pseudoscientific methods, and actively harms its participants.

Complicit with Morse in her ex-gay ideology is Father Paul Sullins, a Roman Catholic priest and “senior research associate” at The Ruth Institute. He claims the “born this way” narrative doesn’t match up with the results of his research.

“When people attempt to change sexual orientation, it is fully successful in my studies about 17 to 20% of the time,” Sullins said, giving himself some wiggle room. “Most persons who undergo it, meaning about 60 to 65%, report that they are less caught up in homosexual attractions and behaviors and activity.”

So they’re less gay, which could count as progress if you’re looking for some.

In The Daily Signal story, Sullins notes that about 30% of the 1,500 lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in an unnamed and unattributed 2020 study on sexual orientation said that “they have tried to change their sexual orientation and about 10% said they agreed with this statement: ‘If I could be completely heterosexual, I would want to do that.'”

“So there is a minority of the gay population who wants to change, is not happy with living the way that they’re living,” Sullins says.

Also, “Why should ‘Pride’ have the entire month of June?”

The truth about “ex-gays” and conversion therapy

A 2013 survey showed that 84% of former patients who tried ex-gay therapy said it inflicted lasting shame and emotional harm. Additionally, a March 2022 peer-reviewed study from The Trevor Project showed that 13% of LGBTQ+ youth nationwide had reported being subjected to conversion therapy. Of those, 83% were subjected to it before reaching the age of 18.

The 2022 study showed that young people who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide afterward. Numerous conversion therapy advocates have later come out as still gay and apologized for the harm that conversion therapy causes.

The methods of so-called conversion therapists include encouraging queer people not to masturbate, redirecting their sexual energy into exercise, “covert aversion” (a fancy name for imagining possible negative consequences of being queer), Bible study, directing same-sex sexual desire onto opposite-sex partners, inflicting pain and humiliation anytime LGBTQ+ feelings arise, and forcing people to act out stereotypical gender roles in behavior and personal appearance.

Some state legislative bans posit that the practice violates state licensing standards because the methods are ineffective and harm patients. Other states have said that practitioners who purport to change an individual’s LGBTQ+ identity are, in essence, using false advertising to market their services, something which can violate other state regulatory business statutes.

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