Ex-Gay Study Author Apologizes to Gay Community


Dr. Robert Spitzer, who has already renounced his 2001 study that was used as evidence that people could really “choose to change,” has gone a step further and apologized to the gay community.

Writing in a letter sent to Dr. Robert Zucker that was obtained by Truth Wins Out and released on Wednesday, Spitzer once again discusses the flaws of the 2001 study:

The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

In the letter Spitzer goes on to say he feels he should apologize for the false hope his interpretation of his study may have given people who thought that this was the way to deal with anxiety surrounding their identity:

I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.

Spitzer wrote this letter to Zucker, editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior where the original study was published, apparently to make formal his disavowing of the 2001 study.

The study used 200 participants all primed by ex-gay therapists and relied on them self-reporting change. The study was also faulted for not following the participants over any great period of time to see if this so-called change was maintained.

Despite the mainstream medical community rejecting the study as flawed, the media publicized the idea that this study had shown you really could “leave behind” homosexuality, and ex-gay groups like NARTH and Exodus have used this as a foundation for their work.

However, Spitzer’s study remains the only piece of research affirming ex-gay therapy to be published in a reputable journal. Spitzer’s rejection of the study is therefore of considerable importance.

You can read the full letter as obtained by Truth Wins Out here.


Related Reading:

Gay Cure Therapy is ‘Quackery Fueled by Bias’

Rachel Maddow Takes on Ex-Gay Therapy (VIDEO)

Author of Leading Ex-Gay Study Admits Findings Were Flawed

Image used under the stock.xchng user license with thanks to on_my_book1.


Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Brittany B.
Brittany B.5 years ago

Although I'm not saying that I believe that homosexuality is a choice, I've always been confused about the way that people use the idea that it might be a choice as a negative thing. I mean, even if the person could make a choice, wouldn't that be a good thing? The person would then have twice as many prospects for relationships. I just don't understand how the concept of having choice becomes a negative idea in the hands of anti-lgbt people.

Aimee A.
Aimee A5 years ago

Thanks for posting!

Madeline L.
Madeline L5 years ago

Very admirable man, Dr. Spitzer!

Madeline L.
Madeline L5 years ago

Very admirable man, Dr. Spitzer!

mike l.
mike lueras5 years ago

but why cannot one "choose to change" from anything to the opposite thing? If one can go from stright to gay, from a straight marriage with children to "coming out" as gay why cannot one go from gay into a straight marriage with children? Every action is accompanied by an equal and opposite action. The possibility of "coming out" is MATCHED in this dualistic created world by the equal and opposite possibility of "coming in", amen?

Ra Sc
Ra Sc5 years ago

Spitzer is a good man. He worked for gay rights before he created the study that said that some people could change their orientation. I think it's clear that he published that study because he thought it was true. When he realized he made a mistake, he retracted it. The problem is not within him, but with people who have no understanding of how to use scientific studies. You should never base important beliefs on one single study. You always need to wait to see if it can be successfully reproduced. You need a larger sample. People leap to conclusions based on initial research, and this often leads to later studies finding that the actual answer is different than the first thing looked. But the media loves to jump on one single study (often with a small sample size) and act like it's conclusive.

That said, at this point there has been a lot of investigation into the ability to change orientation, and it's pretty clear that while orientation can change over time, you cannot choose to change it. So, some people will end up changing in various ways (straight to bi is not uncommon in women, for example), you can't predict or control it in any individual case.

Robert Hardy
Robert Hardy5 years ago

An honest man of science. Refreshing. He should be recognized for this worthy deed.

Angela N.
Angela N5 years ago

thanks :)

Anita Wischhusen
Anita Wisch5 years ago

When he apologized it was one step in the right direction.

"When you know better, you do better".

At least he is now "doing better", with his apology.