An app that cures the gay?

Rainbow flag (Justin Powell via Wikimedia Commons)

This article originally appeared in An Focal on April 3 2011. 

Need to check how many calories were in your lunch? There’s an app for that. Want to remember exactly where you parked your car? There’s an app for that. Are you a closeted homosexual who just wants to be straight and ‘normal’? Well, good news… there’s an app for that too.

There are over 350,000 apps for the iPhone in the Apple store, from the extremely useful to the incredibly useless. It’s understandable that the good people at Apple might let one or two slip through the vetting process. But one in particular has caused Apple a nasty headache over the last week or so- and this is the app from Exodus International, purporting to cure people of their inconvenient sexual desires.

Firstly, I would bracket this particular app in the ‘incredibly useless’ category. People’s sexual orientation cannot be changed; though I hesitate to quote Lady Gaga in this (or any) context, we were really ‘born this way’, whichever way that might be. No less a personage than Sigmund Freud believed that ‘curing’ homosexuality was a completely futile process. (Though one often attempted by psychotherapists in his day).“Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of,” he told the mother of one gay patient. So if the ultimate chauvinist believed that gays couldn’t be ‘cured’ because there was nothing wrong with them, why do Exodus?

Psychiatrists all over the world recognise the damage that repressing one’s true sexual orientation can cause. Aversion techniques- such as electro-convulsive therapy- were used in the past in order to help people eliminate same-sex desire. Such ‘therapy’ could only lead to lives of misery and repression.

A glance on the Exodus International website (oh, the lengths I go to for the readers of An Focal) show that the supposedly-Christian group’s sole objective is to ‘cure’ homosexuality. No mention of global poverty or child labour or any of the usual charitable works that mainstream churches bother themselves about. There are much bigger problems in the world besides the natural occurrence of homosexuality in human beings. (And if homosexuality is so unnatural, somebody please explain the gay penguins in that German zoo, happily ensconced with their adopted chick).

Exodus International was founded by a group of ‘ex-gay’ Christians, who decided they could pray like-minded souls straight. Interestingly, two founder members of the organisation, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, left in 1979… to be with each other. Bussee has said himself that not a single person has been ‘cured’ by Exodus. Another former leader, John Paulk, was pictured falling out of a gay bar.

Apple, under fire from gay-rights organisations and others, finally removed the controversial app on 25 March. They are currently facing the opprobrium of Exodus who is calling “for Apple to recognise the diversity of beliefs within its customer base”. Luckily for any young, vulnerable gay people, there’s no longer an app for the ‘gay cure’.

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