By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com November 29 2012 3:35 PM ET
Two television doctors each aired episodes Wednesday addressing so-called reparative therapy, which seeks to change a person's sexual orientation from gay to straight. Both hosts featured "expert" commentary from spokespeople associated with "ex-gay" organization National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which is currently party to a lawsuit against the state of California trying to block implementation of a new law banning reparative therapy on minors.
Dr. Drew Pinsky hosted ex-gay survivor and LGBT activist Ryan Kendall on his HLN show Dr. Drew on Call. Kendall is a Colorado man whose parents forced him to attend "reparative therapy" sessions with NARTH founder Joseph Nicolosi when they discovered he was gay at 16. Kendall requested not to appear alongside anyone from NARTH — the organization that Kendall says indoctrinated him with such self-loathing that it "drove [him] to the brink of suicide." Despite promises to the contrary, Pinsky featured Kendall's commentary interspersed with that of NARTH spokesman David Pickup, who claims he was cured of his same-sex attraction by reparative therapy. Watch the first of two segments from Dr. Drew below.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, best known for appearing as Oprah's go-to Dr. Oz, also hosted ex-gay survivors and NARTH officials on his eponymous show Wednesday on ABC. While Oz acknowledged the controversial nature of his guests — including men who underwent the so-called therapy, officials from GLAAD, and NARTH spokeswoman Julie Hamilton — LGBT rights organizations are calling out the program for offering unchallenged airtime to propagate NARTH's unscientific, discredited claims that sexual orientation is changeable.
GLAAD issued a joint statement along with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays condemning the episode.
"Producers of the Dr. Oz Show framed their program on so-called reparative therapy in a way that provided a lengthy platform for junk science," the statement reads. "The first two segments of the show featured two proponents f so-called reparative therapy, neither of whom was challenged, at any point, by Dr. Oz or any guests. ... Although the show also featured guests who condemned the idea and practice of 'reparative therapy,' Dr. Oz himself never weighed in, and the audience was misled to believe that there are actual experts on both sides of this issue. There are not."
On Wednesday, Oz published a post on his blog distancing himself from NARTH's sentiments and agreeing with the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and every other major medical organization on their condemnation of the dangerous, damaging therapy.
"After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus," wrote Oz in a blog post. "I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy, and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments."
Watch Kendall and Pickup's tense exchange on Dr. Drew below, and watch Dr. Oz's multiple clips from Wednesday's episode about "ex-gay therapy" here.