By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com September 12 2012 8:57 PM ET
A group claiming gay men can change their sexuality has two events planned in Texas and Florida before the end of the year. People Can Change, which bills itself as a group of "men who have resolved unwanted same-sex attractions supporting others seeking similar change," will host its Journey Into Manhood conference in Texas October 19 and Palm Beach, Fla., November 30.
According to the "ex-gay" organization's website, "Journey Into Manhood is a 48-hour immersion in self-discovery, catharsis and emotional healing." The site touts the organization's hands-on approach, pointing out that the retreat refrains from excessive lecturing.
Instead, the site claims, "You won't just talk about what it is like to look another man in the eyes — you'll stand eye to eye with another man while we help you process whatever feelings might arise."
The organization says Journey Into Manhood is not a religious retreat, although the program does suggest surrender to a higher power. People Can Change also claims, "It is not a place for shaming. Quite the contrary: we affirm your inherent value as a man, just as you are."
In June, People Can Change called on California governor Jerry Brown to oppose a bill that would ban "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy on minors in the state. That bill has passed both chambers of the California legislature and is currently awaiting the governor's signature.
The nonprofit organization was founded in 2000 by Rich Wyler, a man who "had personally experienced enormous transformation from unwanted homosexual attractions," according to the site's "About Us" page. That same page claims that more that 1,400 men have found "tremendous healing and growth" through the weekend retreat.
"A 2007 survey of past participants found that 4 out of 5 reported a decrease in unwanted homosexual attractions when surveyed six months to 5-1/2 years later, and more than half reported an increase in heterosexual attractions," reports the site.
The statement does not specify if the reported decrease in unwanted same-sex attraction was a result of a man making peace with his sexuality rather than trying to change it.
Every major psychiatric and medical association in the country has condemned "ex-gay" and "reparative" therapy, and the American Psychological Association has deemed such treatment harmful and dangerous.