Conversion Therapist on Gay Hookup Apps: 'Unable to Help Myself'

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Florida psychologist Norman Goldwasser, who provided conversion therapy, designed to make gay people straight, and was found looking for hookups on gay dating apps, has responded to his outing.

"The fact that this story and others have been brought to the public is incredibly painful but will become a catalyst for me seeking the right help for myself," Goldwasser told NBC News in an email. 

Goldwasser, who has said that being gay is was an ailment like obsessive-compulsive disorder and claimed he could "cure" it, was found using the screen name "hotnhairy72" on Manhunt and Gay Bear Nation. His Manhunt profile, which is now deleted, included images of him naked and highlighted his interests in “dating,” “kissing,” “married men,” and “massage.”

"It is sad that despite the fact that I have been able to help many people over the years who have suffered from the effects of child sexual abuse and sexual addiction, I obviously was unable to help myself," Goldwasser wrote in his email to NBC News. "There is no justification for my personal behavior and I deeply regret the pain I have caused people in my personal life."

Goldwasser, an Orthodox Jew, is a therapist at  Horizon Psychological Services in Miami Beach and previously worked at the now-defunct Jewish conversion therapy program Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, known by the acronym JONAH. The program, which operated in secret even after courts ordered it shut down, used the Torah to justify homophobia.

“Norman Goldwasser’s double life of unconscionable lies highlights the rank hypocrisy and predatory nature of the fraudulent ‘ex-gay’ industry,” said Wayne Besen, the executive director of Truth Wins Out, which discovered Goldwasser was on the apps. “We urge every state to ban the scourge of conversion therapy that attacks the mental health of LGBT youth and puts them in harm's way.” 

Truth Wins Out went undercover while investigating Goldwasser, who went by the pseudonym “Dave” and offered to meet up and have intercourse with "Brandon," a fake profile posted by the group, in a motel room in Fort Lauderdale.

“Goldwasser can’t claim his personal life is none of our business when trying to ‘cure’ LGBT people is his business,” Besen said. “Here is a case where a charlatan is committing consumer fraud by misleading clients and adversely affecting their mental health. We are particularly concerned when Goldwassser’s scam preys on young people susceptible to his charade.”

Goldwasser has made a career out of encouraging conversion therapy. In 2006, he wrote a paper called “Holistic Therapy: A Comprehensive, Clinical Approach to the Treatment of SSA,” referring to "same-sex attraction." He also has recommended that his clients attend a program called Journey Into Manhood, where gay men are taken into the woods and forced to do "masculine activities" in hopes it will make them straight. Journey Into Manhood believes that men become gay from not participating in sports or poor parenting.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have outlawed the use of conversion therapy on minors by state-licensed professionals, as have numerous cities. But still, about 700,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to conversion therapy, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

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