Posted by: Lauren--NY | May 8, 2010

Together: Why the George Rekers Story Matters

“The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform.” ~Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey

UPDATE 5/11/10: Dr. George Alan Rekers has resigned from NARTH’s board of officers.

UPDATE 5/11/10: Originally, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum distanced himself from the decision to hire Dr. George Alan Rekers as an “expert witness” in the 2008 gay adoption case, claiming it was DCF who made the choice. Today, a damning letter from 2007 proves DCF’s initial reluctance to hire Dr. Rekers and that Mr. McCollum strongly fought for him: “I believe that this expert and his testimony are necessary to ensure a successful result in this case.” This has resulted in a rush of angry comments posted to Bill McCollum’s official Facebook page, which are being furiously deleted almost as fast as they are being posted.

Oh, this was not the entry I expected to write. Not even close, and there is indeed more coming soon.

However, the Dr. George Alan Rekers story broke this week, and I would be heavily remiss if I didn’t comment.

Let me just clarify one thing–this is not your typical “sex scandal,” kids. Not even close. This is not “look at the politician cheat on his wife and see who scores political capital because of it!” Dr. George Alan Rekers has been involved in what I consider to be theft of taxpayer money, and he is affiliated with several organizations that have done severe harm to people. Let’s break down why.

First off, as was pointed out on both “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “Anderson Cooper 360″ last night, George Alan Rekers was a co-founder of The Family Research Council, and while he is technically no longer affiliated with them, he currently sits on the board of officers of NARTH, The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality. More on this later.

Dr. George Alan Rekers, the guy who just got caught playing grab-ass with a 20 year old male escort in Europe, has been paid a cumulative sum of almost if not $200,000 of taxpayer money if you combine what he was paid to testify as an “expert witness” on two separate occasions. The first was in Arkansas in 2004, when he was paid as Rachel Maddow put it last night: “tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars,” to represent the state of Arkansas in its attempt to ban gays and lesbians from caring for foster children, Howard v. Child Welfare Agency Review Board. He was then in 2008 paid approximately $120,000 of Floridians’ taxpayer money–by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum–to represent the state of Florida in their ballsy attempt to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting children at all.

Barely three years later–and an adoptive father himself–he is caught in Europe ensconced in what has been reported to be intense erotic massage with a 20 year old male escort he met on Rentboy.com, a website that cannot be mistaken for anything other than what it is–Craigslist for male sex workers. This guy effectively reached into the wallets of Arkansas and Florida citizens and stole $200,000 of taxpayer money in order to spread false medical information on a public platform and preach ideas that he disobeys in his own life. In this tea party climate, raise your hand if you think that’s going to go down well.

Bear in mind that if he indeed adopted a child in Florida, he did so under penalty of perjury, a Class E felony. You must answer the question of whether you are a homosexual or have engaged in homosexual activity on the form, and if you check “yes” your application is denied.

Here’s what else Rachel Maddow reported last night: this past March 31st, George Alan Rekers sent out a letter to every superintendent of schools in America from his horrendously shady “American College of Pediatricians,” which is another right-wing front organization for the same old tripe, but the obvious head fake is that they’re hoping you’ll mistake them for the widely respected American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a very legitimate doctors group that has been around since 1930. The content of this letter? Children are not born homosexual or transgender, they can be “cured,” etc. Typical Family Research Council crap, but it’s being spewed to public schools by a guy in a white lab coat, and if you know a damn thing about The Milgram Experiment, you know how dangerous that is. Especially if said guy is in Europe with a male sex worker exactly two weeks later having himself fondled.

The Family Research Council claims: “FRC has had no contact with Dr. Rekers or knowledge of his activities in over a decade so FRC can provide no further insight into these allegations.” Perhaps they’re right to say that. However, the rest of this blog won’t really focus on FRC; it will focus primarily on NARTH—an organization that Dr. George Alan Rekers currently represents, because he currently sits on their board of officers.

In June 2009, less than one year ago, NARTH released what they claim to be a peer-reviewed scientific journal, called Journal of Human Sexuality. Within this journal there is an article, called “What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the American Psychological Associations Claims on Homosexuality,” that touts not just NARTH’s typical line that conversion therapy and “reparative” therapy can reverse a person’s sexual orientation—or in their terminology, “cure” it—but that aversion therapy is effective as well. This was broken wide open at the time by blogger Jim Burroway, author of the fantastic LGBT blog The Box Turtle Bulletin.

Aversion therapy. Let’s talk about aversion therapy for a minute.

According to a 1968 article by Drs. John Bancroft and Isaac Marks of the Institute of Psychiatry and Maudsley Hospital, London, called “Electric Aversion Therapy of Sexual Deviations”: “Aversion therapy aims to associate noxious stimuli with some aspect of the deviant behavior or attitude. In earlier methods the noxious agents were chemical, e.g. apomorphine was used to produce nausea and vomiting […] Recently electric aversion has largely supplanted chemical aversion as it is safer, easier to control, more precisely applied and less unpleasant. With electric aversion MacCulloch & Feldman (1967) reported 58% improvement in 43 homosexuals […] In the methods used, shocks were given to the forearm from a battery-operated shock box.”

“Shocks were associated with three different aspects of the deviant behavior:
(1) With the deviant act; e.g. shocking the transvestite as he is cross-dressing.
(2) With the deviant fantasy; e.g. shocking the masochist as soon as he signals the presence of a masochistic fantasy in his mind.
(3) With the erectile response to deviant stimuli; e.g. shocking the homosexual as soon as he starts to develop an erection to a picture of an attractive male, or a fantasy of his homosexual behavior. Erections were measured by means of a penis plethysmograph (Bancroft et al. 1966).”

This vile, contemptible, downright medieval style of “treatment” was lauded less than one year ago by NARTH, an organization that George Alan Rekers currently represents represented until a few days after he got caught [Ed. Note: See updates.], as being actual positive data that proves homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be “cured.”

You know what else Mr. Burroway pointed out back when this nonsense first occurred? That the original idea for a Journal of Human Sexuality came from George Alan Rekers himself: “[…] the so-called ‘peer reviewed’ journal is not actually a journal. The Journal of Human Sexuality is actually a booklet published by NARTH themselves […] This is very similar to another stunt pulled by George A. Rekers in 1996. He too created a one-off journal, also called The Journal of Human Sexuality which seems never to have made it to a second volume. It looks like NARTH decided to recycle Rekers’ old idea.”

Also at the time, the president of NARTH, Dr. Julie Hamilton, stated the following: “This research is a significant milestone when it comes to the scientific debate over the issue of homosexuality. It also confirms what we have seen evidenced in hundreds of individuals who have benefited from the help of NARTH therapists. We believe that every person should have the right to independently determine their own course in life and for many that involves seeking counseling options that affirm their personal beliefs.” Note that this press release excitedly refers to this journal as “new scientific research,” despite the fact that it is merely a repackaging of outdated and inhumane ideas.

One individual who feels he did not benefit from the help of a NARTH therapist—and with damn good reason, as you’ll see below—was a man named Brian Nesbitt. Mr. Nesbitt told his story of aversion therapy at the hands of a NARTH therapist to the non-profit organization Truth Wins Out in 2008. He doesn’t say the time period in which these horrific “treatments” were administered, but according to their own website NARTH was not founded until 1992, so it cannot have occurred any earlier than that. Make no mistake, this is a modern weapon. Mr. Nesbitt’s story:

I also submit to you a story that was featured in an MTV True Life Documentary called I’m Coming Out, about a nineteen year old male college student named Jayce Cox, who suffered aversion therapy involving electrical shocks to his genitals on the campus of Brigham Young University in 1995. He gave them his entire college savings, $9000, for this “treatment.” That was only fifteen years ago. NARTH has no direct relationship to this story as far as I’m aware, but it’s due to the fact that organizations like this one are lining up quack doctors, spreading false medical information, and putting forth the perception that treating gay people like animals is okay and somehow medically sound that allows these things to happen.

NARTH, George Alan Rekers’s own NARTH, just released a paper less than one year ago that touts the successes and benefits of aversion therapy. Don’t tell me it’s not still going on, or that people like George Alan Rekers aren’t the reason why.

Here’s another incredibly timely blunder from the organization that George Alan Rekers currently represents represented until a few days after he got caught [Ed. Note: See updates.], courtesy of Truth Wins Out: “In 2006 […] psychiatrist Joseph Berger, M.D., a member of their ‘Scientific Advisory Committee,’ wrote a paper encouraging students to ‘ridicule’ gender variant children. ‘I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex–but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings,’ Dr. Berger wrote on NARTH’s website. ‘On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.’”

In other words: don’t punish kids for bullying, and allow it to act as conditioning.

I say “timely” above, because how many kids hanged themselves within the last few years because their fellow students thought it appropriate to taunt them mercilessly due to perceptions relating to their sexuality or gender identity? Remember all those stories?

Carl Walker-Hoover was only eleven years old. So was Jaheem Herrera. In their cases and in others like them, it acted as selection rather than conditioning. These children are dead. George Alan Rekers and everyone who has ever supported NARTH have blood on their hands.

This story is indeed a sex scandal, but it is a scandal that involves approximately $200,000 of misappropriated taxpayer money in two different states, physical and psychological torture, and CHILD DEATH. You better believe this is a mainstream story.

The gay and lesbian community contains some of the strongest people and some of the greatest patriots I have ever known. They, through organizations like Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT-UP, delivered a serious ass-kicking to the AIDS crisis, and we still owe them for that. They adopt children when their straight biological parents can’t take care of them, and give them loving homes. Our country would certainly be worse for the wear if they weren’t who they are.

Is this how we repay them? We have to band together and make sure this story doesn’t die.

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The Grotto Blog by Lauren E. Moccio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Responses

  1. hi nice thread you have going here.

  2. good post dude

  3. This Looks like awesome forum or is this a blog? Sorry I am a newbie.

    • This is a blog, but the comments section is a forum of sorts, as it allows for conversation, so long as it’s civil and on-topic. :-)

  4. […] you may recall George Rekers from a sex scandal that broke just over a year ago, possibly even from a column I wrote in the scandal’s aftermath which detailed Dr. Rekers’ connections to current […]

  5. […] for the Family Research Council.” The Family Research Council, an organization that used to boast Dr. George Alan Rekers as a board member, would like to know what you think of them. First question: “Off the top of your head, what […]

  6. […] Rekers “Rentboy” scandal, and failed miserably to dig under the surface and report that story’s untapped depths. There was very little coverage of the deaths of two gay teenagers within a week of each other in […]

  7. I agree, very good message

  8. I just like the approach you took with this article. It’s not typical that you discover something so to the point and informative.

  9. […] Together: Why the George Rekers Story Matters […]

  10. Absolutely superb. It’s easy just to mock Rekers and mark him as another outed hypocrite clown, but we can never let ourselves forget the real human tragedy that behavior like his causes. Down with it – and most especially, down with doing reprehensible things like this in the name of sexual health, spirituality, social responsibility or child safety.

  11. thank you…..well written and thought through…

  12. This is one of the best columns I’ve read about the the larger meaning behind Rekers’ actions, and I thought I was pretty well informed. Thank you.


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