Somewhere amidst all the activities devoted to hating the GLBT Nation in the past decade, activities like, oh, lynching, assaulting, raping, killing and verbally equating Gays with perversity and pedophilia, or if you’re in Zimbabwe, rutting dogs and fornicating pigs, as well as the verbal assaults purporting to say what G-d thinks, the latest approach to “the Gay” has taken on the overtones of the worst of all the slanders and violations because it leaves a shell of a person in the wake of where a real person once was.
There exists an island of tortured confusion and fear masquerading as love dedicated to curing, or “transforming,” and “repairing” the Gay person into a Straight bastion of heterosexuality that frankly most resembles a freakiness that defies reason, employs highly questionable if not outright unethical behavior on the part of the “therapists” and is a complete affront to good taste. It’s called “reparative therapy,” and it has become the darling concept of a small but vocal and greedy group dedicated to reversing Gayness.
Photo by Stephen Witherden
“Makeover? Talk to me dahling!”
Numerous bloggers have covered the NOM and other right-wing, so-called Christian efforts in this regard. In addition to above referenced link to a story in The Bilerico Project, Jeremy Hooper of Good As You has done an outstanding job of watching NOM’s every move and has uncovered more than a few of their phony complaints about “the Gay agenda.”
Now, however, we must include certain sects of ultra-Orthodox Jewry in the loose collective devoted to giving a safe harbor, even sanction, to cultish con artists who promise beleaguered Jewish parents that their errant offspring might be “cured” of one of the ‘abominations of Leviticus’ (homosexuality).
It offers a heady hope to the parents–where once their male offspring scorned Halacha (Jewish law) for some chutzpah with cute hirsute bears and their daughters took a pass on Hadassah and daily mikvah for a little quality time with Miss Thang, there will be, after expensive reparative therapy, heterosexual relations, and, G-d willing, grandchildren.
The parents are desperate to think that maybe they can have healthy, happy, heterosexual sons and daughters. OK, so: if not happy, then at least healthy, and certainly not Gay. Into this milieu of fear and urgency steps Arthur Goldberg, a convicted felon who has managed to cull the interests of various rabbis.
Sadly, the parents of gay ultra-Orthodox offspring are often encouraged in this interest in reparative therapy by their rabbis, including some of the most respected figures in the American Haredi community. This past week, the “reparative” therapy approach to homosexuals received an implicit sanction of sorts when the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists (AOJS) allowed Arthur Goldberg, founder and co-director of JONAH, which originally was an acronym for Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, to speak at a closing session of an AOJS convention.
JONAH, which bills itself as an international organization, has recently changed its name to Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing. (See what Wayne Beson has to say about that at TWO.) The original program at the AOJS convention called for a presentation by Goldman with a countering view by an Orthodox doctoral student. However, when Truth Wins Out posted an exclusive YouTube in which two Orthodox men complained of abuse at the hands of one of JONAH’S “therapists,” the AOJS rescinded its invitation to both Goldberg and the doctoral student. However, according to blogger Shmarva Rosenberg (see New York Times article on him), of the uber-vigilant and popular blog The Failed Messiah, which covers the world of ultra-Orthodox Jews, Goldberg showed up at the convention anyway and made his presentation with AOJS approval. There was no mention to conference attendees of his organizations’ alleged abuses of its clients, despite the AOJS leadership knowledge of it.
The youtube video mentions Alan Downing, a lead therapist for JONAH. The People Can Change website lists Downing as a “Senior Trainer” for Journey into Manhood, which is a controversial retreat designed to make gay men more masculine. Described as having a “camp-like” woodsy atmosphere without shaming, judgment or, naturally, same-sex sex, Journey into Manhood seems to be several things, most of them having to do with guys getting undressed and holding their manhood in such a way as to reaffirm their masculinity. While that may sound an awful lot like masturbation with an audience, to most of us, getting in touch with one’s manhood is a cornerstone of the woodland journey into…whatever. Clearly, it is apparently not for lesbians, despite what some of us might think we have—meaning, the Gayness thing, naturally. Downing, who acknowledges that he is still attracted to men, is one of the better-known people in the business of so-called ex-gays-via-reparative-therapy industry.
As for Goldberg, he is a convicted felon from the 1980’s who was imprisioned for Wall Street fraud; he was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being indicted on numerous counts of mail fraud, bribery and conspiracy. His prison sentence came after he pled guilty to mail fraud. After spending six months in prison, Goldberg recast himself as an expert on”curing gays and lesbians.”
In a joint investigative report earlier this year, Truth Wins Out joined SouthFloridaGayNews. com in a blistering revelation that Goldberg had dropped his middle name (Abba) when he emerged from prison and decided to cure “the Gay” in a Goldberg-typical scheme designed to hide his criminal background. According to SFGN, Goldberg has his hands in numerous gay-curation schemes, including National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) of which he is Executive Secretary, and Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH), of which he is President. PATH is a coalition of various religious, ministerial and secular ex-gay groups dedicated to promoting non-gay alternatives to homosexual lifestyle.
From The Failed Messiah:
Dr. Elliot Udell, AOJS program chairperson said “We do not make [scheduling] decisions based on YouTube. Anybody can put anything on YouTube.” To put his descriptions of JONAH’s work into a religious and scientific context, AOJS had Goldberg share the podium with three Orthodox men who have backgrounds in mental health fields and the sciences.
According to Rabbi Moishe Tendler, a former AOJS president who serves as the organization’s halachic adviser and spiritual guide, AOJS was open to Goldberg’s views, Rabbi Tendler said, because Goldberg presented his work as based on the belief “that someone has the ability to repent and to change. Reparative therapy is known in our tradition as repentance or teshuvah.”
Rabbi Tendler said he never viewed the critical video or heard what was in it. Had he known of the charges that Goldberg sanctioned practices that “are against halacha … he would not have spoken,” Rabbi Tendler said.
If there is any good news about the shenanigan of these pseudo-shamans whose practises are quite reparative to their own personal incomes, Truth Wins Out reported this past weekend (31 July 2010) that its coverage and expose of what and who is behind Jonah and groups of that ilk is receiving substantial coverage in Jewish newspapers and publications. And one would not be too far off base to think the heat this JONAH group is getting has had some motivation for the name change. Different name, same charletanism.