Former Mormon conversion therapist says he will be 'choosing to pursue life as a gay man'
David Matheson, a once prominent Mormon conversion therapist from Utah, took to Facebook on Tuesday to come out to his friends and followers.
"A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life," Matheson, who used to run an organization called the Center for Gender Affirming Processes, wrote. "I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay."
"I enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage with my wife for many years. Overall, it was a beautiful relationship and being “straight” became a core part of my identity," he continued. "But I also experienced attractions to men. Much of the time these were in the background. But sometimes they were very intense and led to pain and struggle in my marriage."
The confession came shortly after LGBTQ nonprofit Truth Wins Out obtained a private Facebook post made by Rich Wyler, a fellow conversion therapist, which addressed Matheson's sexuality, NBC News reports.
Wyler, the director of Journey into Manhood, an agency that is "designed especially for men to address incongruous same-sex attractions," had allegedly written on Facebook that Matheson was "seeking a male partner" following his divorce, as "living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible for him.'"
Conversion therapy, which uses a combination of physical and cognitive tactics to attempt to curb a patient's same-sex attraction, has been denounced by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association as dangerous and ineffective. However, it is still practiced throughout the United States, with only 15 states plus D.C. banning it for minors.
While Matheson acknowledges his work in the controversial field may have "hurt some people," he stops short of issuing a full apology for his involvement, writing he knows he "helped many, many people because they’ve told me so."
"Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what "emotionally healthy" can look like," he wrote. "They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. And I’m sorry for the confusion and pain my choice may be causing others."
Ultimately, Matheson said he viewed his "time in a straight marriage and in the 'ex-gay' world" as "genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me."
"I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others," he wrote. "But I had stopped growing and I had to change. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process."
One of Matheson's former clients, who claims he was psychologically harmed while enduring conversion therapy, said he found himself feeling less than sympathetic after Matheson's big revelation.
"While I am pleased for Mr. Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr. Matheson himself," Chaim Levin told Truth Wins Out.
"I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included."