IT has been already been noted that a former adviser to rhetorical gay-basher Iris Robinson has been reported to the General Medical Council for his unconventional practices. But – if we utilise the same logic former DUP adviser Dr Paul Miller applies to gay men to himself – we might wonder why a man who inadvertently appears to out himself as a repressed homosexual is trying to turn them straight. Consider this: in the course of trying to convert a gay man to become straight, the First Ladys Christian adviser, whose website is now offline, told him that he struggled with his own sexuality, as well as masturbation and pornography, although there’s nothing morally wrong with being a wanker too.
“A man may choose to go for a massage as a way of having healthy contact [with another man],” he told an openly gay, but undercover reporter. So perhaps we were being too harsh with Paul Berry. Read Patrick Strudwicks report below: David is actually Dr Paul Miller advising an openly gay but undercover reporter how to overcome his homosexuality.David sets out an action plan. He recommends I join Christian men’s groups. “Often there are [for homosexuals] a lot of wounds around masculine community,” he explains. He also gives me “exercises” to do. These include standing in front of the mirror naked, touching and “affirming” myself. He makes another such suggestion. “A man may choose to go for a massage as a way of having healthy contact [with another man],” he says.
In the next session I tell him I have followed his advice. “It made me aroused,” I say about the massage.
“An erection is just an erection,” he replies. “All that indicates is that your body has been programmed that [sex] is the only way men have physical intimacy.”
But how do I interrupt lustful thoughts?
“The attraction isn’t the problem,” he says. “It’s the story that you tell yourself of what the attraction means. Ask yourself why you find a man attractive. Is it because he’s got broad shoulders? Well, what do the broad shoulders mean to you?”
He then asks if I know the work of someone called Elizabeth Moberly. “She talks about the cannibalistic nature of homosexual sex,” he says. Cannibalistic? I ask. “If I see you’re a younger man,” he explains, “and the story I tell myself is that younger men are fitter, or more powerful and I’m feeling particularly weak, then suddenly you have something that I want to possess.”
“What kind of men do you find attractive?” he asks.
“I don’t have a type,” I say. He looks displeased. “Sometimes when I was younger I went for older men,” I add. He asks me about my childhood. I tell him it was happy. “Any big traumas?” he asks. No, I say. “Any sexual or physical abuse?” Again, he finds nothing.
“Tell me about your father.” I say that he was great, supportive and that we are very different. He is scientific and introverted, whereas I am more like my mother: creative, extrovert. This is a breakthrough.
“So in your mind there’s something that says, ‘I’m like mum, but dad’s over there, he’s different from me,’ so there hasn’t been that gender-affirming process. When puberty kicks in, those natural needs for masculinity become sexualised. Suddenly older men want to have sex with you, and it’s pretty intoxicating. That’s what’s lead you down the line of homosexuality.
“But the men you were having sex with or falling in love with are just as wounded as you,” he adds. “They cannot complete you in the same way as a woman. What would complete you is sex with a heterosexual man but a heterosexual man isn’t going to want to have sex with you, so it’s that desire to get what you can never obtain.”
So is homosexuality a pathology? “It does represent a pathology,” he replies. “Often the dynamics behind it aren’t healthy. God’s intention for us is to have an opposite-sex relationship.”
I suddenly remember his wife and children. “You’re very much a success story then,” I say.
“Well, I mean it works,” he replies. “I never went down the line of gay identifying, it was something I experienced that I had disgust around and I always wanted to be married and have kids.”
What about his same sex feelings now? “Sometimes if I’m not looking after myself then that can bring up a sexual charge,” he replies, “but it’s not a big issue for me now, it’s more unhealthy patterns of porn and masturbation, if I’m feeling a bit flat.”
In the following session I tell David I’ve had sexual thoughts about him. “Thank-you for being honest,” he replies with a small laugh. “I’m trying to model unconditional love for you, so it is very natural that you would have sexual thoughts related to that. Although we’re doing this over the internet, there is still a potential for a sexual connection. So there’s probably a part of your mind that’s thinking that through.”
“Do you have to deal with sexual feelings towards men you’re working with?” I ask.
“I get echoes of it sometimes,” he replies. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.”
I tell him that I had tried the standing-in-front-of-the-mirror-naked technique that he recommended, but, like the massage, it had aroused me. “I would be surprised if you didn’t experience sexual feelings,” he says. And with that he starts to “affirm” me.
“I think you’re a brave man,” he says. “I think you’re really strong in terms of being willing to look at your life and who you really are, and you also look as if you look after yourself in terms of your body. How do you feel being affirmed in this way by another man?”
I say that when men compliment me on my appearance it triggers sexual feelings. He probes again, asking me how I’m feeling as he talks about my body. Aroused, I repeat. But rather than moving away from this apparent sexual trigger, he asks if we can do an “exercise” around it. I agree.
“Close your eyes and focus on that arousal you’re feeling down in your genitals,” he says. “I want you to hear, as a man, as I look at your body, I see strong shoulders and a strong chest, I see a man who has an attractive body and I want you just to notice the arousal you feel as you hear me talking about that. Imagine an energy and picture that energy as a colour, and make the brightness of the colour relate to the intensity of the sexual feeling, so you might be starting to get a bit of a hard on, you might be starting to feel an erection and that sexual energy, but I want you to just picture that as a coloured light. What colour would it be?”
Red, I say.
“I want you to imagine that red colour, that energy and listen to the affirmations that I see you as a strong, confident man, and I want you to move that red light from your genitals up into your chest to join that feeling of affirmation as a man, and as you breathe in that affirmation do you notice now what happens to the arousal?”
I tell him it’s still there. We’re at the end of the session. I ask who his supervisor is. He tells me that his supervisor is involved with “Richard Cohen’s organisation”.
Later, I do an internet search. Richard Cohen has been permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association. He founded the International Healing Foundation, a conversion organisation.
David then mentions that he is attending a meeting in London next week to discuss how to create a training school for therapists working in this field. I ask if I can come too.
A week later I am sitting round a table with the heads of every major British conversion organisation some of whom are also therapists. We are in the bright, cramped London offices of Living Waters, an evangelical conversion association. Our special guest is Dr Jeffrey Satinover, 62, an American psychiatrist.
“We need to think of practical ideas for forming a training programme [for conversion therapists],” says Satinover. “We can learn a lot from what the Mormons did. They created a training programme and linked it with a university.”
They decide that in order to gain such a link, and the credibility and funding that would go with it, their training school also needs to do research into the field.
“If I could get trainees doing a PhD in this area that would help, because that brings funding in,” says David. “It’s difficult to access money, but if we’re clever there are ways.” He talks about his conversion practice, and how it’s funded. “We use people’s private medical insurance,” he says.