When James Guay was 12, he went into a Christian bookstore to look for information on what was wrong with him. He found just one book on homosexuality — “on how to change it,” he recalled. When he brought it to the counter, the clerk asked if it was for him. “She said she would pray for me,” he said.
A few years later Guay had a nervous breakdown and told his parents what was distressing him. His father, a pastor, helped him find a licensed “ex-gay” psychologist. The psychologist said he had been gay, but now was married to a woman. He told Guay that change was possible. “It was this newfound hope,” Guay said. Within six months to a year, the therapist promised him, Guay could overcome his attraction to men and learn to be attracted to women.
Two months ago, Guay testified at a hearing on a new bill in the California State Legislature that would ban the “gay cure,” as this type of therapy is known. The bill is the first of its kind in the U.S., and observers expect it to pass by the end of August. If Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs it, licensed therapists who try to change the sexual orientation of minors will run the risk of losing their licenses.
“I wanted parents to understand that this therapy is crazy,” said Sen. Ted Lieu, the California Democrat who authored the bill.