Virginia Becomes First State in 2015 to Reject Change Therapy Ban

Last week, Metro Weekly reported that HB1135 and its companion Senate bill were voted down in committee, marking the second year that gay activists failed to push through harmful legislation that would remove the rights of minors in to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions.

A few days before the bill was finally defeated, my op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch was published. You can read it below:

Doyle: Don’t Deny Choice of Therapy for Same-Sex Attractions

I’m not a native Virginian, although I’m proud to have called the commonwealth my home for the last 10 years. When I moved to Loudoun County in 2004, I had just graduated from college and was a young professional, seeking to make a name for myself. I was also terribly confused about my sexuality and struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. Deep down in my soul, however, I knew I was not gay.

But it wasn’t until I formed strong bonds with a church men’s group that I realized I’d been filling the missing pieces of my masculinity in gay sex. At the time, I was very attracted to men, and had no problem finding suitable guys with whom to have casual sexual encounters, but this left me empty. I wanted to be close with my male church friends, and the more we connected, the more my heart healed from the years of rejection with the popular, athletic guys in school.


Last Year’s Committee Hearing in Richmond, Virginia. HB1135 Was Again Defeated in Committee in 2015.

Later that year, I remember waking up one day and thinking: “My sexual desires for men are not the same as they used to be.” Shortly thereafter, I joined a 12-step group for sexual abuse survivors and began seeing a counselor who helped me understand and heal from the long-term effects of my childhood sexual abuse. By this time, my previous attractions for men had all but vanished, and I started dating a young woman. Eight months later, we married. Soon after, I entered graduate school to study counseling to help others who, like myself, were confused about their sexuality.

After my sexual orientation change, it bothered me to hear repeatedly: “Gay people are born that way — they can’t change.” My experience defied that. I later found many others who also rejected that claim for their lives, worked through unwanted homosexuality and fulfilled their dreams for marriage and family.

I also had that dream — and today, it’s my reality. My wife and I have three beautiful children, and I couldn’t be happier! I also realized my goal of becoming a psychotherapist specializing in working with men struggling with their sexuality. But reality comes with a price. Over the past five years, I have worked with approximately 150 men, a few women and dozens of families struggling with homosexuality. While helping these individuals and families is fulfilling, gay activists increasingly attack our community by attempting to pass legislation prohibiting licensed counselors from helping youth seek change.

Although our movement, #TherapyEquality, helped defeat 14 bills in state legislatures in 2014, gay activists convinced California, New Jersey and Washington to make change therapy illegal. Why? Fear. They are threatened by the fact that not everyone who experiences homosexual feelings desires to embrace a gay identity.

While they promote equality for transgendered youth seeking to change their biological sex, they’re adamantly opposed to those seeking to change their sexual orientation. One hundred years of psychological research published in peer-reviewed journals documents that some individuals can and do experience change from homosexual to heterosexual. But because of the politically incorrect nature of that reality, most readers will never be aware of those scientific facts.

Nor will they be introduced to Nathan (who gave me permission to share his story) from Front Royal. Nathan came to my office two years ago after a string of unsuccessful gay relationships, desperately seeking counsel. Over the course of several months, Nathan came to understand the causes of his homosexuality and began to resolve them. His unwanted same-sex attraction diminished, self-esteem increased and relationships greatly improved. While his journey is far from over, Nathan benefited greatly from the freedom to pursue therapy.

But gay activists are not satisfied to allow clients like Nathan to pursue their own self-determination. They insist that anyone experiencing homosexual feelings is born gay and, therefore, counseling to help them is not only wrong, but harmful. After all, if people are born homosexual, how could they change?

But let’s not lose sight of the facts: In 2008, the American Psychological Association asserted people are not born gay. Therefore, taking away the right of parents and families to make choices about sexuality and mental health counseling is harmful.

Perhaps you support gay rights. Maybe your friend or family member is homosexual. Maybe you are gay. If that’s you, you understand sexuality is complex, and access to diverse mental health counseling helping people navigate these complexities is important. HB1385 is an affront to everyone’s rights, and at a time when we’re expanding equality for all Virginians, this legislation is a step in the wrong direction.