As an Orthodox psychotherapist who has treated dozens of Orthodox gay and lesbian clients and their families, I was deeply troubled by Steve Lipman’s portrayal of JONAH as a credible response to the troubling dilemma of the gay Orthodox Jew (“The Controversy Over Curing Homosexuality,” July 30).
Given the social pressures and the craving for the “normalcy” that marriage confers, it is understandable how Orthodox gay people become vulnerable targets for re-orientation therapies and programs. I have worked with many clients who came to me following experience with JONAH and other failed conversion therapies. Despite having been highly motivated to change, these clients describe the treatment as ineffective and often harmful. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have all condemned the kinds of “conversion” therapy that JONAH espouses.
Further, at the very least, the rabbis who recommend this therapy should investigate the allegations of the two young men claiming inappropriate sexual contact by the JONAH-recommended “coach.” Both young men are frum bocherim (yeshiva students) in our community; they are not anonymous YouTube personalities, as someone stated in the article. I can easily give any rabbi who wants to have an informed position their contact information.
It is time for the Orthodox community to admit that there is no way to domesticate this challenge by the easy out of a “quick fix” therapy. While there are no easy answers to the challenge presented by gay Orthodox Jews, to falsely claim that homosexuality is a “fixable” condition and thereby wash our hands of any responsibility for the ongoing exclusion and suffering of Orthodox gay and lesbians in our community is unconscionable.