One of the most prominent “gay conversion therapists” in the US has divorced his wife and wants to start dating men.
David Matheson, from Utah, was the creator of widely maligned and discredited courses that claimed to be capable of changing the sexuality of those who studied them.
Now he has acknowledged that his work was hurtful to people, and blamed his previous views on the “shame-based, homophobic-based system” of the Mormon church in which he was raised.
In a Facebook post published after LGBTQ charity Truth Wins Out revealed that he had quit the practice, Mr Matheson said had realised he “had to make substantial changes in my life”.
He wrote: “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.
“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.”
Mr Matheson said his desire to be in “an intimate relationship with a man” had become a “non-negotiable need” towards the end of his marriage, but admitted that he still found “too much homophobia in myself”.
The revelation from Truth Wins Out came via a private post made by another so-called conversion therapist.
According to the group, Rich Wyler said that Mr Matheson – who was married to his wife for 34 years – was no longer part of the “ex-gay movement”.
Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen told NBC News: “When they wanted an expert, they would go to him.
“When your expert is now coming out of the closet and dating men, I think that speaks volumes about how [the] therapy is damaging and ineffective.”
Despite the belief having been dismissed by the major health organisations including the American Medical Association, nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the US have received “conversion therapy”.
According to a 2018 report by the Williams Institute, those who seek it out often suffer from poor mental health.
The practice is completely legal to adults across the US, but last week New York became the 15th state to ban it from being carried out on minors.