A gay conversion therapist who was a leading member of a widely criticised "ex-gay" movement in the US got a divorce and has come out as gay.
Utah-based David Matheson said he is "choosing to pursue life as a gay man" and that he has "embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process."
A 2007 New York Times article reported that Matheson ran a full-time therapy practice in New Jersey with about 50 clients. He was also a co-organizer of a weekend program called 'People Can Change' and ran an organization called 'Center for Gender Affirming Processes'.
Matheson claimed that his practice used "cognitive therapy and emotion-based therapy, standard therapeutic approaches, with an emphasis on helping them feel more comfortable in their masculinity."
Now, in a public Facebook post, he has acknowledged that his work was hurtful to people and blamed his previous conservative views on the "shame-based, homophobic-based system" of the Mormon church in which he was raised.
Matheson told LGBTQ non-profit Truth Wins Out on Sunday that he has decided to quit the "ex-gay" movement.
The organisation also released details that another conversion therapist, Rich Wyler, posted on a private Facebook group. He said that Matheson had "gone from bisexuality to exclusively gay" and was "seeking a male partner."
In his post, Matheson wrote that he had to make substantial changes in his life. "I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay," he said.
He added: "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."
According to a report, Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen was quoted as saying: "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 practice being dismissed by major health organisations, nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the US have reportedly received "conversion therapy".
Google is now hosting an “ex-gay” app targeting children and it has not been taken down despite drawing widespread flak.