"I'm not here to have a fight," says Stephen Fry of his interview with National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality's Dr. Joseph Nicolosi on BBC Two's gay-themed Out There show. Instead, Fry lets the quack undo himself with his own words, and it's glorious.
Several things Nicolosi says about his practice, which attempts to exorcise his patients of homosexuality, ring false even for someone whose expertise lies not in a medical degree but his own gayness. Nicolosi says he believes that homosexuality is a product of nurture, as if nurture is extricable from nature to begin with, and as if an event that could shape the structure of how one loves isn't as fundamental to that person's existence as any genetic code.
He says that his organization believes that being gay is "based on trauma." I am lucky to have had none as a child—until other kids decided I was gay and ridiculed me for it.
He says that in boys, homosexuality is rooted to the father and his failure to deliver the "three A's: attention, affection, approval." I received all three from my father—not always, not for everything, but often enough so that I never doubted their existence even in their immediate absence.
And then there's this curious exchange Fry shares with Nicoli's former patient Daniel Gonzales, an ex-ex-gay:
Fry: Presumably he’s trying to prepare you for a moment where you’re walking on a street and there’s a guy and he gives you a set of tools apparently to deal with that.
Gonzales: Yes, you would ask yourself, "Well what characteristics of that guy do I find most attractive?" And you take those characteristics and say, "Well, what internal faults in myself do those represent?"
Fry: What you’re seeing is a mirror of things you lack.
It's a little hard to parse this one out, especially since it doesn't come from Nicolosi directly, but if it's meant that literally what a man admires aesthetically in another man is what one lacks, that's also false. It's true that there are gay couplings that seem awfully compensatory (see daddy/twink pairings), but there are also so many where like attracts like on many fronts and what apparently is being fetishized is similarity, not what's lacking. There are scenes of the gay community built around this. I see couples of similar-looking guys all the time. I was in one, or so I heard—my ex and I were mistaken for brothers often. (I always got the feeling that this was wishful thinking that avoided the obvious, lest these inquiring minds thought that having buzzed heads ran in our family.)
We know that ex-gay therapy is bullshit. Even someone like Chris Christie, whose political aspirations keep him from being a LGBT ally, knows it's bullshit. This interview is a great reminder, though, and the metrosexual comment that stops Nicolosi in his tracks is bonus catharsis.