Prayer. Electroshock. Hoping really hard. Over the years, there have been many attempts to turn gay people straight. All of them have been foolish and ill-advised, but some of these wild attempts to cure homosexuality have been especially bizarre.
Let’s take a look at some of the crazier ways together.
Below are some of the craziest ways people thought they could cure homosexuality:
1. German Doctors Play Gay Frankenstein
Many early 20th century physicians believed that male homosexuality was caused by a lack of testosterone. Therefore, they reasoned, giving gay men more male hormones would turn them heterosexual. But how could doctors cure homosexuality in the age before synthetic hormones?
Scientists in Germany (where else?) came up with a solution: put dead heterosexual men’s nards in the bodies of gay men.
In the 1920s, mainstream medical researchers in Germany implanted testicles from corpses into the bodies of homosexual men, usually without their knowledge. The idea was to boost testosterone levels.
“They were told they were going to have an operation, but not what was going to be done to them. These experiments were written up in the German equivalent of the BMJ or The Lancet, although they were later discredited after the Second World War.”
It took two decades for the medical establishment to decide there was something creepy and weird about putting dead straight nutsacks in gay bodies. For 20 years (!) the medical establishment looked at this horrifying non-consensual game of gay Frankenstein roleplay and thought, “This is fine.”
2. Chinese Exorcism Chases Away Gay-Making Parrot Ghost
In Beijing, a man named Chen eschewed China’s more common gay conversion therapies (like electroshock) in favor of alternative medicine. After a consultation, the Chinese medical practitioner Zhong told Chen what was making him gay: Chen was being haunted by the ghost of a dead pet parrot. Of course.
“I can see this parrot and it has come back for revenge,” Zhong said.
To drive this evil parrot from his body, Zhong murmured some spells and smacked Chen on his head, back and shoulders. He then wrote out a charm on yellow paper, wrapped it in red paper and asked Chen to carry it with him always. In case all that hadn’t worked, Zhong also prescribed some ginger, jujube and other traditional Chinese medicines.
Shockingly, these treatments did not turn Chen straight. There is no word as to what effect they had on the sexuality of the dead parrot, either.
3. No-Homo Homeopathy
A German group calling itself the Bund Katholischer Ärzte (the League of Catholic Doctors) has claimed it can cure homosexuality with homeopathy.
How does it work? Homeopathy uses the principle of The Law of Similars: Treat an unhealthy person’s illness with something that would cause the same symptoms in a healthy person. Homeopathy Plus explains:
A child, brought to a homeopath with hyperactivity, agitated thoughts, and sweaty, trembling hands, a homeopathic preparation of coffee (called Coffea Cruda). It would relieve and correct their symptoms.
So what would a homeopath give to a gay man to “cure” his homosexuality? Dicks, I guess. Sounds great! But, of course, there’s a catch. You have to dilute it. The World of Homeopathy explains:
Homeopathic medicines are made through a specific pharmaceutical process called “potentization.” With plant or liquid substances, the tincture of the plant is extracted, usually through distillation with alcohol. The solution is then diluted with one part of the tincture with nine or 99 parts of a double distilled purified water. This new solution is vigorously shaken (or “succussed”), and then the dilution and succussion process is repeated numerous times. Typically, a homeopathic medicine is potentized three, six, 12, 200, 1,000, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000 times or more.
So a homeopathic cure for homosexuality would probably be some kind of penis extract diluted and shaken over and over again until all that’s left is water.
Most of the water we drink has probably come into contact with a penis at some point during the billions of years it has spent on earth, so if you think homeopathy can work just grab a bottle of Evian and jiggle it for a while.
4. Cuddling With Another Man While Talking About Your Junk
Before it shut down in 2013, conservative Christian ex-gay ministry Exodus International offered religious-based treatment to try to cure young men and boys of their homosexual urges. Patrick McAlvey, a former client of the ministry, describes some of his sessions with a counselor named Mike Jones:
When I was 19, he subjected me to prolonged hugs and even “holding therapy,” where I was instructed to lay in his arms for a solid hour to “feel the strength of another man.” He asked me inappropriate questions about my genitals and suggested I use handyman tools to become more masculine.
Tenderly spooning with another man who asks you about your penis while describing his handyman fantasies will surely cure homosexuality! (All kidding aside, Mike Jones is a sexual predator who belongs in an institution.)
5. Fondling Yourself in Front of Another Man
At another gay conversion center called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), religious counselors Alan Downing and Arthur Goldberg offered even more questionable sexual “therapy.” A former patient, Chaim Levin, told The New York Times about what went on at JONAH:
Referred to JONAH by a rabbi when he was 18, Mr. Levin began attending weekend retreats at $650 each. For a year and a half, he had weekly private sessions with Mr. Downing as well as weekly group sessions. He quit, he said, after Mr. Downing had him remove his clothes and touch himself, saying it would help him reconnect with his masculinity. Mr. Goldberg has defended Mr. Downing’s methods as sometimes appropriate for men dealing with body image problems.
It should surprise no one that Downing and Goldberg are not licensed therapists. It should also surprise no one that this counseling, which appears to be little more than sexual abuse, did not turn Levin heterosexual.
Former clients of JONAH sued the center in 2012. In 2015, a judge found JONAH guilty of consumer fraud and ordered it to shut down.
6. Every Other Attempt at Curing Homosexuality
Trying to turn a gay person straight is dumb as hell. This isn’t a new revelation. Sigmund Freud knew it all the way back in 1935. When a woman wrote to him asking him to “cure” her son’s homosexuality, the father of modern psychology replied:
Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. …
By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. …
What analysis can do for your son runs on a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed.
Have you heard about any of these ridiculous methods to cure homosexuality? Is there another crazy one we missed? Let us know.
This story was originally published on January 20, 2016.