January 9, 2006
On Christmas day, Charles W. Socarides died in a New York hospital. He was
one of the founders of ex-gay or reparative therapy, a psychiatric quack
movement which claimed to be able to make heterosexuals out of homosexuals.
Like many other forms of quack medicine, it ended up killing some of its
patients, usually by way of suicide.
He leaves behind a legacy of hate wrapped in junk science that continues to
inflict pain and suffering on innocent people. What should be one of the most
wonderful and joyous moments of our lives, that time in adolescence when we
discover love and romance and sex, is often made into a horrific nightmare for
gay and lesbian youth thanks to Socarides and his followers, and it's a
nightmare that follows many of us well into adulthood.
Socarides did nothing more profound with his life then give hate an excuse to
prey on human hopes and dreams. He leaves nothing more noble in his wake
then a battlefield of broken hearts and wasted lives. The world is poorer
for his having walked in it, perhaps more so then if he had been a blood
thirsty tyrant. For a tyrant may kill for plunder or conquest, but Socarides
murdered people's hearts and left them empty and walking wounded, many for
life, many to join his little cult of the empty heart and likewise ensnare,
abuse and wound others.
I learned of his death while reading Dickens A Christmas Carol...
something I find myself doing now every holiday season. Right away these
words came to mind:
"It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit within
him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if
that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.
It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness
what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to
This poor world is short no little amount of happiness, and he made it his
business to see to that. It's a hard thing to wish penance on the dead, but
if there is such a thing in the hereafter, then perhaps there is one spirit
walking among us even now that sees, finally, the magnitude of what he stole
like a thief from this poor world.
And if Scrooge is very very lucky, he may yet hear the chains rattling in the
night...before it's too late for him too.
Copyright © January 9, 2006 by Bruce Garrett
All Rights Reserved.
Bruce Garrett Cartoon. Weekly gay editorial cartoon.
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