Were I to wake up one morning experiencing sudden doubts over my sexuality I don’t think I would turn to Mike Davidson, still less the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, which has been accused of offering a ‘cure’ for homosexuality, or anyone else offering gay cure therapy, gay conversion therapy or whatever else people call it. The very names hint to me of quackery, of people wasting their money on pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. But then I am inclined to put much psychotherapy into the same category, along with all the self-help books imploring us to create a better self.
But does that mean I want to ban any of them above? Not at all. If people want to pay someone to try to change aspects of their personality that is their own free choice. But that isn’t how things work in Britain’s ‘liberal’ establishment, which has become a laughable contradiction of itself. On Tuesday morning, the above-mentioned Mr Davidson was invited on to ITV’s breakfast show, Good Morning Britain, to explain himself. Or rather he might have had the chance to explain himself a little more had Piers Morgan not chosen to use the occasion to berate him, leaving him little chance to get a word edgeways.
Morgan himself seemed to be undergoing some sort of therapy: one derived from George Orwell’s two minutes’ hate, where you get to rant and rave in order to help release your inner tensions. Had Piers been shut in a room maybe it would have done him some good, but it didn’t make edifying television. ‘Shut up you old bigot,’ he screamed, before Mr Davidson had even had much of a chance to open his mouth. When, finally, Davidson did get a look-in he explained that he had experienced homosexual attraction as a young man and tried out gay sex but had since married a woman and remained happily married to her for over 30 years. To what extent is same-sex attraction nature and to what extent is it nurture? While I am inclined to think it is more of the former it doesn’t seem an offence against reason to believe that in some people it might be part of their personality that they are capable of changing, just as shy people can become confident, angry people calm and so on.
I don’t care for Mr Davidson’s choice of words – he didn’t deny that he regarded homosexuality as an ‘aberration’. But someone who purports to be a liberal ought to support the right of people to live their lives how they choose. Would Piers Morgan harangue a monk for choosing to live a life of celibacy? So why, then, bully someone who wasn’t happy being gay, decided he wanted to be heterosexual instead and now thinks he can help people with similar feelings?
There was only one sensible part of Tuesday’s exchange: when Piers’ sidekick, Susanna Reid, suggested that surely it was the job of a therapist to help people cope with their feelings, not change them. Davidson calmly pointed out that a therapist who, when faced with someone who wanted to change their sexuality and tried to persuade them against it would be guilty of working to their own agenda, not that of their client.
Piers has himself now been attacked by an even more extreme ‘liberal’ voice: that of Owen Jones who thought it outrageous that a gay cure therapist had been invited on Good Morning Britain at all – even just to be ranted and raved at. People like Davidson, he argues in the Guardian yesterday, should be driven underground, allowed to experience his horrid views in private but not in public. Homophobes used to say much the same thing about gay people – but that is an irony lost on our liberal bootboys like Piers Morgan and Owen Jones.
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