Christie: You can’t cure gays, but I’ll let doctors try

GOP Governor and 2016 presidential aspirant Chris Christie got himself into some hot water the other day when he refused to take a position on the practice of using homoerotic hugging, pillow-slamming, having teenage boys masturbate in front of a much older male therapist, and electroshock to “cure” gay people.

The issue came up in the context of a proposed law that would ban such quack therapy in New Jersey, just as it’s been recently banned in California.

So Chris Christie is willing to let doctors experiment on gay kids

Gov. Chris Christie has now “clarified” his position, through a spokesman: “‘Governor Christie does not believe in conversion therapy,’ spokesman Kevin Roberts said in a statement. ‘There is no mistaking his point of view on this when you look at his own prior statements where he makes clear that people’s sexual orientation is determined at birth.’ ”

NJ Gov. Chris Christie. L.E.MORMILE /

NJ Gov. Chris Christie. L.E.MORMILE /

The spokesman declined, however, to say whether Christie would support the legislation banning the phony therapy.

So in other words, Chris Christie agrees that it’s absurd, and perhaps even harmful, to try to cure gay kids, but he’s still willing to let doctors try.

As I noted the other day, the entire notion of “curing” gays is laughable:

Naturally, representatives of groups that claim gays can be cured showed up, and I’m sure they didn’t talk about the fact that most of their leaders have now come out and admitted that the entire thing is a hoax, no one is ever “cured.”  At best, they can maybe turn you celibate.  Which has nothing to do with “curing” anyone’s sexual orientation.  The leader of the lead American “ex-gay” ministry recanted, so did the leader of the British one, and the Latin American one.

Hope springs eternal for Antarctica.

There are lots of different “cures,” none of which work.  Some involve having young boys take off all their clothes in front of their much-older male therapist, who then directs the naked young gay boys to play with themselves in front of the older man, who watches.  Yeah, “therapy.”  So that’s what the kids are calling it nowadays?

Other therapies involve homoerotic hugging, where the male therapist hugs the gay man, a lot, on a couch.  The Daily Show, incredibly, got the “ex-gay” expert to show his technique on the air:

by default 2013-03-13 at 10.58.06 PM

Nothing gay here, move right along.

Another “cure” involves having the gay man take a tennis racket and beating the life out of a pillow, while screaming.  The pillow supposedly represents your mother.  CNN did an amazing broadcast highlighting this lunacy – seriously, watch this video if you want a good look at what Gov. Christie is unsure about.

Here’s the CNN segment on becoming “ex-gay” – it’s short, and classic:

Chris Christie needs to man-up

So knowing all that, how hard is it for Chris Christie to decide whether a therapy he admits doesn’t work, and is downright wacky, should be permitted to be used on children?  Maybe Christie could whack a pillow with a tennis racket and see if it helps him make up his mind.

And I thought Democrats were wimps.  At some point, moderate Republicans need to decide who they want to be when they grow up.  There is no amount of spinelessness and flip-floppery that compares to a moderate Republican aspiring to the presidency.

Republican, heal thyself.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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54 Responses to “Christie: You can’t cure gays, but I’ll let doctors try”

  1. I don’t “believe” it, I was reporting a fact. Are you suggesting I’m lying about my experiences?

  2. Mary Weigand says:

    Gee, I’m sorry if you believe you were hurt by something I wrote. You should have just copped to bad judgement, John. Now’s it’s a thing.

  3. Fliponymous says:

    As far as our hearts not being in a good place: A lot of this is coming from your original derailing approach. Like Max, I don’t know you personally. All I know is what you write, and how you respond to comments on those writings. This article, you fixed, after taking some time to try to derail and tell us that your credentials meant you didn’t have to.

    Here’s what happened, John, you gut-punched a bunch of people for what was at best a horribly insensitive joke, then told us we were being oversensitive. That’s what caused people to be upset — which frankly is *not* “hate”. It’s people being human beings and reacting to someone who slapped us in the face.

    If you think our hearts are not in a good place, remember, when you say biphobic things (even in the service of some dubious humor that backfired), it legitimizes both biphobia among the straight community and homophobia in the straight community — look at the recent event in the MN House where a legislator framed his argument against marriage equality on the grounds that one of his pals had lived a “gay lifestyle for ten years but is now married with 3 kids” — biphobia and bi erasure used to try to deny equal marriage for all that want it.

    You know the thing you have not done, in all this fuss and flutter? You haven’t made a simple apology. How hard would it be to say: “I said something without considering how it would affect people, and I am sorry for doing it. I have fixed it now.”

    That might go a longer way to putting people’s fears to rest than the approach you’re using now. What do you think? Want to give it a try?

  4. Jayelle says:

    We are not fairies, ghosts, angels, or other ethereal beings whose existence is up for debate. There is no “believing” in us. We bisexual people are here, and have been here as long as there have been people in general. Frankly, I have met quite a few all-the-way-gay people, men and women, who are far more accepting than you are. I married one of them, another woman, 8 years ago.

    If the head of one of those “family” groups said he “believes in” gay people, “respects” you unlike others, etc. in response to what you perceived as an insult, I doubt you would let it go as quickly as you expect us to. Nor, I think, would you trust him or her to “defend” you.

    It is disappointing, once again, to see that an ally truly isn’t and just plain refuses to get it.

  5. I’m bisexual and wasn’t offended–I just saw it as tongue-in-cheek, ironic wordplay. As for using the term “man up,” I am all for utilizing that phrase to mean doing what is right regardless of social pressures, as so often to “man up” means embracing and reiterating misogynistic and homophobic social mores.

  6. DeaconMac says:

    I thrive on humor and irony. I just didn’t see much of it in this post…or any in that phrase. If that was “making a joke,” I wonder why so few are laughing?

  7. Max, if you’d like to debate Cynthia Nixon’s horrific comments about her sexual orientation being a choice, I’m happy to. All of those posts are still live. But first, do some research on what happens to URLs when you switch your blog from Blogger to WordPress, and how it changes all of the URLs and you then need a plugin that tries to sniff out where the original posts really are. It’s called Permalink Finder, and it’s not perfect. But what’s not promising is the hate I’m seeing from so many bi people on this blog today. You’re so dead set on proving that I hate you, that now you’re making things up about URLs and twisting the history by trying to present Cynthia Nixon’s horrendous comments about her sexual orientation being a choice as some sort of bisexual badge of honor. I changed the title of the post, I’ve tried to be courteous with those of you came here to discuss this, but I can see that your hearts are not in a good place.

  8. In transition? I left the Republican party 20 years ago! LOL

  9. karmanot says:

    One of the things I most like about you John is the honesty, vulnerability and passion of your convictions even when you get your balls in a ringer. The fact that you put it out here is courageous. As an ex- Republican in transition I think you do a damn good job of exploration and future shock.

  10. karmanot says:

    “As most of gay people I’ve met don’t respect you or your very existence,” OMG I can’t believe you believe that! Most gay people? Certainly not this one nor any of my friends.

  11. Max the Communist says:

    Why John, it seems like some of your past writing on bisexuals has totally disappeared from the internet. For example, an post about Cynthia Nixon–if you try to access the post from an old 2012 Huffington Post article:

    . . . the link first goes to an Ameriblog article titled “Dear Cynthia Nixon Hurting Your Own,” then switches seamlessly to an article on Fleetwood Mac. The article is lost. How intriguing.

    Question #1: so you’re a great in-the-trenches ally to bisexuals. Do you understand why conflating us with Christie’s shoddy political obfuscation is slanderous to us?

    Question #2: Do you understand why calling us “part-time gays” would be insulting to us?

    Question #3: Do you understand that not all bi-identified people are 50/50 and that it’s insulting to suggest that only true bisexuals “hit the magic 50-50 marker”?

    Question #4: Do you understand how it looks when you accept without skepticism the claims of a straight politician that her bisexual opponent is “faking” his bisexuality to get the gay vote in her district? Faking? To get the gay vote? Because bis are so popular among gays they just automatically get the gay vote whenever they run???

    I could go on but I have an afternoon to live. But, like I said–not promising.

  12. It’s good you changed the post, and I applaud that. However, utilizing your past relationships with bi people to justify using “bi as a bad word” erodes the memory of your good work and jeopardizes our faith in your abilities to be a courageous advocate for justice. Right now we’ve got Scott Hicks and other right-wing haters using the bisexual community as a tool for hate, so ALL LGBT folks need to be on the same page when it comes to our respect for each other.

    I would welcome you as an ally for our community but I think you need a bisexual awareness
    training session before you can feel comfortable saying you’re an ally to our community. It’s one thing to “know us” and it’s another to be educated on us and the specific issues affecting our community. I believe you would benefit greatly from such training, because as you said you’ve been defending us for years. Your heart’s in the right place but you may have actually been doing more damage to us than defense and I can’t believe YOU would want that. I’ll try and send you an email with an invite for training and I welcome further dialogue with you, whether that’s an open Q&A here on your site or future interviews for other publications.
    ~Faith Cheltenham, President of BiNetUSA

  13. I changed the title, I get that it bothered bi people, so I changed it. But now you’re going to complain about the word “folks” which is a nicer, folksier way, of saying you guys, you all, you’s all. And in fact, I was taught the word by a Latina lesbian (actually bisexual, now that I come to think of it) community organizer in the 1990s who told me to use it specifically for our organizing in the African-American community – she told me my day-to-day language was too, well, white, and I’d fit in better using that term. That’s where I got it from. If the word “folks” offends you, you’re free to chat with her.

  14. No, that was intentional. I’ve criticized “man up” before on this blog, that’s why I used it. It’s a phrase used to criticize guys for being somewhat gay, and in this case I used intentionally for a straight guy who’s being critical of gays. I’m not changing it. At some point, folks are going to have to deal with the fact that humor and irony exist in writing. I’m happy to change the bi reference since I’m not bi and it bothers bi people so much. I am, however, gay, and I know when I’m making a joke by turning a gay slur around on an anti-gay straight person.

  15. Max, as I’ve told others. I’m sorry you haven’t been there to know me, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m one of the few folks out there defending you whenever nearly everyone, and I mean everyone, rolls their eyes whenever the topic of bisexuals comes up. It has shocked me the degree to which gay people I talk to don’t believe you exist. So while I appreciate that you didn’t like the title of one post, please don’t tell me that my defense of you and your community all these y ears is “not promising.”

    It’s one thing to correct a single title of a single post that you didn’t agree with, it’s quite another for you guys to try to rewrite my 20 years of gay (and bi too) rights advocacy because it’s less easy to demonize someone who actually has fought for you in the trenches when most have not.

    I’m sorry the title bothered people, that’s why I changed it. But I won’t sit back and have you guys try to rewrite history because you’re pissed about one title to one post. You need to accept the fact that not all of all your allies are perfect, and if we screw up once with one title to one post, it doesn’t make us evil and it doesn’t negate all the good work we’ve done.

    There seems to be a need out there, on too many issues of the left, and probably the right to, to find a demon to hate rather than a human being who maybe once did something we don’t like.

  16. DeaconMac says:

    Plenty of people have already castigated John for his biphobic “word play” (nothing playful about it, just insulting), so I won’t repeat what has already been said, but only express my agreement with the criticism. I’m glad to see that John has done a rewrite and issued a somewhat tepid apology. But the rewrite didn’t remove another sexist and objectionable part of the piece: “Christie needs to man-up.” Can we get another rewrite?

  17. Max the Communist says:

    Well, the main thing is that you have rewritten the article–and I think now that it’s a far better written article that gets to the point quicker, not just because the biphobia’s been removed. So thank you for that.
    John, you and I don’t hang out. So I’m not there to see you correct biphobic gay men and lesbians with their eye-rolls. The way that I get to know you is through your writing. And I can say that, so far on your written expressed thoughts regarding bisexuals, it’s not been promising, John. I don’t say this to snark at you. Biphobia within the lesbian and gay communities hurts bisexual/pansexual/fluid people first–but it will hurt lesbians and gay men in the long run. I’m not surprised this issue came up around the subject of ex-gay therapy. THE RIGHT HAS ALWAYS USED BISEXUALITY OR FLUID SEXUALITY AGAINST GAY MEN AND LESBIANS. And if the reality of us, the non-monosexual queers, can be used against you, then the right has seen the chink in your armor and will bore through that with all the force at its disposal.
    It’s not just the pure Kinsey 6 goldstar gays that are hurt by ex-gay therapy. Bisexuals are targets as well. NARTH erases the both of us and redefines us as “broken heterosexuals.” Bisexuals are pressured by heterosexist society to just ignore those nasty queer feelings, settle down with a heteronormative family and it will all go away. “Pick a side. It’s a phase.” Well, people who follow that prescription end up like Ted Haggard.
    Queer people across the Kinsey scale have to be defended and respected, John.

  18. skwcw2001 says:

    completely agree with his use of the bi comment.

  19. I’ve already changed the post. And it’s not really relevant whether you believe that I’ve defended bi people for 20 years against practically every gay person I’ve met rolling their eyes when the word “bi” is mentioned. It’s a fact. And the fact that it’s easier for you to hate me by pretending it’s not true, doesn’t change the truth of the fact that I’ve defend you guys for two decades now against a lot of hate.

    And that’s a great suggestion about trying to work to make things better for the gay community. The idea never crossed my mind, you know, with all the corporate work I’ve done the past 20 years. I’ll have to give this “gay rights” thing a try.

  20. Lysana, fortunately you don’t get to decide, based on your hatred, whether or not I’ve defended bi people for 20-some years now against a lot of gay people who seriously don’t think you exist. My defense of you is a fact. I realize it’s easier for you to make up a story that I’ve always hated bi people, but sadly the truth, and life generally, is more complicated.

  21. Mwah ;-)

  22. I changed the title. If it bothers bisexuals so much, there’s no point in keeping it. It’s intended to be a funny word play in the same way that I joke about people being gay in other posts, and I even joked about Christie being ‘questioning’ in the post as well. But no intent to offend, so I changed it.

  23. Fliponymous says:

    THANK YOU JOHN! I appreciate your edit.

  24. Kenny De says:

    Im disappointed in the publisher of this article this is a community that is supposed to SUPPORT and care about each other. We receive enough hate intolerance ignorance and cruelty from the bigots but to show all the above towards our bisexual brothers and sisters or our transgender brothers and sisters is flat out hypocritical and wrong in more ways then one. If we expect or want tolerance then we should be capable and able to show it to EACH OTHER thats the starting point .

  25. Eli says:

    John, you have no business using bisexual identity as a smear. Here and now in 2013, why do so many mainstream gay male pundits still deny the BLTQ of non-hetero existence? It’s ignorant, hateful bigotry, plain and simple.

    Your article states, “The spokesman declined, however, to say whether Christie would support the legislation banning the phony therapy. So in other words, Chris Christie is bi.” This suggests the age-old slanderous claim that bisexuals simply refuse to declare a sexual orientation. Someone who perpetuates this destructive myth is no ally.

    Your apology below strikes me as insincere and unapologetic. Sometimes hate speech is just hate speech. If you’d like to try reaching out to bisexuals again, first off, stop calling us “you folks.” Second off, imagine Paul Ryan calling Obama a “faggot” for supporting marriage equality. Would that just be word play? Third, look in the mirror and see whether denying us our humanity is reflective of any victimization you carry around with yourself.

  26. Troy Brooks says:

    What I’m hearing here is that you believe bisexuals exist, but you think we can’t make up our minds.
    That’s really gay

  27. Whoa. Nice biphobia there. You’re really killing it this week.

  28. Paul Sposato says:

    I signed up and signed in just so I could ‘down vote’ your tone deaf response.

  29. Fliponymous says:

    Describing a politician’s refusal to commit to a position as being bi? That’s not word-play.

    If you want to bolster your claim to be an ally to the B in LGBT, how about an edit with an apology, instead of just digging yourself deeper by implying your belief in our existence gives you the right to use our identity as a slur? Because, no matter how much you deny it, what you’ve done here is the equivalent of saying “That’s so gay” when you mean something else entirely.

  30. You are no ally to our community with commentary like this. You should apologize for this reinforcement of the dominant thinking on bisexuality and address a few issues pertinent to bisexuals with a bit more thought. Like gee, how ex-gay therapy is also intrinsically biphobic because it presumes sexuality is purely either-or. And how it thus might prey upon bisexuals more, since we’re taught by society that it’s either-or and a Christian bisexual might think they’re being tempted by Satan when they’re really just bisexual. You do not get to rest on your laurels. Which I don’t think exist, anyway.

  31. Max the Communist says:

    Pardon me–recent research, not resent research. It’s late and I should go to bed.

  32. Max the Communist says:

    John, is a teenage kid who uses the word “gay” as a slur–as in “stupid,” as in “weird”–just engaging in wordplay? And can you really buy that his wordplay is harmless, even if the kid says he has gay friends and says he doesn’t hate gays? Do you see where I’m going with this John? Associating bi with flip-flopping–hell, associating bi with Chris Christie!!!–WTF gay ally? You think it’s cute and funny. It’s not funny. It’s not that we’re humorless bi activists. It’s not funny.

    Look, here’s an article from our mutual enemy, NARTH, who is using resent research on fluid sexuality to reinforce the validity of “curing” us:

    We’re not on their side, John. We’re not on the side of people like Christie who support them and allow them to flourish. So why, why reinforce stereotypes of confusion and untrustworthiness about bisexuals by associating us with NARTH, Christie and their ilk?

    Dude–you owe us an apology and a rewrite.

  33. Adele Stan says:

    It would be so much easier if you would just apologize, John. Telling me that you’re special because you believe in my existence (gee, thanks!) doesn’t fix the fact that you’ve slurred the bi identity by the context in which you used it. In fact, it actually reinforces negative stereotypes about us.

  34. The “edit” feature is your friend. No need to spray multiple comments every damn where.

  35. Ashley Avard says:

    And just one more thing: you don’t get to decide that you’re a bi ally. You don’t get to say “I’m an ally!” and then post crap like this and continue to claim your allyship despite numerous bi people saying that you’re obviously not. Being gay yourself doesn’t make you an automatic ally to other LGBT folks–you have to, you know, actively work to NOT make things worse for them and basically not be a huge dick.

  36. Ashley Avard says:

    “You don’t have to worry about that being my intent” even though my actions/words via this article show the exact opposite. You’re stellar, you are.

  37. Ashley Avard says:

    “Sometimes a word play is simply a word play.” Except, no it’s not when it reinforces generally accepted social ideas. Again. A+

  38. Ashley Avard says:

    Not only is this biphobic/bi erasing as hell it’s also really poorly written. A+ you’ve definitely won yourself a new reader.

  39. No one was intending to slur bi people. As one of the few gay people I know who even believes bi people exist – and I’m amazed at how often I talk to someone who simply thinks you don’t exist, I don’t get their skepticism – I’m the last person to harbor ill-will towards bisexuals. As most of gay people I’ve met don’t respect you or your very existence, I can appreciate why you believed I was doing the same thing. In fact, I’ve defended you, publicly and privately, a lot. I appreciate that you folks have to deal with a lot of scorn and disbelief in the community, but I’m one of the few with whom you don’t have to worry about that being my intent. I get that you think it’s a slur, it’s not. Sometimes a word play is simply a word play.

  40. NatashaChart says:

    ex-gay therapy is clearly wack.

    but also, a good example here of why not very many bi people identify that way. the idea that we’re confused, unfinished and untrustworthy is so pervasive that it really disinclines one to bring it up at all. the problem that poses for someone casually inclined to perpetuate that stereotype is that it can be hard to know for sure that you’re not talking about someone you’ve known for a while who’s simply never discussed it when you were around.

  41. Max the Communist says:

    Finally, John, as a member of Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago, I want to tell you that one of our members–a bisexual man–is a survivor of ex-gay therapy. Maybe you had no idea how much this hurts bisexuals when you wrote it but I urge you to stop it now.

  42. cole3244 says:

    so genetics is the cause that one is blond or tall, causation would be say environmental conditions or economic conditions, i can’t convince you cause you are too thick headed, did you get it, thought not.

  43. MyrddinWilt says:

    Saying genetics is the cause is saying genetics is the cause.

  44. Bialogue says:

    Oh smart move there Mr. Aravois. The way to fight anti-Gay Bigotry and Hate is to defame and make crude jokes about the rest of the Queer Nation.

    And picking on the “B” in LGBT? Which according to the Williams Institute is the the largest segment of the community? Tell us please, exactly which chapter of “How To Win Friends and Influence People” were you looking at when THAT bright idea popped into your head?

    Luckily for all of us the Bisexual Community is here, queer, out and active. And obviously we are smarter and Way More politically savvy than you. Becasue we are not inclined to waste our time making cheap shots at our friends and allies, and instead have been busy heeding the call of NJ’s Garden State Equality, getting the word out, signal-boosting their petiton ( and generally making ourselves useful.

    While you are spending you time competing with the likes of the Family Research Council, WBC, NOM, Exodus, NARTH and the other bully-boys in the ‘Pray the Gay Away’ factions for 1st prize in the anti-LGBTQ Slurs department.

  45. fliponymous says:

    Using the bisexual identity as a way to call out for someone being a spineless flipflopper? In a story about “ex-gay therapy”? Thanks more.

    Nothing like a little casual biphobia to support the LGBT community. Wait, what does the B stand for again?

  46. Max the Communist says:

    . . . and the fact that you would do this to bisexuals over an issue like ex-gay therapy, which our community opposes, just makes me sad and despairing.

  47. Max the Communist says:

    John, your rage at Christie’s flip-flopping and political obfuscation over ex-gay therapy is well-deserved.
    However, calling Christie “bi on gays,” associating bisexuality and bisexuals with flip-flopping and being disingenuous, is biphobic hate speech. We are real and we are not a threat to you or any lesbian or gay man. Why the hate, John?

  48. Shouldn’t this be considered torture under the Geneva convention ?

  49. “Who cares what causes it?”

    That’s more or less what I feel about it. Even if choosing romantic partners of whatever sex was a purely voluntary decision on the same order as choosing a favorite band or restaurant, that furnishes absolutely no legitimate excuse for discrimination and certainly no valid basis for denying equality under the law.

    It might be possible to cobble up some psychobabble to explain why I prefer male companionship, like maybe my mom didn’t raise me right or something. I used to know a guy like that, who was at war with his own tendencies and thought that maybe he’d lacked a solid and healthful relationship with his father when he was growing up. As for myself, in the end I really don’t care how I got this way. I’ve found love and fulfillment, that’s what matters. Teaching self-loathing is vile.

  50. cole3244 says:

    nothing causes being gay, straight, bi etc, its genetic, you are born with that predisposition, and there is nothing wrong anyone of them if it is agreed upon by consenting adults.

  51. MyrddinWilt says:

    Who cares what causes it? Yes I know there is evidence etc. But not all men who have sex with men are gay just like there are gay men who marry women. It isn’t any business of anyone else regardless of what causes it or if nothing causes it.

    The only people who ever get upset about gay sex is closet cases. Men partnering up with men means more women for the rest of us and straight guys absolutely love the idea of lesbian sex.

    Regardless of what the cause is, this quack can’t cure being gay with his homoerotic hugs and the idea of allowing him near children is utterly insane.

  52. cole3244 says:

    if you don’t know that being gay is genetic you are an idiot, or maybe an overweight gov that has his wife keeping sandy donations so she can feed you and your bottomless pit of an appetite, christie not only looks disgusting but he is disgusting, as is his phony goper wife.

  53. BeccaM says:

    It’s a component of Republican dogma that being gay is (1) something that can be cured and (2) by that very definition is a defect. It fits right in with their false assertion that being gay is a choice, because if anti-gay therapy actually works, then remaining in a state of ‘being gay’ is an exercise of free will, and not biologically determined. The GOPers don’t care that anti-gay reparative therapy doesn’t work, just as they don’t care that abstinence-only sex ed doesn’t work either.

    If Christie were to stray too far into heresy, which he already did by praising Obama’s response to Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, he’ll be drummed out of the party. And I don’t think he wants to be, because despite hanging onto a few heresies, he’s proven time and time again he’s a loyal GOP conservative soldier.

  54. UncleBucky says:

    Kids taking their clothes off and doing WHAT?? Is this a bit like Clockwork Orange, where instead of the electro shock, the “baboon stare” of Ward Cleaver is enough to create an association between what the kids are doing and “shame”? Dear gods in heaven….

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