By C. Michael Forsyth
TRENTON, N.J. — Gay rights activists, family values crusaders and men’s organizations all see merit in a new form of therapy that trains teenage girls to be bisexual.
Known as Best of Both Worlds Therapy, the treatment takes girls leaning toward lesbianism, but still on the fence, and helps cement their orientation as bisexual instead.
Droves of psychologists have been taking seminars in the approach, in anticipation of a pending New Jersey law that would make it illegal for a licensed therapist to try to “convert” a gay minor to heterosexuality.
“Politics is all about compromise,” explains Ron Whulbred of the U.S. Association for Christian Values. “Of course, in a perfect world, we’d like every American girl to be a red-blooded heterosexual. But we’d certainly prefer her to be bisexual than all the way gay.”
Some gay rights groups, while still wary of Best of Both Worlds Therapy, see it as a vast improvement over Conversion Therapy, also known as “Reparative Therapy.” And even men’s organizations that are sometimes viewed as stuck in the 1970s when it comes to sexuality give a thumbs up to the 12-week program.
“It’s a win-win,” enthuses Rick Scraszholtz, president of Fairness for Men. “Every guy in America wishes his girlfriend was bi. Anyone who can convince thousands of teenage cheerleaders to swing both ways is doing a service to the whole male race.”
The therapy is aimed at “at risk” teens, girls who appear to be tomboys, eschew makeup, excel in traditionally lesbian sports such as softball or fixate on attractive female pop stars like Katy Perry.
“Typically you’ll have a girl of 16 or 17 who has had a boyfriend, then gets drunk at a party and starts kissing another female,” says therapist Dr. Herbert L. Pachivski. “She’ll panic and thinks she’s gay. Her distraught parents, often devoutly religious, will bring her in for counseling. Through talk therapy, I’ll show her that while, yes, she’s attracted to women, she’s probably bisexual, not a lesbian. The relief these girls feel is palpable.”
A California law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year put the kibosh on Conversion Therapy, branding efforts to flip homosexuals discredited “quackery” that could have a harmful impact on impressionable young gays. But a judge slapped an injunction on the law and as of last week, a federal appeals court in San Francisco was still hearing arguments about it. The New Jersey bill, which recently cleared a state senate panel, is also in jeopardy and some gay organizations consider Best of Both Worlds Therapy an acceptable compromise.
As one lesbian rights activist put it, “We’d rather have young women ‘batting for both teams’ than be strictly on the other side.”
But the innovative therapy has a handful of adamant critics in the LGBT community.
“This sounds to me a lot like certain anti-gay psychologists are trying to make an end run around the law,” declares openly gay journalist Genelle McAverbee. “You’re born either straight, gay or bisexual and nobody can change it, unless you go to prison or something like that.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth