Born gay? No Way!

Cohen says he is living-proof that homosexuality is a choice, and one that can be reversed

“Born gay? No way.” That’s what I said to the therapist who tried to convince me that I was born with the homosexual feelings I so deeply wanted to overcome. I experienced unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) since I was in grade school. In middle school and high school those desires intensified. As my male friends became increasingly interested in girls, I became increasingly interested in them. In my undergraduate years of college, I had a male partner for three years. But, with all my heart, I wanted to marry a woman and have a family.

Fast forward to today. My wife and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Our three children created a beautiful celebration. Our oldest son is in medical school, our daughter is a high school English teacher, and our youngest son is in the seventh grade. It was a monumental moment for our family.

So how did I finally fulfill my dream to marry and create a loving family? I searched long and hard to find those who could help me understand the meaning of my homosexual feelings. “Born gay?” I knew in my gut that was not true, at least not for me. I learned there were several contributing factors which led to my unwanted SSA: 1) I had quite a sensitive temperament which led me to experience people and situations very deeply; 2) my dad and I didn’t connect, our characters were so different; 3) my mom and I were too close, our characters were very similar; 4) my older brother was deeply hurt by our dad and took his pain out on me; and 5) a friend of the family sexually abused me when I was five years old. When I worked through the pain of each relationship and grieved the losses of my past, literally, my unwanted SSA left my body and soul. It took quite a long time, and today I am living my dream.

After coming out straight, I went back to graduate school and obtained a master’s degree in psychology. In 1990, I founded the International Healing Foundation and began my counseling practice, helping SSA men and women fulfill their heterosexual potential. For seventeen years, I assisted hundreds of men and women fulfill their dreams—many are now married with children. In my book Coming Out Straight, I detail the process of transformation—how people may change from gay to straight. I have also helped hundreds of family members whose loved ones experience SSA. For them I wrote Gay Children, Straight Parents. In this book I describe a beautiful 12-stage protocol to create greater intimacy with their SSA loved ones. Both books are filled with wonderful stories of healing and transformation.

I am pro-choice regarding homosexuality. If someone wants to live a gay life, that needs to be respected. If someone wants to change and come out straight, that too needs to be respected. Let us practice true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all.

Today, I am living my dream. I help others do the same. I know that people are not born “gay,” because of my personal and professional journey. Change is possible!

In November, I will facilitate a seminar in Belfast, Northern Ireland for those who counsel or coach men and women with unwanted SSA. If you would like information, contact

Psychotherapist Richard Cohen is a leading expert in the field of sexual reorientation and the author of Coming Out Straight and Gay Children, Straight Parents. He is the director of the International Healing Foundation, located in the Washington, DC area.
David Young
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The Tories are the zombie party: with an ageing, falling membership, still they stagger on to victory

One Labour MP in Brighton spotted a baby in a red Babygro and said to me: “There’s our next [Labour] prime minister.”

All football clubs have “ultras” – and, increasingly, political parties do, too: although, in the case of political parties, their loudest and angriest supporters are mostly found on the internet. The SNP got there first: in the early days of email, journalists at the Scotsman used to receive bilious missives complaining about its coverage – or, on occasion, lack of coverage – of what the Scottish National Party was up to. The rest soon followed, with Ukip, the Labour Party and even the crushed Liberal Democrats now boasting a furious electronic horde.

The exception is the Conservative Party. Britain’s table-topping team might have its first majority in 18 years and is widely expected in Westminster to remain in power for another decade. But it doesn’t have any fans. The party’s conference in Manchester, like Labour’s in Brighton, will be full to bursting. But where the Labour shindig is chock-full of members, trade unionists and hangers-on from the charitable sector, the Conservative gathering is a more corporate affair: at the fringes I attended last year, lobbyists outnumbered members by four to one. At one, the journalist Peter Oborne demanded to know how many people in the room were party members. It was standing room only – but just four people put their hands up.

During Grant Shapps’s stint at Conservative headquarters, serious attempts were made to revive membership. Shapps, a figure who is underrated because of his online blunders, and his co-chair Andrew Feldman were able to reverse some of the decline, but they were running just to stand still. Some of the biggest increases in membership came in urban centres where the Tories are not in contention to win a seat.

All this made the 2015 election win the triumph of a husk. A party with a membership in long-term and perhaps irreversible decline, which in many seats had no activists at all, delivered crushing defeats to its opponents across England and Wales.

Like José Mourinho’s sides, which, he once boasted, won “without the ball”, the Conservatives won without members. In Cumbria the party had no ground campaign and two paper candidates. But letters written by the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, were posted to every household where someone was employed making Trident submarines, warning that their jobs would be under threat under a Labour government. This helped the Tories come close to taking out both Labour MPs, John Woodcock in Barrow and Furness and Jamie Reed in Copeland. It was no small feat: Labour has held Barrow since 1992 and has won Copeland at every election it has fought.

The Tories have become the zombies of British politics: still moving though dead from the neck down. And not only moving, but thriving. One Labour MP in Brighton spotted a baby in a red Babygro and said to me: “There’s our next [Labour] prime minister.” His Conservative counterparts also believe that their rivals are out of power for at least a decade.

Yet there are more threats to the zombie Tories than commonly believed. The European referendum will cause endless trouble for their whips over the coming years. And for all there’s a spring in the Conservative step at the moment, the party has a majority of only 12 in the Commons. Parliamentary defeats could easily become commonplace. But now that Labour has elected Jeremy Corbyn – either a more consensual or a more chaotic leader than his predecessors, depending on your perspective – division within parties will become a feature, rather than a quirk, at Westminster. There will be “splits” aplenty on both sides of the House.

The bigger threat to Tory hegemony is the spending cuts to come, and the still vulnerable state of the British economy. In the last parliament, George Osborne’s cuts fell predominantly on the poorest and those working in the public sector. They were accompanied by an extravagant outlay to affluent retirees. As my colleague Helen Lewis wrote last week, over the next five years, cuts will fall on the sharp-elbowed middle classes, not just the vulnerable. Reductions in tax credits, so popular among voters in the abstract, may prove just as toxic as the poll tax and the abolition of the 10p bottom income-tax rate – both of which were popular until they were actually implemented.

Added to that, the British economy has what the economist Stephen King calls “the Titanic problem”: a surplus of icebergs, a deficit of lifeboats. Many of the levers used by Gordon Brown and Mervyn King in the last recession are not available to David Cameron and the chief of the Bank of England, Mark Carney: debt-funded fiscal stimulus is off the table because the public finances are already in the red. Interest rates are already at rock bottom.

Yet against that grim backdrop, the Conservatives retain the two trump cards that allowed them to win in May: questions about Labour’s economic competence, and the personal allure of David Cameron. The public is still convinced that the cuts are the result of “the mess” left by Labour, however unfair that charge may be. If a second crisis strikes, it could still be the Tories who feel the benefit, if they can convince voters that the poor state of the finances is still the result of New Labour excess rather than Cameroon failure.

As for Cameron, in 2015 it was his lead over Ed Miliband as Britons’ preferred prime minister that helped the Conservatives over the line. This time, it is his withdrawal from politics which could hand the Tories a victory even if the economy tanks or cuts become widely unpopular. He could absorb the hatred for the failures and the U-turns, and then hand over to a fresher face. Nicky Morgan or a Sajid Javid, say, could yet repeat John Major’s trick in 1992, breathing life into a seemingly doomed Conservative project. For Labour, the Tory zombie remains frustratingly lively. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tide