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.