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.
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The Conservatives have failed on home ownership. Here's how Labour can do better

Far from helping first-time buyers, the government is robbing Peter to pay Paul

Making it easier for people to own their own first home is something to be celebrated. Most families would love to have the financial stability and permanency of home ownership. But the plans announced today to build 200,000 ‘starter homes’ are too little, too late.

The dire housing situation of our Greater London constituency of Mitcham & Morden is an indicator of the crisis across the country. In our area, house prices have increased by a staggering 42 per cent over the last three years alone, while the cost of private rent has increased by 22 per cent. Meanwhile, over 8200 residents are on the housing register, families on low incomes bidding for the small number of affordable housing in the area. In sum, these issues are making our area increasingly unaffordable for buyers, private renters and those in need of social and council housing.

But under these new plans, which sweep away planning rules that require property developers to build affordable homes for rent in order to increase the building homes for first-time buyers, a game of political smoke and mirrors is being conducted. Both renters and first-time buyers are desperately in need of government help, and a policy that pits the two against one another is robbing Peter to pay Paul. We need homes both to rent and to buy.

The fact is, removing the compulsion to provide properties for affordable rent will be disastrous for the many who cannot afford to buy. Presently, over half of the UK’s affordable homes are now built as part of private sector housing developments. Now this is going to be rolled back, and local government funds are increasingly being cut while housing associations are losing incentives to build, we have to ask ourselves, who will build the affordable properties we need to rent?

On top of this, these new houses are anything but ‘affordable’. The starter homes would be sold at a discount of 20 per cent, which is not insignificant. However, the policy is a non-starter for families on typical wages across most of the country, not just in London where the situation is even worse. Analysis by Shelter has demonstrated that families working for average local earnings will be priced out of these ‘affordable’ properties in 58 per cent of local authorities by 2020. On top of this, families earning George Osborne’s new ‘National Living Wage’ will still be priced out of 98 per cent of the country.

So who is this scheme for? Clearly not typical earners. A couple in London will need to earn £76,957 in London and £50,266 in the rest of the country to benefit from this new policy, indicating that ‘starter homes’ are for the benefit of wealthy, young professionals only.

Meanwhile, the home-owning prospects of working families on middle and low incomes will be squeezed further as the ‘Starter Homes’ discounts are funded by eliminating the affordable housing obligations of private property developers, who are presently generating homes for social housing tenants and shared ownership. These more affordable rental properties will now be replaced in essence with properties that most people will never be able to afford. It is great to help high earners own their own first homes, but it is not acceptable to do so at the expense of the prospects of middle and low earners.

We desperately want to see more first-time home owners, so that working people can work towards something solid and as financially stable as possible, rather than being at the mercy of private landlords.

But this policy should be a welcome addition to the existing range of affordable housing, rather than seeking to replace them.

As the New Statesman has already noted, the announcement is bad policy, but great politics for the Conservatives. Cameron sounds as if he is radically redressing housing crisis, while actually only really making the crisis better for high earners and large property developers who will ultimately be making a larger profit.

The Conservatives are also redefining what the priorities of “affordable housing” are, for obviously political reasons, as they are convinced that homeowners are more likely to vote for them - and that renters are not. In total, we believe this is indicative of crude political manoeuvring, meaning ordinary, working people lose out, again and again.

Labour needs to be careful in its criticism of the plans. We must absolutely fight the flawed logic of a policy that strengthens the situation of those lucky enough to already have the upper hand, at the literal expense of everyone else. But we need to do so while demonstrating that we understand and intrinsically share the universal aspiration of home security and permanency.

We need to fight for our own alternative that will broaden housing aspirations, rather than limit them, and demonstrate in Labour councils nationwide how we will fight for them. We can do this by fighting for shared ownership, ‘flexi-rent’ products, and rent-to-buy models that will make home ownership a reality for people on average incomes, alongside those earning most.

For instance, Merton council have worked in partnership with the Y:Cube development, which has just completed thirty-six factory-built, pre-fabricated, affordable apartments. The development was relatively low cost, constructed off-site, and the apartments are rented out at 65 per cent of the area’s market rent, while also being compact and energy efficient, with low maintenance costs for the tenant. Excellent developments like this also offer a real social investment for investors, while providing a solid return too: in short, profitability with a strong social conscience, fulfilling the housing needs of young renters.

First-time ownership is rapidly becoming a luxury that fewer and fewer of us will ever afford. But all hard-working people deserve a shot at it, something that the new Conservative government struggle to understand.