Once-prominent ‘conversion therapist’ will now ‘pursue life as a gay man’

By Julie Compton

David Matheson, a once prominent Mormon “conversion therapist” who claims to have helped some gay men remain in heterosexual marriages, is looking for a boyfriend.

The revelation broke Sunday night after the LGBTQ nonprofit Truth Wins Out obtained a private Facebook post made by fellow “conversion therapist” Rich Wyler, which stated that Matheson “says that living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible for him,’ so he’s seeking a male partner.”

David Matheson, a former gay conversion therapist, has come out as gay.Courtesy of David Matheson

Matheson then confirmed Wyler’s assertions on Tuesday with a Facebook post of his own. “A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life. I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay,” he wrote.

Matheson, who was married to a woman for 34 years and is now divorced, also confirmed in an interview with NBC News that he is now dating men.

So-called gay conversion therapy, which is sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy” or “reparative therapy,” is a pseudoscientific practice that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Talk therapy is currently the most commonly used technique, but some practitioners have also combined this with “aversion treatments,” such as induced vomiting or electric shocks, according to a 2018 report by UCLA’s Williams Institute. Nearly every major health association, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, has denounced the practice.

Matheson acknowledged his work has hurt some people, but he would not fully renounce “conversion therapy.” Instead, he blamed what he referred to as the “shame-based, homophobic-based system” of the Mormon church in which he was raised. He acknowledged that he perpetuated that system, but he also argued that he helped some men who wished to live “in congruence” with their faith.

“I know there are people who won’t be satisfied by anything less than a complete and unequivocal renunciation of everything,” Matheson said. “That’s hard, because I want people to feel the genuineness of my change of heart, but people need to understand that there is more than one reality in the world.” To those who feel harmed by his past work, he relayed a message: “I unequivocally apologize.”

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