Coming Out to My Dad, the Founder of Conversion Therapy (by Richard Socarides)

Coming Out to My Dad, the Founder of Conversion Therapy (by Richard Socarides)

I’m Richard Socarides and
I’m from New York City, New York. My father was, his name is- was Charles Socarides MD. He was the founder, or one of the
founders, of the school of psychiatry that believed homosexuality was a mental illness
and that it could be cured through psychotherapy. And he was a New York psychiatrist, quite
well-known, had a thriving practice, wrote in 1967, maybe 68, one of the early psychoanalytic
treatises of the issue of homosexuality, called The Overt Homosexual, which I do believe as
I recall was dedicated to me and my sister. So it was with this background that he became quite famous. CBS News did a very,
now well-known, 60 Minutes-type special called The Homosexual in which they filmed him in
his class that he taught at Albert Einstein Medical College on the treatment of homosexuality. Homosexuality is in fact a mental
illness which has reached epidemiological proportions. I don’t look so much like the
old him, but if you look at that film a little bit you can kind of see the family resemblance,
it’s kind of a little scary. My parents were divorced when we were 6 though, when
he moved out and I first lived with my mom and I missed him a great deal. So when I was
about 13 I moved back in with my dad. And we lived on the Upper East Side on 78th Street
in a Townhouse and his office was downstairs. So there was this, kind of on this one level
is this kid coming out, on the top level there was this kid coming out, and on this bottom
level there were these people going to be cured of their homosexuality. His idea was
they should be treated like any other neurotic. Couple of trips to a therapist and it should
be just fine. You know, he would occasionally ask me who I was dating and I would say, you know, kind of try
to avoid it. By the time I was in law school, all of my friends, most of my close friends
knew. I was in therapy at the time and both my sister and my therapist said to me, they
said, everybody who does this, you get to the other side and it’s great, right, everybody
who does this, you come out to the parent, and even if the parent is ,like, a little weird at
the beginning, they realize their relationship with their own flesh and blood, with their
offspring is more important than this thing and they get over it and that I think is like
a good rule for everybody. But I was suspicious, I said, like you know, Mmm, I might be the exception to this rule. But finally one day I managed to come see him in the middle of the work day
to see him at his office. I sat down and said, Dad I think this is something we’ve known
for some time together but I’m gay and we have to find a way to be more honest with
each other about this. And he had a tendency for the dramatic. He was angry, but he certainly
wasn’t surprised and angry, and he was kind of a little surprised. So I kind of said,
I’m going to give you some time to think about it, to take this one in and
I left. It did not last a long time and it did not have a good ending, at that moment.
And I just let it sit for a while. A relatively short interval of a couple of months in which we didn’t speak
to each other passed, and then he sent me a letter. He sent me a beautiful letter handwritten,
4 pages, in which he basically said, sorry I behaved so badly. I’m sorry I got
angry. You’re the most important person to me in my life and I love you and the only
thing that’s important to me is your happiness and if this is what makes you happy I want
to support you and we’ll just figure out a way to manage it. Now, that was a great moment, the
letter was a great moment, but it was not always that easy going forward because he
did not change what he was saying publicly about the treatment and cure of homosexuality. When people ask me about my dad is,
right, what is the first thing they say, Did he ever try to cure you? And it’s an obvious
question and the answer is no. It literally never came up. He never once said to me, I
have an idea, I have this theory, and we can get you some help for this! So it was quite sad because as a
kid I had a relationship that was terrific. There was a lot of warmth and affection between
the two of us and we were never really able to, well, we never came close to rebuilding
that. But we had a relationship that was based on honesty, authenticity, integrity, at least
coming from me. So it was much better. You know, my story is no harder nor easier than anybody else’s. It’s just my story. It is a little stranger than most. And it’s kind of like a, wow, so you know
it’s just part of who I am.

100 Replies to “Coming Out to My Dad, the Founder of Conversion Therapy (by Richard Socarides)”

  1. I do feel like it's very very important to stress that the science of psychology is very young and it's just human nature to accept whatever our current science is telling us even if it's the disproven next year and you start believing something different there's never really that turn around to look where we came from and apologize for it I mean if you think about it it was less than 30 years ago where Andrew Mitri osis or was being cured by exorcism and lobotomies or bipolar and also postpartum depression and just a little bit before that any time a woman would be upset about anything they would say that she was suffering from Hysteria and apparently best cure for that thank God looking for them it wasn't a lobotomy but rather a dildo administered by the doctor at the doctor's office I don't mean to make this take away from the seriousness of the issue and the immense pain and suffering that so many people go through by either not being accepted or by realizing that their child is going down very different life than they thought they were I'm just pointing out that for any science to say that something is a certainty is not very scientific equals MC square is now being disproven science should never stagnate science should always be reaching in order to be always be reaching you can't hold on to something and say this is the truth you can't come to your conclusions before you see all the evidence and if you come to your confusion after you've seen all the evidence that is available to you and then you're a hundred percent certain that you understand or have the right answer you have to be willing spiritually mentally to completely abandon that perception if new evidence comes to light

  2. I love that you guys are doing these gay, lesbian, and transgender stories, but would also really want to see stories of bisexuals, pansexuals, non-binary, etc…

  3. He knew his therapy didn't work but refused to admit it, because it made him famous and respected by people who were duped into believing him.

  4. when my parents found out i had come out to my friends as asexual they basically took my phone away until i came out to them. they eventually caved in and gave it back, but they still dont know im trans. i dont know how they will react.

  5. His dad was probably secretly gay, and that's why he made the treatment of homosexuality his life's work; but when his son came out as gay, he felt guilty for having passed on that gene, and knew that he could no more cure his son, than he could cure himself. He knew that his science didn't work.

  6. Ha ha what goes around comes around. His dad was right though epidemic proportions of men deciding what they want to do with their lives and who they want to be with. Strange he doesn’t mention woman in the same epidemic. Gawd sake were people really so stupid then?

  7. I don't think psychotherapy will work even if you're not gay. The only reason why this is getting so much attention is because its patients are gay.

  8. His dad knew exactly what happens in conversion therapy, then. And he knew enough about it that he didn't want to subject his own son to that. That says a lot, that the fucking founder of conversion therapy doesn't want to use it on his own son. If conversion therapy is meant to help people… well, surely you'd want to help your son.

  9. Do you think maybe he got into that field because he might have been worried about his own feelings as a youth or teen?

  10. After reading other comments my heart is physically hurting. You see I never knew what real love was till I became a mother it was such an overwhelming feeling it’s been 25 years and I remember it as if it were yesterday. I can’t imagine not loving anyone bc of who they live let alone my son or daughter. I am so sorry most of you were treated this way. I love you ALL and if you ever need a mom, mama, mum, mommy etc please feel free to reach out. All my love, acceptance and admiration. Signed, a mom

    People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural. We perceive intuitively that the natural sex partner of a human is another human, not an animal. 

    The same reasoning applies to the case of homosexual behavior. The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality—that it is wrong because it is unnatural. 

    Natural law reasoning is the basis for almost all standard moral intuitions. For example, it is the dignity and value that each human being naturally possesses that makes the needless destruction of human life or infliction of physical and emotional pain immoral. This gives rise to a host of specific moral principles, such as the unacceptability of murder, kidnapping, mutilation, physical and emotional abuse, and so forth.

  12. i dont believe in God myself, but I know a lot of christians are vehemently homophobic. But if God gave the founder of conversion therapy a gay son, dont you think they were trying to tell the father something?

  13. Some of the most famous anti-gay people in various anti-gay ministries, political organizations, etc. have adult gay kids with very similar stories like this.  Some are out and the stories are known.   Some are open secrets that nobody talks about.   And there are a few I have known over my many years of being associated with such individuals and groups whom I know about privately but it is not common knowledge.   But, it seems to be a very common trend.

  14. So glad to be born in an accepting, secular country. Could tell literally anyone here and anybody would accept it.

  15. Ola!!
    What's the big deal?? Why is it soooooooooo important that homosexuals want heterosexuals to know who is sukkin dick?? Why do homosexuals have this bullshitt drive to normalize a man sticking his nose up a man's ass and saying " my man!"
    Keep your private life private.

  16. soooooooo, whyd he get angry at a mentally ill person,
    (in context, he claimed gay people were mentally ill at the time, so by this context, why would you get angry, surely the first emotion should be sadness like any other mental illness, do people at the time get angry(at the person) over any ole mental illness?)

  17. Well his father obviously wasn't homophobic, he simply believed if a gay man WANTED to change, he could. I could see why his father might have thought it was a mental illness because it wasn't normal at the time at all.

  18. A great irony.LGBT persons need,among other things,a spirituality that affirms their sexuality.Nichiren Buddhism is a simple spirituality that accepts people as they are without discrimination on basis of gender,sexual orientation,race,etc.

  19. These testimonials are great, and in such a unique situation. I grew up in Iowa in the 50s and am still coming to terms with being gay.

  20. Charles Socarides is one of the many psychoanalysts who had discovered the fact that homosexuality ( obligatory ) is a trouble-making defense mechanism, acquired adaptationally on the basis of a trauma in the oral phase of developmental, (the first 18-24 months of life ) connected with the image of the mother of the earliest infancy, and that when a patient is really motivated to look deep into his unconscious, he does change. Sadly, even without a milliesecond of conscious awareness, the homosexual is really acting-out the passive baby – active mother game disguised as "love" for another man. The oral conflict is decisive in lesbians too. For those of you who really want to make their own research and to know more about the origins of homosexuality, go to and look for the author.

  21. I wonder if his father had any homosexual feelings he was trying to repress. For decades now I've seen the people most against gays often turn out to be gay themselves. Reminds me of that pastor Ted Haggard a while back who was all over the media for being anti gay. Turned out he was paying some male escort and masseur for sex and buying speed for a few years lol.

  22. Cringed when he said 'flesh and blood.' I've no reason to doubt that my parents are my biological parents, but I've had friends who were adopted and didn't find out until adulthood. Genetics isn't important as far our emotions go. Recessive diseases? Yes. Acceptance by our loved ones? No.

  23. im just waiting for my father to die we dont even have a relationship sometimes i wish we could rebuild but i know that could never happen hes hurt me to much for me to forgive him and cant put myself through that pain again even when i came the words he said to me are still lingering in my head like a phantom pain its always there even when you dont notice it it keeps me down and only haults my life and scares me it only causes pain and anguish

  24. Why can't fucking people wake up. What will it take. For God fucking sake. You have a nation that still has some of the states that actually permit this bullshit conversion therapy as a source of taking one out of a destructive and dead end useless existence that ends in only depression and no common good. This same therapy also adds this . let us remind you of the devastating rate of suicides that result in this "lifestyle you choose" or even if you don't. It just ain't right. Now again What fucks my mind up most is this. I'm sorry Tim Cook. You the ceo of a company that excelled to the forefront of any company in the history so far. You are one who attained that position. I do not know how you ended up there., but you did. I will first say you are an inspiration to me. Because I'm someone who easily can be overlooked. I'm someone who can easily get lost in trying to to make my self known. You are the forefront in explaining to a group of a people in a country Albania that feels a person like you and me should not exist in its fabric. Its tradition that should not include the likes of us. Meaning cook you being "gay" and me would you explain to this stead fast somewhat, wait die hard stance audience meaning Albania that "gay" is ok.

  25. His father never wanted him to go through the terrorism of conversion therapy – the perverted concept of shock therapy, where they hook you up to a machine and 100's of volt of electricity is sent through your body if you get an erection while looking at pictures of naked men. Much like Pavlov's theory where a learned behavior is rewarded for doing what you are "trained" to do – in this case, not getting an erection while looking at naked men, meant you didn't get shocked….looking at pictures of naked women was encourage and patient's were sent home with "playboys" and told to masturbate to pictures of naked women. In almost every case, patients become "A" sexual – unable to get an erection at all – worried that they would be shocked again. A good friend of mine went through BYU"s shock therapy – at the end of the course, he signed a document, stating he was cured – but he wasn't cured, he just wanted the shock treatments to stop. My friend couldn't do anything with anyone – and for years he languished, unable to function in any type of relationship. But BYU had their documents that he was cured – and when his parents went to BYU for help, they were told and shown the document that their son had been cured……there was his signature. My friend after years of not being able to function in life, committed suicide – statistic's show this to be true of many of the patients of "shock therapy".

  26. One of the first, to my knowledge anyway, Anti gay activists named Anita Bryant. Did not know her son was Gay either. But the Hi mom moment of her reaction was priceless. Anita was a right wing cunt.

  27. My mom says “being trans is a sin because god made you a boy or girl.” So I said there’s nothing against it in the Bible. She felt salty!

  28. I came out to my mom, she freaked out and said i needed a doctor. I wish i had gone, i was a Hellion when i was young.

  29. My Mother's a Cult member of the Jehovah Witness. To this day I have never told her that I'm an Atheist, let alone a GAY Atheist.
    I would be shunned and thrown away and out of her life.

  30. The fact that your father wrote you that letter is mountains better than most if us in the same boat… It chocked me up when he told you he was sorry and your the most important thing to him. Wow, how many of us wanted to hear those words uttered from our fathers mouths.

  31. My mom hasn't accepted it and hasn't even tried to change her mind yet, not even a little bit. I told her six years ago.

  32. if you're against gays because "the bible says so" then you better not

    – masturbate
    – watch porn
    – eat bacon
    – have tattoos
    – get remarried
    – gossip
    – have premarital sex
    – wear polyester
    – work on saturday

    because the bible forbids those things too

  33. This man needs to understand that his father made his money from his theory on homosexuality ! His father probably knew if tried the crap he used on other gay men to " cure " his son, his son would bolt and they would never speak again !

  34. Oh, your father was one of the psychos who tortured young boys and men for being who they are?!? People like your dad abhor me and I can’t even watch this video in its entirety ‘cause it’s APPALLING!!! As a 45-year old gay man who HATED being gay for most of his life (I don’t anymore), listening to this video makes me so ANGRY!!! Luckily I had amazingly accepting parents and my father was nothing like your father. Just think about the hundreds, possibly thousands of boys and men who have taken their lives because of your dad and the hatred that he spawned!!!

    I can’t believe that he ruined so many boys’ and men’s lives with bull$hit theories…but yet he didn’t subject his own son to those TERRIBLE practices? Your constant nervous laughter tells me that a small part of you realizes that you dodged a bullet by being his son ‘cause any true scientist would’ve applied his theories to every boy/man “afflicted” with homosexuality.

  35. When this conversion therapy process can to turn a straight man gay; than it can turn a gay man straight. Try that first and see how far it will go, idiots !

  36. Even if homosexuality was a mental illness (which it’s not) …. it’s not hurting anyone… like… if they’re happy…. who gives a shit

  37. Isn’t it funny how homophobic people usually have homosexual children

    Lol my friend has homophobic parents and she’s now questioning yer sexuality

  38. i'm glad the bastard is dead he caused my uncle and family so much pain my uncle took his own life because of his shit writing and bullshit spewing loud mouth. and now you just confirmed he knew it was bullshit that's why he did not put you into conversion therapy. just for fame,money,who knows why. i think he was a closeted homosexual

  39. I often wonder if the people who are so extremely anti gay actually have gay feelings themselves, but can't handle it and so they fight vigorously against it.

  40. This looks awfully like prima facie evidence that the old man's priority was collecting big fees from his 'patients'.

  41. many of those who comment, do not think that perhaps, the father, only decided that his son was free in the decision that he wanted, because he knew the therapies and the existence of the same, but simply did not want, and his father repeats his freedom and I do not mention him out of respect,

  42. NO doctor can fix a gay person. The ONLY doctor that can do that is JESUS CHRIST homosexuality is a EVIL SPIRIT that possesses you there is a spiritual war going on for our SOUL.. REPENT and turn to GOD. GOD BLESS

  43. Your dad should be put in stockades & tomatoes thrown at his face. Your dad should be so ashamed, he should never show his face in public again – for all the death & destruction he personally caused to gay people. And if your dad is dead – GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE ?‼️

  44. Your father is gay and U were raised on dollars culled from the live and pain your father inflicted on people. I r the epitome of white privilege

  45. Not saying it'a a mental illness but if it's a chemical imbalance (head) isn't that how you would approach treatment? I think we're working on the wrong end (so to speak).

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