A leading "conversion therapy" practitioner has come out as gay—yet refuses to condemn the practice that's been banned in 15 states and denounced by most major US health associations, NBC News reports. David Matheson, a Utah-based Mormon, revealed his orientation Tuesday on Facebook after being outed by the LGBT group Truth Wins Out. In Matheson's words: "Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what 'emotionally healthy' can look like. They came from my own homophobia and narrow-mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people." Despite clinging to a straight identity, Matheson says he couldn't ignore his "non-negotiable" attraction to men and divorced his wife of 34 years, per the Guardian.
Yet he won't call "conversion therapy" or "ex-gay therapy" an out-and-out fraud: "...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," he says. Instead, he blames what he calls the "shame-based, homophobic-based" outlook he absorbed in the Mormon church. He also stresses that he only used talk therapy and never "aversion therapy," which can include treatments like electric shocks and induced vomiting. But not everyone is satisfied: "I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included," says Chaim Levin, one of the roughly 700,000 US adults to have undergone gay-conversion therapy. (A gay teen spurned by his parents raised money on GoFundMe.)