Influential Mormon therapist issues ‘painful’ apology for homophobic past as he reveals his two sons and grandson are gay
An influential Mormon therapist who advocated for conversion therapy has apologised for his harmful views after learning that his two sons and grandson are gay.
Dr Allen Bergin is a renowned psychiatrist who served in several leadership positions in the Mormon church. From the 1960s-90s he was often quoted as an authority on homosexuality within Mormonism, with his research used to promote teachings that homosexuality was a “bizarre” compulsion that led to bondage.
He’s now made a remarkable retraction after being given a “personal education” by his two gay sons and grandson.
“I was among the traditionalists who believed that homosexuality was a disorder and that it could be treated and changed to some degree,” he wrote in an apology to Lattergay Stories.
“I regret being part of a professional, religious, and public culture that marginalised, pathologised, and excluded LGBT+ persons. As a father of two gay sons and grandfather of a gay grandson, I’ve been given a personal education that has been painful and enlightening.”
Bergin opposed LGBT+ rights for the duration of his career on the basis that homosexuals were “compulsively driven” by “bizarre acts” of subconscious intent.
He famously claimed that the average gay man had between 500-1,000 partners, and strenuously pushed the idea that sexuality can and should be altered through conversion therapy.
Now that he’s had a sudden change of heart, he’s urging others to do the same and give LGBT+ people “their rightful place in society”.
“To the general public, I say – Stop. Listen. Learn. Love,” he said.
“To myself, my posterity, my colleagues, my fellow church members, and my political leaders, I say – apologise and compensate those of God’s children who have been afflicted by our treatment of them when they should have been embraced and loved.
“Give them their rightful place in society and in church so they may be nurtured and progress in their spiritual, social, and professional lives.”
He concluded by reminding his fellow Mormons that “we are all children of the same heavenly parents” and that we all have “the same opportunity to receive Jesus Christ’s grace.”
The astounding and unreserved apology was praised by queer psychologist and former Mormon Tyler Lefevor, who commented: “I am impressed with the courage it must have taken for Bergin to publicly apologise for the harm that he has done.”
Lefevor applauded Bergin for recognising his poor treatment of LGBT+ people “without implicating any decrease in commitment to the LDS Church,” noting that all too often support for LGBT+ people is unfairly pitted against religious faith.
“Ultimately, as Bergin’s apology shows us, healing can be found in understanding differing points of view and seeking not to perpetuate harm,” he added.
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