The state's landmark legislation highlights the sordid, fascinating past of homosexual 'treatments' -- from DIY electroconvulsion to testicular transplants.
"In general, to undertake to convert a fully developed homosexual into a heterosexual does not offer much more prospect of success than the reverse," wrote Freud, "except that for good practical reasons the latter is never attempted." But the former has been attempted regardless, in a variety of bizarre, disturbing ways. The state of California is on its way to becoming the first state to take a stand against such practices, as first its Senate -- and then, on Tuesday, its Assembly -- approved a bill banning gay conversion therapy for minors.
The Gay and Lesbian Review's history of such efforts begins in the late nineteenth century, with a neurologist prescribing vigorous bicycling to "restore health and heterosexuality." From there, methods for "curing" homosexuality get progressively stranger.
Multiple psychologists once recommended heterosexual intercourse -- aided, in one case, by hypnosis and copious amounts of alcohol -- as the most straightforward solution to conversion. Unfortunately, the other thing that wasn't curable in those days was STDs. In the 1980s, William Masters and Virginia Johnson updated the practice through the use of "sexual surrogates."