Profile: Joseph Nicolosi, Ex-Gay Therapist

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Joseph Nicolosi is the founder and director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, CA. The clinic specializes in Nicolosi’s pseudo-scientific and discredited “reparative theory,” a theory that treats homosexuality as a psychological disease. The American Psychological Association (APA) has discredited any such treatment. At Nicolosi’s clinic, which specializes in treating same-sex attraction, patients are told they can “develop their heterosexual potential” and “diminish [their] unwanted homosexuality.” Nicolosi has written a number of books on the topic, including Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, and Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy.

In an American Prospect exposé on the ex-gay movement, Gabriel Arana, a former patient of Nicolosi’s clinic in the late 1990s, described continued pressure and “therapy” throughout high school to prevent him from “entering the gay lifestyle.” Last year, California passed a law banning such practices for minors. The law is under injunction after being challenged in court by Nicolosi and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Nicolosi is the former president of NARTH, which describes itself as “a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality.” Nicolosi and NARTH are represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ organization founded by Jerry Falwell.

NARTH distributes anti-LGBT educational propaganda and pseudo-scientific research. Nicolosi supplies anti-LGBTQ rights activists with “scientific” ammunition, often citing antiquated studies or misrepresenting academic studies for his own ideological purposes. He hides his bigotry in the veil of a disinterested, scientific inquiry. Maintaining a secular image helps to promote his scientific authority. In fact, Nicolosi is a practicing Catholic and advertises his services through Catholic channels, although he did not make a point of his religion when working with Focus on the Family and their traveling “Love Won Out” seminar on Christian ex-gay therapy in the 2000s.

NARTH and other programs like it defend “reparative therapy” by claiming they only treat willing patients and do not impose their beliefs on others. They do not mention how the propaganda they promote can cause internalized hatred or sexual and psychological repression, as has been documented by the APA. According to NARTH, homosexuality leads to pedophilia; pedophilia turns children gay; and homosexuality is a condition caused by sexual seduction, family problems, and other social issues.

This profile is part of a series on key anti-LGBTQ opponents adapted from Political Research Associates’ Resisting the Rainbow report.