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Issues and Nonissues in the Gay-Affirmative Treatment of Patients Who Are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual


Address correspondence to Gerald C. Davison, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089–1061. E-mail:


An article by Eubanks-Carter, Burckell, and Coldfried (this issue) provides a variety of gay-affirmative suggestions about what psychotherapists should know about the gay and lesbian experience if they are to be humane and effective mental health helpers. In the present article I offer several critiques and comments on issues and nonissues pertaining to the analysis and conduct of psychological assessment and intervention with homosexual and bisexual individuals. These issues include (a) the unlikelihood of voluntariness in requests for sexual reorientation, given the prejudice against gay, lesbian, and bisexual (CLB) people; (b) the biases inherent in psychological assessment viewed as a constructionist enterprise; (c) the minor importance of biological theories of sexual orientation in prejudice and discrimination; (d) the hidden negative biases against homosexuality in presumably gay-positive changes in earlier versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM); and (e) the irrelevance of sexual conversion effectiveness in the politics and ethics of efforts to direct sexual preference from the homosexual to the heterosexual.