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On Thursday, Joseph Nicolosi passed away at the age of 70. If you don’t know the name, you certainly have heard of the controversial practice for which he became famous.
Nicolosi was a longtime proponent of conversion and ex-gay therapy, who advocated the theory that “you don’t have to be gay.” Nicolosi was also the founder of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, known as NARTH, an organization that espoused the belief that you could teach gay people to be straight.
“I do not believe that any man can ever be truly at peace in living out a homosexual orientation,” Nicolosi once said.
Nicolosi’s practice has been widely discredited by numerous medical boards, and many states have passed laws banning the practice. Many also consider it to be actively harmful to gay and lesbian youth. In 2012, 16-year-old Ryan Kendall documented how the actions of Nicolosi nearly drove him to suicide.
“[My] weekly sessions with [Nicolosi] set me on a devastating, decade-long course of self-destruction, as each session made me sink deeper into depression and drove me to the brink of suicide,” Kendall wrote.
In part because of Kendall’s testimony, California became the first state to ban the practice. Many others states and municipalities followed suit.
So, suffice it to say, Twitter wasn’t too upset at his passing.
Has he tried *not* being dead? https://t.co/o9l5H0PfW2— Zanti Misfit (@ZantiMisft) March 10, 2017
The joke there being, since he believed other unmalleable states of being could be changed, he should have willed himself back alive.
Others were found it hard to be upset about the world losing a man they thought was actively harmful to the LGBTQ movement.
*cackles in homosexual* https://t.co/UcWOnd9AQK— Ira Madison III (@ira) March 10, 2017
being dead is a lifestyle choice. you're not born that way https://t.co/pdsGtMGPwA— Gerry Doyle (@mgerrydoyle) March 10, 2017
Good. https://t.co/cwdzTp1AqQ— John Aravosis (@aravosis) March 10, 2017
His wife issued a statement on Facebook in response to his passing.
“Dr. Nicolosi had always hoped for his legacy as the creator of Reparative Therapy to go on,” she wrote. “His career was dedicated to helping people align their lives with their deeply held convictions. Anyone, he stressed, is free to live his life as gay; but we are inevitably gendered beings, and our fullest humanity calls us to live out our biological design.”
For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.).If you are a teen dealing with depression or other mental health issues, see PBS.org for a list of resources and organizations that can help you. If you are an adult, see Mental Health Resources.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]