Therapy worked for me, claims head of Northern Ireland-based group behind cancelled ‘gay cure’ film
The leader of a Northern Ireland-based Christian organisation that counsels gay people to "move away from homosexual influences" says they "don't have to choose to be victims" of their feelings.
Mike Davidson (63) is the head of the Core Issues Trust in Ballynahinch, Co Down, which claims it is "challenging gender confusion".
Yesterday the London premiere of the group's film featuring 15 people "emerging out of homosexual lifestyles" was cancelled by the Vue cinema in Piccadilly. The private booking for 126 people was pulled after the event drew criticism.
Mr Davidson's group protested outside the cinema last night and is considering legal action over the cancellation.
Yesterday he said Voices Of The Silenced would be screened at an alternative, unnamed London location last night.
"I'm disappointed that Vue cancelled the film screening," he said. "Men and women need to be free to identify in the direction that they want to go, and if they choose to move away from homosexuality they need to be respected. We would like to show the film in Belfast, but I don't know if the community here is ready for it."
Mr Davidson, a father-of-two who underwent counselling for homosexuality and has been married for 38 years, provides 'sexual attraction fluidity exploration' therapy from his Co Down base.
At the age of 23, despite having a "mixture of feelings" for both men and women, he married Lynore.
"I became a Christian at 18, but my religious conversion didn't change my feelings towards men," he said.
"My wife was aware of my feelings - there was some acting out during the marriage at one point.
"I was a married man in conflict, so I made a decision to get professional help in my late 40s.
"They took my goals as something they would be willing to support, they didn't tell me to leave my wife.
"That support is not available to gay men today. I don't still feel sexually attracted to men.
"It can be triggered by a memory, but I'm not looking to be attracted to another male.
"I no longer have the emotional need to connect to men - that has been replaced by very good non-sexual friendships.
"My wife has been very understanding and supportive."
After receiving counselling, Mr Davidson undertook psychotherapeutic training, but was expelled from the course because of his views on the changeability of homosexuality.
"I wasn't allowed to complete my training, and I had a view that we need to have an alternative route to that offered by the standard organisations," he added.
Originally from South Africa, Mr Davidson moved to Northern Ireland in 2005, and now aims to rid gay men of "unwanted same-sex attraction" by offering a "psychotherapeutic method to support their goals".
"At the busiest time I see 14-20 people a week, a lot by Skype or on the phone," he explained.
"Some go on to have viable relationships with the opposite sex.
"To say that they are doing it because of social or religious pressure is very dismissive.
"A lot of people want help."
Mr Davidson does not think homosexuality is "an illness".
"You're not dealing with a disease, you're dealing with an unwanted same-sex attraction," he said.
"I'm not saying homosexuality is a choice - I didn't choose my feelings, I chose what I did with those feelings.
"Irrespective of what they are, you don't have to be victims.
"I realised I could make choices around my values."
Mr Davidson says he doesn't think that people are born homosexual or straight, but may have "heritable characteristics" and "postnatal" experiences which could lead to identifying as gay.
He claims the LGBT lobby is stifling alternative viewpoints.
"Our traditional Christian values are under attack now more than ever," he said.
"It's going to lead to huge confusion amongst children and the disintegration of the nuclear family, and ultimately a meltdown of society as a whole."
A spokeswoman for Vue said: "Management received notification that a private screening request by Core Issues Trust and Christian Concern would be promoting and campaigning for a medical 'cure' to homosexuality.
"After careful consideration of the facts a decision was made to cancel the event."
Gavin Boyd at the Rainbow Project, which works with the LGBT community, welcomed the cancellation of the screening.
He said: "The Rainbow Project remains opposed to unethical and fraudulent practices such as those that aim to change a person's sexual orientation. All conversion/reparative therapies seeking sexual orientation change are rooted in homophobia and therefore can have no ethical framework.
"Conversion/reparative therapy is condemned by mental health, psychiatric and psychological bodies across Europe, North America and Australia because, put simply, they do not work. Our community still disproportionally experiences poor mental health compared to the general population.
"This poor mental health is caused by experiences of homophobia and transphobia - and promoting homophobia, like this film does, is no way to improve anyone's mental health.
"We welcome that the screening has been cancelled and we encourage all LGBT people who are struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity to seek help from reputable professionals providing non-directive support and services."