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Why would anyone with homosexual attractions try to “go straight”?

According to conventional wisdom, the answer is inevitably “internalized homophobia” or societal pressure.

But a new survey of almost 200 same-sex-attracted men who are pursuing change paints a very different picture: Out of 18 possible motivations listed in the survey, outside pressure was the least frequently cited motivating factor reported by the 189 survey respondents.

The most frequently cited motivation was a desire to heal emotional hurts that respondents believe contributed to their same-sex attractions (SSA) to begin with.

The desire to heal emotional pain was cited as a major motivator by 77% of respondents, compared to 22% who identified “outside pressure” as a major motivator.

In fact, just 3% identified outside pressure as one of the three main reasons they were seeking change.

The survey was conducted by People Can Change, a non-profit, non-religious self-help organization of men who have overcome unwanted homosexual attractions and who now support others who seek similar change.

On average, each respondent identified 14 of the 18 factors as contributing to their desire to change.

Other factors identified as major motivators include: – personal spirituality – 68% – desire for wife and children – 66% – religious teachings – 63% – desire for nonsexual male friendships -63% – conscience – 63% – expectation of unhappiness in gay life – 63%.

Richard Wyler, a professional life coach who is the founder and executive director of People Can Change, summarized, “This survey indicates that same-sex- attracted men who seek change may be less influenced by outside pressure or shame than is generally assumed. Rather, they are more often motivated by their personal spirituality, deeply held values and beliefs, a desire to have a family, and a desire to heal emotional pain.”

The current survey didn’t explore perceived “root causes,” but a 2004 survey by People Can Change found that men seeking to overcome SSA most frequently perceived the root causes of their own attractions to be:

– a history of father-son relationship problems,

– a history of problems relating with male peers,

– unhealthy mother-son relationships,

– a history of sexual abuse, and

– individual personality traits.

Complete summaries of both surveys are available at

[VIRGINIA, 13July06]; Abst Clrnghse, 13Sept06]