LOCAL NEWS

Popular Utah Conversion Therapist Comes Out: ‘I Am Gay’

Jan 24, 2019, 10:00 PM | Updated: 11:08 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A popular Utah therapist has apologized for his work with conversion therapy among the LGBTQ community, after coming out as a gay man.

In his work as a therapist, David Matheson worked for years to convert gay men into becoming heterosexual.

David Matheson

“I am gay.”

Three words some never expected to hear from David Matheson. He spoke with KSL reporter Heather Simonsen after garnering worldwide attention from several news outlets.

“I’ve always been bi-sexual, meaning that I had attractions to girls and also to guys,” the Salt Lake City resident said.

He was once a prominent “conversion therapist,” touting a practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation. He was married to a woman for 34 years and has three grown children.

Matheson said he is now looking for a gay partner. The news has caused outcry around the world, among critics who are calling him a fraud.

Almost 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have received conversion therapy. It’s a practice some say is cruel, including Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia.

His critics have warned against the practice they say doesn’t work.

“David Matheson has ruined a lot of lives in Utah. He has harmed a lot of people. There are people who will want their money back,” said Besen.

One of those people was Chaim Levin, a former orthodox Jew, who in 2007 tried two programs Matheson designed. He said the programs were abusive and traumatic.

“This man made a lot of money off of these programs. This was his living, and many people, including people who did not have a lot of money, paid him for his services that were a complete fraud,” said Levin, who lives in New York City.

Simonsen asked Matheson what he would say to people who believe he hurt them.

“I would say, ‘I’m sorry,’” Matheson said.

“Is sorry enough?” Simonsen asked.

“I don’t know,” Matheson replied.

“What about people who say they paid money, they placed trust, and it was betrayed?” Simonsen asked.

“Again, I’m very sorry,” said Matheson, still an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “My core faith is unchanged. The core principals, the core concepts in the church, I believe them. I feel them as strongly as I ever did.”

Despite his faith, Matheson said he now faces an impasse.

“I can no longer live without an intimate partnership with another man,” he said.

Matheson said he’s looking for opportunities to make amends with people he may have hurt.

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Popular Utah Conversion Therapist Comes Out: ‘I Am Gay’