Editor Seth Bracken of Q Salt Lake, a publication for LGBTQ people in Utah, just posted a story about a Utah man who hanged himself after imbibing a lifetime of Mormon homophobic self-hatred. He was rescued in the nick of time by his mother, who faced the horrifying task of cutting him down from the rope, but who also probably had plenty to do with the indoctrination that led him to suicidal despair. She, too, may well have been force-fed groundless hatred at a vulnerable age. (That kind of transgenerational cultural blindness is what I think of when I hear “the sins of the fathers will be visited on the sons.” That was no curse. It was an observation.)

This pitiable gay man, born by ill luck into one of the most homophobic social groups in the country, if not the world, literally bought into the ex-gay propaganda that Mormon culture sells to people like him. He tried “reparative” therapy at Evergreen International; he tried it at LDS Family Services; and he paid hundreds to try Journey into Manhood, run by “ex-gay” Rich Wyler, whose exploits on NPR and elsewhere have been covered in detail by TWO.

Mr. Wyler made a revealing statement with regard to the American Psychological Association’s condemnation of “reparative” therapy.

“They (the APA) have such a high standard for research, it’s almost impossible to meet,” Wyler said. “They require a control group and a reputable organization and continue to disregard research that doesn’t have these things.”

This, too, is pitiable. Mr. Wyler has not just uncritically internalized his subculture’s homophobia–he appears to regard the fundamental tenets of science as mere annoying inconveniences. This statement underscores why many progressives like to say that we’re living in the reality-based community. And yet people like Mr. Wyler must read weather reports, take vitamins, drive across bridges, and do all the millions of other things that owe their existence to science. Maybe those things exist in a dream world for them.

I think most people, even haters, have good intentions; conscienceless sociopaths are in the minority. And I think that, given enough time and care, people with good intentions can learn to understand each other’s points of view. But Mr. Wyler’s statement made me suspect I’m being naive. How does one go about debating a man like this? How could we ever find a set of axioms to agree on?

By the way: Evergreen International and Journey into Manhood will be holding conferences in Utah in September, thus perpetuating their non-reality-based, suicide-provoking work. The reality-based community needs to represent.