From Gay to Straight? Controversial Retreat Helps Men Deal With 'Unwanted Attraction'

"With same-sex attraction a lot of what keeps men from making the progress they want to make is not stepping into their fears. And when they can step into their fears -- start telling people, start asking for support...then they can start making some of the progress they were hoping to make," Wyler explained.

Later in the day, Wyler leads the men through an exercise where they get in touch with their "inner child." He plays children's music and tosses crayons onto the floor. He then instructs the participants to draw with their non-dominant hand so they can channel childhood memories and emotions.

"Part of that little boy is still in you today, welcome him," Wyler told the group. "Draw a picture of him, it might be him playing, it might be some event happening, or it might just be the energy that he held."

As in other "gay reparative" programs, the men are taught that their same-sex attractions are rooted in childhood traumas that pulled them away from male figures.

In order to change, Wyler says the men need to fulfill their needs for male attention through non-sexual platonic bonding.

"It's not about suppressing my same-sex attraction, it's about fulfilling it in non sexual gender affirming ways...we don't get rid of it, we transform it," said Wyler to the group of men.

Critics Say Retreat Doesn't Let Participants Accept Who They Are

Though he admits he is sometimes still sexually attracted to men, Preston says the retreat has helped him become much more attracted to his wife. But it hasn't been quick or easy.

"That's pretty hard to just, now I'm going to be attracted to women, now I'm going to be attracted to men -- that doesn't work." He said. "I've had to work on my sense of self and as a result the attraction has progressed."

Despite living in a world that is now more accepting of openly gay people and gay parents, Preston said it was still not the path he wanted.

"I could be a better father married to my wife and having children in those bounds," he said.

The retreat doesn't come without its controversies and not everyone supports what the "People Can Change" program is trying to accomplish.

Russ Baker-Gorringe is an outspoken critic of these programs, and said he had rare insight into such groups because he helped start one called "Evergreen".

"I feel very sorry for them. I understand it as someone who came from that same belief system," he said. "It took me 45 years of fighting with myself to accept who I was...that's a long time."

A faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gorringe was married to a woman for 25 years and had five children. He said he felt so much turmoil from hiding his homosexuality that he tried taking his own life.

"I think a person a can live a heterosexual life even though they may be gay and they may have a different level of happiness but...they are not being true to themselves, they're not being a person of integrity because you're living a lie. You're very existence is a lie," he said.

Gorringe argued that such therapy is destructive not only to the young men who go through it, but also to the women who end up married to men with such conflicts.

"Forget what your church leaders have been telling you, forget the propaganda that you have been given, and listen to what your heart tells you," he said.

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