"Curing" gays turns to killing

The teachings of homosexual "healer" Richard Cohen inspired Uganda's hateful new legislation

Published December 8, 2009 6:30PM (EST)

Last night, Rachel Maddow continued her "Uganda Be Kidding Me" segment by identifying an important source of inspiration for the country's "gay-killing" legislation: Richard Cohen, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay" turned homosexual "healer." A staff member from his organization, the International Healing Foundation, traveled to Uganda in March to lead a "pray the gay away" event and, soon after, Cohen's book, "Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality," was used as the primary teaching material for the anti-gay workshop that is directly credited with bringing about this disturbing measure.

Longtime Salon readers might recognize the name: Mark Benjamin wrote about Cohen in his four-part series on "curing" same-sex desires. Cohen also stirred up quite the media storm a few years back with an appearance on CNN in which he demonstrated two therapies for homosexuality: Beating a pillow with a tennis racket and screaming at his mother until he was red in the face ("Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Why did you do that to me?") and cuddling a fully grown gay man in an attempt to simulate a healthy father-son relationship. If there is anything to be learned from the segment, it's that Richard Cohen is a very unwell man in need of therapy -- just not the kind he thinks.

Clearly, we've had plenty of reason over the years to detest his teachings -- but this? This is a despicable new low. When your life's work is used to justify genocide, it might be time for a self-reevaluation. We'll get to find out just what Cohen thinks of his influence on anti-gay Ugandans on Maddow's Tuesday night show. Will he decry the legislation, rally murderous homophobes or take the Rick Warren route and refuse to pass judgment? We'll have to wait and see -- in the meantime, check out this nutty footage.

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(This story has been corrected since it was originally published.)

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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