In part two of Anderson Cooper 360's
look at the consequences of social conservative George Rekers'
experiments on young children to alter their perceived sexuality,
Rekers denies culpability in the suicide of one of his victims.
Rekers made headlines last year when
the Miami New Times exposed the ex-gay leader as having hired
a male prostitute off the pageviews of gay website RentBoy.com.
Jo-Vanni Roman was paid by Rekers to escort the 62-year-old on a
European vacation. In various interviews, Roman claimed Rekers was
gay, saying he provided his client with daily body rubs in the nude
while the pair vacationed, but added that he never slept with his
scandal forced Rekers to resign from the board of the National
Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH),
an ex-gay group that claims being gay can – and should – be
Cooper's three-part special report
looks at the shattered life of Kirk Murphy. At the age of 5 Murphy's
mother enrolled him in a government-funded gender research study
helmed by Dr. Ivor Lovaas and Rekers, then a doctoral student, at
UCLA, in which Rekers attempted to “spank” the gay out of Murphy,
who preferred playing with dolls over trucks.
Rekers called the experiment, which
subjected Murphy and other children to various punishments to alter
their behavior, a success.
“In 1974, Lovaas and Rekers jointly
published a paper about the boy they renamed 'Kraig,' heralding his
treatment for 'childhood cross-gender problems' a success and
claiming he had been transformed from a 'gender-confused
homosexual-in-waiting' to a healthy, heterosexual young man,”
Cooper reports on the program. “On the back of this study, Rekers
built a career as an anti-gay activist and a supposed expert in
childhood sexual development. He co-founded the Family Research
Council and championed reparative therapy to turn gay men straight.”
In 1985, Murphy acknowledged to his
family that he was gay but he was never able to develop a committed
relationship. In 2003, at the age of 38, he committed suicide.
(Video of part one of Cooper's special report The 'Sissy Boy'
Experiment is embedded in the right panel of this page.)
Rekers denied his therapy played a part
in Murphy's death, telling CNN it “would be inaccurate to assume”
Murphy killed himself as a result of the experiments.
“But I do grieve for the parents now
that you've told me the news,” he added. “I think that's very