This Week’s Special Victim: The Truth

I didn’t see it. Alas, I missed the November 11 episode of Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit (SVU) called “Abomination.” The show upset many of my friends and colleagues. Why were they upset? A look at the description of the episode on the NBC website told me plenty. Basically, a young gay man was murdered by a professor who was afraid the young man would expose the lack of success of sexual re-education efforts. Several of my friends who have changed sexual identity were pretty bothered that the show presented change efforts in such a bizarre light. Though it is only a television show, I can’t say I blame them.

The episode had ripple effects. On the November 14th Bill O’Reilly show, the SVU episode was discussed by O’Reilly and Dr. Fred Berlin, professor of psychiatry of Johns Hopkins University. O’Reilly asked his guest:

..”Now some people got mad at this NBC program because they kind of said people ..who try to change homosexuals to heterosexuals are doing damage to society in ..general…Do you concur?”

To which, Dr. Berlin replied, “If somebody is content being a homosexual and is just troubled by the way in which society treats them, I’m not looking to change orientation, I’m trying to help them deal more comfortably with society. But if a person comes to me and for religious or personal convictions they’d like to try to lead a heterosexual rather than a homosexual lifestyle, I want to tell them that’s going to be difficult, but I’m willing to work with them and try to help them succeed.”

Aha! Where was Professor Berlin on the night of November 11th? So according to the good doctor, it is possible to change and such efforts are not a menace to society! So where in the world did the writers of the Law & Order: SVU show get the idea to approach the subject of sexual reorientation with murder in mind? I have a clue.

A look at the Law & Order: SVU website discloses the organizations consulted by the writers to glean information concerning matters sexual. The page says the writers rely on these organizations to provide “accurate and timely information” concerning health and sexual issues. A quick look at the five organizations listed reveals no organization that would be able to comment intelligently on ex-gay issues. In fact, I suspect some of the mischief depicted in the abominable episode may have resulted from consultation with the Media Project, a program sponsored by Advocates for Youth. Advocates for Youth is a group that has a lot to say about gay and lesbian “youth” but nothing good to say about the possibility of sexual reorientation. In fact, on their website for youth, Advocates for Youth cites the tired old cliches about reorientation counseling being harmful and ineffective. If Law & Order: SVU relied on the Media Project for information concerning sexual reorientation, then I can see how the writers came to their biased and prejudicial story line.

Here’s an irony for you. On the Advocates for Youth website, one of the resources recommended to teach school children about sexual orientation is the video “It’s Elementary.” One of my friends, Noe’ Gutierrez, is in that video as a young gay man making the case for recognition of gay and lesbian youth as sexual minorities. Noe’ identified as a gay man at the time the video was filmed. However, some time later, Noe’ decided that living as a gay man was not consistent with his values or his faith and so began a process of transformation from gay to straight. You can read more about Noe’s story of change at

As far as I know the “It’s Elementary” video is still being used in schools. Do you think anyone using it discloses to students that one of the individuals featured is now not a gay man? I wonder if the Media Project of Advocates for Youth would disclose such a thing to their television clientele? I suspect if such disclosure was the norm then the plot line of certain television shows would be different. Actually the secret that very few in Hollywood want out is that people do change their sexuality and that it happens all the time.

Wherever the writers of the Law & Order: SVU episode got their plot line, a crime was committed the night of November 11th. I maintain the main victim in the episode was the truth.