A Florida psychologist who has compared homosexuality to obsessive-compulsive disorder and claimed that he could change clients’ sexual orientation through therapy was found soliciting “hookups” on gay dating apps, according to LGBTQ nonprofit Truth Wins Out.
Norman Goldwasser, clinical director of Horizon Psychological Services in Miami Beach, Florida, allegedly used the screen name “hotnhairy72” to meet other men on Manhunt and Gay Bear Nation. The Manhunt profile, which has since been deleted, includes several nude images that appear to be of Goldwasser and lists a number of interests, including “dating,” “kissing,” “married men,” “massage” and a series of more explicit activities, according to screenshots provided to NBC News by Truth Wins Out.
Wayne Besen, the founder and executive director of Truth Wins Out and author of the 2003 book “Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth,” said his organization was alerted to Goldwasser’s alleged profile by someone who claimed to have been one of the licensed psychologist’s former “gay conversion therapy” patients.
Besen said after receiving the tip, he created a fake profile for “Brandon” to try to connect with Goldwasser directly. Goldwasser then allegedly offered to meet with “Brandon” at a Fort Lauderdale motel room. Besen eventually revealed that there was no "Brandon" and confronted Goldwasser about his promotion of "gay conversion therapy."
Besen said Goldwasser initially tried to deny it was him on the gay hookup apps, but eventually admitted they were his profiles.
“I promptly texted the Manhunt screenshot,” Besen said. “He then called me and confessed, begging for mercy.”
The number Besen said he used to communicate with Goldwasser is listed as belonging to Norman Goldwasser on several different websites, and when NBC News called the number, the voicemail greeting claims to be that of Norman Goldwasser of Horizon Psychological Services.
NBC News contacted Goldwasser by phone and email to inquire about his views on homosexuality, "gay conversion therapy" and his alleged gay dating profiles. He responded with an emailed statement Tuesday morning.
"The fact that this story and others have been brought to the public is incredibly painful but will become a catalyst for me seeking the right help for myself," Goldwasser stated in an email. "It is sad that despite the fact that I have been able to help many people over the years who have suffered from the effects of child sexual abuse and sexual addiction, I obviously was unable to help myself. There is no justification for my personal behavior and I deeply regret the pain I have caused people in my personal life."
Goldwasser did not immediately respond to NBC News' follow-up questions regarding his current stance on so-called conversion therapy, whether the gay dating profiles unearthed by Truth Wins Out were his and his response to Besen's public claims that Goldwasser is misleading and defrauding patients.
In a message posted to Truth Wins Out’s website, Besen explained that the organization “does not engage in the outing of people participating in ex-gay programs unless there is overwhelming hypocrisy, exchange of commerce, and the threat of harm to LGBT youth.” Goldwasser’s outing “passes all three tests,” the post stated.
“Goldwasser can’t claim his personal life is none of our business when trying to ‘cure’ LGBT people is his business,” Besen continued in the online message. “Here is a case where a charlatan is committing consumer fraud by misleading clients and adversely affecting their mental health.”
So-called gay conversion therapy, also known as "ex-gay therapy" or "reparative therapy," attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has widely been discredited by medical and mental-health associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. The American Psychiatric Association stated that the "potential risks" of this type of therapy "are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."
According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, approximately 700,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults have undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received this treatment as adolescents. Since 2012, 14 states and Washington, D.C., passed laws banning the practice for minors, according to the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project.
Goldwasser, however, has been a proponent of this controversial practice for more than a decade. In 2006, he co-authored a paper titled “Holistic Therapy: A Comprehensive, Clinical Approach to the Treatment of SSA,” where SSA stands for same-sex attraction. In it, he pathologizes homosexuality, comparing it to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In 2010, he wrote an article for conservative website Free Republic where he promoted the now-defunct organization Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), which Quartz recently described as “the biggest Jewish gay ‘conversion therapy’ organization.”
A profile on Psychology Today that claims to be Goldwasser states that he has “extensively worked with a variety of trauma-related challenges such as personality disorders, especially narcissism, OCD and other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, relationship difficulties, and unwanted bisexuality.”