None of this should change your freedom to choose how to respond to your attractions, but my direct observation of and personal conversations with dozens and dozens confirms what a long-time ex-gay leader recently said about the popular claim among certain organizations and groups that "change is possible": http://wthrockmorton.com/2011/10/10/former-love-in-action-director-i%E2%80%99ve-never-met-a-man-who-experienced-a-change-from-homosexual-to-heterosexual/.
I've noticed a subtle and gradual (if not somewhat disingenuous-seeming) shift in the usage of the word "change" in organizations like Evergreen and Exodus, apparently to sidestep or move away from discussion of reversing orientation, as more voices come out in testimony that few if any people actually change in the way the word has traditionally been used in that setting. There are still organizations like NARTH which endeavor to amass evidence in support of eradicating "sexualized" same-sex attraction in favor of an emerging heterosexual orientation, so it's not like this was the last leg, as some are claiming, but when foundational voices are retracting their conclusions, it certainly raises questions.
After about eight years involved in support groups and gay Mormon social circles, the only two people I've met who claim to have changed from homo- to heterosexual are Journey Into Manhood founders, and I haven't sat down for a real, personal conversation with them to find out if that's even what they really mean when they say they "identify as a straight male", though they know very well how vulnerable, conflicted men will hear it and yearn for it. The claims of those I know of but haven't met are such that any retraction from them would mean loss of therapy fees, book royalties, speaking fees, and the public pride and championing of activist loved ones, so I see a strong incentive for them to convince themselves and others. But I have little or no justification to claim they're just bald-faced liars, and if I could sit down with one, I would listen and try to understand what they mean or have experienced. They might mean that when the temptation to look at erotic images arises, the images tempting them are of women. Maybe they mean men are no longer interesting to them, and they feel magnetically drawn to women now. They might mean they're attracted to men primarily but express that attraction in only friendly ways and deny or refuse to entertain, in any way, the romantic or sexual yearnings that occasionally arise, or call them something else. They may mean they have directed, suppressed, and "re-framed" their attractions to such an extent that they genuinely hardly think about it anymore and live a contentedly "straight" life. But even if they mean the latter, I know few, if any, who achieve that stably before marrying a woman, or before their early thirties, so I'm left wondering how much of that is personal effort and how much is decreased libido and more present priorities and stresses. Unfortunately, those who claim to have changed are understandably guarded, having been verbally assaulted and publicly mocked, so I don't expect to be able to sit down with one.
Some people I personally know have temporarily claimed, in snapshot testimonials, to have eradicated most or all of their same-sex attraction while increasing opposite-sex attraction. But they later privately admitted they'd over-interpreted a decrease in overall sex drive, or increased opposite-sex curiosity or openness (not attraction), or behavioral changes and relationship improvements. They'd mistaken relative absence of obsession and impulsion for lack of same-sex attraction. Nonetheless, saying I've never seen anyone actually change from homosexual to heterosexual is not the same as saying it's absolutely impossible. And I can only speak from my own experience and what others have told me about theirs. I just have never seen anyone "change" in the popularly understood and deliberately intended marketing use of the word, and others who have been on the front lines of larger efforts have periodically made public admissions of similar observation.
Those who speak out in support of "change" use such cleverly crafted wording to make the intended meaning of "change" so nebulous as to obscure any distinction between their change and the sexual, spiritual growth of my straight friends. Heterosexual friends have, seemingly likewise, reached points in their lives when they were no longer troubled by thoughts contrary to their belief system and dominated by obsessive drooling. They've learned emotional intimacy and authenticity and learned not to act on every sexual urge. They're no less "straight": they just...matured.
I don't point this out to keep people from taking a path I chose not to take or to defend my own. I don't point this out to slander individuals. I don't point this out to push legalization of marriage for same-sex couples. I point this out because I've watched friends repeatedly engage in an exhausting effort to change their orientation which led to isolation, depression, emotional dishonesty and detachment, all of which they were convinced would be worth it. But they haven't changed in the ways they hoped, even if they denied they hoped it. I point this out also because I personally know what it's like to see no good to be gained from casting doubt on an ideal goal just because I and everybody I knew hadn't reached it, when in reality nobody among us had reached the legendary goal. I point this out because I believe getting caught up in the ideal of being "fully released from the temptation of same-sex attraction" completely distracts from the truer, more practical and helpful discussion of "whether or not it ever changes, what now?"
If hope is only found in eradication of same-sex attraction, then I know nobody who has real hope. I concede in a theoretical way that it can possibly change for some, but if so, it's very, very few. Not one person among the dozens I know has changed their orientation, not after Journey Into Manhood, years of therapy, years of quietly doing their own thing, or years of being married to a woman. You might want hope it can change. But for most of you, even among those who believe you must never engage in same-sex romantic or sexual relationships, it just won't. Other things will change. Your ability to cope. Your openness to a relationship without the sexual chemistry you yearn for. Your openness to finding real attraction with just the right person to make it work. Your emotional stability. Your social network and support system. Your religious beliefs. Your communication skills. Your relationship intimacy. Your emotional intelligence. Your decisions. Your goals. There's a lot of hope to be found in those kinds of changes.
Maybe one day, someone will figure out a reproducible way to eradicate erotic, romantic, or sexual same-sex attraction, and political pressure will not stifle it. Maybe some day, neurology will advance enough to re-wire anyone for heterosexuality for those who want it (I wonder how many people would choose to become bisexual to increase their options...huh...oh, right: topic at hand). It's conceivable that there will be a way to turn same-sex attraction into opposite-sex attraction. But today, it's just not happening for at least most people, probably all but a very select few, and possibly not for anyone. Maybe a few have changed. Maybe they're more righteous and hard-working. Maybe they wanted it more. Maybe they had just the right combination of therapy, support, desire, belief, chemistry, diligence, divine intervention, and experience. Or maybe they're just an anomaly who understandably think their coincidental effort and desire earned or caused the change. Maybe they're more adept at self-deception or repression. Maybe they're twisting words to make a buck. I don't know, and I don't much care. I just know my friends--the people I personally care about--haven't experienced the coveted 180 degree orientation change...or even 100. And I gave up on assuming it might be due to their supposed "lack of" anything.
Hope, I believe, is not found in the message that your "orientation" can and must "change", or that you can and should attempt to eradicate your same-sex attraction or even make opposite-sex attraction stronger than your same-sex attraction. I believe hope is found in being told you are free to choose to live what you believe and want and that there are ways to make the best of a difficult situation. Hope is found in recognizing the challenges ahead and trusting that you have the strength and support of people who care, not only to endure but to find fullness and joy in life. Hope is being assured you are not a simpering victim of the lions of gay corruption or religious tyranny. My hope was found in facing a tough probability or potential reality--that this might not completely change--dealing with it head-on, being open to what changes might be possible, and refusing to hinge my happiness and spiritual confidence on a specific kind of change that frankly does not come to most despite years of effort. Try to change, if you feel you must, but please, please do not hinge your success, happiness, or self image on eradicating all homosexual feelings.
Change or not, you can do this, and you can find truth and happiness. Something may have to give. You may have to reevaluate the way you look at some things, what you believe to be true, what challenges you're willing to take on, how you see yourself, what attachments you might need to let go of, or what you most want. But hang in there, and know that no matter if you're celibate, married in the temple, adopting children with your same sex partner, an all-around slut, or anywhere in between, you're in really good company if you still and always will most often feel something more instinctual and attractive for a hottie of the same sex walking down the street than a hottie of the opposite sex.