Bishop Rees Reviews “In Quiet Desperation”

Robert A. Rees
Robert A. Rees

He Takes Issue with LDS Family Services, AMCAP

by Matt Christensen
December 2005

Robert A. Rees, a former bishop who often counseled with gay Mormons, has just published a review of the book In Quiet Desperation for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

In Quiet Desperation is a two-part book written by Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield. Fred and Marilyn are the parents of Stuart Matis, a young gay LDS who committed suicide in 2000. Ty Mansfield is a gay Mormon from Virginia who has accepted his sexual orientation and decided to remain celibate.

“The responsibility for the negative attitudes toward and treatment of homosexuals is shared by all of us—General Authorities, local and regional ecclesiastical leaders, family and friends, and lay members alike,” writes Bishop Rees. “It is also shared by many in the LDS therapeutic community which, to some degree, has not served Mormon homosexuals well by doggedly persisting in emphasizing reparative or change therapy, by encouraging homosexuals to marry, by marginalizing therapists who have taken a broader view of homosexuality, by simplifying the issue in not recognizing the range of sexual attraction, and by attempting to control the dialogue about treatment.”

“Many homosexuals report finding standard treatment by LDS Family Services therapists not only unhelpful, but counterproductive, and in some in stances even destructive,” he adds. “The Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP) has seemed particularly resistant to any challenge to the standard position. There are, of course, examples of courageous therapists who have been willing to consider different points of view and employ alternate therapeutic treatment.”

Bishop Rees knew Stuart Matis and counseled with him before Stuart’s suicide. Rees has written about his experiences in “Requiem for a Gay Mormon: In Memory of Henry Stuart Matis” and in “‘In a Dark Time the Eye Begins to See’: Personal Reflections on Homosexuality among the Mormons at the Beginning of the New Millennium” (Dialogue 33:3 [Fall 2000]: 137-151).

To see Bishop Rees’s full review, go to www.dialoguejournal.com/excerpts/38-4a.pdf (PDF document).