Tributes to the late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi

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On his website, Narth-defector Dr. Throckmorton posted gay activists who commented on Dr. Joseph Nicolosi’s death with the words: “Oh, get over it, Mary!” But there are also other people out there whose voices need to be heard, in spite of loud aggressive joy over Dr. Nicolosi’s death, a joy which is being ventilated all over gay affirmative media by heterophobic activists, trampling on his grave. Let us have a look at what people who actually knew Joe had to say about his death.

In his long career, Joseph wrote several books on homosexuality to explain how therapy can help people who experience sexual distress.

Linda, his wife for 39 years and lifelong collaborator, writes:

Joseph and Linda Nicolosi

“Joe was certainly a larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind guy. Never worried about political correctness, he was happy to swim against the cultural tide when he was sure the culture was going in the wrong direction. That got him into trouble quite a few times. Gay-activist web sites, for example, are still fond of quoting the occasional risqué jokes he made during his life in the public eye, and of showing and re-showing him tossing a microphone back at a rude TV interviewer. But Joe had ardent convictions about the truth of male and female design, and because of his conviction and courage, his awareness that he would face biased reporters didn’t stop him from appearing on Oprah Winfrey, Larry King Live, Hannity and Colmes, O’Reilly Factor, 20/20, Dr. Phil, BBC News, and so on.

Joe had always hoped for his legacy as the creator of Reparative Therapy to go on. His career was dedicated to helping people align their lives with their deeply held convictions. Anyone, he stressed, is free to live his life as gay; but we are inevitably gendered beings, and our fullest humanity calls us to live out our biological design. 

As Joe’s longtime collaborator, I had an inside view of the psychological profession. It was my job to write for NARTH (, which required studying hundreds of articles in the scientific literature, monitoring all of the gay-activist popular literature, collaborating with Joe on his books, and reading biographies of gay men for book reviews. I started out as something of a classical liberal, but what I learned through the years was that true liberalism had been shut down in the psychological profession and that a tyrannical “herd of independent minds” now rules it.

The psychological profession has lost its intellectual integrity. Consider this: psychologists now celebrate the idea of transgenderism.  The project of defying nature— amputating a man’s genitals, pumping him full of synthetic estrogen for the rest of his life, and giving him artificial breasts— is now a legitimate form of treatment for the man who wants to make the futile effort to “re-invent” himself as a woman.

Yet if that same client wanted to see a psychologist to better align his sexual attractions with his sense of himself— that is, if he sees himself as a man who was designed for heterosexuality— most psychologists would scorn his efforts. “You’re gay and you must embrace it,” they’d tell him. The implicit message would be, “We know better than you do, who you really are—and your traditional, nature-based worldview and sense of self have no place in the psychological profession.”

Joe was prevented from speaking on an American Psychological Association (APA) annual convention panel to which he had been invited, and also from joining a key APA task force on homosexuality, by the protests of gay activists. They knew his input could have been pivotal, and they needed him marginalized. (For a taste of their ire, google some of the joyful articles that appeared after his death; other pieces, such as in Salon and New Republic, actively libeled him by saying his therapy involved shock treatment and nausea-inducing drugs.)

Now, because the profession has allowed this intellectual imbalance to occur, the new—and truly urgent—problem, is fear; fear of being a lonely voice of intellectual dissent. Activists have gained a critical mass within the profession, and they have such a stranglehold on psychology, that no one dares defy them.

Joe, however, did persist in defying them. And I thank him for his courage.

On a personal level, he was an outspoken guy who could make a lot of “edgy” jokes that got him into trouble.  He was impatient, sometimes irritable, often impractical.  When we were first married and needed money for basic expenses, he spent all day on his knees pulling weeds in someone’s front yard, and then took the $50 he’d earned, and impulsively bought a beautiful ceramic vase that had caught his eye. 

Although he wasn’t practical, he was a tireless worker. He woke up at 4 a.m. every day to start answering emails at his desk, then took off for the gym. He led a very disciplined life in which his greatest joys were his work (so many times he said to me, “I love my work!…It’s such a privilege to sit with my clients and listen to their stories…I want to do this work until I drop”) and he also loved his extended family and friends. 

Joe Nicolosi and TV-psychologist Dr. Phil

In his free time he literally blasted opera music from his favorite easy chair on the back deck. Listening to a beautiful singing voice literally transported him out of this world and brought tears of ecstasy to his eyes. 

He also loved painting in his little art studio,  and he liked to joke that friends could “get in on a ground-floor investment opportunity” by buying one of his “White Adobe Series” of paintings right now, rather than waiting until their value skyrocketed in the future. (They were probably his least attractive paintings.)

He also loved sitting down to a punctual—precisely 6 p.m.—family dinner that he himself had  cooked, with always far too much food, and always prepared in lavish, 5-star style.  Candles were lit  and cellphones off for an evening of lively family conversation, usually about people, politics, culture, or religion—  our favorite family topics.

And he was tender-hearted.  He often said, “One thing I can’t stand— seeing the suffering of a child or an animal.” He sometimes got himself into trouble when he intervened, publicly, to correct a parent or a pet owner to prevent such suffering.  And he was generous; he always offered our son and myself the better room, the better bed, the best seat in the restaurant— it was second-nature to him to insist that we should take preference.

Joe did care about image, and he liked to make a good appearance.  Yet when I had a bad back during a trip to San Francisco, I told him I could only walk the city streets with the help of two hiking poles.  I was worried about looking silly. “I don’t care one bit how you look—  in fact, I’ll walk with two hiking poles, too, so people can stare at both of us!”  And that’s exactly what we did.

Most of all, Joe Nicolosi was a hero to his son, Joseph, Jr.  Joe, Sr. said many, many times to me, “I would give my life for our son.”  We knew he meant it. Joseph Jr. says he considers his dad “my favorite man on earth.”

My husband was able to give so much to his clients because he had received so much himself. So many times I heard him say, “I had wonderful parents.  They argued, they fought, they even threw dishes around the kitchen. But my brother and I always knew, without any question,  that we came first in their lives.”

He often talked about his dozens of cousins, and the simple, family-centered lives they had enjoyed growing up— when parents  were content (or at least kept any objections to themselves) to center their lives on children and family, and when husband and wives who didn’t get along, made the best of the situation and often ultimately discovered that you don’t run off to “find” a new soulmate, so much as you eventually discover that soulmate right there with you at home.

Joe fully expected to “live to 100.” But, he recently told me, “if my life were to end now, I could die content.”

May he rest in peace.

This tribute was added by Stephen Jacobs on 25th April 2017

“Thank you Dr Nicolosi for representing the rights/education/wisdom and understanding of those with unwanted SSA. Thank you enduring the fight! Missed but never forgotten. — Stephen Jacob.