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Together, they opened up JONAH in Jersey City, and began offering referrals to conversion therapy practitioners.
(The acronym originally stood for Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality; the last word has since been switched out for “Healing.”)Goldberg became the organization’s public face.
Despite that thin resume, Arthur Goldberg, the man who started and still runs JONAH, often boasted that Downing was “an expert in the field” of turning gay men straight.
Like many conversion therapists, Downing claims he has been “cured” of homosexuality, or, in the jargon preferred by the industry, he has “overcome” his “unwanted SSA,” same-sex attraction.
Arthur Goldberg opened it in 1999, 10 years after the “ one-time Wall Street wunderkind ” (in the words of the ) was convicted in a wide-ranging bond fraud scandal; his firm lured low-income communities into the municipal-bond business, and then issued millions of dollars worth of bonds for housing projects and trash plants that never got built. Louis with a bogus 3 million bond for a river port that was never constructed, and referred to selling bonds to Guam as "selling bonds to the cannibals," according to an FBI report.
Goldberg, who also held a law degree, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and disbarred.
“Smooth skinned, no facial, attracted to buttocks,” Downing wrote next to one man’s name.
In the middle of one notebook page, Unger’s therapist, Alan Downing, had drawn a stick figure with a bulging gluteus maximus, annotated with truncated phrases—“butt = I am cute,” “play with me” and “fluffy butt.” Below the stick figure, he had written, “Explored his attraction to male butts.
Could be dominance, vulnerability, innocence, connection.”This drawing was put into evidence as Unger, now 28, was questioned by David Dinielli, a senior attorney in a legal team representing Unger, his friend Chaim Levin, 26, and two other young men.
It was all part of the therapy, practiced on tens of thousands of young men in the U. and abroad, by a wide network of “life coaches” like Downing.
For years, very little was known about these methods.
He’d known gay-conversion is a cruel fraud, but he hadn’t realized how deeply perverse it is.