Aesthetic Realism is a cult
Who they are, how they operate • Written by former members

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Kicked out for remaining a lesbian

by Miss Brown, July 2017

Editor's note:  Aesthetic Realism offered its "gay cure" until the early 90s, when they discontinued it because of the negative attention they were getting, and because it clearly didn't work (not because they had a change of heart—they didn't; to this day, Aesthetic Realists believe that homosexuality is an affliction caused by one's contempt for the world).  AR never changed anyone's orientation, but after some number of lessons the AR leaders typically declared that the students had changed and browbeat the students into "admitting" it.  Many of the students sheepishly claimed they had indeed changed, partially because they'd been told they had, partially because they wanted to believe they'd changed, and partially because they didn't want to disappoint the AR teachers.  But there were some, like Miss Brown, who knew they hadn't changed and said so.  Knowing that these students couldn't successfully be brainwashed, AR simply kicked them out.  Miss Brown's account below is sadly typical.

In my early 30s, I was very troubled and looked for the answer to my pain in conservative Christian churches.  I spent most of my time in a small church which said its members would be the only ones to go to heaven.  Around that time, I had strong romantic feelings for another woman, and I thought I needed help so I could be able to fall in love with a man.  I asked my friends at church for help but the only thing they could offer was to say, "Don't you know the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong?"  So when I heard that Aesthetic Realism said they could help women to not be attracted to other women, I was elated!  I thought I would finally find the answer to overcome the troublesome feelings I had.  I promptly signed up for the consultations.

At first, my three women consultants were very kind and helpful, and I felt very close to them and admired them greatly.  They told me there was hope to be freed from the attraction to other women, and I was excited.  They said that those feelings came from things like wanting power over other women, and having contempt for others.  I was studious, and did every assignment they gave me and did the best I could.  But as time wore on, I didn't feel my lesbian feelings were changing and they got more and more impatient with me.  They started yelling at me.  They gave me an assignment to write a paper about how I was a snob to Aesthetic Realism and Eli Siegel because of my religion.  Once after my brother said something critical of Eli Siegel, I told them about it and they yelled at me and said that if I let him say that, then I myself wanted to say that about Siegel.  What was I supposed to do?  Hold his mouth shut?

“If your philosophy is about liking the world, and respect instead of contempt, how is the above consistent with that?!”

Finally, after 15 months, they kicked me out of consultations.  I begged them to let me stay, to no avail.  They said that they had kicked out other women like myself who hadn't progressed in overcoming their lesbian thoughts.  This was news to me — when I had started consultations, they never gave me any indication that I might not succeed.  And here were three women whom I thought the world of, speaking angrily to me and telling me I was no longer wanted there.  I was devastated!  I felt rejected, and thought that I was a terrible person.  But even as they were kicking me out the door, they still wanted credit for supposedly helping me, saying, "Aesthetic Realism has helped you, Miss Brown.  You have a softer look than when you first came to us."  I begged them for the tape of that last consultation but they wouldn't give it to me.  I think they were afraid I would go to 60 Minutes with it.  It's no wonder, because the tape certainly wouldn't reflect well on them:  they not only failed to stop my lesbian thoughts, but they were also mean to me on top of that.  Recently I told a therapist about this and she said, "Well, you didn't want to be lesbian, and they said they could help you with that, but then they kicked you out.  I think that was abusive."

At that last consultation, they said I could come back after awhile, but when I wrote them later and asked if I could return, they said no.  Since that time, I wrote to my consultants on many occasions but each letter was ignored.  Many of these letters were apologetic and kind and hospitable.  In one, I told of my brother's death.  In another, I offered to treat my consultant and her husband to dinner if they traveled through my area.  No response to any of them.

Now, I have a question:  If your philosophy is about liking the world, and respect instead of contempt, how is the above consistent with that?!

Aesthetic Realism at a Glance


The Aesthetic Realism Foundation




Eli Siegel, poet & art/literary critic.
Committed suicide in 1978.


To get the world to realize that Eli Siegel was the greatest person who ever lived, and that Aesthetic Realism is the most important knowledge, ever.


We have a tendency to look down on others to make ourselves seem superior by comparison (contempt).  Every single problem in the world (including homosexuality) is the result of contempt.  By studying AR, we can learn to purge our contempt so the world will be perfect.  Also, beauty comes from the contrast of opposites.


New York City (SoHo)


About 66, as of 4/22, as ~23 teachers + ~43 teachers-in-training.  (In 2009 it was ~77 (33+44), and ~29 regular students.  You could consider them members, but I'm not including them in the total.)  Anyway, with only ~66 committed members, much for world domination.

All members call themselves "students", even the leaders/teachers.  Advanced members who teach others are called "consultants".
StatusIn serious decline.
They might have ten years left.

Method of study

Public seminars/lectures at their headquarters (in lower Manhattan), group classes, and individual consultations (three consultants vs. one student) (usually in-person, but also remote).

Cult aspects

  • Fanatical devotion to their leader/founder
  • Belief that they have the one true answer to universal happiness
  • Ultimate purpose is to recruit new members
  • Feeling that they are being persecuted
  • Wild, paranoid reactions to criticism
  • Non-communication (or at least very limited communication) with those who have left the group, and family members who refuse to join
  • Odd, specialized language.

  • More about cult aspects...
The best bits:  Cult aspects of ARDream to NightmareA journalist infiltratesAll the articles

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