No matter how far or fast you run, you can never escape from who you are. These are the stories of people who were forced to try.
Thanks to the brave people who shared their stories on AskReddit. Link on the last page.
19. My husband went to a camp that was meant to cure LGBT teens.
He says that they would wake the kids up in the morning and each teen would have a one on one session with the leader. He would try to make them avoid their “temptation” during the session. He would show them nude photos of men/women. Some of it was of gay sex.
They would watch group videos on the dangers of being gay and the risk factors associated with it such as contracting HIV, not being able to have children, being kicked out of your house, not having your church accept you. They would have their graduates of the camp come in and talk about avoiding temptation and how you can learn to live the way that god intended.
They also had the teens walk out in the community with signs that said, “I am Gay. Help me avoid temptation.” It was part of the process because you apparently need the communities support in order to help you become straight.
My husband didn’t complete the program and was kicked out of his house by his parents. Fortunately, he had an aunt that was more than willing to allow him to live with her family.
It worked out well in the end, but as far as my husband knows, the camp is still ongoing. They just opened it to more kids with different issues, but LGBT youth still attend. It is pretty sad honestly. And we DO in fact have children and neither of us spontaneously contracted HIV, so I hope they update that video.
18. One of my close friends told his mom he was gay in early high school. She is very, very conservative and started having him go to a pray away the gay counsellor. He never said anything about it being abusive or obscene, but it made him homophobic for about three years before he found a boyfriend. The happy ending is that his parents have gotten past it and they are all pretty happy.
17. Im a gay “conversion therapy” survivor. No electrodes, just lifelong psychiatric trauma. (continued…)
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I was raised in a Southern Baptist church in Virginia. I realized I was into guys when I was in fifth grade and had a huge crush on a guy in my class. I told my parents I was gay two years later. My mom quietly contacted someone at the church and he referred my parents to a Christian “counselor” about thirty minutes from my house.
The first appointment was bizarre. He’d only refer to me being gay as “my ailment. There were a lot of graphs about human desire and God being the source of that desire if I just “let his desire in.”
I went for about four months, until my (female) best friend hatched a plan to become my beard so I could get out of going. It worked and she is one of my closest friends to this day. After every session, Id be tearful and my mom would do everything she could to cheer me up. I would cry because I felt I disappointed her by being gay.
I stopped going at 15. At 17 I came out again and stayed out, refusing to go to “counseling” again. I don’t harbor any ill will. My parents were doing what they thought was best for me, though it’s created a beast of internalized homophobia and self-doubt.
I’m getting married in July. His name is Sam and he is the light of my life. I’ve invited my parents and even though it’s been almost 10 years since I came out, I still don’t know if they’ll come.
16. Intake therapist here at a community mental health agency. I see about 4 new clients every day, and have heard more than one story about gay conversion therapy…and it’s never been referenced with a positive (or even neutral) light. And it’s usually a factor in why they’re coming back in for service.
15. I was around 20 years old when I met “Juan” (changed obviously), He was also around the same age. We immediately hit it off soon spending every moment together. He loved playing the guitar and was an amazing artist. Continually making charcoal drawings of everything and anything.
“Juan” came from a VERY Traditional Catholic Mexican family. His parents did not speak much English and were deeply rooted in “traditional” ways of doing things. Things went downhill after his sister outed him to his parents.
Over a period of about two months he went from being happy and optimistic about life to depressed and negative. He informed me that his parents were sending him to Mexico to a “camp” and he didn’t have any choice. (continued…)
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He told me that he wouldn’t change and this would prove to his parents that he couldn’t change and they would have to accept him. He would be gone for 3 months.
I learned he had returned from a mutual friend of his brothers, he had never contacted me even having been back home for over 2 weeks. His phone was disconnected, and when I finally found a way to see him he told me he had made a terrible mistake and he was sorry. He dropped all ties with everybody in his life prior to going to the camp.
I quickly learned from my friend that when he returned his parents had arranged a marriage to a girl from Mexico who had also attended the same camp. I assumed he had made a life for himself, even if I was not part of it.
Years later I found out his wife had a miscarriage around 6 months, and went back to Mexico, “Juan” committed suicide shortly after.
It’s been almost 20 years, I still think about how everything happened, and what I could do to have changed it.
If you are a parent reading this, thinking this is an answer to cure” your child understand the stakes.
14. At my mother’s insistence, I went to one “session,” where I met with a “counselor” who spent a good 45 minutes explaining to me that only prayer would save me from the AIDS I had contracted. I was 17 and had never had sex with anyone.
My mom still thinks I have AIDS. She doesn’t answer when I call.
13. My friend’s parents found out he was gay when he was like 15/16, and he was subjected to a lot of mistreatment. His parents took him to a psychiatrist, where he was given pills and was also told that the gay behavior is a copycat of someone from society, and he just replicated the lifestyle.
His parents physically abused him, embarrassed him publicly, they took his cellphone, forbid him to use social media and prevented him from going out. He ended up okay, still gay, and with a boyfriend.
12. My mom sent me to a really homophobic counsellor, which messed me up but I wouldnt call it “conversion therapy”. It was definitely traumatic though. (continued)
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She had an office in the top of a church, I had to sit there and listen to her talk about how I’m a lesbian because I was molested, or because my father never loved me (actual words! She went to my mom and asked what the cause could have been, and those were the two conclusions.)
The worst part was talking about being sexually attracted to a girl in my class while Jesus stares down at me from a Last Supper painting. I got out when I broke up with my girlfriend and was considered “cured.”
11. My cousin (now in his mid40s) first came out to his parents as a young teen. They freaked out and sent him to conversion therapy camp. He kept quiet for a couple years and by the time he was ready to be more vocal his parents had done a lot of personal growth and became some of the most involved parents out there.
My uncle is always, always wearing his pink triangle “I love my gay son” pin. I remember different boyfriends being brought around their house when my cousin was in his early 20s. Then he met his husband and his parents helped fight for the legislation in their area to allow them to marry. They’ve had I think 4 weddings though I may be forgetting one at this point as it’s been legalized and then repealed and then legalized again in their area.
10. My parents thought they were helping me (my dad is a pastor) so they got a recommendation to take me to a “psychologist” in North Carolina who was really just a preacher my dad got connected to. I went to two meetings before telling my mom if I went back there again it would kill me. Me and the fam get along a lot better now.
9. I was lucky. My youth pastor prayed over me and tried to “cast out the demons of perversion” and then kind of left it at that. I knew other kids who weren’t so fortunate.
8. I had an ex that had to go through the camp. She wouldn’t talk about it much or her family for that matter. All she ever said was that she “graduated the camp” was “straight” for six months till her mom found out she was lying. Her mom then threatened her with a knife. (continued…)
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So she ran away from home at16 with nothing but the clothes on her back. Her best friends parents adopted her in. Poor thing had severe PTSD from the whole experience. Night terrors, screaming, sweating, crying, certain things would set her off. Like thousand yard stare set her off.
One night I tried to wake her from a particularly bad night terror and she punched me square in the face. When she woke up she started to cry and apologize, I always felt so sorry for her, and so helpless cause there was nothing I could do other than listen and hold her when she needed it.
7. I managed to get by with little more than a talking-to from my pastor, but I heard stories of a lot of weird stuff from friends who went through it. Forcing the kids to dress a certain way and act in exaggeratedly masculine or feminine ways, pairing off the kids in couples and making them “practice” dating (this was never elaborated to me and I didn’t ask), showing the kids porn, all kinds of messed up stuff.
6. The best example I can offer is this:
A gay tuba player I know went through “conversion therapy.” He said, “It was like being told I should play the violin, instead of the tuba.”
He tried it.
Now he’s happily married to his gay partner, and proud of it.
5. Dated a woman that was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. She lived a very closeted life in her 20’s. In her 30’s, she confessed to someone at her church about her ‘sins’. They put her in a variation of a 12-step program for curing her gayness.
They encourage members of this program to date and marry and so she married a guy. They told her if she just prayed hard enough, Jesus would heal her.
In her mid 40’s she decided she was tired of living a lie. That’s when I met her. While there was a part of her that wanted to be with women, she was so brain washed by her church, she just couldn’t fully walk away. After a year we stopped dating and she went back to her husband.
4. When I was 24, I was recruited to go to a year-long ministry in California where I lived with 35 other guys who were also trying not to be gay. We lived a fundamentalist, almost cult-like existence. Three months in, one of the leadership trainees had fallen in love with me and relentlessly pursued me. (continued)
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We carried on a secret affair for months. He would beg me not to tell anyone because he’d lose his female fiance and his job with the ministry. By August, I was near suicide and decided to leave on my own.
He followed me, convinced me to travel across the country with him so that he could fulfill some sexual fantasies – think, nude oil wrestling in a motel in Tucumcari, NM – and then dumped me outside Memphis, telling me that God could never bless us being together. It was all insane. It took me years and years to mostly get over it. Conversion therapy is evil.
3. My husband went through it when he was 17 (we are mid 40s). He wound up trying to kill himself. He refused to continue so his parents kicked him out, refused to provide him financial info for his college applications, so he wound up on a roller coaster of poverty and homelessness while trying to get through college, which he did.
Strangely enough as they approached old age he asked that we move back to his home state (Utah, shocker) so he could forgive and reconcile with them before they died. His mom died last year and we let her and the dad pretend they were A-OK parents. I don’t get it, but my husband says forgiveness is a gift he gave himself.
2. Well, at a very young age my Dad got a ‘counsellor’ to talk to me about being a man, because I played with a baby doll as a child. It didn’t last long, but it screwed me up pretty bad.
Took me 11 years to come out of the closet, and my dad didn’t know for 5 more.
1. I have a friend whose parents sent him to a doctor back in India to “convert” him. To prove it was successful, he had to sleep with a woman. He popped a viagra and did the deed.
This was all so that he wouldn’t be cut out of his inheritance. It was “voluntary,” but the poor dude was in his mid-20s and had been completely coddled by his parents, so he didn’t really know how to exist on his own. He was the only child, and he stands to inherit millions, so he puts up with it while sneaking out to gay bathhouses when he can.
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