Conversion therapy is a barbaric practice based in pseudo-science and religious zealotry. As of August 8th, 2014, it is only banned in two states – New Jersey and California. On December 2nd, Washington DC banned it’s use in minors. Nationwide, bans have been introduced in Michigan, voted down in Virginia and Illinois, and stalled in ten other states.
Survivors of this insane (and it is insane in the cruelest of ways) abusive, and completely ineffective “treatment” often endure more psychological damage from their “reparative therapy” than any one human should ever go through.
“Pray The Gay Away” camps are still rampant in the middle and southern regions of the United States. These church-run camps are where ignorant parents send their gay offspring, should that child come out of the closet.
The book Youth in Crisis by Mitchell Gold speaks to the damaging effects of the stifling, stunted, and backwards belief systems associated with “Praying the gay away”:
Rather than resolving conflicts, reparative therapy programs create new ones by falsely promising gay people who are unhappy with their sexual orientation that they can become heterosexual. When gay men and women find that they can’t change, they end up with feelings of guilt and failure that lead to depression, loss of friends and social support, addictive behaviors, and substance abuse.
The methodology used by the therapists conducting conversion therapy in order to “cure” their patients ranges from estrogen for males (to quell their libido), to electroconvulsive therapy. The theory behind the latter treatment (and it is painful to use “treatment” and not “torture”) is that the seizure will somehow rearrange the “faulty” wiring in the subject’s mind, and somehow trigger heterosexuality.
Great numbers of the LGBTQ community have suffered the immense traumas that come with being an openly gay child or teen in conservative America, often repeatedly, and with tragic results. The toxic and completely detrimental practice of conversion therapy is a singular American experience.
When an individual is told that an essential part of them is wrong and terrible, that their god hates them for what they can’t help, that they are going to hell for being their natural self, the end results are often tragic. The American Psychiatric Association states:
The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.
The LGBTQ community in the United States must work towards a national ban on this outmoded, and, frankly, cruel practice that has been built on a foundation of bigotry and lies. Parents should not be able to send their children away to be “fixed” or create an impossible transformation in a perfectly healthy human being.