11 LGBT People Share Their Experience With Anti-Homosexual Therapy And It’s Horrifying.
People who underwent religious anti-homosexual therapy were asked: "What was your experience like?" These are some of the best answers.
1/11 Ex-catholic here. Was told that because homosexuals are only love giving and self giving, but not life giving, it is condemned. Absolute bullsh*t.
2/11 I was sent to a few different Christian counselors by my parents when I came out. The first guy they sent me to was unbelievably harsh and angry. I was an very shy and timid 18 year old who had just graduated from an extremely rigid Christian high school so I had heard all of the reasons being gay was bad before, and I was used to being kind of stoic and not letting my emotions show through, but this man was just beyond anything I could've imagined. I went to him every weekday for two weeks straight and the sessions were just two hours of this guy berating me and yelling at me and telling me how I was doomed to hell and that sex with men would never satisfy me the way God could. One line that is burned in my memory forever is "there is a hole in your heart that a man's genitals cannot fill" just because it was super weird and if I had not been so frightened, I probably would have laughed.
Anyway I usually just cried my way through the sessions and I rarely responded to him, eventually my mom realized this was not working so she stopped making me go to him. Next, I talked to the pastor of the church I grew up attending, he was a very intelligent and interesting person and I had so much respect for him, but my mom didn't tell him why she wanted him to talk to me, and I didn't want to reveal to him that I was gay so we kind of just awkwardly chatted and nothing ever came of it. When that didn't work I talked to a few other pastors and therapists my mom found but with similar results. I pretty much just shut them all down and refused to talk.
Ultimately she found another Christian counseling center in the area, I bawled my eyes out when she told me she was sending me to another one, but I went anyway, because I loved my mom and I was hoping that if I just stuck it out, she'd realize it wasn't working and let me stop going. This guy was very different from the first guy. He was extremely gentle and understanding, and he understood that I was not going to stop being gay, but we talked about reconciling my very strict Christian upbringing with my homosexuality, and he helped me work through a lot of other problems too. I went to him every other week for the next four years and we developed a very nice relationship and talked through a lot of different things that at times had nothing to do with God or homosexuality. I am absolutely glad that I ended up having him as my therapist for all those years, and I believe it helped me quite a bit to mature into a confident adult and to figure out how to maintain a relationship with my parents into adulthood.
My relationship with them is still strained, they still hope that I will commit to Christianity and live a celibate lifestyle and probably deep down they wish I would magically turn straight and marry a woman, but I think we have finally just recently come to a place of mutual respect and "agree to disagreement" for the time being. I'm only 23 so this is all new. I'm still figuring a lot out and we're still working on our relationship, but I think if I hadn't gone through all of this I might not have any relationship at all with my parents right now and none of us would want that. Sometimes I feel like it would just be easier to completely cut them out of my life, but there's something in me that prevents me from doing that. I really do love them and they've been so good to me in so many other ways, that I have hope that they can fully support me even though I'm gay. It will probably always be a little tense, but I'm willing to live in it.
3/11 I'm a trans girl. My story pretty mirrors Leelah Alcorn's closely enough except for the suicide part. I still have emotional scars from that. I ran away from home. Brought back a week later. Came out. Got put in therapy and had to see a xian counselor. Both were sure I was full of it. Wasn't allowed unsupervised contact with the outside world "until farther notice." Eventually managed contacting my partner after 3 months of living in that proverbial cage and developed the will power to find a way out. 7 months. It was hell.
4/11 It was so boring. Two weeks of remedial evangelical/pentecostal nonsense. I was on pastoral staff, youth outreach etc., I admitted once to having homosexual feelings, was pulled from the staff and choir and sent there. The Bible verses they used were trite and pulled out of context, but because I didn't conform... As my biblical training was rather strong (I was being groomed to start a fellowship), I ripped the counselors to shreds including using the famous quote "are we not gods?" got expelled after because I was causing problems with the staff.
At the time it was the end of my world, now I'm like "mission f*cking accomplished." ironically I'm bi so if they'd waited six months they would have met a girlfriend of mine. Oh yeah, I lost my scholarship to Bible College. Best scholarship I ever lost.
5/11 I went to a Lutheran high school and the administration found out about my sexuality my senior year. They confronted me about it and I sort of bullsh*tted my way out of getting expelled by saying I knew it was wrong and I was fighting it. I could've outright lied but they could have had evidence... Obviously they had evidence enough to confront me. I avoided direct anti-homosexual therapy but there were suddenly a couple of assemblies held with speakers talking about homosexuality and how it can be compared to murder, how two plugs don't fit, something about puzzle pieces, and all the while I just felt everyone staring at me... It was a small school, there were only 50 kids or so in my graduating class. I was sort of a pariah by my senior year. My car was vandalized (and of course no one was ever held responsible for it). I had friends, but people who didn't like me outnumbered the people who did. And the people who didn't like me really didn't like me.
Anyway, being told repeatedly how wrong it was to be gay did a number on my psyche. After I graduated I was an admittedly self-loathing homosexual. I knew I was gay, couldn't help it, but hated that I was. I developed a really bad drug addiction, committed some crimes, and now I'm picking up the pieces from those mistakes. I've been sober over two years now, I see a real therapist who has helped me move beyond that self-loathing, and I'm happily married to my husband who had supported me through my rehab and the subsequent fallout of everything tied to my addiction.
I don't blame the administration or the students at that school for my drug use. I decided to take the drugs. But damned if they didn't contribute to the mindset that I was worthless, and as such I didn't care what I did or what happened to me.
8/11 [From] 2002-2004 I went to two different therapists affiliated with Evergreen, which at the time was Mormondom's anti-gay counseling organization. First counselor was great, a woman, mother, Mormon. First thing she acknowledged that my feelings of "same-sex attraction" wouldn't go away in "this life", so at know point did we ever try to cure me. Instead being gay was framed as a temptation I was meant to fight off while focusing on the very Mormon goal of finding a woman to marry and live happily ever after with. She used the analogy of a knight fighting off a dragon to save a princess. I was supposed to be the knight. That was about it. Every week we'd meet, I'd talk about how hard it was not to look at gay porn, we'd set goals for ways to "fight the dragon" and be a good Mormon, and that's about it. After about a year my bishop thought a man would do better at straightening me out so I changed counsellors. My new counselor and I got along great. His approach was similar: never call it being gay, call it same-sex attraction. Focus on the part of me that wants to get married and have a family. Focus on obeying the church's commandments. That's it. After a while though we let most of that go and focused on the anxiety and depression I had caused by being a closeted gay man. Everything else became secondary to helping me be healthy and functioning. That's about it. As far as reparative therapy goes I feel I lucked out.
The therapy was only a part of it. Also during this time I met with my bishop weekly at first and then monthly to have one on one scripture study and to make sure I wasn't watching porn. And then there is the whole of Mormon culture at BYU designed to get people to date and get married before they turn 22. But that's something else entirely. Many gay men who went BYU in the 60s 70s and up until the early 80s if I'm not mistaken underwent electro shock treatment and very abusive counseling.
7/11 I'm trans, but whatever. My mother decided I needed to be "fixed." I'd been seeing a "Christian" therapist for a year, but the guy wasn't the type of therapist you hear about. Great guy, really open minded, didn't let his beliefs interfere with his work.
She had me go to him for this therapy. Me and him had a good laugh over it, because while we did spend one session discussion whether or not I wanted to want my feelings to change, none of that bullsh*t went on, ever. She never caught on :)
8/11 I was 14, offered a trip 1000+ miles away to see the sights in DC by my boarding school guardians. We got out of school for the summer and got to go home. Apparently my parents agreed with the hidden motive of pushing me into conversion therapy. We were told we were going to church, but it was an 'intervention' with ex-gay counselors. I don't feel comfortable talking about anything other than that. Its appearance is like formal residential therapy. You live with other 'closeted' queers. The group dynamic is setup for you to become as homophobic as possible and bully other queer kids when they 'show signs' to reinforce the therapy. You have group sessions with exercises and one on ones with counselors. I would compare it to those Anti Abortion clinics that are setup to look like valid medical facilities, but only exist to mentally torture women into not having an abortion. It was one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life.
I have struggled with trust and crippling anxiety among other things for a few decades since. The nightmares are the worst. Mostly I spent more than a decade totally suicidal, into my mid 20s, struggling with loving and accepting myself, instead of seeing myself as some perverted monster not worth living. Gods little accident. Ive pretty much failed any academic or professional goals Ive set as a result of these struggles.
Even though conversion therapy has fallen out of favor, we cant forget that our largest religious institutions still believe that a person with queer compulsions can live a healthy life while suppressing them. This is pure evil.
9/11 I had spoken to a couple different Christian councillors my parents had sent me to after they found out when I was 15. These councillors/pastors told me what the Bible said about homosexuality, but that was about the extent of it. When that didn't work, my folks planned to force me to go to the Ex-gay Ministries place, I think it was in Tennessee. It was suppose to be really expensive, and I would have no outside contact with the world, no phone or email. I thought this would take a major tole my my emotional happiness and sanity, so I decided I had to do something. The day before I was suppose to go, I turned off my phone, stole my parent's car and drove to the middle of Kansas where my long distance boyfriend lived at the time. I got picked up by the cops four days later and spent a day in juvenile detention in Kansas, but after that my parents got the hint that they weren't going to change me.
10/11 I grew up in the Midwest and led a pretty G-rated religious life. By the time I started facing my severely suppressed gay feelings I had developed full blown homophobia. On my first day of being dragged into a group counseling program I barely looked up from the floor the entire time. I judged the guys there like they were lesser humans and refused to socialize with any of them. After several times of attending, I started realizing they were real people with big hearts and amazing stories. I started accepting them for who they were and in turn started to accept myself. In fact I now attribute those first anti-gay meetings to the reason I fully embraced who I am today - a happy and thriving gay man comfortable in my own skin. Oddly, if I hadn't been forced to socialize with other gay guys in those counseling sessions I may have continued hating myself and other gay people to this day. TLDR: Thanks to anti-gay group counseling I'm a self accepting raging homosexual! :)
11/11 After my parents found out when I was 14, they ended up sending me to the counseling center at the church, since they believe secular treatment is wrong. It was a tiny cramped room with a table and a box of tissues. The counselor was actually a really nice lady, and ended up telling me she wasn't going to pass any judgement. And she didn't. She suggested praying at one point if I was comfortable but never pushed it on me. She also encouraged my parents to let me take antidepressants, but they still refused.
The whole thing still just made me extremely uncomfortable and I never really opened up. Every time I came home from a session I got interrogated on everything we talked about. If I ever made any progress it got destroyed every time I walked through that door. Once I made the mistake of telling them that the counselor said it was just who I am, and my dad completely flipped out. So I just ended up dodging the subject and dropped the counseling after a couple of months.
I think my issues are a little too complicated for a small church counselor and I don't think my parents will ever accept me. To be honest I'm really lost right now. I still deal with a lot of shame. But I'm still grateful for that counselor that tried to help me.
Teachers have a hard job and empathy can make all the difference, as we learned when Redditor 2minutestosundown asked the online community: High School teachers of Reddit, what is the one thing that you want your students to know that you'd never tell them in person?