CONVERSION THERAPY SURVIVORS' STATEMENT
As survivors of Conversion Therapy we sought to understand or change our sexual orientation or gender identity through professional therapy, religious counseling, 'ex-gay' programs, self-help books, and other methods that promoted the idea we were broken and needed to be fixed.
Long after homosexuality was declassified as a disorder by major health professions in 1973, we were diagnosed or counseled by professional therapists, religious leaders, and authors that we were intrinsically broken. We were advised that our natural attractions were caused by something bad … bad parenting, childhood abuse, spiritual attack or some other trauma.
We trusted claims that Conversion Therapy programs, techniques, or prayers could “repair” our sexual orientation or gender identity in a way that would lead to “sexual wholeness,” heterosexual desires, and/or gender conformity.
In some cases, these programs and techniques were imposed upon us by parents, educational or religious institutions, or concerned friends and family members. We were often left defenseless in the presence of trusted leaders who claimed to be experts but were mostly untrained and ideologically-motivated.
Many of us sacrificed loving same-sex relationships, risked opposite-sex marriages, and/or remained alone in hopelessness. These toxic messages led many of us down a path of self-destructive behaviors, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and in some cases, attempted suicide.
Those of us who survived are no longer confused or afraid, nor do we resist our sexual orientation or gender identity. We are no longer ignorant of how mental health professionals, 'ex-gay' program leaders, and/or clergy can undermine what is natural by teaching and encouraging a belief system that revolves around isolation, rejection of parents, family or friends, self-loathing, and/or shame. We unite with former Conversion Therapy leaders, who acknowledge their own lack of education on the topics of sexuality, by affirming that we were not born with a sexuality and/or gender defect and therefore never needed to repair our sexuality and/or gender identity.
We ask for what a mindful and accountable society should demand. When a product or service is proven to be disingenuous, deceptive, harmful, or even life-threatening, this product or service is no longer deemed acceptable by a responsible and compassionate society. Therefore:
We support legislative efforts to ban licensed professionals from administering conversion therapy — especially to minors.
We advocate that professional health and scientific organizations set and enforce clearer policies that ban their members from administering or advocating conversion therapy.
We encourage religious-affiliated organizations to ensure their clergy, staff, and lay leaders stop promoting and practicing conversion therapy.
As survivors of conversion therapy, each of us has experienced harm from these practices. To prevent increased victimization and to empower ourselves in our recovery process, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy.
SIGNED BY CONVERSION THERAPY SURVIVORS
(Location of Conversion Therapy)
De Joodt COMMENT
Fee CRC COMMENT
SIGNED BY FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND ALLIES
Avery Tang COMMENT
District of Columbia
Ex-gay organizations and their propaganda were pervasive at my Catholic university. Despite compassionate approaches to other student struggles, the absence of any information contrary to the ex-gay myth made it apparent that I could not entrust either campus ministry or the campus's professional counselors to provide realistic and beneficial counseling for my depression and relationship issues.
I underwent a conversion method devised by my mother, which amounted to psychological torture. Because she wasn't comfortable discussing my "ailment" with anyone, she resorted to her own judgment, and my treatment is comparable to what prisoners of war experience-- mock executions, exorcisms and creative forms of punishment, such as eating the Bible.
I am, in many ways, a broken individual-- I suffer from diagnosed PTSD, and for many years I engaged in self-destructive behavior. Although I fought very hard to survive and love, I'm now scarred emotionally and neurologically, which affects my very ability to survive and love. Not everyone who undergoes conversion therapy is the victim of organizations, but these organizations can inspire family members to "do it themselves."
No one deserves to suffer and be forced into such an evil practice as this.
—Justin Avery Tang
I have counseled survivors of trauma for over thirty years. Some of those survivors were LGBTQ and many had been subjected to various forms of "pray it away" conversion therapy. Let it be clear, as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, this conversion therapy DOES NOT WORK. Just as you are born with blue or brown eyes, one is born heterosexual or other. There is no changing that. It is in our genes. Just as people who undergo torture will eventually say anything to make the pain stop, so over the years have victims of conversion therapy said that they were "cured" of their gayness. Anything to make it stop. Weeks, months or years later, when they were once again in a safe place where they were accepted for who they are, they admitted that they lied in order to make the pain stop. Please, if you have any soul at all, stop this horrendous practice of conversion therapy. It does not work. It harms and destroys wonderful human beings who are perfect the way they ARE.
Conversion therapy is harmful and damaging and does not work. Please, let's not harm any more innocent people with this dreadful practice.
Be proud of who you are! No one should try to change you. You are beautiful and perfect in God's eyes.
Reparative therapy pushed me to the brink of insanity and almost cost me my own life. I am committed to protecting future LGBT youth from this sick, unfounded and scientifically flawed form of "treatment". It is not treatment. It is abuse. You don't have to hit someone or electrocute them to abuse them. All you have to do is tell them lies and promise them a future that will never come true.
I directed a group, Paraklete, and was an Exodus referral. We used the Living Waters 12-step program.
I will be an advocate for any and all who have had to experience such mortifying things. If there is any way I can help please let me know!
I am a gay man. It took me until I was 26 years old to realise and finally accept that I was gay. Before then I grew up thinking I was some potential sexual predator in hiding.
My journey to happiness and acceptance was long and difficult enough without conversion therapy. I csn hardly imagine how it was for those who experianced it.
Please don't support conversion therapy. It only causes harm to them and their families.
I am a lesbian living with my girlfriend with my two cats, Vanellope and Reptar. Our anniversary is 11/13/2015.
You are perfect just the way you are.
The memories of that time still haunt me. Being told it was better to be dead than gay. The horrible treatment. The way they controlled your every move. How can this even still be a thing in 2016? It's nothing less than human torture.
As the mom of three gay children and an LGBTQ advocate for over 30 years, I am against conversion therapy. I believe it is harmful to LGBTQ people and I feel my LGBTQ friends and loved ones deserve the same rights as I do as a straight ally. That includes the right to love who they love. I consider it a blessing that I had gay children. My children changed my life for the better. I am a proud Mama Bear!!
Therapy should be about affirmation and acceptance. No one "wants" or "chooses" to be LGB or T. But if someone is coming to you saying they DON"T want to be what they are, we should be looking to find out why they seek change -- family discord, lack of acceptance, shame, etc. - rather than trying to "fix" them. Fix the problem, not the person.
What I wish is that every child could be accepted for who they are, regardless of parental religious beliefs. Had I been able to be honest about my orientation from the time I knew I was gay, many people could have been saved from a tremendous amount of pain, including me. Not only did I spend years at an ex-gay ministry in hopes of resolving my orientation' issues', but I eventually went on staff to 'help' others do the same. I deeply regret the time I spent trying to be something I am not and my involvement in programs that created further confusion and pain for others. Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) in any form needs to cease. Individuals lose countless years of their lives, spend a tremendous amount of money, and experience needless pain in this quest. I will join and support efforts to ban these harmful practices until there is not longer a need to do so. We are all beautiful, just as we are.
You are beautiful and loved by God!
Happy to embrace who I am and be proud of it.
Though my story is different from so many for when I look back during my many years in and through ex-gay ministry I can honestly say they were good and productive years. Yes I was celibate by choice but in all honesty it was not a problem. Until I began to date a woman and there came that moment when I knew that I could not love here in the way she needed and wanted. And I soon came out again as an older man in a youth obsessed body obsessed culture. But over time I came to my senses and learned to know and believe that I am liked, loved by God. And He graciously has given me a wonderful loving partner and I am grateful.
I help heal people weekly who have been harmed by such therapy. It hurts people, it doesn't change people, it is wrong.
No one should be subjected to the harmful practices of conversion therapy. These practices are emotional abuse.
I have seen the life long damage this can do. It must stop.
Jesus loves me just as I am.
Paul from Liberty Inc., a division of Exodus Asia Pacific, said, "I can help you suppress your sexual urges, but I can't help you change your sexual orientation." That was my lightbulb moment at the age of 38, accept that I was gay or keep fighting something that I'm never going to win. I had spent half my life fighting, did I really want to spend the next 40 years fighting? NO, I stopped viewing being gay as a sin and started to see it as a sexual orientation and when I did that, I stopped beating myself up for sinning, going down that spiral that by Saturday wanted to commit suicide and on Sunday was the first at the alter call saying, "oh God, heal me, take this from me," and then on Monday sinning and for the rest of the week, beating myself up until I felt suicidal....so the cycle continued for 18 years!! Accept and love YOURSELF for who YOU are.
I share my story for LGBTQ children in all groups who face conversion therapy or ridicule from peers or adults. I grew up to be a functioning and healthy adult. You can too!
I was forced into conversion therapy at age 19 or 20, in Illinois. My mother had dropped me off at the building with the woman while she went to shop at thrift stores. The lady told me I am a rebel and extremist for not believing in my family's belief system, Catholicism, and that liking media, TV shows, and video games such as Star Trek, My Little Pony, Adventure Time and Skylandrs was deemed as Bipolar disorder. And the first appointment she strongly recommendeded I take Prozac or Zoloft. She then continued to bring up a history with my mother and psychologically break me down as I was crying in front of her, not even offering a tissue or any sympathy while she did so.
When I mentioned transitioning, she said verbatim, "We are not going to talk about -that-, you need to focus on getting a job and going to school" (I had a job at that time, I was working to buy my Skylanders and video games that were now diagnosable as bipolar. I was forced to see this woman twice before taking matters into my own hands, reporting her to the states liscening board of regulations, to which she then wrote a letter home snitching on me to my mother, of the authorized and legal report I had made.
Subsequently after, the counseling center which is a chain LLC throughout IL, has bought likes to supplement their Facebook page and Cult of Personality-Popularity with the owner of this institution. Beyond making a report nothing has been done, no follows up made, and zero groups that purport equality and rights, want anything to do with this to help.
I am suffering extreme pain, anger, and trauma from the malignant verbal abuse, there is not a single day where I, mentally, am out of that office, I relive the experience every single day.
I sincerely, prayerfully encourage ALL those people who honestly doubt that various patterns/enactments of 'help to change', instead does deep and lasting harm to so very many of us, to work hard to keep an open mind and open heart and really listen to what we were forced to survive.
—JDaniel Fee CRC
While I support the right of adults to dabble, at their own discretion and at their own risk, in programs that aim to change their sexual orientation, those who offer such “therapy” should not be allowed to do so as accredited health professionals, and it should be illegal to inflict it on minors in any circumstances. The pursuit of the “ex-gay” quest has swallowed up years, even in some cases decades, of people’s lives, which they will never get back. That, even where no further damage is done, is more than sufficient condemnation.
I am an advocate and ally for the lgbtqi community and parent of a transgender man. You are beautiful just the way you are. Fill your light! Sending love for your strength and survival.
I had to undergo the Catholic Version of aversion therapy overseen by Catholic priests and doctors at an NHS mental hospital. I mean that the electric shocks I received were not used to cure me of being a homosexual to turn me straight. They were used to turn me into a non-sexual person.
I am an architect which means I am licensed and regulated by the State of Colorado. If I were designing buildings that were injuring or even killing people I ABSOLUTELY would expect government action be taken to stop the harm. State regulatory agencies and professional organizations have a duty to stop professionals from harming the public they serve.
It was hell since I'm Gay and Trans.
I spent a decade of my life in “ex-gay” programs trying to change who I am because I was told that I was broken and needed to be fixed. I completed the New Beginnings program in San Jose, CA, which was a referral program associated with Exodus International, and underwent psychological counseling in Minnesota and in Texas in attempts to change my orientation while a staff minister in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). I regret that I felt compelled to change who I am in order to find acceptance by those who taught conditional grace. I found these change efforts to be hurtful and harmful to me, and I believe it is unethical to force these change efforts on youth who are loved and worth loving just the way they are.
Equal rights for all.
—Sarah Jane Gray
Proud to have come out on the other side; love truly won out.
He told me he could make me happy with the body I was born with. He caused me to scar, starve, and attempt to kill this body. He was a licensed Christian therapist. Conversion therapy is psychological torture. [Conversion therapists] no longer dictate my satisfaction or how I choose to live my life. I am a proud transgender person, and I survived.
I underwent the abusive practice of conversion "therapy" as a teenager because I was brought up in a family/church that believed I would go to hell for being gay and be despised by God. Ex-gay ministries, conversion therapy, Living Waters programs did nothing to change my inherent felt loving attraction to the same gender.
Now, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#lmft39252), I help others who have been traumatized by this ineffective and harmful practice. I fully support this statement as representative of my personal and professional experience. Conversion "Therapy" needs to end. We need to fully embrace the lives of LGBTQ youth and adults, spreading love not hate.
I spent 40 years seeking change through Religious Retreats, prayer, dating, mental health therapy and eventually Seminary in a DIY effort to change my orientation.
Even though the conversion therapy happened to me over 30 years ago I still have not recovered from the psychological damage and ruined family relationships. I have been in and out of VALID therapy over the last three decades and I still struggle with the pain that was inflicted. It has taken on a PTSD-like quality. There is not a single day that goes by when I do not have an adrenaline flash that is related the pain I endured. I have resigned myself to the fact that, like people who live with chronic physical pain, this is not ever going to go away... and that until my dying day t I will just have to continue to find ways to cope.
Please. Please, talk to someone. Talk to me, talk to someone you know; don't be a part of this destructive cycle. Talk to your children and fiends; don't be another victim. Let yourself be a survivor.
Words cannot describe the sadness I feel for anyone having to go through this. It is a despicable act from a despicable man.
I now live in the UK, but grew up in Australia where I spent two years in an ex-gay programme along with several more years of counselling from licensed counsellors in a Christian context. The outcome of this "treatment" was 10 years of clinical depression. Coming out and accepting myself as a gay man freed me from the prison of depression and created the space in my life to grow and blossom. Conversion therapy has no basis for its claims and was a destructive process in my life. I'm glad to be free of it.
Know that you are perfect, beautiful & loved just as you were created. I'm so sorry that others told you differently but I hope now you are surrounding yourself with people who love & respect you. Hugs for each & every one of you!
I spent 42 years trying to change who I was and was riddled with guilt and condemnation through these practices. I tried multiple types of conversion therapy and self help and nothing worked, I only gained a low self esteem, depression and a "lesser than others" mentality.
I am sorry anyone has had to go through this, feeling less than. So many people that have caused this harm will need to answer to it one day. Praying for complete healing for all.
I'm committed to passing a law in Virginia prohibiting conversion therapy.
Reparative Therapy doesn't work and is a total sham. At best, it gets individuals to "stuff" their homosexual desires and identity, often for the sake of their faith. But the long-term effects are devastating. After years of depression, insecurity, and a miserable mixed-orientation marriage, I finally had the courage to throw off the shackles that reparative therapy put on me. Getting counseling to overcome the lies and affects of reparative therapy, coming out, going through a divorce, and becoming who I am has been the greatest gifts I've ever given myself!
I put myself through programs while living in Anchorage, Alaska, 2001-2004, followed by a residential program in rural Kentucky in 2005. These groups caused me PTSD, ruined my life in many ways, and I am still healing. I try to live my life sharing my story yet few still listen...
Despite continual pressure from people who don't understand -- or don't want to -- many, many of us know of the irreparable harm "conversion" therapy does. We are there to be a voice of reason and help pressure our leaders to make the right choice, by banning this monstrous practice. Much love to all out there who have been subjected to this barbaric practice. You are loved; you are accepted; you are not alone.
I went through Love In Action's program (1990), was then asked to be in the Leadership beginning with a year of training (1991), then another year as an Assistant House Leader (1992), and then finally House Leader (1993). I not only went along with the program, but also encouraged others to accept the message and teachings of the program. I did so with the intentions of helping others. But not only was I hurt by the process, I also hurt others by not helping them accept themselves where they were and for who they are. For that, I ask anyone who I counseled or was a role model to...to forgive me. I never meant to hurt anyone. I bought the lie that change was possible.
After almost six years of celibacy, I realized that my sexuality had not changed and I was deceiving myself. I left the program and my association with people from LiA behind. I knew that they would not reach out to me. I was on my own -- aside from my relationship with God.
It is my relationship with God and acceptance of friends, family, and loved ones along with several years of counseling that brought me to a place of self-acceptance and self-respect that I have lived in a freedom for 21 years, that words can't express. I am more confident as a man and have accepted who I am completely as a person - a more adjusted but imperfect man.
It is my life's goal is to help others along this journey called Life. If our paths cross, I will greet you with a smile and hope there's something that I can share that is helpful in some way.
An ally, without hesitation.
May not another friend or family member be damaged by this "therapy."
I am the proud mama of a gay son and I am here for support, encouragement, prayers or whatever I can offer as a support person! Much love sent with my signature!
I have several friends who underwent years of conversion "counseling" and were encouraged to marry someone of the opposite gender, which they did. In every case, the result was years of pain and self-loathing, depression, the pain of divorce when my friends finally acknowledged that all the "therapy" they had undergone had done nothing to change their attractions, and the destruction of lives. Nothing good comes from trying to make people be untrue to who God made them to be.
I have several friends who survived conversion therapy, but the emotional and spiritual wounds they experienced in conversion therapy are still apparent today. As a future psychological counselor I hope to see the practice conversion therapy banned. Conversion therapy is wrong, it is harmful, and it does not pass scientific examination.
My GM insurance paid for three months of chemical "therapy" because gay people were not permitted to be executives in GM without being married by age 35. When the "therapy" failed after $77,000 of "health" coverage, I lost the job, my family, any hope of an automotive career, even though I was very good at it.
I'm okay now, I never believed I was anything by 100% gay since a very young age. NO ONE else should be subjected to such unfair humiliation, just so "Christians" can feel churchy and somehow "preferred" by God.
I was a leader under Living Waters also after I went through training.
I survived. After 22 years of a torturous existence, I made it to the other side in tack. And I am still Gay. I tried to pray fast hate myself and even tried a heterosexual lifestyle. All to no avail. It's because it doesn't work. It's time to end the debate and work on real issues that affect us all.
I believe today that God accepts me as I am, He always has and always will.
I am a survivor!
I am so sorry this horrible method has been inflicted on you. You are beautiful the way you are and loved.
Proud mother of a conversion therapy survivor, no, thriver!
—Nancy Dowling Persons
My participation in “ex-gay” programs was prompted by a sincere desire to change my own desires and attractions. Also, I was a well-known Pastor, so these “feelings” were unacceptable and I feared exposure.
My involvement eventually grew into a small ministry called “Coming Back.” I was Founder, Executive Director and Group Leader. However, I finally admitted it wasn’t working—wasn’t going to work—and I left the ministry back in the 1980s. Later I issued an apology for my involvement in promoting this harmful treatment, and I continue to seek forgiveness. As one who also endured the “therapy,” I know that the harmful effect can last for a long time.
For the past 20 years, I’ve worked to expose the deception and damage of these groups.
Conversion therapy is an insidious intervention that causes trauma and lifelong mental health issues. This is undeniable. Many practitioners are desperately serving a personal narrative and agenda. It is unethical, inhumane and abusive. We seek to not only educate the world around us about the true effects of conversion therapy but to eradicate it---especially in the case of minors who are helplessly subjected to this dangerous and harmful practice. This is not a parents' rights issue. This is not a freedom of speech or freedom of religion issue. This is an issue of abuse of ethics and people--real people with real trauma from conversion therapy. I stand strong with my fellow survivors. We are #bornperfect.
I wasted over $40,000 on conversion therapy, got married to a woman based on the advice that "marrying an opposite sex spouse diminishes same-sex attractions" only to find out later studies show the opposite is true.
Perhaps the worst part was that while I was going through conversion therapy at the age of 16, my parents had no idea what was going on. The counseling sessions were set up through a woman at my church. My parents were not the ones who sent me to conversion therapy. At that time, I was still in the closet to my parents.
Years later, when I finally came out as gay to my parents, they were very accepting of me.
This robbed me of my dignity and my money! Produced shame and still single because of the damage done over 25 years! These types of programs should be outlawed and made to pay reparations to those abused by them.
You can also see another survey and it's results of 400+ ex-gay survivors here: beyondexgay.com
I attended Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, where a chapel speaker endorsed this program [Love Won Out] and where we were consistently told we could not be both LGBT and Christian. That chapel service was how I became involved, my first year in college. The fact that a place which claims to be a loving, welcoming learning environment would endorse this kind of harmful behavior still baffles me to this day.
I am an ally who believes 'conversion therapy' is damaging and hurtful. Please put a stop to this torture of fragile individuals now.
As a 60-year-old gay man, I sign as a supporter for all of the many friends and acquaintances that I've known over the past 41 years of being out of the closet. I have seen and heard of the devastation these horrible attempts at changing LGBT people into someone other than who they are...
Conversion therapy has proved to be very dangerous. LGBTQ people are already more prone to severe depression and even suicide because of the guilt they are made to feel and the discrimination and bullying they are faced with. this type of therapy is wrong and should be outlawed.
I’ve seen first-hand the damage that reparative therapy does to people, and even considered going through it for a time. But once I did some research, I realized that every single “success” story was nothing more than someone who was completely deceiving themselves and everyone around them that their “change” was just a farce. This harmful practice must end, and it must end now.
I was put through electronic shock therapy by a doctor who was president of the Baptist church. It did prove medically that I was born gay as there isn't anything anyone can do to change the temperature of your private parts when you see pictures of men and women. The doctors' machine never recorded anything when I saw all those pictures of women. It was horrific and, no, it didn't work. The entire medical profession declassified homosexuality as an illness 42 years ago this year, that covered the entire 16 years I saw that psychiatrist. I have also had surgery on my oesophagus for gastric reflux from the stress of keeping all this bottled up inside. A 44-year marriage to my wife has not changed a thing. It is so important to just accept yourself for who you are.
I spent ten years in various forms of ex-gay "therapy" and another ten years undoing the damage it wrought.
I'm a survivor. "God does not make mistakes. You are who you are, because you were born that way". That simple statement and affirmation helped to save my life.
My heart aches for those who have endured such cruel treatment in the name of God. You are not broken. You are delightful and perfect. The younger generations are understanding this. There is hope.
Been There, Done That
Before you invest the time, money, emotional energy and possibly years of your life trying to go from gay to straight, ask the ex-gay leaders what guarantee they can give you that it will work. If they are honest with you, the best they will be able to offer you as a degree of ‘heterosexual functionality’, but the gay never actually goes away. Then ask yourself what would be the best way to spend your time, money and emotional energy…..rejecting yourself or accepting yourself.
After 22 years of trying to change including ex-gay programs, exorcisms and 16 years of marriage, I came to the realisation that loving myself was far healthier than hating and rejecting my true self. Like 1,000’s of others today, I finally discovered that I can live a wonderfully fulfilling, moral life as an openly gay man and still have my faith.
I followed "ex-gay" teaching by the book for approximately 18 years...it does not work.
I am an ally to those who have survived conversion therapy because I am human. Young lives are lost everyday due to the effects of this practice and it needs to be put to an end. I am joining the effort to end this practice once and for all.
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. —Thomas Merton
I am a safe space for all who need help.
This madness must end!
Nothing more than state sanctioned torture all for happening to be different.
For years, I was taught I was defective...doomed to hell from birth. Through fear, guilt and religious manipulation from family, church and counselors, I learned to loathe myself. Through much prayer, soul searching and loyal support from friends, I learned I was born right the first time...a perfection replication of the Divine. To all of my fellow survivors, I Love You!
At 16, I was treated at a clinic that dealt with rapists, sex offenders and child molesters.
Names and comments are published as generously provided by the self-identified signers. Conversion Therapy Survivors does not confirm identities or the accuracy of the information provided.