Maybe you were about 6 or 7 years old the first time you heard the word faggot and understood what it meant. Maybe not the sexual aspect but the fact that anyone who is homosexual is bad and dirty. That they deserve to have laws made against them, jailed and even murdered. As you grew older and understood that you were, in fact, a homosexual, your young mind had to make some conscience and subtle decisions about your own survival; how open will you be about your new found gayness?

Even if, like most of us at GMJ, you grew up well after Stonewall and even after marriage equality in parts of Europe, the sting of being called a fag, homo and even queer, still haunts you (not to mention the bullying and the ass kickings). Let’s not forget all of the straight people in your life that attempt to sway you away from the dark side. “How do you know that you don’t like girls if you’ve never tried it?” “All you need is a good women to set you straight?” Or even when you overheard you mom/dad telling a friend/family member that you weren’t really gay, “it’s just a phase”.

We all were born into a world that tells us daily that who we are naturally is wrong, dirty and vile. Religion is a huge motivator for most but others believe that any contact, sexual or otherwise, that males have should be outlawed. And anal sex, which is secretly enjoyed by many straights, is considered proof positive of our deviant nature. They wonder why we would want to commit such a nasty, painful and dirty act. Unfortunately, internalized homophobia took its roots early in all of us, and on some level we still act out these lessons. Maybe there are days when you wish you weren’t gay.

But, he can change:

This is the true evil behind conversation therapy campaigns. They take young, usually teenage or pre-teen boys, that are actually homosexual, questioning or even just not as butch as the family thinks they should be, and forces them into a nightmarish hell. This process attempts to control boys, by using the bible and religion, into believing that who he naturally is, and naturally is sexually attracted to, is a choice; an option to be changed at a whim, with the right amount of convincing. He is told that all of his troubles will go away if he just let’s go of his desire for dick. Then he will be happy. All will be well.

They also have an open door to older guys, who have struggled with their homosexuality, in one form or another, or even had a string of bad romances and broken friendships within the community to convince him that this is not the life for him. Gay life is not how it was pictured in the brochure. These guys are searching for joy but don’t believe it can be found in the arms of another man. So, they fall back to the teachings of youth, the church and society at large. Just. Stop. Being. Gay. These guys are also easily convinced that any amount of physical, mental and emotional abuse doled out is deserved and part of his repentance.

As the New York Times reported:

In the past, efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation sometimes involved extreme measures like institutionalization, castration and electroshock therapy, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Today, critics contend that conversion therapy still sometimes includes physical abuse. For example, a New Jersey organization convicted of fraud last year was accused of sexually abusing its clients and forcing them to participate in violent role-play exercises.

Most practitioners, however, primarily use quasi-psychoanalytic methods like one-on-one or group therapy sessions. Rea Carey, the executive director of the National L.G.B.T.Q. Task Force, called it “brutal, inhuman psychological and at times physical abuse.”

Brothers on a Road Less Traveled, a support group for men who want to stop being attracted to other men, said its method includes developing “an internal sense of masculinity” and “discovering our true needs underlying some of our homosexual longings and triggers.”

There are frequently religious overtones to conversion therapy, which is often promoted by groups with ties to conservative Christian organizations like Focus on the Family, which says on its website that “homosexual strugglers” can “leave homosexuality” with the help of support groups like Homosexuals Anonymous or by “becoming more like Jesus.”

So, these so-called therapies not only place undue stress on a young, impressionable mind about what being gay and male means, they also cause division between them and their faith. No matter how you view religion, those boys going through this process are usually from tight nit religious homes. Their faith is one of the most important things to them. It connects them to god, family and community. And they are told, only by changing their sexual orientation can they maintain all of the above. They must make a choice between god and gays. That is a hell of a lot of pressure to put on a dude that can’t even shave yet.

And, it doesn’t even work!

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) studied this issue and posted it to their website last year. They even have a long list of respected medical and psychiatric associations and governments that agree that this is a dangerous, unnecessary practice that is not only ineffective but also dangerous. Some of the best take-aways are:

“So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws or regulations to protect minors from being subjected to conversion therapy by state-licensed mental health providers. Additionally, a growing number of municipalities have enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, and Arizona.

In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law, which was signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. In May of 2015 and again in February of 2016, the United States Supreme Court let stand decisions of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding New Jersey’s law, which was signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. In February of 2015, a NJ Superior Court judge ruled that misrepresenting homosexuality as a disorder violates the state’s consumer protection laws. Additionally, in June of 2015, the jury in that case found a conversion therapy provider liable for consumer fraud and ordered the provider to pay the plaintiffs for refunds and damages.”

Why should you care?

On 20th, September a judge in Brazil – supposedly one of South America’s most gay-friendly countries – has approved gay conversion therapy. The move, by Waldemar de Carvalho in Brasilia, overrules a 1999 ban on such therapies. The judge ruled in favor of an action brought by Rosangela Justino. The evangelical Christian psychologist’s licence was revoked last year when she offered conversion therapy to a client.

Around the world, a new rise of conservative, religious based, activism is flexing its muscles. The Religious Freedom Act is gaining steam around The United States, and their arguments are making headlines and laws. Without stating so, the case in Brazil was one on religious freedom, and just like there, laws that are created to protect us, can be overturned, very quickly.

And then there is another thing..

Vice President Mike Pence:

One heart beat away from the presidency and the guy who would take the Oval if (when?) the current occupant steps down or is removed from office. And don’t think that no matter what, he isn’t thinking about another run for president in the future.

As the same article from the New York Times uncovered: A statement on an archived version of the website for Mr. Pence’s 2000 congressional campaign has been widely interpreted as signaling his support for conversion therapy. After listing his opposition to same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws that protect gay people, Mr. Pence’s website takes up the issue of the Ryan White Care Act, which provides federal funding for H.I.V./AIDS patients and was reauthorized by Congress that year:

Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

Does conversation therapy directly effect you?

Yes and no. As an adult gay male individual, at this time, no one can force you into this sort of treatment. But, these laws signal a changing of the guard as to gay rights and our legal freedoms and protections. They also show that our young brothers are at major risk of being damaged by these programs. But worst of all, it re-establishes the argument that we are not born gay, rather we are making immoral choices that deserve societal scorn, ridicule and even worse.

Finally, it harms our individual ability to accept that we are happily homosexual, even with all of the drama and bullshit that comes from within our community and the discrimination that comes from without. It gives the sense that there is a back door, a secret exit, if you will, that can lead to a happier life than what we have. These thoughts and feelings also lead to increased anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug/alcohol abuse and even suicide. We must fight this.

Don’t get distracted kids, Keep your eyes on the ball. We are playing the worse version of 42nd street 3 card Monty ever.

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