Showing posts with label Conversion Therapy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conversion Therapy. Show all posts

January 24, 2019

Mr.Prominent Douche Bag Conversion Therapist Is Gone Looking For His Boy Friend




                                       Image: David Matheson


By Julie Compton


David Matheson, a once prominent Mormon “conversion therapist” who claims to have helped some gay men remain in heterosexual marriages, is looking for a boyfriend.

The revelation broke Sunday night after the LGBTQ nonprofit Truth Wins Out obtained a private Facebook post made by fellow “conversion therapist” Rich Wyler, which stated that Matheson “says that living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible for him,’ so he’s seeking a male partner.”

Image: David MathesonDavid Matheson, a former gay conversion therapist, has come out as gay.Courtesy of David Matheson
Matheson then confirmed Wyler’s assertions on Tuesday with a Facebook post of his own. “A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life. I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay,” he wrote.

Matheson, who was married to a woman for 34 years and is now divorced, also confirmed in an interview with NBC News that he is now dating men.

So-called gay conversion therapy, which is sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy” or “reparative therapy,” is a pseudoscientific practice that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Talk therapy is currently the most commonly used technique, but some practitioners have also combined this with "aversion treatments," such as induced vomiting or electric shocks, according to a 2018 report by UCLA’s Williams Institute (Matheson stressed he never participated in "aversion therapy"). Nearly every major health association, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, has denounced the practice.

Matheson acknowledged his work has hurt some people, but he would not fully renounce “conversion therapy.” Instead, he blamed what he referred to as the “shame-based, homophobic-based system” of the Mormon church in which he was raised. He acknowledged that he perpetuated that system, but he also argued that he helped some men who wished to live “in congruence” with their faith.

“I know there are people who won’t be satisfied by anything less than a complete and unequivocal renunciation of everything,” Matheson said. “That’s hard, because I want people to feel the genuineness of my change of heart, but people need to understand that there is more than one reality in the world.” To those who feel harmed by his past work, he relayed a message: “I unequivocally apologize.” 

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To Chaim Levin, who said he was psychologically hurt by programs Matheson helped create, an apology is not enough.

“While I am pleased for Mr. Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr. Matheson himself,” Levin told Truth Wins Out. “I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included.”

Nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have received “conversion therapy” at some point in their lives, according to the Williams Institute. Its 2018 conversion therapy report notes that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are associated with poor mental health, including suicidality.

More and more states are banning the controversial practice on minors, a step that Matheson said he now supports. Just last week, New York became the 15th state to do so, but the practice still remains legal across the U.S. for consenting adults. A California bill that would have designated paid “conversion therapy” for adults as fraudulent under the state’s consumer protection law was shelved in August after opposition from religious groups.

‘INTELLECTUAL GODFATHER’ OF ‘CONVERSION THERAPY’

Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, a longtime anti-conversion-therapy activist and former investigative journalist, referred to Matheson as a figure who many in the “conversion therapy” movement looked to as “the intellectual godfather.”

“When they wanted an expert, they would go to him,” Besen said, “and when your expert is now coming out of the closet and dating men, I think that speaks volumes about how reparative therapy is damaging and ineffective.”


Matheson was an early protege of Joseph Nicolosi, who founded the notorious National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Matheson’s involvement in developing “conversion therapy” programs goes back decades, though ironically, he has long been open about his attraction to men. His 2013 book, “Becoming a Whole Man,” chronicles his “six-year quest” to rid himself of “unwanted” homosexuality, according to the book’s Amazon.com description.

In a statement Matheson emailed to Truth Wins Out on Sunday, he refused to renounce his past work or condemn what he called “mixed-orientation marriages.”

“I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity,” he wrote. “With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.”

Besen said he found Matheson’s statement “to be all about his journey” with “very little concern about his victims that he has harmed.”

“I would like to see someone more contrite and willing to reach out and help the people whose lives he’s ruined,” Besen said. “I’d also like to see him consider refunding the money to the people that he bilked out of their paychecks for therapy that clearly wasn’t even working for himself.” 

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Matheson is far from the only ‘ex-gay therapist’ who has either come out as gay or been exposed for living a double life.

In 2000, “conversion therapy” advocate and “success story” John Paulk was photographed at a Washington D.C. gay bar; a decade later he issued a formal apology for his “ex-gay” past. Alan Chambers, former president of the now defunct “conversion therapy” organization Exodus International, apologized to the LGBTQ community in 2013 after he acknowledged he was attracted to men. And just two months ago, Truth Wins Out exposed “ex-gay therapist” Norman Goldwasser after it allegedly discovered him soliciting men on gay dating apps.

Besen said “conversion therapy” programs give people false hope that they can be “cured” of being LGBTQ. “It’s a total and complete fraud from beginning to end,” he said.

As for Matheson, he denied accusations of fraud and said he’s currently pursuing a new career as well as a boyfriend.

“It’s a whole different world, and what really makes me happy about it is how congruent it feels to me now,” he explained. “It feels like I’m in the right place.”

January 21, 2019

No More Lies! It’s The Law Now in NYS No More Conversion Therapy







Between 2012 and 2018, 14 states and Washington, D.C., passed laws prohibiting “conversion therapy” for minors. Deep-blue New York was not among them.

That finally changed this month when the State Legislature voted overwhelmingly to ban mental health professionals from working to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

As jurisdictions across the country began solidifying protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, conversion therapy became part of the public discourse. In 2016, L.G.B.T. groups denounced the Republican Party for adopting a platform that seemed to lend support to the technique, which had long been discredited by the medical establishment.

Vice President Mike Pence has been particularly dogged by criticism; the groups say Mr. Pence had previously been in favor of conversion therapy, a stance that he has denied. 

New York lawmakers had been proposing bills addressing conversion therapy since 2003. The measures languished until this month when Democrats took control of the Legislature for the first time in a decade.

The Legislature this month also passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or Genda, which would add gender identity as a protected class under New York’s discrimination and hate crimes laws.

The bills were the first pieces of L.G.B.T.-specific legislation to pass the Senate since lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, said.

“It was a quantum leap forward,” said Mr. Hoylman, who is the only out gay lawmaker in the Senate and who sponsored both bills. “I hope we can build on that.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he would sign both bills.

“So-called L.G.B.T.Q. conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice that has done untold harm to too many young people,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. 

Conversion therapy, also called reparative therapy, has been widely denounced by medical professional organizations as traumatizing and harmful to minors. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned against it as early as 1993, saying it reinforced anxiety and shame. In 2009, the American Psychological Association condemned the practice in a report, saying that conversion therapy was predicated on the idea that homosexuality was a mental disorder.

But despite the consensus that conversion therapy was unsound, it has remained fairly common, said Mathew Shurka, who underwent conversion therapy and works as an activist fighting against it.

An estimated 698,000 L.G.B.T. adults in the United States have received conversion therapy, according to research by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, which studies L.G.B.T. issues. About half of them underwent conversion therapy as teenagers.

Mr. Shurka was among them. He was 16 years old in 2004 when his father took him to a therapist who said he could make gay people straight, and he spent five years undergoing the purported treatment.

Conversion therapy assumes that everyone is a heterosexual, Mr. Shurka said, and that same-sex attraction is caused by childhood trauma. The therapists say, “If you can just heal that trauma and understand what your role is as a male or female, you will naturally start to be attracted to the opposite sex,” he said.

Mr. Shurka said he was told to separate from his mother and sister for three years to make sure that he did not look at women as his peers.

Mr. Shurka worked with Mr. Hoylman and Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, a Manhattan Democrat who was New York’s first out gay legislator when they introduced a bill to ban conversion therapy in the state in 2013.
 
At that time, only California had passed a similar law, a year earlier. Months after the New York bill was introduced, New Jersey passed its own legislation barring conversion therapy.

Yet New York stood still. The bill cleared the Democrat-led Assembly but was blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it never received a floor vote.

For years, Mr. Hoylman kept reintroducing the bill. Each time, his efforts met the same result, while laws were passed in traditional liberal bastions, like Connecticut and Washington, D.C., and also approved through a bipartisan effort in New Hampshire. There, a Republican legislator sponsored the bill and a Republican governor signed it into law.

“New York most certainly lagged behind,” Mr. Hoylman said.

Over the years, Mr. Shurka and other advocates worked to educate state lawmakers about conversion therapy. Many of the people he spoke with did not believe conversion therapy was a modern problem, Mr. Shurka said. He blamed that lack of awareness on the stigma associated with the practice.

“If your parents are putting you into it, they’re not telling their neighbors or friends,” Mr. Shurka said. “It’s not really talked about, and even for the person that’s in it.”

Mr. Cuomo addressed the issue in 2016 when he prevented conversion therapy from being covered by insurers. A number of cities and counties in the state also passed bans, including New York City in 2017.

This year, Mr. Hoylman’s bill was passed as part of a slate of policies that Democrats are seeking to enact now that they have full control of the Legislature after winning a majority in the Senate in November. 

The conversion therapy ban received strong bipartisan support, passing the Assembly 134 to 3 and the Senate 57 to 4.

Mr. Shurka, who was in Albany for the Senate vote, said he was “shocked” by the result, which he said was pivotal.

“For me, conversion therapy is the source of all L.G.B.T. rights,” he said. “It’s still that question of ‘Can someone change?’”
Follow Michael Gold on Twitter: @migold.

January 16, 2019

NYS State Legislature Bans Gay Conversion Therapy Making It The 15th State To Do So




FRE
Albany

 By Dan Avery
NBC News

The New York State Legislature voted Tuesday to ban so-called gay conversion therapy on minors, with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected to sign the bill as soon as this week. The measure, which passed 57-4 in the Senate and 134 to 3 in the Assembly, will make New York the 15th state to ban the controversial practice, which is widely discredited by medical and mental health organizations.
“New York has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth,” the bill reads in part, “and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.” 
The ban is part of a larger LGBTQ rights push announced by Cuomo last year, an agenda that includes prohibiting the so-called gay panic defense in court and adding gender identity to state human rights and hate crime laws. (The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act passed the Legislature today as well.)
Bans on conversion therapy — which seeks to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity — repeatedly have passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly, only to die in the Republican-dominated Senate. But the GOP ceded its majority in the midterm election, paving the way for today’s victory.
Democrat Brad Hoylman, who authored the Senate bill, called conversion therapy “among the worst frauds in history.” “We have to consider the message we are sending to LGBT youth today,” Hoylman said Monday after the bill passed committee. “That we have your back and you are perfect just the way you are.”“The State of New York has a responsibility to stop licensed mental health professionals from causing irreparable damage to LGBT youth and their families,” Hoylman said when advocating for the ban in 2014.
Mathew Shurka, a member of the anti-conversion therapy group Born Perfect, told NBC News he "feel[s] safer” after the bill’s passage, but he stressed that the fight against the discredited practice is still “not over.”
“The next step is testing the law,” he said, “because there are several working conversion therapy practitioners in New York State.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, conversion therapy “can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.” 
Techniques used to attempt to change sexual orientation and gender identity have included inducing nausea and vomiting, providing electric shocks, psychotropic medication, and hypnosis. And according to a 2009 report by the American Psychological Association, the treatment has been associated with depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, high-risk sexual behaviors, homelessness, and other issues. 
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law recently estimated that 20,000 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 17 will undergo conversion therapy by a licensed health care professional before they turn 18, and approximately 57,000 will be subjected to the treatment by a religious leader or spiritual adviser. In 2012, California became the first state to prohibit conversion therapy on minors, and since then more than a dozen other states, the District of Columbia and several localities across the U.S. have followed suit. A number of state legislatures are currently considering bans, including Texas, Minnesota, and Indiana.
The issue has also entered the multiplex, with two recent films recounting the struggles of young people subjected to conversion therapy: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” starring Chloë Grace Moretz, and “Boy Erased,” with Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe.

January 14, 2019

Israel Bans Doctors From Trying Gay Conversion Therapy But It All Depends on the Next Election





            



Reporting about anything to do with LGBT in Israel takes patience because everything to do with sex there is complicated. As most LGBT understands it Israel is a homophobic country that likes to hide the homophobia behind a rainbow flag so they can get the gay tourist dollars. Would you think a country or city is anti-gay when you see rainbow flags hanging from their roofs. Exacly! The money and their religious beliefs are separated. 

A ban on conversion therapy by Israeli doctors will help protect gay people from treatments that claim to make them straight, but more work needs to be done with religious groups that support controversial "cures," activists said on Wednesday.

Members who perform conversion therapy could now be expelled from the Israel Medical Association (IMA), which represents 90 percent of the country’s doctors, if a complaint is filed to its ethics committee, said IMA spokeswoman Ziva Miral. 

“The treatments to change one’s sexual orientation have been found to be ineffective and could cause mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies,” the IMA said in a position paper on the practice.

Conversion therapy, which can include hypnosis and electric shocks, is based on the belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be cured.
 
It is used in many countries, except Malta, Ecuador and just over a dozen U.S. states that have outlawed it, according to the ILGA, a network of LGBT+ rights groups. Several states are considering bans, including Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

Ruth Gophen, one of the authors of IMA’s paper, published on Monday, said it was impossible to estimate how many Israelis have undergone conversion therapy because it is usually done in secret, as most doctors view it as unethical.
  
Israel is one of a handful of Middle Eastern countries - along with Jordan and Bahrain - that allow same-sex relations, in a region where several states impose a death penalty.
But many religious communities in Israel, where three-quarters of its 9 million-strong population are Jewish, are deeply conservative.

Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the Israeli LGBT Association, described the IMA’s ban on conversion therapy as a “breakthrough” but said outlawing the practice could make it harder to eradicate in communities where it is prevalent.
 
“We need to have a holistic approach regarding conversion treatment,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Our goal is to strengthen the religious LGBT organizations, to help them outreach (to) those youth that may be at risk of having conversion treatment.”

Julien Bahloul, spokesman for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, which campaigns for gay couples to become parents, said he hoped parliament would now pass a law making conversion therapy illegal.

“The fact that professional people, doctors, say today that this kind of therapy... is not acceptable and not in any way related to medicine is a huge victory for us,” he said.

However, Bahloul cautioned that it would depend on the results of elections scheduled for April 9.
It is often not possible to form a government in Israel without going into coalition with smaller parties, many of which are religious.


Reuters


December 23, 2018

Many Canadians Efforts To Rid The Nation of Conversion Therapy



 By Jessica Murphy
BBC News, Toronto. 
Thousands of Canadians have rallied behind two petitions calling for a nationwide ban of conversion therapy. It's part of a wider global trend condemning the practice. 
Peter Gajdics came out as gay to his family when he was 23. His staunchly Catholic parents rejected his homosexuality, and he left home. 
But Gajdics found himself struggling with deep depression and with feeling alienated and estranged, and his doctor referred him to a psychiatrist.
That psychiatrist centred on Gajdics' sexuality as the problem, telling him that abuse he suffered as a child created a "false notion" that he was homosexual. 
"So the goal in my therapy would be to work through my 'trauma' and therefore I would revert to my innate heterosexuality," says Gajdics. "Everything about my therapy became focused to do that." 



Author Peter GajdicsImage copyrightCOURTESY ERICH SAIDE
Image captionAuthor Peter Gajdics has campaigned against conversion therapy for some 20 years

The treatments grew increasingly intense. He was prescribed a cocktail of psychiatric medications - antidepressants, a sedative and more - and told they were necessary "to silence the noise" of his homosexuality. 
The young Canadian man spent six years under the psychiatrist's care, eventually moving into a house with other patients, "isolated from the world, definitely not talking to family or former friends, which was prohibited". 
He finally left the treatment, got off the medications, and sued the doctor for medical malpractice. 
One of the grounds for his lawsuit, which was settled out of court in 2003, was that the psychiatrist had tried to treat Gajdics' homosexuality as a disease. 
For Gajdics, part of the process of reclaiming his life after that experience was to speak out against conversion therapy - sometimes also called "sexual reorientation", "reparative", or "gay cure" therapy.
He recognises what he went through was an extreme form of the practice, but the intended goal of any form of conversion therapy is the same: to attempt to change an LGBT person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by major psychotherapy and medical associations in many countries, including Canada, the US and the UK, and is opposed by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. 
Gajdics eventually wrote a memoir - The Inheritance of Shame - about his experience, and shortly before its release approached the city of Vancouver, where he lives, to lobby for a ban on the practice there. 
A motion to prohibit businesses from providing conversion therapy to minors passed in June.
Two provinces in Canada - Ontario and Manitoba - have also taken steps to limit conversion therapy within their jurisdictions. 
Now, there's a growing push for a nationwide ban. 
Two separate petitions have racked up tens of thousands signatures since being posted earlier this year. 



Devon Hargreaves and Jennifer TakahashiImage copyrightCOURTESY DEVON HARGREAVES
Image captionDevon Hargreaves and Jen Takahashi launched a petition to ban conversion therapy in Canada

"In 2018, there's no reason that Canada, which considers itself a forerunner in human rights, to be allowing the practice," Devon Hargreaves, who helped launch one of those campaigns, tells the BBC.
The petition, which has more than 11,200 signatures so far, calls on Canadian legislators to ban conversion therapy for minors and to prohibit taking minors outside of the country for such purposes. 
The second petition, started by It Gets Better Canada, an affiliate of the US-based non-profit organisation that supports LGBT youth, has over 58,400 signatures. 
That petition calls on the federal government to clearly state that Canada "opposes the use of conversion therapy and other related treatments" and to develop policies to prevent anyone from attempting to alter a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. 



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau (R) at a Vancouver Pride paradeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPrime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau (R) at a Vancouver Pride parade

It Gets Better Canada's Chris Gudgeon says people have two reactions when they hear about the group's efforts to ban the practice: "'I can't believe this is happening in Canada', or 'this happened to me and it's time we ban it''. 
Only three countries in the world - Ecuador, Brazil, and Malta - ban conversion therapy. 
But a number of factors have brought the issue into the open in recent years. 
"There was this strange moment where all of a sudden conversion therapy caught people's attention," says Gudgeon. 
Three years ago, former US President Barack Obama spoke out against the practice after the suicide of a transgender teenager who posted online about religious therapists trying to turn her back into a boy. 
This year saw Hollywood release two films that centre on conversion therapy. 
Boy Erased is based on American writer Garrard Conley's personal experience with conversion therapy in Bible belt southern US. 



Boy Erased author Garrard Conley (L) and director and actor Joel Edgerton attend a screening of the filmImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBoy Erased author Garrard Conley (L) and director and actor Joel Edgerton attend a screening of the film

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which took home one of the top prizes at the latest Sundance film festival, tells the fictional tale of a gay teenage girl sent to a conversion camp in the 1990s.
Lucas Ramon Mendos, who researches conversion therapy legislation worldwide for The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, says he has seen a shift in the debate over the past year. 
"There's a lot happening, it's taking various forms, not just bills," he tells the BBC. 
He points to efforts in Australia and Spain, and to China, where last year a court ruled against a hospital that had forced a gay man into conversion therapy, ordering a public apology and compensation. 
In the US, a record number of states have tabled proposed legislation to tackle the issue amid a national "50 Bills, 50 States" campaign to ensure protections across the country. 
In July, the UK announced plans to bring forward proposals to end conversion therapy, which it called a "harmful practice". 
Mendos says that "for the first time victims have had the courage and the tools and the space to come out and speak about this". 



People protest against a Brazilian judge's decision to approve conversion therapyImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPeople protest against a Brazilian judge's decision to approve conversion therapy, throwing Brazil's ban into doubt

"This is one of the issues in which victims were forced into a scheme of shame, were harmed through these techniques, of questioning the self-identity of a person." 
There are no current statistics on the practice in Canada, but a 2017 UK government survey of LGBT citizens indicated that 2% of respondents had undergone conversion therapy and a further 5% had been offered it. 
Faith organisations were by far the most likely to have carried out the practice, according to the report.
In the US, an estimated 700,000 LGBT adults have received conversion therapy, about half when they were in their teens, according to research out of the University of California at Los Angeles.



Chris GudgeonImage copyrightCOURTESY TOM BO
Image captionChris Gudgeon

Researchers also estimated that some 20,000 LGBT teens between 13 and 17 will receive some form of the therapy from a medical professional and another 57,000 from a religious adviser. 
Those who monitor conversion therapy say they've noticed a shift in recent years away from organisations promising a "cure" to offering instead the ability to suppress any expression of an LGBT individual's sexuality. 
Gudgeon says he thinks that those who offer some form of conversion therapy often believe they are trying to help youth struggling with their identity. 
Many LGBT youth coming to terms with their sexuality "want to stop feeling conflicted", he says. 
Having support can be vital, he says, but "the fact is, that going to a therapy that tries to talk you into being somebody you're not isn't going to help you. It doesn't solve the conflict". 







Media captionChloe Grace Moretz: "My brothers tried to pray the gay away"

Both Hargreaves and Gudgeon are hopeful for a positive response on their respective campaigns from Justin Trudeau's Liberal government, which has made efforts to support LGBT Canadians in the past. 
Hargreaves' petition, filed on the parliamentary e-petition site, is guaranteed a formal response since it surpassed the 500 signature benchmark for a government response the night it was posted. 
Gajdics, who has been campaigning against the practice for some 20 years, says he is " thrilled" at the growing international scrutiny. 
"It's been a long, long time coming," he says. 
"It's such a deep, deep transgression and violation of the gay person, of the lesbian person, of the trans person, it cuts to such a deep level psychically, emotionally."

December 6, 2018

He Survived Conversion Therapy to Fight for The Ban In Virginia








PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- Is homosexuality a choice? Adam Trimmer, 29, was taught  that it was a choice, while growing up in Prince George County and attending a Southern Baptist church. At the age of 17, Trimmer revealed to his mother his closely-held secret.
"We were sitting at a stoplight and he said, 'Mom, I have something to tell you,'" Paulette recalled.
Adam told his mother he was gay.
"I looked at him and said, 'Adam, a man shall not lay with another man," she responded. "When he came out to me I quote scripture to him. I did not hug him and I did not tell him I love him."
A year later in college, feeling rejected by his parents and his first love, Adam attempted suicide .
While in the hospital recovering, a youth pastor recommended Adam seek help through reparative or conversion therapy.
"Healing from homosexuality, that was the verbiage that was presented to me," Adam explained. "I believed [the pastor] and I was ready to change. He recommended Exodus International."
Since the 1970's, the American Psychiatric Association established homosexuality was not a mental disorder.
Since then, however, multiple religious organizations, like Exodus International, have offered conversion therapy to people who aim to move from a homosexual to a heterosexual lifestyle.
James Parrish, the executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Virginia in Richmond, has lobbied the Virginia General Assembly to ban the controversial practice.
"It is fraudulent and it is junk science," Parrish stated. "It is operating under the assumption that there’s something wrong with being gay and there’s nothing wrong with being gay. Unfortunately, some of these parents think they are helping their children, but they’re actually putting kids in harms way."
A bill that would prohibit licensed professionals from performing the therapy on minors was voted down in the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee last January.
State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-District 11), who represents parts of Chesterfield County, all of Colonial Heights and Amelia County, was one of eight Republicans who voted against the bill.
"I don’t think the government should be in the business of restricting free speech and that’s what we are talking about here," Sen. Chase said. "If the pastor is also a licensed counselor he should not be afraid of losing his license. We want freedom for all of our constituents. We don’t want to shut down that opportunity for help if they want do that."
Chase said she would support a ban on therapy that included abuse of the patient, such as shock or torture therapy.
Jeff Johnston from the religious group Focus on the Family argued those examples are rare and God can help those willing to leave a gay lifestyle.
"I have met dozens and dozens of people who have had deep change and deep transformation and that's why we continue to advocate for their freedom," Johnston stated.
Multiple medical associations have warned against the practice explaining it does more harm than good. Research has showed children who undergo conversion therapy are more likely to commit suicide.
Parrish said he considered all forms of conversion therapy as abuse, which can be harmful to an individual.
"We’ve stood in front of them year in year out and showed the science and the data that this puts kids in danger," he stated.
Adam's parents helped raise money to pay for a retreat that taught him he was attracted to men because of an overbearing mother and an emotionally absent father.
"[I was told] your parents are the reason why you’re gay and at that moment I was able to take away the blame that I was placing on myself and put that blame on my parents," he explained.
Adam became distant from his parents.
"They had brainwashed Adam thinking it was my fault that I was a bad mother and his dad was a bad father," Paulette said. "Exodus all about destroyed our relationship. He came home hating me hating, his dad and being so upset with himself."
Adam met a man who promised to help him through connections in the program.
"There was an ex-gay mentor that I went to see for a week in North Carolina where we cuddled in his bed to be straight," he recalled. "Any type of attractions we were supposed to fight so if we felt any type of arousal we had to stop and talk about it. Then we tried to cuddle again and we did that for a week."
A new movie out in theaters called Boy Erased depicts classes to teach boys how to act more straight.
"All that was happening was I was entering a life of suppression," Adam explained.
Exodus International's owner eventually shutdown his organization, saying he's never seen it work. He also issued a public apology.
However, the practice of conversion therapy is still occurring in Central Virginia.
One organization that Adam sought help through was the Christian ministry, Set Free Richmond, which currently lists its address on Monument Avenue.
"Set Free offers personal consultation, support groups, training, workshops and conferences for strugglers, family and loved ones, and churches looking for real answers to some of life’s most difficult challenges," according to their website.
Acting-Executive Director Bob Perry said in a statement:
We totally disavow conversion therapy 100 percent and do not engage in it ever. We believe God’s love for people is absolute. The individual reaches out to us for help and we reach back. We help if we can and cannot always help. We are not out here trying to make people straight - but help with where they are.
Perry said they work with hundreds of churches along the East Coast and approximately 20 to 30 individuals seek their help each month. That number increases during the holidays.
The licensed minister said it is standard policy to stay away from working with minors, especially if they are unwilling participants.
Paulette Trimmer regrets helping her son attend conversion therapy sessions.
"It’s misleading and conversion therapy can destroy families. That’s not good, that’s not good," she said.
Adam left conversion therapy on his own and leads a gay lifestyle. He created the support group Love Actually Won RVA for survivors of conversion therapy.
His mother wishes she told her son that she loved him when he came out to her nearly 10 years ago.
"He knows where I stand with the Bible and that’s not going to change. But my love for my son is not going to change," Paulette stated.

November 14, 2018

Conversion Therapy Called For Him to Surrender To His Pastor For Two Years


                                         Image result for Darren Calhoun



 Darren Calhoun recalls being 12 years old during a sex education class at school and wishing he wasn’t gay.
“I remember expecting that one day I was going to magically be attracted to girls, but I was beginning to have crushes on guys,” Calhoun says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “I began to pray, but that feeling never went away.”
Calhoun, who grew up in a Christian home on the South Side of Chicago, kept his sexuality a secret for years.
“I would look in the mirror every morning asking myself if I was going to be gay the rest of my life,” says Calhoun, now 38. “I didn’t know anyone else who was.”
He was living a double life until it became too much to keep inside. At church and at school he was quiet and hid his sexuality, but he would then turn to chat lines and telephone party lines where he could talk to other gay men. But going to college in 1997 changed everything. He began to build friendships with people who were gay and became more confident.
“I took a creative writing class and wrote a poem that was kind of me coming out,” he says. “I said I was black, Christian and gay.” The response he received from the student body — and his parents and family — was positive, but there were a few people in his life who were very religious who constantly told him that this was “not what God wanted for my life.” 
After studying the Bible with a friend on campus he began to interpret the scripture in a negative way.
“I felt very helpless and shameful,” he says. “It led me to stop identifying as gay, but I acted out and secretly hooked up with a lot of people.”
Calhoun decided to go to the pastor of the church and ask for help.
“He said he was going to make me right,” says Calhoun. “It was very subtle at first. He said I had to get rid of my gay friends, pray more and live in his church’s basement in Chicago.”
Calhoun went from identifying as gay to hiding it and keeping his desires inside.
“I felt ashamed about my sexual orientation,” he says. “My testimony and my history had kind of been deleted. He [the pastor] wanted me to act like it had just never been true.” Two years later, he went to his pastor again and said he was still struggling.
He was told that to “show my commitment to God,” he had to move to the church’s Indiana location.
“Moving there was a very, very sharp cut from everything in my life,” he says. “My father passed away right before I moved, but I could barely process his passing. I was focused on getting right with God.”
Calhoun had to drop out of school and was given $50 a week. He also had to quit his photography business that he had on the side.
“The pastor wouldn’t let me go to my best friend’s wedding because I had to be more spiritual,” he adds. “I was under his supervision 24 hours a day and was told to fast two days a week. He said this would help me become heterosexual and let me go to heaven.” Over time, Calhoun realized that this wasn’t healthy.
“It was becoming clearer to me that this wasn’t healthy, and I knew I shouldn’t feel ashamed,” he says. “I called my mom, and she came to rescue and drove me home.”
Wounded and hurt by what had happened, it took Calhoun 10 years to build up trust again. When he returned to Chicago, he began to rebuild the life he left behind.
Now an advocate for the Born Perfect Campaign, he also got back into photography and is in a band called The Many that create music that acknowledges the “hard stuff in our world.” And on Sundays, he leads his church in worship.
“I’ve gone from being forced to hide parts of myself in a basement to literally being able to stand up and remind people that God loves everyone,” he says. “That includes me as a black, gay man.”

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