IAMA gay teenager who was forced to attend "gay-to-straight" therapy sessions; I'm still gay.
I got a good chuckle out of it
I have a family member who is only 14 and whose parents are trying to force him into one of these things as well. Everyone in the family is accepting of him and we all have openly expressed our disagreement with his parents, and we have been trying to be there as much as possible for him, but nothing we say or do really seems to convince his parents that he is just fine as he is. Do you have any advice to offer on how we might help get him out of this situation or at least help him cope with the bullshit being thrown his way?
Please, please, do not let this kid attend any type of "gay to straight" correctional sessions. The parents are the major problem in this instance, and the family needs to step up and not stop putting pressure on them to accept him for who he is. There exists ton of data that shows the terrible psychological effects these sessions can have on kids (CA just banned this type of therapy); maybe that will prevent them from taking action. If religion is their major concern, there is a huge gay accepting Christian world that will help talk to these parents and show them that being gay doesn't run contrary to the Bible. Look up some in your area that can talk to them. If he goes, it can really hurt him.
If all else fails, please make sure he understands that you are there for him. Let him know that above all else, you have his back and that the world is a much more accepting place than his parents. If he goes, which you should do everything you can to ensure he doesn't, your family has to be there for him and continue working on his parents. Therapy sucks, but having non-accepting parents is what gets you.
I know this might sound harsh, but call child support. This is abuse, treating your kids like they're broken is abuse, and forcing them to go to such a thing is abuse. That child may be robbed of a lot of self-esteem, a lot of trust and a lot of respect soon, but it can be stopped!
You probably can't argue with the parents, if you wish to inflict this kind of social and mental harm on your kid, you are not a reasonable person. Call! Child! Support!
Pretty much. I think states should pass similar legislation that California is working with that would ban these extreme therapy practices.
Does your mother still have a problem with you being gay, or is she okay with it now?
It has been a long and emotionally difficult battle concerning my mom and my sexuality, but I think she's finally coming to accept it to the best of her abilities. We never talk about it, and I'm sure it still stresses her out, and I have some resentment for all of the insecurity I had to deal with, but we function still. It's hard to feel at home when you're not accepted. I have yet to tell any extended family, as they would outright reject me.
Holy shit! Sorry to hear that, man. Do you think that this qualifies as child abuse?
In some ways, absolutely. It made me feel like a defective toy that has something wrong that must be fixed and can mess some people up pretty seriously. It made me think I was going to rot in hell if I didn't become straight, which is some pretty heavy shit for a young teen to bear. Luckily, I didn't buy into it too much and got out fairly early.
As an Australian, I've never heard of "gay-to-straight." Is this a USA thing?
Also, having once been an "ultra-fundy demon behind every door" kinda guy myself, did he try to cast demons out of you?
I'm not sure that it's just a U.S. thing though the research I've done mostly leads to therapy and camps here in America. No, he didn't really refer to any demons, haha.
Did the counselor actually try to change your sexual orientation? Or was he more concerned with suppressing your feelings?
His primary concern was to have me suppress my sexual attraction to other guys, but he more than once mentioned trying to start looking at girls differently.
What are your religious beliefs now/opinions on the idea of "God" or some sort of supernatural deity?
Now that I'm older, I'm pretty salty with the Christian church (at least, my exposure with it). It seems to excuse a lot of hate where I come from, so I consider myself a type of Deist. I think that if such a god did exist that the Christians claim to know, he would frown upon those that use the faith to hate upon a minority so fiercely.
Not that most people who believe in bigotry for bullshit reasons will be open to reason, but have you explained to your mom that the New Testament never said anything about homosexuality until 1964? It was added, yes that's right added. After hundreds of years people quite spontaneously decided to change the wording of translations accepted since the 1300s in some variation or another, ever so conveniently around the time homosexuality was being heavily stigmatized.
Funny, that, no? Edit2: Feel free to see for yourself: http://imgur.com/93uTA,mKJhN - I'm not sure if these are from that particular edition I found on Google docs, these are from, if I remember right, an 1890s one or somewhere around there.
The article itself is written by Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale who, as far as I can tell, is still a practicing Christian, just one who has actually read and studied the bible, but has also looked at some of the original greek.
The funniest part about it is that the greeks had pleeeenty of words for gay dudes, gay sex, and all that. None of those were used, and therefore in every Bible since the 1300s, when it was first translated into English, the New Testament never referenced homosexuality in either of those cases folks so often refer to - which are Romans and Timothy, off the top of my head. (EDIT: It's Timothy1:1-10 and Corinthians1:6-9, my mistake! I wrote this all at once and didn't double-check which two I was referring to for the translation point.) Leviticus is a different ballgame as that Jewish scripture, so that's easy to dismiss for obvious reason. Per the NT you either are 0% old testament if you're gentile, or 110%, it's directly contradictory, so pick and choose there, I guess? The interesting part about the words is that some scholars believe that maybe it was representative of a very specific type of sex, such as exploitative sex, or a very specific group.. or maybe it was a socially contextual word, like today's "bronies" or "hipsters." Will people know what the fuck those are in a hundred years, a thousand?
But anyways, I know logic never helps people who are in deep, but it's pretty damn interesting.. In fact, prior to the change in translation, the Bible was translated to say "the effeminate," so unless you're a super limp-wristed gay, you're less sinful than your mother on that one, most likely! Hooray for patriarchal historical societies!
For your use, an 1885 Bible on Google Docs, to prove my point: http://books.google.com/books?id=FfdEyVUHA70C&printsec=frontcover&dq=bible&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VrDmULikE4jDrQHXloBg&ved=0CGsQ6wEwCA
This stuff sure gets interesting fast! Just like that every major anti-gay remark in the entire Bible's New Testament is discounted or explained away much easier than you can explain away many of the most obvious contradictions in the bible.. gosh, that was easy.
EDIT: It's Timothy and Corinthians, my mistake! I wrote this all at once and didn't double-check which two I was referring to for the translation point. Totally my fault. The other instance, Romans, is referring possibly to dude on dude sexing, but you can read various greek translations to get some other interpretations and, furthermore, why would something so evil and sinful be mentioned once, in passing, and only in the context of the consequences of idolatry? That doesn't make any sense. Not that any of it does, but hey..
Yep! I fancy myself decent at arguing these kinds of points by now, and I've pretty much used most of them on my mom at some point. The problem is not evidence, in most instances it's not fact or reason that persuades a person into intolerance, but her upbringing and how ingrained it was into her head.
Is your dad still around? I know you said you came out to your mom, but if your dad's still in the picture, did he try to do anything to try and stop your crazy-ass mom or did he go along with it?
My father fled the country when I was in elementary school, and has been in jail for quite a few years now...my family is, er, interesting. He calls me from jail though (my mom must have told him I'm gay) and is surprisingly open to it.
Did the therapist lead you to believe that he'd actually successfully 'cured' anyone in the past?
He never mentioned other kids.
Thanks for doing this AMA.
How old are you now? How many years ago was this? How independent from your mom are you now?
Do you regret coming out?
Did you anticipate a better reaction from your mom than what your received?
I'm currently 19. I regret coming out to my mom at that time, for sure. I think coming out later would have been much better, but I definitely prefer it over being shut in the closet forever. Yeah, I was young and stupid; I thought my mom would understand a lot more.
In your honest opinion, was the counselor gay? Did he set off your gaydar?
Sorry about being suppressed. If it's any consolation, it gets better, both in life and in the fact that the country is really starting to open up to acceptance. Hopefully your town will too, or at least you can get to somewhere that will.
He didn't really set off my gaydar, but I didn't put too much thought into at the time. I honestly think he was straight. And thanks. Life has already gotten a lot better for me, and things are still on the up and up :)
Did they show you videos? Did they read books to you? Did they talk about god and\or hell a lot? Please share some of the 'conversion' techniques they used.
There were considerable Bible quotes used, and these was a lot of talking. Beyond that, nothing crazy. It was mainly intense therapy sessions where he lectured/ asked me questions/ tried to convince me to veer onto the right path.
Do you think your mom was scared to lose her 'status' within the community because she had a gay son or do you think she was genuinely concerned about you and thought you were sick?
I think my mom genuinely cared about me. After all, not many people in the community really know I'm gay.
Will you keep your family in your life if/when you settle down, marry, or adopt children later?
It truly depends on how they handle me getting married/adopting children. If they end up dragging me down and rejecting it entirely, I'm not sure that I could keep on trying to include them in my life. I would like to try, however.
Do you think everyone is a little bi-curious?
I've never really been attracted to a girl, so I can't really say that's true.
Do you think you will ever forgive your parents?
I can't really say...I think if my mother truly accepted me and let me know it that would go a long way. I'm still kind of resentful for all of the childhood pain which is difficult to let go of.
Do you have a dog?
Did you get a refund?
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