Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Pain Of Reparative Therapy: My Story - Part One

       I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but have held off on it because I’m naturally a very private person, and don’t like to put my personal story out for others to read. But over the past week or so, as I have seen the “Sissy Boy” segment on Anderson Cooper 360, the article in the New York Times highlighting the issue of reparative therapy, and the government of Hong Kong’s recent decision to support a “gay cure” expert, I feel that it is time to tell my own experience with reparative therapy.
      My story starts in 2003, when I was 14 years old. Though I knew that I was sexually attracted to guys, I had never done anything to give any indication of it. But in 2003 that all changed. During that year, my family was remodeling our house in Illinois and were living at my grandparents. About twice a week, my dad and I would drive over to our house to take care of the lawn, whether it be mowing the grass, weed whacking etc. One particular day, while my father was outside mowing, my curiosity about guys got the best of me and I decided to go onto some gay-themed websites.  In order to make a long story short, my dad checked the history on the computer, found out about me going on these sites, and told my mother. I remember vividly her sitting outside on my grandparents deck, telling me that if I ever did anything like that again that I would be kicked out of the house and onto the streets. Naturally for a 14 year old, this was devastating news and was a threat that I remembered for the years to come. As I struggled to come to terms with my sexuality, I was constantly afraid that if I told anyone in my religiously conservative family, I would be ostracized and thrown out into the cold.
       In late August of 2005, only a few days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, my parents found out that I was still “struggling with same-sex attraction”. Thankfully not going through with their threat to kick me out of the house, they decided instead to take me to a counselor, who would help me understand why I “struggled” this way, and what I could do to become more "normal". My first session with Mr. Phillps – the counselor – was on August 30th, 2005 – a date that I will never forget because I remember watching the coverage of Katrina on the news in the lobby of his office.  I was forced to undergo counseling on my sexuality with him for about six months – till about May of 2006. At the end of May, my parents thought that my sexual confusion was just a phase I had gone through, that I was now heterosexual, and that they would never have to deal with it again.
       In early October of that same year – when I was just 17 – my parents once again found gay-themed websites in the history of the family computer. Realizing that it was not just a “phase” that I was going through, they decided that more drastic action needed to be taken. They proceeded to contact Mr. Phillips, and took his advice to send me to the “Refuge” program, a program run by the ex-gay ministry Love In Action in Memphis, Tennessee. My parents told me that I had no option but to go, considering that I was underage and still under their authority. Thus, we packed our bags and moved to Memphis for two months, and on October 28, 2006  I was enrolled at Love In Action.

Part Two of "The Pain Of Reparative Therapy" can be found here

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