Change Cannot be Forced
As a medical professional, and a lesbian, I have seen horrific examples of humanity at every turn. Discrimination. Belittlement. Persecution. Understanding my genetics and needs, I never fell prey to “Praying the Gay Away.” The friends I have had over the years who were Baptist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even Catholic were not so lucky. Even back in high school, I remember my Christian friends being dragged (against their will) to church meetings with pastors and therapists to participate in their own form of brainwashing. I never saw a single case of success personally, nor in my career.
Those friends suffered through awful experiences, even to the point of physical torture. The majority failed the program immediately, and others have tried to live what they were taught was the good, holy life. Invariably, these individuals often marry a member of the opposite sex, spend years in a false imprisonment, and when adults, later in life often have the strength to become who they knew they always were. Not all are successful, and many live miserably, even commit suicide later in life.
Genetics Predispose Suicide
No matter how hard religion comes down, it cannot change genetics. As humans, we are who we are. We cannot flip a switch, and become what the rest of the world wants us to be As a result, the people I have seen subjected to this “Pray the Gay Away” personal assault either had one of three outcomes. One outcome was total detachment and disillusionment from family and the church, causing a lifetime of feeling a misfit and chastised for every action. Worse yet, I have seen LGBT youth give up on their life, and simply end it to avoid further conflict. In fact, LGBT youth growing up in environments that clearly reject them, are 8.4 times more probable to attempt to take their life than their peers growing up in accepting families. Many program are now focused on this, such as the acclaimed Trevor Project.
The Battle Continues
However, since there is no sexuality designation on death records, suicide data is hard to come by. Nowadays, the U.S. records all same-sex marriages and this data collection is in progress. In Denmark, a study used same-sex union data, and found these men were eight times more prevalent in committing suicide compared to heterosexual men. So, what we have learned is that “Praying the Gay Away” is a soap box platform for religious zealots to achieve their own means. The needs of the youth subjected to these programs are not weighed heavily enough. The organization Exodus, which was an “ex-gay” group that was once powerful in these discussions has now disbanded with apology to those they falsely led to a “better” life. The argument is far from eliminated, but the National Center for Lesbian Rights has initiated the #BornPerfect campaign with the goal of ending “conversion therapy” for youth over the next 4 years.