The messages from church, school and society were clear but subtle. I didn't even realize I was being brainwashed. My shame was toxic; it permeated my life and as a result caused me to feel that I was not worthy of a good life. This ended up causing me to make choices that were self-destructive and sometimes harmful to the other people in my life.
Most teens and many adults from very religious backgrounds are already confused, guilty and ashamed of themselves. These teenagers then find themselves undergoing reparative therapy without even being told it was conversion therapy. This abuse adds another layer of guilt and shame on top of the guilt and shame accumulated from growing up gay in a heterosexual and homophobic world.
The negative reinforcement of reparative therapy reinforces the belief that the patient is a bad and defective human being at his or her core. No wonder the suicide rate among this population is so high.
Opponents of California's new law against reparative therapy don't voice much concern about the teenagers and young adults they believe should be subjected to these forms of mind manipulation. Matt Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, one of the proponents of conversion therapy, recently stated to the press, "If the bill is signed into law, it will harm minors, undermine parental rights and interfere with the rights of counselors. Under this bill the counselor will be forced to disregard a client's religious beliefs or change them."
It sounds like Mr. Staver is concerned for the civil rights of parents, counselors and the church ... but what about the LGBT people he wishes to perpetrate this abuse on?
The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 and declared it a normal variant of human sexuality. They further declared that "[e]thical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation" and expressed concern over conversion therapy and consider it "potentially harmful."
In order to agree with me, you have to first believe that a person's sexual orientation is at least 50% biological and not purely a result of bad parenting, a corrupting culture or adolescent experimentation. Conservative Christians, Mormons and some other fringe group don't believe that nature may actually create about 10% of any mammal population as LGBT. Instead, they see it as an "abomination before God." If they are right, then electroshock therapy and other forms of punishment are exactly what every LGBT person needs in order to become "right before God."
I know that my coming to terms with my sexual orientation and accepting it as an innate part of who I am was the most difficult and at the same time most liberating thing I have ever done. It wasn't until I came out of the closet and embraced my true nature that I started living my life as the gifted, creative and talented person God meant me to be. My ability to be of benefit to the world were squandered until I came to terms with my true nature and started to love myself just as I am.