Conversion therapy is one of the ugliest practices to have come out of fundmentalist christian society. This type of therapy is targeted at LGBTQ+ youth in an attempt to reverse, change or repress their sexuality in the name of the religious organization and as a way to someone be closer to god. While debunked by all major medical institutions and psychology organizations, it is still an extremely problematic issue and very much alive in America. This has affected the LGBTQ+ community in a number of harmful ways, and that’s what we’re here to explore today. This practice is older than you might think, and has its roots in early settlers of America and even earlier to the 19th century in Europe. Today, there is a conversion therapy movie uprising exposing the experiences and violent tactics used by practictioners of conversion therapy in the hopes of spreading information about these organizations and as a warning to young LGBTQ+ citizens to watch out for the signs of manipulation and to seek out help from those who support them. So, if you’re curious for more info on how this dangerous therapy has harmed the LGBTQ+ community in America, then keep reading.
Dates Back Centuries
The first thing to know about conversion therapy is that it’s been around for centuries. Dating back all the way to the late 19th century as the first official medical paper and experiment was published. However, it’s reasonable to surmise that ideas around converting gay youth into straight youth were already being practiced in Europe. In America, it wasn’t until European settlers came to the land that these ideas started permeating the culture. The idea that homosexuality is a sin comes from the christian church, and is thought to have been a way to control population, economics and the communities that they served. This is a problematic practice, and the reason we have the words “separation of church and state” in our constitution. However, that hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference in America, as most of the country’s politicians are influenced by the same fundamental values that have degraded an entire population of people for centuries.
Conversion therapy uses gaslighting and fear tactics to make people feel ashamed of their desires by calling it sinful and deviant. The text surrounding homosexuality in the actual bible is tenuous at best, and we encourage any reader to look this information up should they be curious to see what scripture is being used to justify such heinous acts of manipulation. Some of the specific techniques used by conversion therapy are behavioral therapy, which consists of a combination of shock therapy and exposure therapy. Patients are sometimes given nausea inducing medication and shown same-sex erotic content in an attempt to create an aversion to such behavior. Another, more manipulative technique used by churches is the implementation of ex-gay and ex-trans ministries, or minsitries that are operated by ‘ex-members’ of the LGBTQ+ community. This is scene as a form of coercion to recruit young, gay youths into their ministries.
Civil Rights Movement
Conversion therapy and a general prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community remained the norm in the United States until the mid to late 60’s when the Civil Rights Movement was gaining traction. Along side it, their queer brothers and sisters were raided at the Stonewall Inn, causing a riot in June of 1969. This movement, led primarily by Marsah P. Johnson kick started the rights movement for the LGBTQ+ community and started to raise awareness of just how damaging these kinds of practices are to the youth. They tell gay kids that they don’t matter, and their identity and who they love is wrong. Nothing could be more damaging to a child, or any person for that matter, to hear that not only is their love not accepted, many would like to see it erased or illegal.
Today, we are unfortunately still dealing with a deeply seeded fundamental belief in certain circles, mainly religious ones, that still believe homosexuality is a sin. Most large organizations offering conversion therapy are publically decentralized, but many still operate under the radar or independently. There is still a great deal of inotolerance out there surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, with modern politicians making attempts to pass bills that essentially make existing as a queer person illegal. While we’ve come a long way, and the community is much stronger than it was in the early 20th century, we have a long way to go before we can live up to the standard that we deserve to live up to. In the future, it is a hope that more media surrounding these terrible practices will help weaken them even further and accept our LGBTQ+ community with open arms.