In this story: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) / LGBT+ /

"With me it was done at the hands of one of my parents"

“Folk often have the reaction that “oh that doesn’t happen”, or “that doesn’t happen anymore”. They think it must be super formal and rigid, that you turn up at a place that says “conversion therapy” on the door. That it happens in religious summer camps in America, or like Alan Turing. There are all forms of conversion therapy, more extreme ones, and other more subtle ones that might not appear to be conversion therapy on the surface. With me it was done at the hands of one of my parents.

When I came out as gay, I was told “no you are not”. My parents have a very literal fundamentalist understanding of their religion, where they truly believed homosexuality to be a mortal sin. From the age of 13, I was told that being gay isn’t an option. I was specifically told “I don’t have a gay son, you can either be my son, or be gay, but you can’t be both”. The morning after, they had got me a bible with a post-it note on it with all the readings about homosexuality needing eternal punishment on them.

I was isolated from other people, I was not allowed to come out to anyone else, I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone else. They wanted to contain it, basically. Things like prayer sessions, bible readings, fasting, making deals with God. I was constantly asked throughout my childhood, “you know your still not allowed to be gay”, or “you are still keeping up with that?”

No-one prayed harder than I did, or did more, or tried harder than I did too not be gay anymore. I gave it everything I possibly could, up to the point of almost dying. I really wanted it to work, initially. It sounds silly, but I felt like if I couldn’t do it, it’s not going to happen.

As time went on, I knew it wasn’t going to work, my mental health was getting increasingly worse, and I thought I need to make a plan on how to survive this, else I won’t make it to 18.”

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