Sexual orientation conversion therapy victims speak out

Sexual orientation conversion therapy victims speak out at hearing for banning the practice on minors
New York is considering banning so called reparative or conversion therapy for minors in the state.  Mathew Shurka, sent to orientation conversion therapy after coming out as gay to his Dad at age 16, recounted the depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts he experienced after his long string of so-called therapy sessions with several licensed mental health professionals.

Shurka was one of several victims of conversion therapy who spoke at the hearing convened by state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who is pushing to ban the practice on anyone under 18. California and New Jersey have already instituted such a ban.
If his legislation is enacted, mental health providers who perform the conversion therapy would be cited for unprofessional conduct and subject to licensing sanctions.
“This is an issue of abuse of kids as well as consumer fraud, where therapists are misleading parents into believing that they can ‘cure’ their kids,” said Hoylman, who is openly gay.

5 thoughts on “Sexual orientation conversion therapy victims speak out”

  1. Thank you for covering this news. This persecution needs to stop. It is brave of the victims to fight this battle given the trauma they have gone through as children – they were experimented on and mentally tortured. The medical ‘professionals’ involved need to be struck off. The professional bodies issuing the licenses to practice need to be reprimanded.


  2. I am probably going to catch some flack for this, but I want it to be known that I have no intention of casting judgment or starting a war.

    I am related to someone who performs “reparative” therapy on adult males. I myself am a therapist, finishing my doctorate degree, and am also self-described as a bisexual whom is currently in a romantic relationship with a male.

    I have read at length about this subject matter.

    My reactions are two-fold. First, it seems like many people who are tossed into these conversion therapies are not willing participants. I imagine 90% of the people speaking out did not truly want to change, but felt immense pressure from family, religious institutions, or friends/partners. This to me is sad, and the unfortunate result is that it ends up not working and sometimes leaves the patients feeling worse or more ashamed.

    Second, homosexuality is not a clinical issue, and has not been in most versions of the diagnostic manual therapists use to diagnose/code for billing. The version that was printed right before it was banned by the APA was titled “ego-dystonic homosexuality” I believe. The historically heteronormative culture died in 1986 when it was removed, which seems to be for the best.

    Where my opinion differs is this, I think there are cases where this type of therapy can be helpful. Let’s say someone–male or female–has been questioning their sexuality, has some social pressure but nothing intense like an angry religious parent, yet is still conflicted. Would it really be unreasonable for the person to seek professional help for them to reorient to the side they prefer? Especially considering the likely shame the person feels about not having a “solid” orientation. There is a great deal of bias against being bisexual, believe me, so most people tend to prefer one of the other more solidly defined labels.


      1. I definitely agree Gary There are a million different “shade of gay.”

        On a kinsey scale i’m more in the middle. Others are more towards the homosexual or heterosexual.The tendency to be more active in one’s pursuit of one biological sex over the other for sexual and romantic is predominantly a bifurcated process in popular media.

        I know first hand you can date and have sex with pretty much whomever. Depending upon how one presents themselves and their sexual and romantic choices will likely determine how you are received, though prejudice and bias always are present. I’d like to think her Ted Talk would help change people’s opinions, but, even as a therapist to be, I find myself more cynical about the prospect of the glorified ideal of acceptance in culture’s rooted in hundreds if not thousands of years of living in a predominantly two-sexuality world.

        I argue, based upon census data and empirical research, that persons identifying as anything other than heterosexual (even though most heteros likely have some homosexual or other longings) are statistically more in the minority. We would need a major change in discourse like the speaker in the TED talk is proposing for more wide spread acceptance to occur.

        So, in the meantime, why not go to therapy or talk with a professional of some sort to help develop a stronger sense of one’s identity when feeling lost? Or, at the very least, learn some ways to develop “healthy assertiveness” so that people who do feel confused or marginalized can stand up to the aggressive and homophobic.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s