I am gay.
Those three words spoken by someone is the beginning of a lifelong journey. This person, by choosing love, no matter what form it comes in, is also choosing a life filled with ups, downs, confusing questions and sometimes… hate.
They find hate from other people, and some hate themselves.
Some hate this part of themselves so much they pay up to $10,000 a year to attend therapy hoping that part of their life will be “cured.”
Joe Bruck and Chaim Levin, both 17 years old at the time of their therapy in 2007, are suing a New Jersey conversion group called JONAH— Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing— for the conversion therapy techniques they were subjected to that put them at risk of “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior,” while giving them no benefits, the suit said.
Levin said he quit conversion therapy after his therapist had him strip down and touch himself to “reconnect with his masculinity.”
The suit said conversion therapy techniques included intimate holding of others of the same sex, violently beating a representation of their mother with a tennis racket, visiting bath houses “in order to be nude with father figures,” and being “subjected to ridicule as ‘faggots’ and ‘homos’ in mock locker room scenarios.”
Early treatments in the 1960s and 70s included shocking patients or giving them nausea-inducing drugs while showing them same-sex erotica, according to the British Medical Journal.
In California, a law banning the conversion therapy is headed to appeals court because it may violate the first amendment and two judges in the district courts had contradicting rulings.
Unless the appeal is granted, the law will take effect as scheduled. In other states, the conversion therapies remain legal.
The sad part is the conversion therapies do not work. People are paying thousands of dollars just to be subjected to mental torture for no reason.
The American Psychological Association has found that conversion therapies have little evidence to back them up, and said, “Enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon.” The participants continued to report same-sex attractions after the conversion therapy.
One effect from the conversion therapy is guaranteed by the APA: negative effects including “loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality and anxiety.”
Another thing the APA wants to be clear on: “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.”
To reiterate: homosexuality is not a disorder. Ignorance and prejudice from society and pressure to conform to heterosexual desires are the real dangers to gay people’s mental health.
If it were up to me, instead of that journey beginning with the words “I am gay,” it would begin with “I choose love, but the way I feel it.”
Love is an individual feeling, and the way one person sees it and experiences it should not cause them to seek therapy. Love cannot be cured.
Ignorance and prejudice can. Those are the real causes for the feelings of self-hatred imploring homosexuals to sign up for torture to “cure” themselves.
Love is love, and those who have felt love cannot argue with the fact that it is different for every person. You cannot explain it. You cannot describe it. And you sure as hell shouldn’t be mentally traumatized to fix it.
Hannah Schilling is a sophomore journalism major from Bossier City who serves as a news editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to hms...@latech.edu.