Florida Senator Attempts to Ban Conversion Therapy

Jose Javier Rodriguez, a state senator from Miami has filed legislation for 2019 that would prohibit licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy minors, according to Florida Phoenix

Rodriguez, along with Democratic Representative Evan Jenne filed a similar bill last year but it did not get the necessary amount of legislative votes. Broward and Palm Beach counties have banned conversion therapy on the local level, but a statewide ban has yet to come to fruition.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, are all states, along with DC, that have banned conversion therapy on a statewide level. If Rodriguez manages to get this legislation passed, Florida will join the fourteen states in advancing LGBTQ rights. 

Liberty Counsel, a conservative group based in Orlando, is suing to overturn Tampa's ban on conversion therapy, claiming that banning the practice is a violation of people's first amendments privileges. In the past, the group filed lawsuits against Broward and Palm Beach counties for banning conversion therapy. 

Luckily, the majority of Floridians believe that conversion therapy for minors should be made illegal, according to a Gravis Marketing poll. Because of this, I remain hopeful that Florida's legislation will do the right thing and ban the abhorrent practice. 

h/t: Florida PhoenixGravis Marketing

The Vatican Censored Pope Francis's Commentary On Psychiatric Help For Gay Kids

While the Vatican continues to push against gender identity and other factors of LGBTQ life, the center of Christianity is slowly changing it’s mind in terms of homosexuality.

According to Cruxnow, the Vatican has decided to do away with a comment by Pope Francis that gay children should seek psychiatric help.

The Pope was expected to make this comment while giving an in-flight press conference. On Sunday, the plan was to ask the Pope for his advice to a father whose child came out as gay.

The official transcript of this future conversation included the Pope saying that the father should seek counsel prayer, dialogue, and space. But on top of that, the Pope also wanted to comment that the father’s response really depended on the child’s age when “this turmoil” manifested itself.

“Because it means something if it shows when you are still a child, when there are a lot of things to be done, either with psychiatric help, or to see how things are. While it is something else when it shows 20 years later.”

Later, it appears that the Vatican chose to edit Francis’s remarks and remove the line “either with psychiatric help.”

While it appears that Pope Francis still has misgivings around homosexuality, despite saying earlier this year that God made gay people "like this," it also seems that the Vatican is trying to steer away from commentary on conversion therapy.

We're not quite sure that's a win, but it's at least a small step in a positive direction.

Conversion Therapy May be Banned for Adults in California. But for Now, There's a New Twist.

Conversion therapy has been the bane of many LGBTQ people's existence, causing people who were subjugated to this harmful practice to teach themselves to hate their homosexuality, which often leads to depression and suicidal ideation. One man, Evan Low, attempted to have this abhorrent practice banned for adults in California but on the last day of the 2018 legislative calendar he withdrew the bill, but for a good reason, according to Euro News

About one in every five hundred Americans have received therapy that seeks to change their same-sex attraction. This type of therapy is rooted in the belief that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured using psychiatric practices, although the majority of psychologists say it doesn't hold any merit. The therapy is sometimes performed by licensed therapists, but mostly it's performed by a religious figure.

Erin Green, Executive Director of Brave Commons, calls out the religious figures administering this practice, saying that "They're just pastors who don't know a whole lot about sexual identity or sexual diversity or gender." Erin is an LGBTQ Christian who attended conversion therapy and wishes to spread how harmful the practice is by citing its statistically proven negative consequences.

Currently, fourteen states plus Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for people under the age of eighteen. Evan Low wished to take California a step further and ban the practice for adults as well. However, some people were not happy with this bill being proposed and actively tried to prevent it from being passed. 

Jim Domen, a self-professed "former" as in "formerly gay" decided that he did not want to be gay and instead "chose" heterosexuality. He claims attending therapy helped him gain an understanding of why he and others are gay. He says that young boys disconnecting from their fathers early in life causes homosexuality as longing for a male role model, like in his personal case, turns into a sexual attraction because he did not get the male support he needed as a child. 

Low wants to put an end to the practice as he views it as fraudulent; people have to pay for it and there are no accurate results. During a meeting to discuss this bill, Evan presented an emotional argument saying that harmful results of the therapy, namely depression and suicidal ideation, were things that he experienced growing up as a gay person and he wants to rid California of the practice altogether. He recognizes that people are all equal regardless of sexuality, there should not be any converting, and people should be proud of their identity. 

Low had the votes to get the bill passed but pulled it at the last minute. He says religious figures contacted him and admitted that these practices do actively harm people. Low believes that if he receives support for the ban from other pastors in the near future, the bill would be stronger, hopefully getting the support he needs for it to pass with no worries.



h/t: Euro News

Italian Teacher Told His Students That Being Gay's A Disease Cured By "Self-Respect"

An Italian teacher is receiving complaints after he told his young teenaged students that homosexuality is an evil “physical malformation,” or disease, cured by “self-respect.”

According to Italian gay news blog Gayburg, 60-year-old math teacher Armando Baldissin is facing criticism for teaching his eighth grade students a homophobic lesson on sexuality.

Baldissin, who works at the Catholic school La Traccia in the town of Bergamo, gave a lecture titled “Immature and Unfinished Sexuality.”

In the lecture, Baldissin told his male students, “An erotic drive aimed at people of their sex own sex is considered a disease if it involves suffering.” Baldissin added other thoughts such as homosexuality being a “contradiction between the attraction that one feels and the one the body naturally has,” and being “caused by the perception of inadequacy of one self with respect to one’s own sexual identity.”

Baldissin then suggested that if the boys ever feel attraction to another man, they should reach out to a good psychologist. Essentially, Baldissin suggested gay conversion therapy to his 13 and 14-year-old students.

While Italy is considered a gay-friendly country with several protections for LGBTQ people, the country deals with several instances of homophobia like any other. In addition, there is currently no law banning conversion therapy on minors.

 After news got out of this lecture, several LGBTQ advocates condemned the lesson by Baldissin and the school for allowing it.

In addition, many have pointed out how La Traccia school receives funding from the government due to state law “guaranteeing an educational project in harmony with the principles of the Constitution.”

Many say that the school should not be supporting lessons so polarizing as Baldissin’s, if government money is involved.

While the school has not responded to the controversy, students say that the program has been canceled.

h/t: Gayburg

Following a Democratic Win, Four States Move to Ban Conversion Therapy

For years, LGBTQ people have been subject to the abhorrent practice known as conversion therapy, in which people attempt to cure their "patients" of homosexuality. Fortunately, enough people realized that this practice does more harm than good and have worked to have it banned in several states (New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, and New Hampshire). According to Into More, following the midterm election results where Democrats gained multiple seats in the local and federal government, it appears that four more states Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, are planning on banning conversion therapy. 


Openly gay Senator Brad Hoylman of New York said that the Republican party that controlled the State Senate at the time "blocked every piece of LGBTQ legislation since 2011." He also commented that he was sure that the Republicans will continue to try and block LGBTQ legislation and that would not change unless the State Senate had a Democratic majority. In 2018, New York approved a bill that would have prohibited conversion therapy from being performed on minors, but Republicans in the State Senate would not allow the bill to reach them. After November 6, Democrats will hold 35 out of 63 Senate seats in New York, hopefully the help and the majority needed to get protective LGBTQ legislation passed. Hoylman is hopeful that positive change will occur, as he saw record turnout among Democrats and he realized that many Republicans do not feel represented by their party anymore. 


The election of Jared Polis of Colorado, also an openly gay politician, indicates that change is also coming to the Centennial State. There is now a 19-16 Democratic Senate majority in Colorado, which will hopefully allow the state legislature to push forward with protective LGBTQ legislation.


In Maine, Republican governor Paul LePage vetoed a conversion therapy bill, making him the first Governor to do so. Newly elected Governor Janet Mills promised once she became the new governor of Maine to sign a bill to conversion therapy. In a March 2018 statement, Mills said she recognizes the harm that conversion therapy causes, the anxiety, depression, homelessness, and other harmful effects.

"LGBTQ people don’t need to be ‘fixed'. As governor, I will make sure LGBTQ young people in Maine hear from their political leaders that they are respected and valued, not broken."


In Massachusetts, both the House and Senate supported a bill that would ban conversion therapy, but could not reconcile the differences of their versions. It is projected that such a bill will be reconsidered in 2019. 


It is clear that the increase of Democrats and LGBTQ citizens involved in and having positions in the government will lead to positive changes and more protective LGBTQ legislation in the near future as such things have been neglected for far too long. 

h/t: Into More

Therapist Practices 'Ex-Gay' Therapy By Day, Trolls For Gay Sex On Dating Apps At Night

A notorious “ex-gay” therapist who takes money from unsuspecting patients promising to ‘cure’ them of being gay has been allegedly outed for secretly trolling for sex with men on dating apps.

From Truth Wins Out:

Norman Goldwasser, by day, is an Orthodox Jewish therapist at Horizon Psychological Services who compares homosexuality to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and misleads clients by claiming that their sexual orientation can be changed with his special brand of quack therapy, which is rejected by every respected medical and mental health association.

By night, an undercover investigation by Truth Wins Out has found, he solicits sexual partners on Manhunt, a gay dating App, using the profile “Hotnhairy72.”

During our operation, Goldwasser, going by the pseudonym “Dave”, offered to meet for sex with our operative, “Brandon,” at a Fort Lauderdale motel room. Goldwasser also had a profile on Bear Nation by the same name.

Oh, the hypocrisy.

Studies have shown that so-called “ex-gay therapy” can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

Also known as “reparative” or “conversion therapy,” the practice has been debunked and denounced by nearly every major medical organization including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Currently 15 states - Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Delaware - plus the District of Columbia -  all have laws or regulations protecting youth from the harmful practice.

Additionally, local municipalities including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin have also passed similar legislation.

In reporting the story for Truth Wins Out, Executive Director Wayne Besen writes that Goldwasser’s “double life of unconscionable lies highlights the rank hypocrisy and predatory nature of the fraudulent ‘ex-gay’ industry.”

Goldwasser has long ties to the "conversion therapy" community going back to Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), an "ex-gay therapy" organization which was ordered dissolved by a New Jersey Superior Court in 2015 for violating consumer fraud laws.

Besen, the author of Anything Bust Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, says his organization doesn’t condone outing others unless “there is overwhelming hypocrisy, exchange of commerce, and the threat of harm to LGBT youth.”

It seems the Goldwasser situation ticks all three boxes.

Besen told JoeMyGod that he had been communicating with Goldwasser in advance of the Truth Wins Out article, and Goldwasser apparently begged Besen to consider his children and grandchildren in regard to exposing him.

Besen shared this text message from Goldwasser with JoeMyGod:


“I reminded Goldwasser that he was asking for sympathy he never afforded his victims, some teenagers, as he coldly collected their money and ruined their lives,” Besen shared on JoeMyGod.


“I also told him that only caring about his own predicament without apologizing for the harm he caused other people was narcissistic -- something he could, unlike homosexuality -- fix by visiting a real therapist.”

This scandal comes to light as the new film Boy Erased opens in theaters this week.

The movie, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe, focuses on the true-life experience of Garrard Connelly whose parents sent him to “ex-gay camp” when they discovered his sexuality when he was a teen.

(h/t Truth Wins Out, JoeMyGod)

Check Out The Haunting Track From Upcoming Conversion Therapy Film "Boy Erased"

Revelation,” the first single from the soundtrack of the upcoming movie Boy Erased, has been released and it’s everything you want it to be.

The film, based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, is the true story of one young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.

Boy Erased tells the story of Jared (Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.

The track, a collaboration between out Australian pop star Troye Sivan (who’s also featured in the movie) and Icelandic musician Jónsi (best known as the frontman for Sigur Rós), is a hauntingly sensitive and touching ballad.

You're a revelation
Won't you liberate me now
From a holy world
You're a revolution
I will liberate you now
As the walls come down

During a recent tour stop in New York City where he performed the song live, Sivan shared that the evolution of the song was inspired by a scene in the film.

“It’s this one moment of relief in the film.,” says Sivan. “It’s this one really sweet, tender moment where Jared does something that I would consider pure and beautiful and normal and romantic.”

“He has that experience and the sky doesn’t fall down on him,” he explains. “The world doesn’t come crashing down, and it’s a ‘revelation’ to him. That person that he was with is a revolution to him, and it was just so inspiring. So, we started with these lyrics of ‘you’re a revelation, you’re a revolution’.”

Boy Erased lands in theaters November 2. Hit the play button below to hear “Revelation.”


(h/t Focus Features)

Self-Hatred Runs Rampant Through the Pavlovian Nightmare Known as Conversion Therapy

While homosexuality has been slowly becoming more accepted in society, there are some people who are vehemently opposed to anything LGBT and will spread hatred and fear to attempt to eradicate it. One man, Mitchell Reid, was told that God did not love him because he is gay, his soul is broken, and that he is evil for not being attracted to women. Because of this, he attempted to take his own life twice. In a special report by The Post and Courier, Reid retells the horrors of the conversion therapy that he attended for decades to cure himself of his homosexuality. 

But first for a little background into the garbage known as conversion therapy. This horrid practice came about in the mid 20th century when psychology was becoming more mainstream. Homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the DSM until 1973. During this time, many horrendous treatments began in attempts to cure homosexuality, such as electroshock therapy or using nausea-inducing medication, à la A Clockwork Orange, to make people associate same-sex attraction with nausea and vomiting.

One of the first ex-gay organizations was Exodus International, an Orlando-based group founded by Michael Bussee in 1976, who claimed that it started out as a prayer circle for gay Christians. Bussee left the group in 1979 when he came out as gay to his family and began a relationship with another founder of Exodus International and wrote in a blog post for NCLR that nobody turned heterosexual after going through conversion therapy. 

Although Bussee denounced the notion of conversion therapy, the practice continued to gain popularity across the US giving rise to organizations such as National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH, that popularized the idea that homosexuality can be cured. 

Now that that's out of the way, back to Mitchell Reid. He had attended various ex-gay conversion therapy sessions over three decades, as counselors promised a ground-breaking panacea for his same-sex attraction. After spending countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to cure his homosexuality, he realized that it was not working. Before his numerous therapy sessions, Reid had a negative image of himself because of his same-sex attraction. He says "You feel your soul is distorted and evil and broken because of something you can’t change. What do you do? You do everything you can to change yourself. That’s why I went into all these therapies."

His therapy sessions included him describing his same-sex fantasies, exorcisms to exorcise the demon that he had inside of his soul, and shock therapy to rewire his brain to help him become attracted to women. His counselors offered him some explanation as to why he is attracted to men: He was too close to his mother, his father didn't pay enough attention to him which made him become detached from his masculine side, or that he had repressed traumatic memories. The therapy obviously did not work.

Luckily there are states that have banned conversion therapy due to its harmful effects on people, but there are still some that have not outlawed the antiquated and bigoted practice. Ex-gay therapy can be found in many different forms, including support groups or one-on-one sessions where gay people watch straight porn in order to develop an attraction to the opposite sex. However, attempts to ban this harmful practice have increased, as 2/3 of Americans support homosexuality, according to a Pew Research study. 

With increased support for homosexuality and LGBTQ people, it is my hope that conversion therapy becomes a thing of the past so that nobody has to go through it again. Everyone should love themselves and by eradicating conversion therapy, LGBTQ people will have a much easier time doing so.

h/t: The Post and CourierNCLRPew Research

Help The Trevor Project And You Could Win A Trip To 'Boy Erased' Premiere In LA

Here’s a total win-win: donate as little as $10 to The Trevor Project via Omaze, and you could find yourself on the red carpet with the cast and creators of the highly anticipated film, Boy Erased.

Here's the official synopsis for the movie:

Boy Erased tells the story of Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19.

Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Boy Erased is the true story of one young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.

To take part in this uber-cool opportunity, click here to head over to Omaze, an online platform that democratizes traditional auction-giving by offering everyone the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience for as little as $10.

Each dollar you donate becomes an entry in the Boy Erased campaign.

One lucky winner (and their favorite +1) will be flown to Los Angeles and put up at a 4-star hotel before hitting the red carpet with the movie’s director Joel Edgerton, and stars Lucas Hedges (Academy Award nominee) and Troye Sivan at the star-studded premiere on October 29.

Plus, you’ll get to meet the author of the memoir the film is based on, Garrard Conley.

After that? It’s showtime! You’ll head into the theater to see the film surrounded by the incredible cast and crew that made it.

Instinct has reported on Boy Erased extensively here, here, here and here, in anticipation of the film’s release.

Through the Omaze platform, people from more than 170 countries have donated to over 150 charities, driving new levels of awareness and raising more money for charities.

With this campaign, you’ll be helping The Trevor Project which aims to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.

For more details (including complete rules and dates), click here.

Below, you can check out this video message from Joel Edgerton, Garrard Conley, Lucas Hedges and Troye Sivan about the contest.



We're So Inspired By This 19-Year-Old Who Escaped Gay Conversion Camp In Kenya

Let’s start this week off with an inspiring story of real-life bravery. Let’s shine a light on Ithaca College student Mahad Olad, a gay conversion camp survivor who has just been awarded the Colin Higgins Foundation’s annual Youth Courage Award.

Olad’s family is of Somali descent, and he comes from “an extremely conservative Muslim background.”. His family fled to Kenya 1991 to avoid the civil war. His immediate family now lives in Minnesota.  Olad studies at Ithaca College in New York. He wrote an account of his escape from conversion therapy in his school newspaper The Ithacan earlier this year.

Last year, following his freshman year in college, Olad was looking forward to spending summer vacation with his family. The plan was to go back to Kenya to visit relatives, and then to return home. Or so he thought.

Olad is gay, something he’d kept hidden from his family. One way or another they discovered his secret, and shortly after arriving in Kenya, his mother broke the news to him: he was there to be placed in a gay conversion therapy camp. His mother asked him to withdraw from college. He was to be placed under control of “a few sheiks” he met at the hotel the night they arrived. They told him that his homosexuality was “unequivocally” against the Muslim faith. He would be forced to go the camp the following morning.

Here’s what Olad knew of the camps:

“I was quite aware of the horrors of these gay and religious conversion camps. The leaders operate the camps around grim parts of Somalia and Kenya. They subject their captives to severe beatings, shackling, food deprivation and other cruel practices. It usually involves a rigorous Islamic curriculum. Those who fail to cooperate, make adequate progress or try to escape could possibly be killed.”

One more thing to note about conversion camps in Africa is that unlike camps in the U.S., they operate in secrecy. They answer to no one. 

Without access to money or even his passport, Olad made an incredible escape. He told his mother he would go along with her plans, and that he was going for a long walk. He made a call to Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), an organization that supports people who have chosen to leave Islam.

This put Olad in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. He was told that if he could make it there, he would be protected until he could figure out how to get back to the United States. He fled his hotel via taxi. EXMNA bought him a plane ticket home, and Ithaca College found a place for him to live on campus until classes resumed in the fall.

Olad is no longer in touch with his family, even those who weren't in on the plan to take him to the camp-- which he says has left him “devastated.” Now he is 19. He says he feels physically safer because the F.B.I. and campus police keep an eye on him, but “the nightmare isn’t over.”

He now says he wants to do everything he can to stop this from happening to other at-risk LGBTQ+ people.

“I am lucky enough to be over eighteen, a U.S. citizen and to have a large support network — all of which made it easier for me to get out of Kenya. Not everyone is so lucky, however. That is why I’m sharing my story: so the U.S. and other governments can do more to protect the vulnerable youth of Muslim backgrounds whose parents abuse them in the name of religion and culture.”

As part of the Youth Courage Award, Olad received a $10,000 grant, and he will be honored during Pride Weekend via an all-expensed-paid trip to New York City or Los Angeles. He also gets a trip to the Creating Change Conference to network with LGBTQ+ leaders from around the world.

For more, read Mahad Olad’s riveting, heartbreaking account in The Ithacan.

h/t: Pink News