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

Troye Sivan Appears on "The Late Show" to Perform, Talk About "Boy Erased"

Last night, out Johannesburg-born pop star and actor Troye Sivan appeared on CBS’ The Late Show and opened up to host Stephen Colbert about Boy Erased, Joel Edgerton’s drama about gay conversion therapy that opens in November. The picture co-stars Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Sivan spoke to Colbert about his experiences behind the scenes. He says he wants Boy Erased to reach a wide audience of LGBTQ+ youth and their parents, as conversion therapy can be “damaging.”

"I got the script and just was punched in the gut by it and just knew that I really, really badly wanted to be a part of it," he said. According to Sivan, the filmmakers provided the young actors with authentic accounts of what goes on in conversion camps.

"When we arrived on set, day one, they gave us the resources that kids would typically get when they arrived at the camp. Like, actual printed out resources. They're full of testimonials. It was gnarly.”

"There's these rules. You can shake someone's hand very briefly, but not ever touch someone anywhere else on their body. Girls had to carry around handbags and could only wear skirts. Boys couldn't wear things that were too tight.”

"Imagining being 15 again, when I was sort of at my most vulnerable, and having that put back on me and being set up with that impossible task of trying to change this thing that is ultimately unchangeable, it's just one of the most damaging things I could imagine.”

“I really hope that the movie is going to speak to, mostly, I really want to communicate with parents as to just how much your reaction to your kid coming out can really shape their lives."

Horrifyingly enough, gay conversion therapy is still legal in all but 14 states.

Gay conversion therapy was explored earlier this year in the critically well-received teen drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post starring Chloë Grace Moretz. That movie won the top prize at Sundance in January.

Boy Erased is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name. It opens Nov. 2.

Sivan’s second album, Bloom, is out now. It has received widespread critical acclaim. Watch Sivan on The Late Show below. He also performed two songs from Bloom, “Animal” and “Plum.”

h/t: THR



California Assemblyman Evan Low Dropped His Bill Against Paid Gay Conversion Therapy

California Assemblyman Evan Low decided to shelf his bill to declare gay conversion a fraudulent business after intense pushback from religious folk.

Low, who is gay himself and the chairman of the legislative LGBTQ caucus, authored Assembly Bill 2943. The bill was meant to make paid “conversion therapy” services for adults considered fraudulent business practices. That said, his bill received major pushback from the Christian community.

According to the Los Angeles Times, some feared that the broad description of the bill would leave good-meaning counselors at risk.

“If I pray with this person, is that going to come back on this church?” said Azusa Pacific University chaplain Kevin Mannoia to the LA Times.

That said, the Sacramento Bee reports that AB 2943 would not have outlawed free religious consoling to change sexual and gender identity. The bill was only targeting paid services.

In order to better understand the state’s faith leaders, and avoid legal counter measures, Low went on a tour across the state to meet members of the clergy.

“I believe we are on the side of the angels on this issue,” Low said. “Having said that, in order to get it right, why wouldn’t we want to engage in meaningful, thoughtful, transformational relationships and conversations?”

Now earlier today, Low announced that he would be pulling AB 2943 from consideration while he works on editing the draft.

“I left those productive conversations feeling hopeful. I believe every person who attended these meetings left with a greater understanding for the underlying reason and intention of this bill to create a loving and inclusive environment for all,” Low shared in his statement. “However, I believe there is still more to learn.”



In California, forcing minors into conversion therapy is banned statewide, but Low thinks there’s still room for improvement. As such, he penned up the bill in question.

Being gay himself, this is a topic that Low feels deeply about. Low expressed as much in April when he introduced the bill to the California Assembly.

“I hid myself and my feelings because I was afraid of what others would think of me. This left me feeling very lost, scared, alone, and even suicidal. I wondered if I could change,” he said. “Yet, I am grateful my community embraced me as I was, a gay man. Many fellow members of the LGBT community are not as fortunate.”

It seems that Low is playing a slow but steady game in his fight for the eradication of conversion therapy.

That said, he isn’t fighting without compassion as he not only privately visited California clergy members, but also actively listened to them. As such, he’s now gained some favor among the state’s religious leaders.

Despite pulling his bill from the Assembly floor, Evan Low won this day.

h/t: The Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee

Facebook Ads May Be Targeting LGBTQ+ Teens

This week, Facebook came under fire after a series of complaints from LGBTQ+ users claiming they were being shown conversion therapy and “gay cure” ads in their feeds. One user claimed an ad for a self-help book called Help for Men with Same-Sex Attraction popped up on his timeline, according to a report from the Telegraph.

Other users claim they were shown ads and videos for conversion therapy, claiming to “cure” homosexuality and changing a person’s sexual orientation. Telegraph reported that a source saw a video pop up from a networking site titled Homosexuality Was My Identity from the religious group Anchored North.

When users clicked on an option to find out why they were being shown those ads, they were told that it was because they showed interest in “gender issues.” These reports led to the conclusion that the Facebook algorithm had been used to target LGBTQ+ youth with harmful ads for services that would “fix” them.

The issue was pushed further into the public spotlight when Chelsea Clinton retweeted an article with the comment below:



Facebook responded to her post by saying they do not allow gay conversion therapy and quickly removing them from their site. Their statement is as follows:

“We removed these ads after further review. While we may miss some, we’re working hard to make sure we quickly find and take down bad ads.”

Conversion therapy is a very real concern in the United States. Only 14 states and a few municipalities have banned medical conversion therapy while religious conversion therapy is legal across the US. A study from the Williams Institute estimates that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ+ people in the US have already undergone gay conversion therapy and that another 20,000 underage youth will likely go through therapy before they are 18.

h/t: Telegraph, Facebook

Gay Conservative Journalist Compares Conversion Therapy to Fortune Telling

Chad Felix Greene, a gay conservative journalist for The Federalist wrote a piece titled "If We Don't Ban Fortune Tellers, We Shouldn't Ban 'Gay Conversion Therapy'" in which he elaborates on his comparison. Greene writes:

"In the same way, any service promising an extraordinary and otherwise impossible life-changing result has the potential to induce severe and negative reactions in vulnerable people when they fail."

To further his point, Greene cited his own experience with conversion therapy as proof that it is not as bad as people claim it to be. He disagrees with the "language [of] LGBT advocates" and says that although he doesn't recommend the experience, his was "typical." Whatever that may mean, he does not explain.

Greene believes that the real answer is in education, not in lawmaking- he believes progressive laws that protected LGBTQ+ youth are now silencing any form of dissent. However, Greene is known for taking a much different slant to progressive stories. When he wrote about a teenager thrown out of the house for being gay, he titled the article "Why LGBT Teens Should Try To Work With Angry Parents Rather Than Running Away?" Greene's journalism proves to be a harmful addition to the voices already making it difficult for LGBTQ+ youth.

His arguments are flawed and based on a personal experience while claiming it is universal. At its roots, conversion therapy is nothing like fortune telling because (unlike fortune telling), conversion therapy is a health intervention from a licensed health professional or spiritual healer that is condemned by the medical community for being "ineffective and harmful." To further the point, even one of the proponents of conversion therapy, Robert Spitzer, apologized for promoting the idea and called it,

"A serious threat to the health and well-being - even the lives - of affected people." Greene's contrarian views and desire to rock the boat is fun and games for clicks but ultimately harmful to an LGBTQ+ audience.

h/t: lgbtqnation.com, thefederalist.com

New California Law Makes Practicing 'Ex-Gay Therapy' On Adults & Minors Illegal

The California Senate has approved, on a strictly party line vote of 25-11, AB 2943 which would ban so-called “conversion therapy” for not only minors but adults as well.

Not one Republican voted for the measure.

The legislation, sponsored by openly gay California Assemblyman Even Low, passed in the state Assembly by a vote of 50-18 back in April.

Once the measure returns to the Assembly for a concurrence vote, the bill will head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature.

The legislation is unusual from other states’ bans in that the law would outlaw “ex-gay therapy” as a consumer protection. Any practitioners who advertised the harmful practice as a “cure” to homosexuality or transgenderism would be conducting fraudulent business practices under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

AB 2943 also includes protections for those who have already paid for “ex-gay therapy,” or feel they have been harmed by the practice.

Those folks now have a legal avenue to recoup any payments they may have made towards the practice.

California has previously passed legislation in 2012 protecting only minors from “conversion therapy.”

Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur hailed the vote saying, “For far too long, LGBTQ Californians have been psychologically abused by sham therapists who are supposed to be caring for their emotional well-being.”

Currently, 15 states ban the harmful practice - Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire - plus Washington, D.C., as well as over 30 local municipalities.

The practice has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Pediatrics Association, the American Psychiatric Association and many others due to its disastrous effects which can lead to depression and, in some cases, suicide.

In related news, Massachusetts recently failed to pass its own bill banning conversion therapy for minors.

While both the state House and Senate approved the legislation, lawmakers were unable to reconcile technical changes before the clock ran out on the 2018 legislative session on August 1.

(image via Flickr/Taneli Mielikäinen - CC license)

Why Conversion Therapy Persists in 2018

As of August 2018, only 14 U.S. states, D.C., and some counties/municipalities have passed laws banning conversion therapy on minors. According to The Williams Institute, around “698,000 LGBT adults (ages 18-59) have received conversion therapy, including about 350,000 LGBT adults who received treatment as adolescents.” This same study estimates that around “20,000 LGBT youth (ages 13-17) will receive conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they reach the age of 18.” These numbers show what not many are talking about: the practice of conversion therapy is alive and well within the United States and only slowly coming to an end.

California was the first state to pass a ban on conversion therapy only 6 years ago in 2012. Before 2012, no state had any ban on the practice of conversion therapy on minors- allowing parents to send their children to get “fixed.” The problem, however, is that a state ban only applies to licensed mental health care providers. This technicality leaves the door wide open for conversion therapy by religious and spiritual advisors, meaning that even in states where it is banned, any individual may engage in the therapy as long as they are acting as clergy or a religious counselor.

When looking back at why conversion therapy persists, it is important to look as far back as the mid-20thcentury where heterosexuality and American citizenship were tied together. Since the state was giving equal rights to heterosexuals over homosexuals, the therapy became increasingly popular in order to get equal rights for LGBTQ+ people. Doctors during the 20thcentury understood homosexuality as a medical “problem,” so at first they approached the practice with physical surgery. As psychotherapy began to rise in prominence, some medical professionals began to think it was a developmental problem, not medical. As more practices began to take place, LGBTQ+ people would partake in them because although there was pain, there was a reward at the end. Going through these therapies, surgeries, and procedures meant one could be “cured” and become an equal member in society.

Until these practices are banned, LGBTQ+ Americans cannot be equal members of society because the therapy implies there is a problem to begin with. LGBTQ+ people do not need to be cured or converted, they need to be accepted as they are and these therapies are a mindset that does not allow for that possibility. As some people work on legislature that will ban medical conversion therapy in all 50 states, others are working on the visibility of these stories. Movies such as The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased are being released this year with the intention of thrusting the horrors of conversion therapy into public spotlight.

h/t: The Washington Post

Delaware Becomes 15th State In Ongoing Wave Of Bans Of 'Conversion Therapy'

Delaware has become the 15th state to ban the harmful practice of so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy.

On Monday, Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 65 which prohibits attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. The legislation considers conversion therapy “unprofessional conduct” for mental health and medical professionals. Any mental health professional caught practicing the 'therapy' on a minor will find themselves subject to discipline.

The new law also contains language preventing the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families from recommending “conversion therapy.”

During the legislation's journey to becoming law, state Rep. Richard Collins (R-Millsboro) introduced an amendment that would have allowed conversion therapy if a patient were to request it. The amendment, fortunately, gained no traction and was voted down.

The practice has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Pediatrics Association, the American Psychiatric Association and many others due to its disastrous effects which can lead to depression and, in some cases, suicide.

Delaware joins Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire - plus Washington, D.C. in enacting legislation to ban the widely discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy.

Additionally, over 30 cities and municipalities have banned the practice from being performed on minors.

See below a map from the Williams Institute showing where bans have been enacted as well as states with pending legislation.

Sundance Winner "The Miseducation Of Cameron Post" Released Its First U.S. Trailer

The trailer is out for The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

The story follows Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron Post, a girl who was caught having sex with the prom queen. She was then sent off to a gay-conversion therapy center.

As Deadline reports, the center for teens is run by Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) and her brother Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.), who’s a “conversion success” himself.

Despite the pressures of the center, Cameron Post makes friends with some of other teens. Sasha Lane plays amputee Jane while Forrest Goodluck plays “the Lakota Two-Spirit” Adam. Together, the three form a found family and learn about self-acceptance.

The first official U.S. Trailer for the film has dropped and you can watch it down below.

Earlier this year, we shared with you the first word about The Miseducation of Cameron Post. At the time, the film was making its rounds at indie film festivals like Sundance. At that specific festival, the movie ended up winning the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

The film is directed by Desiree Akhavan who also co-wrote the script, along with Celilia Frugiuele, which was adapted from a novel by Emily M. Danforth.

The film is set to release in selected U.S. cities on August 3.