One Man’s Story: I Spent Seven Years In Gay Conversion Therapy Programs

I count my blessings every day that my parents love me for who I am.  It is sad that we all cannot do so. In a recent Esquire interview, Michael Ferguson elaborates on his experiences that cannot be believed.  Unfortunately, one of the things that prompted Michael to speak with Esquire is some of the language contained in the GOP's official Party Platform for 2016.  Here is some of the Equire interview:

It began his junior year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah: Michael Ferguson wanted desperately to rid himself of the sexual feelings he had toward men. His Mormon faith and his loving family would never understand. So he began to try to pray the gay away.

Thus began a seven-year journey through nine gay conversion therapy programs, also called reparative therapy, which included hypnotherapy, physical psychotherapy, evangelical spiritual groups, and a 12-step addiction recovery program. Such treatments were designed to "cure" homosexuality by changing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. The American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have condemned such practices. President Obama supported a national ban, and some states have already passed such legislation.

But gay conversion therapy has re-entered the national spotlight after a draft of the GOP's official 2016 platform—much farther to the right than in years past, and far more conservative than Donald Trump's own positions—contained language that seemed to support its implementation and use. Underneath a subsection titled "Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare," one line reads, "We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children."

The article goes on to mention Tony Perkins, Mike Pence and their role in the platform as well as their political past in regard to conversion therapy. 

Meanwhile, Ferguson renounced his attempts to change his sexual orientation and was a plaintiff in the first landmark court decision to address reparative therapy. The 2015 ruling found that New Jersey-based conversion therapy organization JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) had committed consumer fraud, and the organization was ordered to pay the plaintiffs more than $70,000 in refunds. The program eventually shut down completely. Ferguson is now out and married to a man. In light of the GOP's seeming embrace of the programs that did him so much harm, Ferguson shared his story with Esquire.

These articles / interviews are not easy to read.  As mentioned, it's very hard to understand how parents would do this to their children.  We learn more about what Michael Ferguson went through in those 9 programs over 7 years.  Here are just some of the questions he answered.

ESQ: How do you respond to the Republican platform's alleged allusions to conversion therapy?

Were you surprised to see it come up?

Why did you start going to conversion therapy?

Did you believe it was going to work?

How many different kind of conversion therapy programs did you try?

Could you describe some of the exercises you were taught?

At the Journey Into Manhood retreat they used a psychodrama approach. We were deprived of all communication: no computer, no phone, no watches, no clocks. You create scenarios with groups and act them out to do high emotional arousal role-play. The whole weekend is full of them. In one exercise a group of twelve men formed a human barricade and someone had to break through to grab a pair of oranges on the other side. The oranges represented symbolically reclaiming your testicles. The idea behind it is that you were homosexual because either your mother had metaphorically castrated you and made you lose touch with your male power, or society had emasculated and feminized you.

What would the person do after grabbing the oranges?

Can you explain what "healthy touch" is?

What is "golden father energy?"


There are many more questions in the Esquire interview (click here to read) along with Michael discussing his relationships with men, why he thought it was important that he marry a woman, and where he is relationship wise today. 

Thank you Michael for sharing your story and thank you Esquire for being a supportive platform.





1 thought on “One Man’s Story: I Spent Seven Years In Gay Conversion Therapy Programs”

  1. I understand…I wanted so

    I understand…I wanted so much for it to go away.. it didn't! My parents sent me to a Christian shrink…not ok! I still struggle with most of my family 25 years later because I'm gay. Thank you, Michael for sharing your story.


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