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

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