We were shown a 17 year old boy who had same sex attractions. In other words he was gay. By the end of the show we were shown that he was now in a relationship with a girl. Success! Well, not really. The boy admitted that he still had same sex attractions (in other words he was still gay) but he simply chose not to act upon them. So there we have it! It's pretty simple. Any sane person, gay or straight, understands that you can't switch off sexuality. I don't think Gay Conversion Therapy is about this though, it seems to be about choosing not to act on that attraction to the same sex. This opens up a whole new argument, an argument that I've thought about for over 10 years.
I came out when I was 21 but I knew I was gay when I was 15. During the years between 15 and 21 I guess you could say I carried out my own Gay Conversion Therapy and I'd bet that I wasn't in the minority. I tried to convince myself that I could hide my sexuality. I tried to ignore the fact that I fancied men and I forced myself to imagine how much easier my life would be if I was straight. It WOULD be easier. I would not have to come out to anyone, I would be able to have kids the 'natural' way and I wouldn't have to disappoint anyone. Like I said, I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only closeted person to go through these thought processes. Now here's the difference between me and the 17 year old we met on 'Gay to Straight' last night. I decided that being gay wasn't wrong. I began to accept that I was different but not ill. I told myself that I didn't have a 'condition' and therefore it couldn't and shouldn't be treated. I understood that for whatever reason I was not like the majority of the population who found the opposite sex attractive. I knew that my life would be more complicated than my straight friends' in regards to relationships, at least for the first part of my adult life anyway.
The reason I say that I began to understand what Gay Conversion Therapy is while watching the programme is because I finally saw through the false science, made up statistics and 'success' stories that we are often presented with when we see programmes on this subject. I saw through all of this and was presented with a homophobic father who did not want his son to be gay because he thought it was disgusting. "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve", he said with an air of arrogance that his wife seemed to gush over. This is when everything clicked into place and things became a lot clearer to me. Of course it's impossible to switch of someone's same sex attraction and surely, that's what makes someone gay (or bi). Of course we should all be angry and frustrated at the programme but what people seemed to miss was the reasons why these men had enrolled onto the course of therapy. They enrolled because they were scared of disappointing their families and friends who were very vocal about their dislike of homosexuality.
This is what GCT is all about. Forget the group hugging in the forests, the manly embraces that were allowed as long as you said you were not getting any sexual pleasure from it and forget the ludicrous claim made by an 'expert' that no gay man has ever had an emotionally healthy relationship with their father. All of that is obviously complete crap and serves simply as a smokescreen to cover up the rampant ignorance to homosexuality that still exists in many parts of the world.
So I do now understand what Gay Conversion Therapy is all about. It's a form of abuse that parents (not necessarily homophobic parents, but stupid at least, selfish for sure) inflict on their children because of their own selfish beliefs.
I know that people take part in these camps and schools of their own free will but here's the question that the programme failed to even ask - Why do so many gay men and women around the world NOT feel the need to convert? I'd suggest that it's because they have more supportive and understanding families, live in more forward thinking communities or simply have been allowed to come to their own conclusion that being attracted to the same sex is not wrong.
I get that two men can't conceive children naturally and without procreation the human race would in theory eventually cease to exist. But what does this really mean? Some men and women cannot have children, some men and women choose not to have children. We don't send them to Conversion Therapy where they learn how to hate themsleves do we? Of course not, that would be just as ridiculous as sending a 17 year old gay man to a camp where they take their shirts off and play catch with other gay men.
I understand Gay Conversion Therapy now. I understand that I do not need to frustrate myself by even bothering to argue with the false data and fake science. I understand that I should empathise more with the boys and girls, men and women who are sent to these groups or who are made to feel it's their only option. I understand that as a society we still have years to go before we can say that we're truly civilised. I also understand that until every parent everywhere not necessarily agrees with being gay but at least respects their children's right to embrace it, there will be more teen suicides, more cases of self harm and more miserable teenagers growing up in a world that doesn't allow them to live, but simply exist.
I finally understand it - but I still don't like it.
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