If you’re a religious parent who believes that being LGBT is a choice, think again!  As of August 2018, fourteen U.S. states, District of Columbia, some counties and municipalities in the U.S. have passed laws banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association opposed conversion or reparative therapy years earlier. Homosexuality has not been regarded as a disease since 1973 when  the American Psychiatric Association took it out  out of their diagnostic tool, the DSM manual.

In 2012, Robert Spitzer, M.D. denounced his well-known study on gay culture and reparative therapy; the study didn’t conclude that conversion therapy actually worked. Not only was conversion therapy ineffective, it can cause depression, guilt, and even suicide!

It is estimated that 700,000 minors have been subject to conversion therapy. One such individual was Garrard Conley, author of the memoir, Boy Erased, upon which the movie, directed by Joel Edgerton, was based.  If you want to see what it is like in these brainwashing, indoctrination  programs in Christian “camps,” go see the movie.

Jared, played onscreen by Lucas Hedges, is gay and confesses his sexual orientation to his Baptist preacher father Marshall, played by Russell Crowe, in Arkansas.  His wife Nancy, is played by Nicole Kidman and she goes along with her husband’s wishes to place Jared in a gay-to-straight “Love in Action” facility to cure Lucas of his attraction to boys and supposedly make him more masculine.

At first, Jared, feeling guilty because he feels he has sinned and disappointed his parents, agrees to go to the facility.  However, once there, questions the whole program.  A friend in the facility, Cameron, feels trapped:  he is beaten with Bibles by his family at “Love In Action” and realizes he can’t go home.  He commits suicide. Another friend, Gary,  played by Troy Sivan, tells Jared to not question the program but fake it until he completes the assigned time.

Along the way, Jared has a college crush (Joe Alwyn) who rapes him, then calls Jared’s parents to out him.  Jared leaves the facility with his Mother’s support (but not his father’s) and ultimately goes to New York where he becomes an author.

At the end of the movie, we are told that Victor Sykes, the gay conversion therapist at “Love in Action” played by Joel Edgerton, leaves the camp and  is in a same-sex marriage. So is Garrard Conley.  So much for the effectiveness of conversion therapy!


When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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