Conversion therapy is a controversial practice that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In this article, the author shares their personal experience of attending conversion therapy sessions, highlighting the absurdity of the whole concept. Through humor and irony, the author sheds light on the damaging effects of conversion therapy and advocates for the acceptance and celebration of LGBTQ+ people.
Conversion therapy, commonly known as reparative therapy, is a highly controversial practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. While some supporters argue that the therapy can help individuals struggling with their identity, the medical community has roundly condemned the practice as both ineffective and damaging to mental health. As a gay person who has never struggled with my identity, I set out to understand the concept of conversion therapy and why it continues to exist.
History of Conversion Therapy
Conversion therapy dates back to the late 1800s when doctors theorized that homosexuality was a disease that could be cured. Over the following century, numerous therapies were developed, including hypnosis, electroshock therapy, and aversion therapy, all designed to “cure” individuals of their homosexual desires. While initially, these therapies were primarily administered to men, women became increasingly targeted in the mid-1900s.
The Medical Community’s Response
Today, the medical community has universally condemned conversion therapy as both ineffective and dangerous. Most medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, have policies outright opposing the practice. Research has shown that the use of conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, and, in some cases, suicide. Additionally, no reputable scientific study has ever shown that conversion therapy can “cure” anyone of their sexual orientation or gender identity, leading many to call the therapy a form of quackery.
The Persistence of Conversion Therapy
Despite widespread condemnation by the medical community, conversion therapy still persists in some pockets of society. Religious and conservative groups, in particular, often advocate for the practice as a way to “save” LGBT individuals from hell or to uphold traditional family values. However, even some of these groups have distanced themselves from conversion therapy, recognizing the harm it can cause.
My Experience with Conversion Therapy
As someone who has never struggled with my sexuality, it seemed ironic that I would explore conversion therapy. However, I believed it was essential to understanding the concept fully. So, I engaged in discussions with so-called “ex-gay” groups and attended therapy sessions in hopes of better understanding the practice.
The experience was both confusing and disheartening. The therapists seemingly ignored everything I said about my sexuality, instead focusing on their preconceived notions about homosexuality. Despite their best efforts, I remained very much gay, and the therapy only served to reinforce my identity.
The Way Forward
Ultimately, conversion therapy serves no purpose other than to inflict harm on individuals seeking to discover their identity. Most people nowadays recognize the necessity of recognizing and respecting everyone’s sexuality, no matter what that may be. The best way to combat conversion therapy is through education, tolerance, and acceptance.
At its core, conversion therapy amounts to little more than a quackery, with no reputable medical organization supporting the practice. The therapy can cause significant mental health issues and has never been proven effective. While individuals may believe they are helping others by trying to “cure” homosexuality, such practices only perpetuate harmful stereotypes and can lead to lifelong trauma. The only way forward is tolerance and acceptance, respecting the sexuality and gender identity of everyone, no matter what that may be.