Conversion Therapy Doesn't Work And Should Especially Not Be Done, According To A Survivor
Samuel Brinton, a nuclear engineer and LGBTQ+ rights advocate, has spent many years of their life trying to get the conversion shock therapy banned in the United States. Brinton is not only an advocate, but also a survivor of conversion therapy. At the Equality Federation's 20th Annual Leadership Conference, they shared their story about why conversion therapy doesn't work and how it affected them as an LGBTQ+ child.
During the talk, Brinton, who is non-binary and prefers gender-neutral pronouns, talked about their religious upbringing in a Baptist family and how they came out to their father, since they believed they shared an honest, open relationship.
Brinton was taken to a missionary emergency room and later, their parents took them to a conversion therapist's office. Brinton described the experience:
According to the National Center For Lesbian Rights', conversion therapy is a practice that includes the acts listed above that were done to Brinton, but also the following methods:
Not only was Brinton physically hurt, but they were also given a horrifying reason why their mother allowed this to happen. Brinton was told that conversion therapy was needed because the government was "killing gay kids." They were also told that gay kids were being killed because of the myth that "gays brought AIDs into America,"an untrue notion that contributes to the stigmatizing of the entire LGBTQ+ community.
Additionally, Brinton was told that AIDs ravaged the LGBTQ+ community because "God hates them":
The physical and emotional abuse Brinton endured is exactly what they want to prevent from happening to other children. Brinton was also the first person to testify to the United Nations about the dangers of conversion therapy in 2014, according to Slice of MIT.
Currently, nine states have banned conversion therapy: New York, Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. The District of Columbia has also banned conversion therapy. According to Brinton, however, this number may rise. As of July 2017, 12 more states have pending legislation that would ban gay conversion therapy for minors, including Texas, Iowa, Kansas, and Pennsylvania.
"The National Center for Lesbian rights is the very first organization to hire a staffer specifically to work with me to end conversion therapy," Brinton said. "If we work together... Your organizations, Equality Federation, and survivors like me who can talk about our experiences, we are going to make sure that people realize you can't change what we never chose."