Reparative therapy may be a lie, but the lie begins not with the idea that we can change from gay to straight, but with the belief that we are who the culture tells us we are…And no one, no matter what age, is safe from that. Peter Gajdics, The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir (2017), about conversion therapy
Conversion therapy has to go—and I mean nationwide. Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) agrees. Both Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Corey Booker (D-NJ), moreover, have joined Lieu in introducing the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, aimed at having the Federal Trade Commission call conversion therapy what it is: a fraudulent practice.
States Lieu (Washington Post) regarding the Act: “It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.”
For a comprehensive list, by the way, of anti-conversion-therapy position statements issued over the years by mental health and medical professional associations, see this Human Rights Campaign (HRC) link.
It should be noted that some states already ban conversion therapy and its practitioners: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, and New Mexico. Also the District of Columbia—and kinda New York in that they have something in place that serves the same purpose.
Several recent memoirs have chronicled the dire effects of being forced into conversion therapy in one’s youth. (See my post “Three Memoirs About Surviving Conversion Therapy.”) But as Steven Susoyev, a reviewer for LambdaLiterary.org, points out, it’s not always about outright coercion or being a minor:
Less common in the popular imagination is the story of a young gay person who voluntarily submits to psychological mutilation. In The Inheritance of Shame, Peter Gajdics, now in his early fifties, takes us into the heart and mind of his 24-year-old self, a desperate young man who believed everything his family and church told him about who he was, and who resolved to become an entirely different person, at any cost.
The Inheritance of Shame will be published in a couple weeks. An early review from author Daniel Zomparelli: “In Peter Gajdics’ memoir, we’re taken into a real-life horror film of malpractice and corrupt psychotherapy, hoping at every turn of the page that our narrator escapes. A shocking, crystal-clear, unsettling book. The Inheritance of Shame is both a necessary and devastating memoir about the trauma of conversion therapy and the homophobia that persists to this day.”
Guess who else recently tried to educate his audience about the weirdness of therapy to change someone’s sexual orientation? Bill Nye the Science Guy. As seen on his Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World, he uses different flavors of ice cream to parallel various sexual orientations: