Conversion therapy, or ‘gay cure therapy’ is no laughing matter.
For a lucky portion of the world’s LGBTI population, it’s something they’ll never have to deal with.
However, there are still thousands who have to.
The CW Network are behind hit teen drama Riverdale.
Main character Cheryl Blossom came out as bisexual earlier this March to the delight of fans.
Since then, we’ve seen a relationship blossoming between Cheryl and Toni Topaz, another female bi character on the show.
At the end of it’s most recent episode, we’re forced to watch as one of the main characters is committed to conversion therapy by her mother.
It’s incredible that a show, who’s target audience is primarily teens, is highlighting such an important issue!
As much as we’d all like to believe otherwise, conversion therapy still very much happens all over the world.
Conversion therapy is a range of discredited practices that claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Many medical and mental health organizations have long rejected gay conversion therapy with some states in the United States and countries banning the practice altogether.
‘There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed,’ the World Psychiatric Association said in a 2012 statement.
More than 75,000 teens aged 13 to 17 in the United States will face conversion therapy before adulthood. The information comes from a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
Riverdale is currently on it’s second season. The season two premiere received a total of 2.34 million viewers.
This latest episode, Chapter Twenty-Nine: Primary Colors, got 1.16 million viewers.
Then if you think about all the viewers the show get’s when it’s added to Netflix on Thursdays – That’s a lot of people.
You would think a vast majority of people would applaud the show for tackling such a real issue.
But that’s not the case.
A quick scroll through Twitter will show you that unfortunately a lot of the shows young viewers are mad at the storyline, questioning ‘why the fuck would the writers think it’s okay to write a conversion therapy for Cheryl.’
I know I can’t take #Riverdale too serious but Cheryl just came out as bisexual and her mother putting her in a mental institution and making her go through conversion therapy is taking it too far.
— ✨me and you✨ (@xLosingFaith) March 23, 2018
One tweet calls this conversion therapy plotline for not being good representation.
Another calls for the show out for only recently showing Cheryl coming out and then putting her in conversion therapy.
While this may be true, it is realistic representation.
Are people really that sheltered that they don’t understand conversion therapy still happens?
Coming out isn’t a jolly for everyone! For some, they genuinely do come out and are forced into conversion therapy by their family.
Yes, we were so close to seeing Cheryl and Toni kiss only moments earlier in the episode but that’s what happens.
Your freedom and sexuality is ripped right out from underneath you, because those who believe in conversion therapy believe in it so strongly.
Malta became the first country to ban conversion therapy in 2016.
That’s a mere two years ago. And, that’s only one country.
The UK Department of Health has claimed they had ‘already taken the necessary steps to prevent the practice of gay conversion therapy in the UK’.
And yet 33,000 still signed a petition asking them to officially make it illegal.
uuuuuh riverdale was fun and games until they sent a lesbian character to conversion therapy?
— babe without the arms (@celebikai) March 22, 2018
There’s also the important fact that it’s a bisexual woman being shown to undergo this horrible process.
A large majority of discussion around conversion therapy looks at young gay men, which is why the term ‘gay cure’ therapy is also used a lot.
So not only is the show highlighting an important issue, but they’re not even do it in the stereotypical way that most would expect.
As if I wasn’t already annoyed enough already, then there are the people erasing Cheryl’s bi identity.
There are even a lot of tweets saying they believe Cheryl is actually lesbian, and not bisexual.
Madelaine Petsch has played Cheryl since the show first aired.
The actress discussed her character’s sexuality in a video on her YouTube channel in 28 February 2018.
Petsch explained: ‘Cheryl is still figuring out what her sexuality is.
‘She is definitely interested in both women and men, so I would say she is bisexual. I think you’re going to see a lot more of her figuring out who she is.’
Let bi people live
So the actress herself literally said her character was bisexual.
Cheryl has been shown flirting with men and women – And yet after one almost-kiss with a female and everyone has suddenly decided she’s actually lesbian.
And that’s so horrid to bisexual people! It plays up to the whole trope that bi people are actually just undecided or waiting to pick a side.
Respect her damn sexuality! And respect the important and realistic storyline that is her being forced through conversion therapy!
Obviously we’re not HAPPY about it because it’s awful and horrid. But it’s important and incredible that the issue is being highlighted in front of so many people who may have never even thought about it before.
If you hate the story line that much, lobby your government to do something about actual conversion therapy.