Gays and lesbians who go through gay ‘cures’ have told how it has left them suicidal or depressed with many reporting having sex with their counselors.
The survey was designed not to be a scientific sample but to give a voice to those who have gone through ‘conversion therapy’ to turn them straight – which the World Health Organization has labeled as misguided and dangerous.
It shows 92% were harmed by the process, with many saying they were ‘devastated’.
And 84% of victims say the damage continues to this day.
One person says: ‘After the 11th electro-shock session (there were meant to be 12), I attempted suicide.’
Another reports: ‘[I] literally broke down and couldn’t take my hate for myself.’
While a third says: ‘I felt like I was bleeding to death, and no progress was being made.’
Many people in the survey quit the ex-gay movement, simply because it wasn’t working.
One says: ‘I saw that NOBODY was being changed.’
While another reports: ‘Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to become straight, I started hoping that I would get in an accident or get a disease or something so I could die because I was so unhappy but didn’t want to go to hell for suicide.’
In fact, the so-called therapists and religious ministers leading the process were often having homosexual sex with those they were supposed to be ‘curing’.
One says: ‘My reparative therapy counselor initiated “holding therapy” with me, which progressed into intimate physical activity between us. It was my first experience with a man (at age 26), I was in an extremely conservative Christian community, and the counselor knew I would be hesitant to tell anyone.’
While another reports: ‘[I left because I] was sexually active with the leader of the ministry.’
And a third victim says: ‘I was sexually molested by an ex-gay “councilor”.’
While reading books, attending group sessions, going on heterosexual dates and prayer were common activities, the survey highlights more extreme ‘reparative therapy’ techniques including fasting, exorcism or even getting married.
Respondents in the study report how these marriages were often a ‘sham’.
One woman says: ‘I was worn out pretending to be straight in my marriage. My husband and I fought all the time about sex because I didn’t like it.’
While another writes how she is still in a seven-year long marriage with two children.
She says: ‘During that time I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. I attribute these mostly to leading a life that is a complete lie.
‘Sex is painful. I reject my husband’s advances daily, which hurts his self-esteem. I am lonely for the emotional and physical needs only a woman can fulfill. I am miserable but there are now three [other] people who are suffering, not just me.
‘I am at a breaking point and am trying to figure out if I should leave my husband or not. He did nothing wrong and feels like I am abandoning him.
‘I have never cheated on my husband. I love him and would never want to hurt him and would never be dishonest to him about this. But I honestly cannot live this lie of a life anymore.’
The survey also shows religion was the major driver for people entering the ex-gay movement. Only 1.3% of those in the survey said they were atheist when they started, although leaving the ex-gay movement also coincided with many leaving religion altogether.
Rix concludes his introduction to the survey with an appeal to ex-gay leaders.
He says: ‘I know you may not like what you see in these responses, but guess what, we can agree on that! I don’t like what I see in these responses, either.
‘Let’s set in motion a comprehensive, unbiased study and action plan so that none of the damage ever has to happen again.
‘Ultimately, whether or not any of this sinks into your heart, here is what over 400 people have said about your work and I figured you would want to know.’