Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Professional Counseling [18 VAC 115 ‑ 20]
Action Unprofessional conduct - conversion therapy
Comment Period Ended on 8/7/2019
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8/7/19  11:29 pm
Commenter: David Christie

Reparative or Ex-Gay "therapy" is abusive and potentially lethal: my story

I was in ex-gay programming for 6 years and it nearly killed me and left me deeply wounded. I was in a residential ex-gay therapy house (Love in Action) for one year, and attended a weekly ex-gay support group for 5 years, all in Memphis, Tennessee. This all took place during and after an ultimately failed marriage to a woman. Due to religious convictions aligned with the way I was raised, I was ashamed of, hated, and wanted to be rid of what I had been convinced was a perverse and sinful affliction. Even before the support group and LIA, I'd spent several hours with preachers and counselors, shamefully confessing and begging for help. None of these people were certified, licensed, or otherwise qualified to give me legitimate therapeutic assistance, and all of them were first and foremost biased by their religious beliefs, and religious beliefs do not lend someone the authority or professional training to help someone who is struggling with their sexual identity, which -- most importantly -- is not even a problem to be had in a society that accepts sexual identities other than heterosexual as equally valid in the first place. As a result of these experiences, I suffered tremendous and suicide-inducing emotional trauma. The strategies used in these programs were, by professional psychological standards, tantamount to psychological torture. And at one point, I was even actually physically accosted and beaten by a leader in Love in Action. I finally came out in 1998, at the age of 28. I determined to live well as revenge, but my ex-gay detour left me with major challenges in terms of relational maturity, sexual maturity, professional attainment, and, in general, developing a healthy and secure self-esteem. The ex-gay years cost me money I didn't have; cost me time and energy spent on something that did not support who I truly was, resulting in many "lost years"; created pain and suffering in the lives of my loved ones, especially my family and my now ex-wife. It has even crippled my ability to find my proper place in the LGBTQ community. I denounce "reparative" or "ex-gay" "therapy" or therapeutic programs with every fiber of my being. My whole life experience stands against its complete inability to effect a change in sexual orientation (which is morally and ethically unnecessary and lethally harmful in the first place). Moreover, my story stands as a testament to its negative effects, among them a dogmatic value system that trains you to reject yourself at the most fundamental levels, leading to: depression; anxiety; suicidal ideation; and arrested and impaired social, personal, and professional development. I want my experience to stand as witness to the truth about this horribly misguided practice, and thank you that you will take it into consideration in this matter. May right prevail. 

CommentID: 75714