These two gay conversion therapy survivors have a powerful message
Two conversion therapy survivors have spoken out about their experiences, which one described as ‘psychological torture’, to call for a law to protect LGBT+ youth from the practice in Canada.
Thomas Argue grew up in Victoria County and his family were part of the Pentecostal Family Worship Centre.
He told CBC News that he didn’t know that he was gay, but that people around him saw his behaviour as more “feminine” than his peers.
He said: “I was taught that if you don’t repent you’re gonna turn out to be a fruit, and being a fruit was a horrible, horrible, horrible image in my mind.”
He said he was kept behind after school, which was also run by his church, for special lessons on how to be “more masculine”. This included the way he walked and talked, and even the angle at which he held his hands when raising his arms in church.
One conversion therapy survivor was made to attend sessions in a church basement.
Mitchell Goodine, 29, told CBC that he also grew up in a Pentecostal church, and that his family found out about his sexuality when they saw porn on his internet history.
They made him go to “therapy” sessions, held in the basement of a church, where he admitted he was attracted to men.
He said: “She didn’t say I got what [was coming to me] but we definitely came back to heavy focus on… talking about how I was not natural, that it was so sinful… and how it was like a dog puking and then going back and eating [the] puke again and again.”
He was also given instructions on how to suppress his sexuality, including putting his “gay feelings in a box” and praying for God to put a lid on it.
He was also told: “Don’t put myself in flamboyant situations. Don’t watch movies that I know are going to elicit thoughts. Don’t put myself in positions that I know are going to tempt me. Live a straight life.
“Find an acceptable woman who’s going to satisfy me, which I haven’t found yet.”
He added: “It opened up a can of emotions. The biggest one was fear. And embarrassment. Shame. I was ashamed that I was still having these issues. I still wanted to be straight. I really did.”
Argue described his experience as “psychological torture”.
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Canada does not have a national ban on conversion therapy for minors.
Both men are calling for a ban on conversion therapy for minors in Canada.
Argue said: “We have got to learn how to respect one another’s differences. It should be a crime to preach against being gay in a church. It should be a crime to teach against being gay in a school.”
Goodine added that a ban on the LGBT+ “cure” therapies would “give the power back to someone to say: ‘That’s not OK, and I know it’s not OK and this is why it’s not OK. We have laws to say it’s not.'”
While Canada doesn’t have a national ban on conversion therapy, which has no basis in science, some provinces have restrictions.
Ontario made the practice illegal by initiating an outright ban, Manitoba outlawed health professionals from offering it, Vancouver has passed a law restricting businesses from offering it and Nova Scotia has made it it illegal for minors.
Earlier this month, three British Columbia government officials called on the Canadian federal government to ban conversion therapy and add it to Canada’s criminal code.