Gay teenager told to masturbate to pictures of women in horrifying bid to ‘cure’ his sexuality
A gay man has recounted the horrifying moment he was told that masturbating to images of women would “cure” his sexuality in a conversion therapy session.
Curtis Galloway, from Kentucky, recounted his traumatising experience of conversion therapy in an op-ed written for The River City News.
In the article, the 26-year-old said he “finally came to terms” with his sexuality when he was 16-years-old – but when he came out, he was pushed into conversion therapy that left him with “permanent mental and emotional scars”.
The gay man said his parents put him through conversion therapy in an effort to change his sexuality – but their efforts only served to cause him intense emotional harm while also driving a wedge between himself and his family.
“Supporters [of conversion therapy] don’t disclose what actually happens in this ‘therapy’,” Galloway wrote.
“What they don’t tell you is that this practice can pit a child and parents against each other, creating a permanent fracture in a perfectly happy family.”
In conversion therapy, Galloway was told that he was gay because his father had worked too much when he was young, and because his mother was “overbearing”.
Neither of those statements were true, but the therapist quickly settled on those lies as the reason that Galloway was gay.
Shockingly, the therapist later told Galloway’s parents that the process had failed to work because the teenager hadn’t tried hard enough to become straight.
Galloway was told to stop spending time with “gay affirming friends”, which resulted in him cutting ties with his entire group of friends.
“Conversion therapy isolated me from anyone I could talk to about how I felt,” he wrote. “I didn’t trust my family anymore. I couldn’t talk to my friends for fear of being further driven away, and I was being surveilled very closely.”
My counsellor went as far as to instruct me to masturbate to images of women to rewire my brain, citing Pavlov’s Dogs.
In what has become a common trait in conversion therapy, Galloway was told that he was lacking in masculinity – and that being bullied in school had made him crave attention from other boys.
Galloway was told to engage in “masculine activities”, and he was later encouraged to identify as asexual instead of identifying as gay.
“My counsellor went as far as to instruct me to masturbate to images of women to rewire my brain, citing Pavlov’s Dogs,” he added.
“I was appalled as we had never discussed masturbation, and I was horrified that he might discuss this instruction with my parents.”
Curtis Galloway was withdrawn from conversion therapy by his parents
Luckily for Galloway, his parents withdrew him from conversion therapy soon afterwards as they saw how depressed it was making him.
Today, Galloway’s parents accept and love him unconditionally – but the impact of undergoing conversion therapy has stuck with him.
“Looking back, I can also recognise how my parents were just as confused and scared as I was. The counsellor took advantage of this and warped our family into something I did not recognise,” he wrote.
Galloway closed out his article by urging lawmakers in Kentucky to ban the harmful and degrading practice.
He has since founded a nonprofit, the Conversion Therapy Dropout Network, to help other survivors.
Conversion therapy is widely considered to be a dangerous and harmful form of pseudoscience propagated by religious extremists.
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The practice has been condemned by various health and psychiatry bodies across the world, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.
A survey conducted by the Ozanne Foundation in 2019 found that one in five survivors of conversion therapy in the UK later attempted suicide, while two in five said they had suicidal thoughts after undergoing the harmful practice.
Meanwhile, less than a third of those surveyed said they went on to “lead a happy and fulfilled life”.
Despite this, conversion therapy continues to be popular among conservative Christian groups across the world, with many pushing the false narrative on LGBT+ youth that their identities are wrong and can be changed.