After my conversion therapy experience, I pretended to be fine yet felt hopeless and alone. While staying at a church friend’s house when I was 16, I wrote a note saying “dear god, I’m sorry” that I put in my pocket, went out into the woods, and attempted suicide. I woke up in terrible pain, but I was alive.
Growing up, I had a strong desire to please my parents, my church, and my god. Once I realized I was different than what was expected, I fought even harder to please those who wanted me to be a godly young man.
When I was fifteen, my father announced that we were going to take a trip but did not tell me the destination until our layover in St. Louis, There he told me we were going to Iowa to meet with therapists who would fix me. If that didn’t work, my father said, I would be sent to a military school to make a man out of me.
I said nothing in response, finding it difficult to even breathe. My worst fears realized, and my darkest sins discovered, I thought I had ruined mine and my family’s lives. My days in Iowa were very regimented. I woke up each morning, read my bible and prayed desperately to be fixed, and then I was then taken to the counseling center. I met with various therapists to discuss god, his forgiveness, and his wrath. The therapists told me that god punished gays with AIDS to kill them, that he rained fire on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their homosexuality, and that there was no room in heaven for homosexuals.
Therapists asked me questions about pornography, about whether I had been molested, about specific men in our community, and about physical characteristics of my body. I answered all the questions with brutal honesty. The therapists seemed to expect more of a fight from me, but I was terrified. I thought everything was at risk. If I didn’t get fixed I would get AIDS, die alone, and spend eternity burning in hell.
After Iowa, my parents didn’t talk to me about it again. My music lessons were canceled around that time and there was renewed pressure to play sports. I went to every church service I could. If there was an altar call, I was the first one there, weeping in front of a church full of people silently begging god to fix me. If I had sexual thoughts about men, I would punch myself in the stomach.
After my conversion therapy experience, I pretended to be fine yet felt hopeless and alone. While staying at a church friend’s house when I was 16, I wrote a note saying “dear god, I’m sorry” that I put in my pocket, went out into the woods, and attempted suicide. I woke up in terrible pain, but I was alive. I continued to suffer from severe depression and anxiety, frequently thinking about more effective ways to end my life.
A few years later I went to my first pride parade. I saw PFLAG parents marched with signs that read “I love my gay son”, “I love my daughter” and “I love you and want you to be happy”. I desperately wanted that love and acceptance, not just from my family but from myself.
My life now would scarcely be recognizable to my 15-year old self. I met a wonderful man, and we’ve been married for five years. My mother attended our wedding, and my twin officiated the ceremony. Our wedding was small but full of people who love me and support me. I am living a full and happy life, something I was told by therapists would be impossible.