Gay conversion therapy is something that is rightfully viewed as barbaric and wrong by most, but sadly it still happens.
One gay man by the name of Mathew Shurka has shared his experiences with so-called “conversion” therapy, and his tale is rather shocking. Mathew revealed that he went through half a decade of this “therapy”, and was even forbidden from speaking with his mother and sister.
He revealed how he spoke with counsellors both over the phone and face-to-face in four different US states, between the age of 16-21, in a bid to “cure” himself of being gay.
Mathew, who is currently working as an activist to end all conversion therapy, says he was told he was suffering from a “condition” called “same-sex attraction”, or SSA for short.
He said: “It made it sound like a disease. It was made to feel like a disease too, that I was suffering from.”
He was told in order to ‘cure’ his sexuality, he had to spend as much time with boys as possible in order to relate to them.
“This was so I didn’t pick up any feminine behaviour from girls. It meant I was banned from talking to my mum and sisters. It was extremely difficult to come home from school and not talk to them. The word uncomfortable doesn’t even describe it.”
“The therapists tried to teach me that there was no such thing as homosexuality and that it was a psychological condition that’s routed from some sort of childhood trauma. One of the psychotherapists I saw believed we are born innately heterosexual, but a childhood trauma we have been holding on to can become sexualised, or that your feelings are a response to that trauma.”
“He said the trauma can be something really subtle or something dramatic. Therefore, it’s believed you have to heal this trauma through therapy and the attraction for the opposite sex will return because it’s ‘natural.’ They believed that, through therapy, you could ‘work on it.’ As the therapist searched we never found a specific trauma that occurred to me.”
“My mum didn’t agree with the therapy at all. She felt like she was losing me. I’d walk out the door in the morning and not say bye to her. But I was 16 and vulnerable, so listened to the advice of my therapists for a while.”
What undoubtedly contributed to his pain and confusion, was the fact that he grew up in a suburb of New York which was predominately Jewish. According to him, “homosexuality was not even something that was spoken about.”
The therapy began after Mathew confessed to his father that he was very confused about his sexuality, and at first things seemed to be alright.
“…one day I was on a drive with my father and he asked me what was wrong. I started hysterically crying and said, ‘I’m not sure what my sexuality is.’ We pulled over and he told me that he loved me no matter what, and that he was going to be there for me.”
“A few days later my dad began to panic and wanted to seek some help as he thought I would live a difficult life as a gay man in our society. Through research, he came across a man who practised conversion therapy. The therapist said there was no such thing as homosexuality, and that it was a physical condition that’s routed from some sort of childhood trauma.”
“He believed that, through therapy, you could work on it. My father presented this to me. I was forced into conversion therapy through fear of the condition of my own life. My father was afraid I would live a horrible life as a gay man in society.”
Thankfully, Mathew left the “conversion” therapy after five years, and eventually made peace with his father. He is now an ambassador for the #bornperfect campaign with the National Center for Lesbian Rights.