Following a Democratic Win, Four States Move to Ban Conversion Therapy

For years, LGBTQ people have been subject to the abhorrent practice known as conversion therapy, in which people attempt to cure their "patients" of homosexuality. Fortunately, enough people realized that this practice does more harm than good and have worked to have it banned in several states (New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, and New Hampshire). According to Into More, following the midterm election results where Democrats gained multiple seats in the local and federal government, it appears that four more states Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, are planning on banning conversion therapy. 


Openly gay Senator Brad Hoylman of New York said that the Republican party that controlled the State Senate at the time "blocked every piece of LGBTQ legislation since 2011." He also commented that he was sure that the Republicans will continue to try and block LGBTQ legislation and that would not change unless the State Senate had a Democratic majority. In 2018, New York approved a bill that would have prohibited conversion therapy from being performed on minors, but Republicans in the State Senate would not allow the bill to reach them. After November 6, Democrats will hold 35 out of 63 Senate seats in New York, hopefully the help and the majority needed to get protective LGBTQ legislation passed. Hoylman is hopeful that positive change will occur, as he saw record turnout among Democrats and he realized that many Republicans do not feel represented by their party anymore. 


The election of Jared Polis of Colorado, also an openly gay politician, indicates that change is also coming to the Centennial State. There is now a 19-16 Democratic Senate majority in Colorado, which will hopefully allow the state legislature to push forward with protective LGBTQ legislation.


In Maine, Republican governor Paul LePage vetoed a conversion therapy bill, making him the first Governor to do so. Newly elected Governor Janet Mills promised once she became the new governor of Maine to sign a bill to conversion therapy. In a March 2018 statement, Mills said she recognizes the harm that conversion therapy causes, the anxiety, depression, homelessness, and other harmful effects.

"LGBTQ people don’t need to be ‘fixed'. As governor, I will make sure LGBTQ young people in Maine hear from their political leaders that they are respected and valued, not broken."


In Massachusetts, both the House and Senate supported a bill that would ban conversion therapy, but could not reconcile the differences of their versions. It is projected that such a bill will be reconsidered in 2019. 


It is clear that the increase of Democrats and LGBTQ citizens involved in and having positions in the government will lead to positive changes and more protective LGBTQ legislation in the near future as such things have been neglected for far too long. 

h/t: Into More

Therapist Practices 'Ex-Gay' Therapy By Day, Trolls For Gay Sex On Dating Apps At Night

A notorious “ex-gay” therapist who takes money from unsuspecting patients promising to ‘cure’ them of being gay has been allegedly outed for secretly trolling for sex with men on dating apps.

From Truth Wins Out:

Norman Goldwasser, by day, is an Orthodox Jewish therapist at Horizon Psychological Services who compares homosexuality to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and misleads clients by claiming that their sexual orientation can be changed with his special brand of quack therapy, which is rejected by every respected medical and mental health association.

By night, an undercover investigation by Truth Wins Out has found, he solicits sexual partners on Manhunt, a gay dating App, using the profile “Hotnhairy72.”

During our operation, Goldwasser, going by the pseudonym “Dave”, offered to meet for sex with our operative, “Brandon,” at a Fort Lauderdale motel room. Goldwasser also had a profile on Bear Nation by the same name.

Oh, the hypocrisy.

Studies have shown that so-called “ex-gay therapy” can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

Also known as “reparative” or “conversion therapy,” the practice has been debunked and denounced by nearly every major medical organization including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Currently 15 states - Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Delaware - plus the District of Columbia -  all have laws or regulations protecting youth from the harmful practice.

Additionally, local municipalities including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin have also passed similar legislation.

In reporting the story for Truth Wins Out, Executive Director Wayne Besen writes that Goldwasser’s “double life of unconscionable lies highlights the rank hypocrisy and predatory nature of the fraudulent ‘ex-gay’ industry.”

Goldwasser has long ties to the "conversion therapy" community going back to Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), an "ex-gay therapy" organization which was ordered dissolved by a New Jersey Superior Court in 2015 for violating consumer fraud laws.

Besen, the author of Anything Bust Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, says his organization doesn’t condone outing others unless “there is overwhelming hypocrisy, exchange of commerce, and the threat of harm to LGBT youth.”

It seems the Goldwasser situation ticks all three boxes.

Besen told JoeMyGod that he had been communicating with Goldwasser in advance of the Truth Wins Out article, and Goldwasser apparently begged Besen to consider his children and grandchildren in regard to exposing him.

Besen shared this text message from Goldwasser with JoeMyGod:


“I reminded Goldwasser that he was asking for sympathy he never afforded his victims, some teenagers, as he coldly collected their money and ruined their lives,” Besen shared on JoeMyGod.


“I also told him that only caring about his own predicament without apologizing for the harm he caused other people was narcissistic -- something he could, unlike homosexuality -- fix by visiting a real therapist.”

This scandal comes to light as the new film Boy Erased opens in theaters this week.

The movie, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe, focuses on the true-life experience of Garrard Connelly whose parents sent him to “ex-gay camp” when they discovered his sexuality when he was a teen.

(h/t Truth Wins Out, JoeMyGod)

Check Out The Haunting Track From Upcoming Conversion Therapy Film "Boy Erased"

Revelation,” the first single from the soundtrack of the upcoming movie Boy Erased, has been released and it’s everything you want it to be.

The film, based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, is the true story of one young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.

Boy Erased tells the story of Jared (Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.

The track, a collaboration between out Australian pop star Troye Sivan (who’s also featured in the movie) and Icelandic musician Jónsi (best known as the frontman for Sigur Rós), is a hauntingly sensitive and touching ballad.

You're a revelation
Won't you liberate me now
From a holy world
You're a revolution
I will liberate you now
As the walls come down

During a recent tour stop in New York City where he performed the song live, Sivan shared that the evolution of the song was inspired by a scene in the film.

“It’s this one moment of relief in the film.,” says Sivan. “It’s this one really sweet, tender moment where Jared does something that I would consider pure and beautiful and normal and romantic.”

“He has that experience and the sky doesn’t fall down on him,” he explains. “The world doesn’t come crashing down, and it’s a ‘revelation’ to him. That person that he was with is a revolution to him, and it was just so inspiring. So, we started with these lyrics of ‘you’re a revelation, you’re a revolution’.”

Boy Erased lands in theaters November 2. Hit the play button below to hear “Revelation.”


(h/t Focus Features)

Self-Hatred Runs Rampant Through the Pavlovian Nightmare Known as Conversion Therapy

While homosexuality has been slowly becoming more accepted in society, there are some people who are vehemently opposed to anything LGBT and will spread hatred and fear to attempt to eradicate it. One man, Mitchell Reid, was told that God did not love him because he is gay, his soul is broken, and that he is evil for not being attracted to women. Because of this, he attempted to take his own life twice. In a special report by The Post and Courier, Reid retells the horrors of the conversion therapy that he attended for decades to cure himself of his homosexuality. 

But first for a little background into the garbage known as conversion therapy. This horrid practice came about in the mid 20th century when psychology was becoming more mainstream. Homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the DSM until 1973. During this time, many horrendous treatments began in attempts to cure homosexuality, such as electroshock therapy or using nausea-inducing medication, à la A Clockwork Orange, to make people associate same-sex attraction with nausea and vomiting.

One of the first ex-gay organizations was Exodus International, an Orlando-based group founded by Michael Bussee in 1976, who claimed that it started out as a prayer circle for gay Christians. Bussee left the group in 1979 when he came out as gay to his family and began a relationship with another founder of Exodus International and wrote in a blog post for NCLR that nobody turned heterosexual after going through conversion therapy. 

Although Bussee denounced the notion of conversion therapy, the practice continued to gain popularity across the US giving rise to organizations such as National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH, that popularized the idea that homosexuality can be cured. 

Now that that's out of the way, back to Mitchell Reid. He had attended various ex-gay conversion therapy sessions over three decades, as counselors promised a ground-breaking panacea for his same-sex attraction. After spending countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to cure his homosexuality, he realized that it was not working. Before his numerous therapy sessions, Reid had a negative image of himself because of his same-sex attraction. He says "You feel your soul is distorted and evil and broken because of something you can’t change. What do you do? You do everything you can to change yourself. That’s why I went into all these therapies."

His therapy sessions included him describing his same-sex fantasies, exorcisms to exorcise the demon that he had inside of his soul, and shock therapy to rewire his brain to help him become attracted to women. His counselors offered him some explanation as to why he is attracted to men: He was too close to his mother, his father didn't pay enough attention to him which made him become detached from his masculine side, or that he had repressed traumatic memories. The therapy obviously did not work.

Luckily there are states that have banned conversion therapy due to its harmful effects on people, but there are still some that have not outlawed the antiquated and bigoted practice. Ex-gay therapy can be found in many different forms, including support groups or one-on-one sessions where gay people watch straight porn in order to develop an attraction to the opposite sex. However, attempts to ban this harmful practice have increased, as 2/3 of Americans support homosexuality, according to a Pew Research study. 

With increased support for homosexuality and LGBTQ people, it is my hope that conversion therapy becomes a thing of the past so that nobody has to go through it again. Everyone should love themselves and by eradicating conversion therapy, LGBTQ people will have a much easier time doing so.

h/t: The Post and CourierNCLRPew Research

Help The Trevor Project And You Could Win A Trip To 'Boy Erased' Premiere In LA

Here’s a total win-win: donate as little as $10 to The Trevor Project via Omaze, and you could find yourself on the red carpet with the cast and creators of the highly anticipated film, Boy Erased.

Here's the official synopsis for the movie:

Boy Erased tells the story of Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19.

Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Boy Erased is the true story of one young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.

To take part in this uber-cool opportunity, click here to head over to Omaze, an online platform that democratizes traditional auction-giving by offering everyone the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience for as little as $10.

Each dollar you donate becomes an entry in the Boy Erased campaign.

One lucky winner (and their favorite +1) will be flown to Los Angeles and put up at a 4-star hotel before hitting the red carpet with the movie’s director Joel Edgerton, and stars Lucas Hedges (Academy Award nominee) and Troye Sivan at the star-studded premiere on October 29.

Plus, you’ll get to meet the author of the memoir the film is based on, Garrard Conley.

After that? It’s showtime! You’ll head into the theater to see the film surrounded by the incredible cast and crew that made it.

Instinct has reported on Boy Erased extensively here, here, here and here, in anticipation of the film’s release.

Through the Omaze platform, people from more than 170 countries have donated to over 150 charities, driving new levels of awareness and raising more money for charities.

With this campaign, you’ll be helping The Trevor Project which aims to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.

For more details (including complete rules and dates), click here.

Below, you can check out this video message from Joel Edgerton, Garrard Conley, Lucas Hedges and Troye Sivan about the contest.



We're So Inspired By This 19-Year-Old Who Escaped Gay Conversion Camp In Kenya

Let’s start this week off with an inspiring story of real-life bravery. Let’s shine a light on Ithaca College student Mahad Olad, a gay conversion camp survivor who has just been awarded the Colin Higgins Foundation’s annual Youth Courage Award.

Olad’s family is of Somali descent, and he comes from “an extremely conservative Muslim background.”. His family fled to Kenya 1991 to avoid the civil war. His immediate family now lives in Minnesota.  Olad studies at Ithaca College in New York. He wrote an account of his escape from conversion therapy in his school newspaper The Ithacan earlier this year.

Last year, following his freshman year in college, Olad was looking forward to spending summer vacation with his family. The plan was to go back to Kenya to visit relatives, and then to return home. Or so he thought.

Olad is gay, something he’d kept hidden from his family. One way or another they discovered his secret, and shortly after arriving in Kenya, his mother broke the news to him: he was there to be placed in a gay conversion therapy camp. His mother asked him to withdraw from college. He was to be placed under control of “a few sheiks” he met at the hotel the night they arrived. They told him that his homosexuality was “unequivocally” against the Muslim faith. He would be forced to go the camp the following morning.

Here’s what Olad knew of the camps:

“I was quite aware of the horrors of these gay and religious conversion camps. The leaders operate the camps around grim parts of Somalia and Kenya. They subject their captives to severe beatings, shackling, food deprivation and other cruel practices. It usually involves a rigorous Islamic curriculum. Those who fail to cooperate, make adequate progress or try to escape could possibly be killed.”

One more thing to note about conversion camps in Africa is that unlike camps in the U.S., they operate in secrecy. They answer to no one. 

Without access to money or even his passport, Olad made an incredible escape. He told his mother he would go along with her plans, and that he was going for a long walk. He made a call to Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), an organization that supports people who have chosen to leave Islam.

This put Olad in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. He was told that if he could make it there, he would be protected until he could figure out how to get back to the United States. He fled his hotel via taxi. EXMNA bought him a plane ticket home, and Ithaca College found a place for him to live on campus until classes resumed in the fall.

Olad is no longer in touch with his family, even those who weren't in on the plan to take him to the camp-- which he says has left him “devastated.” Now he is 19. He says he feels physically safer because the F.B.I. and campus police keep an eye on him, but “the nightmare isn’t over.”

He now says he wants to do everything he can to stop this from happening to other at-risk LGBTQ+ people.

“I am lucky enough to be over eighteen, a U.S. citizen and to have a large support network — all of which made it easier for me to get out of Kenya. Not everyone is so lucky, however. That is why I’m sharing my story: so the U.S. and other governments can do more to protect the vulnerable youth of Muslim backgrounds whose parents abuse them in the name of religion and culture.”

As part of the Youth Courage Award, Olad received a $10,000 grant, and he will be honored during Pride Weekend via an all-expensed-paid trip to New York City or Los Angeles. He also gets a trip to the Creating Change Conference to network with LGBTQ+ leaders from around the world.

For more, read Mahad Olad’s riveting, heartbreaking account in The Ithacan.

h/t: Pink News

Troye Sivan Appears on "The Late Show" to Perform, Talk About "Boy Erased"

Last night, out Johannesburg-born pop star and actor Troye Sivan appeared on CBS’ The Late Show and opened up to host Stephen Colbert about Boy Erased, Joel Edgerton’s drama about gay conversion therapy that opens in November. The picture co-stars Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Sivan spoke to Colbert about his experiences behind the scenes. He says he wants Boy Erased to reach a wide audience of LGBTQ+ youth and their parents, as conversion therapy can be “damaging.”

"I got the script and just was punched in the gut by it and just knew that I really, really badly wanted to be a part of it," he said. According to Sivan, the filmmakers provided the young actors with authentic accounts of what goes on in conversion camps.

"When we arrived on set, day one, they gave us the resources that kids would typically get when they arrived at the camp. Like, actual printed out resources. They're full of testimonials. It was gnarly.”

"There's these rules. You can shake someone's hand very briefly, but not ever touch someone anywhere else on their body. Girls had to carry around handbags and could only wear skirts. Boys couldn't wear things that were too tight.”

"Imagining being 15 again, when I was sort of at my most vulnerable, and having that put back on me and being set up with that impossible task of trying to change this thing that is ultimately unchangeable, it's just one of the most damaging things I could imagine.”

“I really hope that the movie is going to speak to, mostly, I really want to communicate with parents as to just how much your reaction to your kid coming out can really shape their lives."

Horrifyingly enough, gay conversion therapy is still legal in all but 14 states.

Gay conversion therapy was explored earlier this year in the critically well-received teen drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post starring Chloë Grace Moretz. That movie won the top prize at Sundance in January.

Boy Erased is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name. It opens Nov. 2.

Sivan’s second album, Bloom, is out now. It has received widespread critical acclaim. Watch Sivan on The Late Show below. He also performed two songs from Bloom, “Animal” and “Plum.”

h/t: THR



California Assemblyman Evan Low Dropped His Bill Against Paid Gay Conversion Therapy

California Assemblyman Evan Low decided to shelf his bill to declare gay conversion a fraudulent business after intense pushback from religious folk.

Low, who is gay himself and the chairman of the legislative LGBTQ caucus, authored Assembly Bill 2943. The bill was meant to make paid “conversion therapy” services for adults considered fraudulent business practices. That said, his bill received major pushback from the Christian community.

According to the Los Angeles Times, some feared that the broad description of the bill would leave good-meaning counselors at risk.

“If I pray with this person, is that going to come back on this church?” said Azusa Pacific University chaplain Kevin Mannoia to the LA Times.

That said, the Sacramento Bee reports that AB 2943 would not have outlawed free religious consoling to change sexual and gender identity. The bill was only targeting paid services.

In order to better understand the state’s faith leaders, and avoid legal counter measures, Low went on a tour across the state to meet members of the clergy.

“I believe we are on the side of the angels on this issue,” Low said. “Having said that, in order to get it right, why wouldn’t we want to engage in meaningful, thoughtful, transformational relationships and conversations?”

Now earlier today, Low announced that he would be pulling AB 2943 from consideration while he works on editing the draft.

“I left those productive conversations feeling hopeful. I believe every person who attended these meetings left with a greater understanding for the underlying reason and intention of this bill to create a loving and inclusive environment for all,” Low shared in his statement. “However, I believe there is still more to learn.”



In California, forcing minors into conversion therapy is banned statewide, but Low thinks there’s still room for improvement. As such, he penned up the bill in question.

Being gay himself, this is a topic that Low feels deeply about. Low expressed as much in April when he introduced the bill to the California Assembly.

“I hid myself and my feelings because I was afraid of what others would think of me. This left me feeling very lost, scared, alone, and even suicidal. I wondered if I could change,” he said. “Yet, I am grateful my community embraced me as I was, a gay man. Many fellow members of the LGBT community are not as fortunate.”

It seems that Low is playing a slow but steady game in his fight for the eradication of conversion therapy.

That said, he isn’t fighting without compassion as he not only privately visited California clergy members, but also actively listened to them. As such, he’s now gained some favor among the state’s religious leaders.

Despite pulling his bill from the Assembly floor, Evan Low won this day.

h/t: The Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee

Facebook Ads May Be Targeting LGBTQ+ Teens

This week, Facebook came under fire after a series of complaints from LGBTQ+ users claiming they were being shown conversion therapy and “gay cure” ads in their feeds. One user claimed an ad for a self-help book called Help for Men with Same-Sex Attraction popped up on his timeline, according to a report from the Telegraph.

Other users claim they were shown ads and videos for conversion therapy, claiming to “cure” homosexuality and changing a person’s sexual orientation. Telegraph reported that a source saw a video pop up from a networking site titled Homosexuality Was My Identity from the religious group Anchored North.

When users clicked on an option to find out why they were being shown those ads, they were told that it was because they showed interest in “gender issues.” These reports led to the conclusion that the Facebook algorithm had been used to target LGBTQ+ youth with harmful ads for services that would “fix” them.

The issue was pushed further into the public spotlight when Chelsea Clinton retweeted an article with the comment below:



Facebook responded to her post by saying they do not allow gay conversion therapy and quickly removing them from their site. Their statement is as follows:

“We removed these ads after further review. While we may miss some, we’re working hard to make sure we quickly find and take down bad ads.”

Conversion therapy is a very real concern in the United States. Only 14 states and a few municipalities have banned medical conversion therapy while religious conversion therapy is legal across the US. A study from the Williams Institute estimates that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ+ people in the US have already undergone gay conversion therapy and that another 20,000 underage youth will likely go through therapy before they are 18.

h/t: Telegraph, Facebook

Gay Conservative Journalist Compares Conversion Therapy to Fortune Telling

Chad Felix Greene, a gay conservative journalist for The Federalist wrote a piece titled "If We Don't Ban Fortune Tellers, We Shouldn't Ban 'Gay Conversion Therapy'" in which he elaborates on his comparison. Greene writes:

"In the same way, any service promising an extraordinary and otherwise impossible life-changing result has the potential to induce severe and negative reactions in vulnerable people when they fail."

To further his point, Greene cited his own experience with conversion therapy as proof that it is not as bad as people claim it to be. He disagrees with the "language [of] LGBT advocates" and says that although he doesn't recommend the experience, his was "typical." Whatever that may mean, he does not explain.

Greene believes that the real answer is in education, not in lawmaking- he believes progressive laws that protected LGBTQ+ youth are now silencing any form of dissent. However, Greene is known for taking a much different slant to progressive stories. When he wrote about a teenager thrown out of the house for being gay, he titled the article "Why LGBT Teens Should Try To Work With Angry Parents Rather Than Running Away?" Greene's journalism proves to be a harmful addition to the voices already making it difficult for LGBTQ+ youth.

His arguments are flawed and based on a personal experience while claiming it is universal. At its roots, conversion therapy is nothing like fortune telling because (unlike fortune telling), conversion therapy is a health intervention from a licensed health professional or spiritual healer that is condemned by the medical community for being "ineffective and harmful." To further the point, even one of the proponents of conversion therapy, Robert Spitzer, apologized for promoting the idea and called it,

"A serious threat to the health and well-being - even the lives - of affected people." Greene's contrarian views and desire to rock the boat is fun and games for clicks but ultimately harmful to an LGBTQ+ audience.

h/t: lgbtqnation.com, thefederalist.com