Love in ActionLast summer I happened to come across something online that really bothered me. Actually, bothered is an understatement; I think I was close to crying. I was just randomly reading blogs and one of them had linked to this story about a kid who had been sent to reparative therapy for being gay. I you want to read more about it, Terrence wrote all about it here. I told my boyfriend about reading it. He thought it was bad and all, but he wasn't as disturbed about it as I was. I mentioned it to a couple of other people and they were mildly interested, but they didn't seem to be as interested as I was, so I didn't bring it up anymore. I wanted to blog about it, but I didn't have this blog then. All I had was my xanga, which is read by my friends at my conservative Christian college. They're good friends, but I don't think they would have understood why I was talking about it. I even mentioned it to my mom (another conservative Christian, though she's one who I think is more grounded in reality than most) and all she heard was GAY, GAY, GAY. That's all she could focus on and then she started talking about how glad she was that my siblings and I all seem to be attracted to the opposite sex. I set up a MySpace account and joined the Free Zach group. I eventually deleted my MySpace account when one of my friends came across it and wanted to add me as a friend. I really wanted that account to just be for the group, not to communicate with my friends - that's what my xanga is for. I also went to a PFLAG meeting, which I enjoyed, but I haven't gone back. I keep meaning to, but I get really busy and stuff.
Anyway, now another child is speaking out about this. After Zach came back from Love in Action he just wanted to be left alone, which he posted about here. I guess it's understandable. I think in this new case, more might be able to be accomplished because the young man is willing to put himself out there in order to stop this. The news article is here. I really hope that he is able to bring more attention to this and prevent other parents from sending their kids to a place that will only mess them up.
I've been trying to figure out why I feel so strongly about this when my friends and many others just shrug their shoulders and say, "oh, that's too bad." I've realized that maybe that's not the question I should be asking. I should be asking why they don't seem to care more when there is a human rights abuse like that. Last summer, I really wanted to go to the protest on the day that Zach was being release, but I had to be at work and I would have had to drive all night. Looking back, though, I wish that I had at least tried. I might have been able to get someone to sub for me at the store and I could have driven all night to be there. I bet I would have met some really cool people and finally have had someone to talk to about it.
I've been trying to figure out why I feel so strongly about all of this. It's not just because I know gay people and have seen how they've been hurt by discrimination. I think it's because I have at least some semblance of faith in the way that we do things here in the U.S. Sure, people do horrible things. People can molest kids, but they go to jail for it. Even if they don't go to jail, it's at least illegal and the police and court system try to prevent it and prosecute it. But this is completely legal. A parent can pay someone to lock up their kid and have those people tell the kid that there is something wrong with them over and over and over. And it's not illegal at all. No one can stop it from happening. No one is there to protect the child who has to go through that. It really creeps me out.
I am a Sociology major and I really tried to look into the research on the subject. There really wasn't anything, though. There is research on gay parenting, which is largely positive and other aspects of homosexuality, but there really isn't anything on reparative therapy. Admittedly, it would be hard to do research like that on kids. It's always hard to do research with people under 18, but it could be done on adults. Maybe I'll just have to do it myself when I go to graduate school, if I ever go to grad school. I'll compare the rate of suicide among reparative therapy participants to the gay population in general. I'll be the new Durkheim.
As I wrote this post I realized how much I've been talking about me and how all of this relates to me. I hope that no one who's reading about this thinks that's selfish. I really feel for those who have gone through reparative therapy, especially those who did it involuntarily.