You may be asking yourself why I am writing about this. This is a theater blog, after all. Well, as a former theater educator, and lifelong theater participant, I have met a great deal of homosexuals involved in the theater, many of them like family to me now. Don't mistake me--- I don't think of them as my "gay friends"--- they are my friends. Their sexual preference is a part of who they are, but doesn't completely define them as human beings. As J.K. Rowling said, she thinks of gay people simply as "people".
As someone who has witnessed (and even experienced) a great deal of bullying in my life, I have been sickened over the years to hear stories about LGBT youth being bullied, even to the point of self-harm and suicide. That is why I wrote my play, "The ReProgramming of Jeremy." I have also read a great deal about religious "straight camps" and the mental health practice of "conversion therapy"--- one is to "pray the gay out", the other is to try to wash your brain clean of the homosexuality in it--- and, from what I have learned, both practices are dangerous, and have also led to self-harm and suicide. Naturally, both the religious and psychiatric methods I have mentioned have what they call "success stories"--- but then, we can never truly look inside and see how someone is feeling, can we?
Personally, I think the practice of trying to fundamentally change how a person was born because they are attracted to the same sex as themselves is wrong. It is not an illness. Some may argue that people who are gay are not born that way, that it is learned. To those people, I say, "I'm sorry, but you are wrong." This is not a matter of opinion, no more than 2+2=4 is a matter of opinion. We can no longer allow people's opinions to bear the same weight in an argument as facts, especially if the matter is not up for opinion.
If you are a heterosexual, try to imagine, just for a brief moment, a psychiatrist working hard to realign your attraction from the opposite sex to the same sex. To be taking that deeply personal and deeply rooted part of yourself and trying to change it, to flip it around. Now imagine a minister telling you using different methods to achieve the same thing.
Ask yourself, did you ever choose to be straight? I can't remember ever choosing. I remember distinctly realizing that I was attracted to the opposite sex (which is a story for a different time), but never choosing.
Already on my Facebook, I've had people disagree with me. One person asked, "What about those teens who want to change who they're attracted to? Shouldn't they have a legal method to do so?" (I am paraphrasing).
My answer is this: Most young people who want to change they're homosexuality wish to do so because of societal or family pressure causing them shame and guilt. A mental health professional would do better to assure these young people that they have nothing to be ashamed of, and that it is okay to be gay.
"But these young people should have the freedom to try conversion therapy if they want to...!"
Actually, the government puts plenty of restrictions on potentially dangerous activities on youth.
Cigarettes, alcohol, driving (until they pass a test). If an adult wants to get into conversion therapy, than they can... they have, supposedly, weighed the options. It still makes me sad, but, hey, it is their right. Adults aren't going through the same hormonal changes that can make young people even more mentally vulnerable for such therapies.
In fact, this law protects parents for putting using conversion therapy on their kids against their will, which is a good thing.
"But, Bobby, just because you think it is dangerous..."
I am not the only one. Click HERE to read more about it. Or HERE. There are countless others, too.
In 2000, Colorado outlawed Rebirth Therapy, after a little girl was smothered to death accidentally. I don't remember as much of an outcry saying that young people in Colorado should have the freedom to seek rebirth therapy if they wanted. In fact, shouldn't the government protect citizens from pseudo-psychiatry that is harmful to people?
My opinion is yes. Feel free to disagree.
No LGBT youth (or adult for that matter) should have to hate who they are and how they were born. We are passed this as a society. Or at least we should be, shouldn't we?
Thank you for reading my thoughts. If you do choose to comment, I don't mind if you disagree, but any name calling or hate speech will be deleted by me. Dissenting viewpoints are fine. Thank you.
Check out my play, "The Reprogramming of Jeremy", on Amazon!