Human Rights Campaign Explains Conversion Therapy
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[Human Rights Campaign Explains Conversion Therapy]
Alex Cooper: Source: LYBIO.net
I felt like they got some sort of weird joy out of torturing children.
St. George, Utah
So I came out to my parents when I was 15. They kicked me out of the house. A couple of weeks later they told me I was going to go stay with my grandparents for a few weeks, and instead they dropped me off at a conversion therapy camp where they signed over their parental rights and guardianship to this family who promised to make me straight.
Conversion therapy is the idea that you can use physical pain and emotional pain to make somebody change their sexual orientation. For me, a lot of the therapy was wearing a backpack full of rocks to feel the physical burden of being gay. This family made me face a wall for sometimes up to 18 hours. When I kept fighting, they would add more rocks and then more rocks and more rocks. Got up to be 40 pounds. And they didn’t start taking rocks out until I decided to give up on fighting and start playing along.
Alex was held in one of these homes.
Alex Cooper: Source: LYBIO.net
There were two boys there when I first got there that both identified as gay. They had to fight each other to be more manly, and if they weren’t hitting each other hard enough then the man who helped run the conversion therapy camp would step in and do the punching for them. So it was in their best interest to hit each other as hard as they could.
Went to the same church as my grandparents every single Sunday and they were told that, for this conversion therapy to work, they couldn’t look at me and they couldn’t speak to me. That was really, really, really hard. It made me feel like God was punishing me.
I felt like that I couldn’t change being a lesbian but that I could just conceal it. I was finally allowed to go to school after eight months. I wasn’t going to tell anybody what was going on because every single time I reached out for help, it just backfired.
And then one day they got a call saying that I had been late to one of my classes. And so they told me I couldn’t go to school anymore and I had to put the backpack on and face the wall. I stood there for about seven hours, and they fell asleep and I just left. I didn’t take anything.
I was like three in the morning. I hid in some bushes until the buses started running, and then when I got to the high school I immediately went to my English teacher and we called the police.
It gets better no matter what you’re going through. There are people out there who want to help you. You just gotta find the right people. I like to think of impact as a rock being thrown into a still pond. Even the smallest rock can make the biggest ripples. Being that person who reaches out to somebody who’s in trouble or needs help can influence that person’s life in the biggest way. We can all be that change.
Today, Alex is a Youth Ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign, where she’s advocating to end the abusive practice of “conversion therapy.”
The discredited, abusive practice of “conversion therapy” has been proven to cause lasting physical and mental harm and can be life threatening. So far, HRC has helped enact protections against “conversion therapy” in more than 10 states, plus the District of Columbia.
Visit HRC.org to find out how you can help. Alex now has a wonderful relationship with her parents.
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
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