In the latest installment of Humans of New York, photographer Brandon Stanton interviewed a man who shares his struggle to reconcile his fundamentalist faith and his homosexuality.
“I call them clobber verses. There are six of them,” he shares. “They’re the verses that get used to hammer gay people. The funny thing is that I never felt pressured by God himself. Only his followers.”
Yet he was still desperate to change, to become straight, to be anything but this shameful thing he knew would make him an outcast. So he turned to prayer.
“If I could have taken a pill, I would have,” he confesses. “I joined the ministry. I got married. I told my wife that I’d had experiences with men, but I convinced both of us that I could choose to be different. I wanted to be normal. I wanted kids. I thought it was just a matter of commitment.”
He started reparative therapy to show just how committed he was.
“They tried to teach me that homosexuality wasn’t real. They said that I’d just had an overbearing mother. But I couldn’t change. I kept slipping up. I couldn’t give my wife what she needed.”
When his marriage finally ended, he was angry with God for not “fixing” him.
“But after some time, I finally realized why he wouldn’t change me. He never felt like he needed to.”
While several states have introduced laws to ban conversion therapy among minors, it is still legal for vulnerable adults to be taken in by quack therapists who promise to “cure” them of their innate sexual orientation.
It’s not only ineffective, it’s harmful: Studies show conversion therapy can cause anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
In a June 2015 ruling that found conversion therapy to be consumer fraud, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. wrote that “the theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but—like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it—instead is outdated and refuted.”