Jonathan Fernandez, a cast member on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, is the subject of a new video spotlight from Brut.
The celebrity makeup artist and image consultant reveals that he was just 10 years old when he was sent to a gay conversion therapy camp in the Dominican Republic, where he was repeatedly subjected to shock therapy.
“I grew up in a very Catholic Dominican household and I was pretty much the first gay person in my family to come out,” Fernandez says. “So, while my family always supported me, it was out of love, not understanding.”
While at the camp, Fernandez recalls being attached to a lie-detector machine, shown movies, and then shocked based on his answers to various questions.
“And it just felt like a different kind of bullying, because this was a doctor, this was a grown up,” he continues. “And I went there to fix what I was being told was a problem. So I should have felt safe and I didn’t.”
“Every other day they would inject me with testosterone, in addition to the psychotherapy that I was going through. And they would inject so much testosterone into my glutes that I would not be able to sit. I was a child, I was 10 years old, being injected with high amounts of testosterone. You can only imagine what that does to your body.”
“I feel fortunate that I didn’t end up like some of the statistics,” Fernandez concludes. “So many people do commit suicide coming out of gay conversion therapy. And that’s something that parents should know if they are considering putting their children through this. Would you rather have a gay child or a dead child?”
Fernandez, who has also appeared on VH1’s K. Michelle: My Life, first opened up publicly about his conversion therapy experience in a January episode of Love & Hip Hop. In an interview with NewNowNext, Fernandez discussed his mother’s decision to send him away after both his bisexual father and a gay family friend died from AIDS.
“It was me being bullied, and then it was my mom seeing so many of her close friends dying of AIDS,” he explained. “When she heard of gay conversion therapy, I think she thought: ’Let me see if I can change my son’s life for the better.’”
According to a recent UCLA study, an estimated 57,000 minors will undergo conversation therapy from clergy, religious counselors, or other unlicensed persons before they turn 18.
To learn more about the dangers of conversion therapy and how you can help stop it, visit action.vh1.com.