So far, only California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for minors. There are bans pending in other states, but Republicans continue to vote them down -- as happened in Virginia recently. Still, people spoke up, via a petition, and the White House listened. And that, people, is what we call a very good start.
The time has come for the entire LGBT community and our allies to join this fight. It is about us. It is a simple fact that no one can or should try to change who we are. Whether we were born gay or lesbian, or whether we were assigned "male" or "female" at birth only to realize that our gender identity doesn't match, no one else should have the right to try to have us changed.
As far as equal rights have come in the last few years, up to a third of LGBTQ people are still subjected to "conversion therapy," among the most damaging forms of psychological abuse a person can endure. Conversion therapy encompasses a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Though the prospect of salvation seemed to brim with promise at the time, I was completely unaware of how much psychological damage the "treatment" would inflict upon me. I was blinded by insecurity, inexperience, and the fact that I'd finally met others who genuinely seemed to understand my feelings of isolation.
New Yorker Mathew Shurka came out at the age of 16 to his initially supportive father, who promised to love his son no matter what, and to always stay by his son's side. However, his father's thinking became more and more influenced by homophobia and harmful stereotypes surrounding the gay community.
When Ryan Kendall, a young gay man living in Denver, heard the news back in 2008 that the California Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, he reached out to us, and we soon learned that, as a 14-year-old boy, he had survived brutal so-called "conversion" therapy to change his sexual orientation.