Earlier this week, the Toronto Star released a story detailing an undercover reporter's time in a Toronto ex-gay therapy group, Living Waters. Yes, it turns out we have those here. Yes, they've been scientifically discredited by numerous reliable institutions. No, there's absolutely no reason they should still exist.
While the initial report is pretty damning, the Star released a follow-up report today that talks specifically with former patients of Living Waters, which details the kind of emotional and psychological fallout that comes with participating in ex-gay therapy. The first person they spoke with was David Squire, a former patient from over a decade back:
For Squire, one of the most traumatizing experiences was the search for the supposed roots of his same-sex desires — a practice still common in the program today. Squire said a leader directed him through childhood memories of sexual and emotional abuse growing up in London, Ont.
The leader then linked Squire’s homosexual desires to the abuse. “When they say you choose to be gay and you can fix that, they’re essentially saying, ‘You chose to be abused,’ ” said Squire.
They also talked to a former leader from the group, Daniel Cranley, who can't in good conscience recommend the group to anyone:
“There were times where I said, ‘But I see happy gay couples all the time.’ And they would say, ‘It’s not real happiness. They’re covering up the pain and their sin,’ ” he said.
After three years, he started to realize he wasn’t going to change. During a meeting with the program’s leaders, Cranley confided that he was still gay.
“I’ve got all sorts of healing from this group but my orientation hasn’t changed,” he remembers telling them.
[ . . . ] “It made me realize this whole changing process was entirely on me,” he said. “That’s where the damage lies: They are there to support you as long as you’re trying to change. The minute I made that shift to ‘my orientation was not changing,’ I was on my own.”
Of course it doesn't work! It's been scientifically disproven! Some of the biggest ex-gay organizations have disintegrated, leaving behind nothing but apologies and still gay patients! Literally every piece of evidence says there's no such thing as actual ex-gay therapy, and we still have it.
No one should begrudge others for having religious beliefs. People need to be in awe of something, anything, and as long as they use it to better themselves as people, it's no one's business but their own. But this isn't about religious beliefs: what they're buying into just isn't working. You're feeding off people's fear and shame, and that's just not Christian.