Ex-gay/conversion therapy survivors will unite this Mardi Gras in a walking entry that is as much about highlighting the issue as it is about personal empowerment.
Already 27 people who have been through the experience of so-called gay reparative therapy have signed up to take part in the group coordinated by Freedom2b[e].
“For many, this will be the first time they’ve been able to meet with other ex-gay survivors,” Freedom2b[e] co-convenor Anthony Venn-Brown said.
“People who have gone through these types of programs are quite possibly left with a sense of shame and failure. It can take years to resolve that and to deal with that on a subconscious level.
“There’s a subconscious belief that hangs around, that makes people think maybe they’ve done the wrong thing, that maybe they won’t really be accepted by God because they’ve accepted their sexuality. “Being involved with a parade like Mardi Gras is an empowering experience for every individual — and particularly for people who have been through the experience of ex-gay programs, it is an opportunity to put their demons to bed.”
It is also an opportunity to open up space for discussion in the wider community.
“It is not just about de-constructing the ex-gay myth, but creating a space for healing for people who have perhaps been through some form of ex-gay therapy,” Venn-Brown said.
“There are a lot of people who don’t speak out. I’ve had so many emails from people who have been traumatised by these experiences, who haven’t really talked to anyone about them. It’s not something you’d have a conversation about in a gay bar, or for many, even something they’d talk about with friends — they wouldn’t understand.
“There is, in certain parts of our community, a very justifiable anti-religion feeling, though it doesn’t help those who come from faith backgrounds who need a space to talk about those things.”