I knew from a young age that I was different, and it was very apparent when puberty started, that I was not at all attracted to girls and was interested in guys instead. During the late 1960s and 70s, I struggled to understand and navigate life in a time and culture that was not accepting of homosexuality.

Because of the intense emotional and mental issues, I turned to Christianity to find peace and hopefully become a “normal” straight man. I was incredibly devoted to my faith and readily submitted to whatever was suggested to be free from my same sex attraction. I was constantly told that the bible was very clear about the  issue and God was willing and capable of changing me. I studied the bible diligently (including two years of bible college), in an effort to understand how this was possible. There was a constant supply of Christian books claiming to provide the answers on how to become “straight”. 

In all, I spent around 40 years of exploring every form of Christian counselling/therapy, etc available.

In all, I spent around 40 years of exploring every form of Christian counselling/therapy, etc available. This included things like “deliverance” (casting out demons), and a large variety of counselling techniques. Techniques  that were completely unfounded or supported by modern psychological practices and research. These were always presented as the latest spiritual “revelation” that would bring healing. I lived in a constant state of depression and anxiety, was often suicidal, and coming very close to actually taking my life on a few occasions.

In the late 90s, I joined an organisation called Living Waters (part of a large international conversion therapy organisation at the time called “Desert Streams”, based in the USA) and devoted the next 15 years to their teachings and methods, becoming a worship leader for their meetings and conferences, as well as a group leader for their regular “courses” in Australia and New Zealand.

During my life I married twice to women. Although they were good friends, there was no romantic/sexual attraction, so the relationships were a disaster. My desire to marry was nothing more than a frantic effort to be a straight man, and for many like me, marriage was encouraged as part of the transformation process!

Over the years, my mental health kept suffering, no matter what I did. I lived a lie, claiming I was “free” and that God could change anyone. I kept that lie very well hidden, and only my wife knew I was occasionality “tempted” by the past if she noticed I looked too closely at another guy.

The reality was I was still just as gay as ever – nothing had changed in the slightest

The reality was I was still just as gay as ever – nothing had changed in the slightest. It was my determination to pass as “normal” and my ability to successfully “mask” my true thoughts that held my life, family, and friendships together.

After 15 years, I never found one person in the organisation who could honestly say they were fully “converted” from gay to straight. We were all living a lie, deceiving ourselves and others.

In the Living Waters leadership meetings, where we could be vulnerable with each other, it was common knowledge that the struggles were never ending. But we had to keep the faith, follow the formulas, encourage each other, confess and repent of thoughts and actions. After 15 years, I never found one person in the organisation who could honestly say they were fully “converted” from gay to straight. We were all living a lie, deceiving ourselves and others.

When my second wife died in 2011 and I had a breakdown. A lifetime of shame, guilt, depression and suicidality came to a head. I began studying sexuality outside the strict confines of religious dogma and was stunned to find such an immense wealth of alternative understandings. I discovered the vast range of problems with the bible translations, interpretations, exegetics, etc. I found that unbiased science threw a different light on human sexuality and gender. I could no longer accept the Christian stance on ANY level.

….it’s taken me many years to process the trauma, and how it’s affected almost every part of my life. I feel like I’m still recovering after 12 years!

However, the wounds of those years left ran deep, and it’s taken me many years to process the trauma, and how it’s affected almost every part of my life. I feel like I’m still recovering after 12 years!

Despite all the claims of conservative/traditional Christianity (and other religions) conversion therapy, in any form, not only categorically doesn’t work, but it creates deep and often fatal trauma and mental health problems. It is a cruel and insidious form of abuse.

Any legislation that will protect people from these outdated, ill-informed, harmful practices will not only be welcome, but will save wasted years and lives.

I can’t change the past, but I can change the future, and so provide support for LGBTQ  people who’ve gone through experiences like me.

Jim Marjoram

More information about so called “conversion therapy’ HERE

More conversion “therapy” survivor stories HERE

Anthony Venn-Brown says: “I’ve been hearing stories like this for 23 years now. I want these to stop. We can’t legislate to change an outdated, ill-informed religious belief about sexuality and gender, but we can create awareness and pass laws that protect vulnerable LGBTQ people from harm. You can help create awareness by sharing this story and also signing the Equality Australia’s petition in support of Alex Greenwich’s Equality Bill.”

If you need help , the support services below are available.

Q Life   Online Chats or Call 1800 184 527 . 3pm to midnight in your state around Australia, every day.

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