Advocates of “gay conversion therapy” make life hell for Brielle Goldani

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Brielle Goldani is now living a nightmare because of her courage and willingness to testify to the New Jersey Senate committee holding hearings on bill S2278, also known as “The Jerry Sandusky Victimization Act.” The bill would outlaw so-called “gay conversion” therapy.

 

 

 

Garden State Equality chair and CEO Troy Stevenson 2013

“While there may be no camp with such a name in Ohio today, that in no way means there was none 15 years ago,” says Garden State Equality Chair and CEO Troy Stevenson.

The therapy is thought by many to be a cottage industry created to foster the idea that gays are heterosexuals in denial and can be “treated” back into being straight. Ms. Goldani testified that the “treatment” in her case, taking place at a camp in Ohio 15 years ago, consisted of violent aversion therapy including induced vomiting and electroshock treatments. Ms. Goldani identified the camp as being named “True Directions.” Advocates of conversion therapy, including “counselors” who make a comfortable living out of it, immediately fastened on an inability to locate such a camp in Ohio with such a name. They called into question all of  Ms. Goldani’s testimony at that point.

Ms. Goldani says she has been essentially driven into seclusion by harassing phone calls at both home and work and stalking on social media sites. Troy Stevenson, director of Garden State Equality, characterized it as a “re-victimization,” and points out that, while there may be no camp with such a name in Ohio today, that in no way means there was none 15 years ago. Further, an Internet search shows that the term “true directions” is heavily used in a variety of contexts by fundamentalist Christian organizations with a large variety of goals and purposes.

Opponents of S2278 in heated press releases have not considered such possibilities as the term having been used as the name of a program at camp with some other registered business name. Garden State Equality has located at least six camps in Ohio currently practicing  “gay conversion therapy.” Stevenson admits that none currently go by the same name but discounts any possibility that Ms. Goldani made it all up. He said, “I find the behavior of opponents of this bill to be disgusting. They have attacked her [Ms. Goldani] at her workplace, posted lies on the Internet; it’s just disgusting.”

Conversion therapy has no grounding in mainstream medicine. It has been condemned by such groups as the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.” 

Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist who has written extensively about the conversion therapy movement, says that most of its practitioners are religious counselors. Many of them are unlicensed and all base their treatment on theories that are scientifically considered unsound. Drescher says that there is a popular belief, for example, that parents cause children to be homosexual. Mainstream medical opinion dismisses this as junk science.

Conservative religious parents, unable to accept an LGBT child, have been a ready source of hefty fees for counselors and camps claiming to offer the possibility of “repairing the broken sexuality” of their offspring. One person who was a teenage victim of such a camp and wishes to remain anonymous, stated it was the worst experience of his life and came close to driving him to suicide.

 A second hearing on S2278 is scheduled for May 15.

Brielle Goldani is now living a nightmare because of her courage and willingness to testify to the New Jersey Senate committee holding hearings on bill S2278, also known as “The Jerry Sandusky Victimization Act.” The bill would outlaw so-called “gay conversion” therapy.