A activist who was forced to endure years of conversion therapy is once again speaking out about his experience.
27-year-old Mathew Shurka was raised in a “conservatively Jewish home” in the suburbs of New York. When he was just 16, he was urged to undergo conversion therapy after his father learned of his same-sex attraction.
“My father was afraid I would live a horrible life as a gay man in society,” he says.
Shurka spent the next five years participating in both face-to-face and phone counseling, during which he was told there was “no such thing” as being gay and that homosexuality was a “psychological condition” that stemmed from unaddressed childhood trauma.
“It made it sound like a disease,” he says. “It was made to feel like a disease too, that I was suffering from.”
Part of the “cure” included being “banned” from talking to his mother or sisters.
“This was so I didn’t pick up any feminine behavior from girls,” he says. “It was extremely difficult to come home from school and not talk to them. The word uncomfortable doesn’t even describe it.”
Shurka says his mother disagreed with the therapy for the get-go.
“My mother didn’t agree with the therapy at all. She felt like she was losing me,” he recalls. “I’d walk out the door in the morning and not say bye to her. But I was 16 and vulnerable, so listened to the advice of my therapists for a while.”
The bogus therapy continued for five years. It wasn’t until he was 21 that Shurka finally refused to keep participating in it.
“I was 21 and although the therapy taught that there was no such thing as love between two people of the same sex, I had fallen in love with another boy,” he says. “When I said this, I was told I was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. I had been doing everything they said, and yet my attraction for men never lessened. So I left conversion therapy and went through two years of recovery and standard therapy.”
Today, Shurka serves as an ambassador to the #BornPerfect campaign with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The campaign is working to end conversion therapy in the United States by 2019.
As for his father, Shurka says they have been able to work though their differences.
“I let go of any resentment I had towards him in that conversation,” he says. “I know my father truly loves me, and was only seeking what he thought was best for me. I’ve got my father back in my life, and now I get to share it with him.”
h/t: Daily Mail