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Equality Utah releases video on conversion therapy

As a launch to start the conversation on legislation to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy in the state, Equality Utah released a five-minute video of the stories of several who have gone through it.

Narrated mostly by Justin Utley, an out singer-songwriter born and raised in West Valley City, Utah, the video touches on the harm done by such therapies.

“For my birthday today, all I ask is for you to take 5 minutes of your day and watch this. And #share it,” Utley posted on his Facebook Page.

“I am #bornperfect. I am not a victim. I am a survivor,” he continued. I am standing with Equality Utah to help end this debunked, disproved, and psychologically abusive therapy in Utah in its various forms. I ask you to join me in this effort. Before any more half lies are sold as truth, before any more spirits and hearts are broken, more families divided, or before we lose one more beautiful young life to the silence of a statistic.

Equality Utah has called their drafted legislation, “Ethical Therapy for Minors Act,” and will have it introduced at the 2019 Legislative Session that begins in January.

“Conversion therapy is a form of psychotherapy with the objective of changing sexual orientation,” Jerry Buie of Pride Counseling says in the video. “In many cases, the conversion therapist or psychoanalytical approach to this may be to deconstruct the family relationships and to get people to look at hidden motives about why they might eroticize people from the same sex.”

Other people’s stories are also shown in the video, including Curtis Simmons who was told he’d had a traumatic event in his life, Stephanie Goodfellow was told she didn’t have a strong role model in her life but did have strong female role models, Max Benson who was told his theater and music focus were not masculine enough and he should try basketball, Josh Burningham who was given several reasons and told if those things hadn’t happened he wouldn’t be gay.

Utley says that he believes the psychologist planted false memories that he’d been abused in his childhood.

Stories of “holding therapy,” where men would physically hold one another to show that male-male touch didn’t have to be sexual, were told. Goodfellow talks of electro-shock therapy as she was forced to watch lesbian porn.

Jason Lindow talked of how therapists told him they would dismantle him and put him back together, since “the pieces weren’t fitting.”

Utley talked about thoughts of suicide, which ended up being so strong that he called his mother to meet him at a hospital. He arrived to find she had been involved in an automobile accident.

The video is very poignant and heart-wrenching. Arturo Fuentes talked about his wish to “stop existing” during his therapy. Lindow talks about an attempt to use sleeping pills to either make “it all be over, or I just wouldn’t wake up.”

Utley ends the video with the hope that, if someone can’t see the silver lining, that they will make one.

The Utah State Legislative Session begins January 28 and extends 45 days to March 14. Legislative drafts of the bill are not yet available to the public.

The video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_OeHWgCiE8

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