Conversion Therapy Survivor Survey Results

Why Would Anyone Try Conversion Therapy?

As I’ve been performing research for my book on sexual orientation change efforts, I’ve followed the work of Dr. Jallen Rix, sexologist and author of Ex-Gay No Way.

Dr. Rix and his colleagues surveyed men and women who have engaged in conversion therapy.

This blog post explores the answers to the following question (as presented on the Conversion Therapy Survey):

What were the reasons (the motivations) you tried to follow an ex-gay path?

Many people, both gay and straight, are baffled by the concept that people would actually pay money to go to therapy to change their sexual orientation.

This question explores the “why” behind the choice to try to change a person’s orientation.

The Conversion Therapy Survey Answers

415 people answered this question on Dr. Rix’s survey.

When asked why they tried conversion therapy (in other words, why they tried to change their sexual orientation through therapy), people gave the following responses:

  • Over 300 people believed God wanted them to change their orientation from gay to straight
  • Just under 300 people believed they would be condemned (by God) if they did not successfully change their orientation
  • Just under 300 people reported societal pressure to conform to heterosexuality
  • Just under 250 people reported fear of losing friends and family
  • Just over 200 believed they were “sexual deviants” and such deviation from the norm was morally wrong
  • Just about 225 reported feeling self hatred for being gay
  • Approximately 100 reported they didn’t think there was any other option but to try to change

You can read the actual responses here.

Why This Conversion Therapy Survey Matters to Me

I’ve been working on a book about ex-gay ministry experiences, motivated initially by the story of a dear friend of mine who denied his sexual orientation for over 30 years before coming out.

It’s important to understand why people would be willing to spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives trying to suppress or change their sexual orientation from gay to straight. Once we understand why people feel pressured to do this, we can provide the support needed to alleviate that pressure.

Thank you, Dr. Rix, for conducting this survey and posting the results online! May this result in positive change!

Conversion Therapy Survivor Survey – Why Did You Quit the Ex-Gay Movement?

While researching conversion therapy, I met Jallen Rix, sexologist and author of Ex-Gay No Way.

Dr. Rix has conducted a survey of conversion therapy survivors. The answers to the questions posed in this survey are shocking and heartbreaking.

This blog post is about answers to the question:

What significant experience motivated you to quit the ex-gay movement?

Thank you, Dr. Rix, for conducting this survey and posting the results online! May this result in positive change!

The Survey of Conversion Therapy Survivors

The survey asked many questions, including this one: “What significant experience motivated you to quit the ex-gay movement?”

The survey is open to ongoing contributions, but at the time this blog post was written, 417 people had participated in the survey, and 393 people had answered this question.

Ex-Gay Movement Survivor Answers

When asked why they stopped conversion therapy, people answered:

  • 302 people said it did not make them straight
  • 202 answered that they were exhausted
  • 196 said they became too depressed to continue
  • 175 said they realized they could no longer hate themselves any longer (obviously self loathing related to sexual orientation is a primary motivator for engaging in conversion therapy)
  • 85 reported having nervous breakdowns (due to the therapy)
  • 99 said they gave up on religion (and most conversion therapy is motivated by religious pressure or a desire to “please God” by repenting of sexual attraction to those of the same sex)
  • 125 met LBGT Christians (Yay!)
  • 149 said they realized the LBGT community is not as “evil” as they had been led to believe
  • 201 answered that they realized God loved them regardless of their sexuality

Click here to read all the answers to this question on the conversion therapy survivor survey conducted by Dr. Jallen Rix and colleagues, including Peterson Toscano, ex-gay movement survivor and talented actor.

My Favorite Answer

Of course, some of these answers tear me up inside. My favorite answer, though, is the last one listed here – that 201 people realized God loved them regardless of their sexual orientation.

Why This Conversion Therapy Survey Matters to Me

I was once part of a radical religious organization. I am no longer (at this time) religious (although I am loosely spiritual.) However, I firmly believe that any God/dess/Creator of the universe worth worshiping would love each and every one of us the way we are – without requiring us to change.

I have three children, and I love each of them as he or she is. I don’t expect them to change or to earn my love. I imagine that God/dess/Divine Creator must be far more capable of loving his or her creation than I am, fallible human that I am.

It is my hope that I can spread this love and acceptance as far as it will go.

Overview of Conversion Therapy Survey

While conducting research for my books about the negative impact of conversion therapy, I met an influential man in this space – Jallen Rix, sexologist and author of Ex-Gay No Way.

Dr. Rix and his colleagues have conducted a survey of men and women who have undergone conversion therapy. The results of this survey are moving – and distressing. I’ve broken down my analysis of the results of his survey into several blog posts so you can digest the conclusions of the stories one by one. I’ve also linked to his website and the study results so you can read his original work as well.

This blog post is about:

The Survey of People Who Have Undergone Conversion Therapy

Thank you, Dr. Rix, for conducting this survey and posting the results online! May this result in positive change!

The Survey of Conversion Therapy Survivors

Dr. Rix and his colleagues conducted this survey to get answers from people who have actually endured conversion therapy. The survey asks questions that explore the following topics:

  • Why people engaged in conversion therapy
  • Why they stopped therapy
  • What they got out of it (or did not get out of it)
  • How conversion therapy affected them
  • How much therapy cost them
  • If they felt therapy was effective or delivered as promised
  • If they felt harmed by the experience, and if so, how
  • What demographics were affected by conversion therapy
  • How spirituality was linked to the experience

The survey was conducted online and the results tabulated and then published here at Beyond Ex-Gay.

You can read up about Dr. Jallen Rix here.

You can read up about his colleague, Peterson Toscano here.

The Results of the Survey

The evidence produced by the survey is that conversion therapy has harmed a good many people. The responses recorded in the survey are heart-breaking.

As you can imagine, any therapy that causes a person to try to change his or her sexual orientation is suffocating and demoralizing. This survey is a starting point for scientifically measuring the impact of such a practice.

If you’re interested in reading up on the American Psychological Association’s opinion of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, you can download a PDF on the subject here.

Why This Conversion Therapy Survey Matters to Me

As a writer exploring the impact of conversion therapy (or any SOCE methods), I am happy to see this sort of evidence being published online.

In my opinion, the acceptance of same-sex attraction and the celebration of GBLT orientations is essential for healthy societal health. If we attack, suppress, hate upon, abuse and ridicule this significant segment of our society, we all lose. Everyone deserves to be respected and loved for who he or she is.

I am particularly interested in helping religious organizations accept GBLT people who wish to worship a deity with full confidence that they are loved and accepted – by a creator and congregation alike – without having to change a single thing.

This mission is important to me because I was once a part of a radically religious group that believed (and still does believe) that people can choose to be gay or straight, and that any sexual encounter with someone of the same sex is sinful. I no longer believe this could possibly be true of a loving deity. As such, I want to promote acceptance, especially in the religious community, as much as is possible.

Is Conversion Therapy Linked to Radical Religion?

I come from a background of radical religion. As a result, I’ve found myself drawn to stories of people who have also immersed themselves in radical religion. This interest of mine has led me into the world of religious LGBT community, and also to the topic of conversion therapy, in which gay men and women try to change or suppress their sexual orientation. This is usually done to “please God.”

My research led me to discover an expert in this field: Jallen Rix, sexologist and author of Ex-Gay No Way.

Dr. Rix is also interested in the root cause of what motivates a person to try to change something so integral and personal as sexual orientation. He was a part of the ex-gay movement, and now works as a sex therapist.

Dr. Rix has recently conducted a survey, asking people who engaged in conversion therapy why they tried to change their sexual orientation. His survey results are fascinating.

One of the main conclusions Dr. Rix made from his survey was this: most people who try to change their sexual orientation do so for religious reasons. They believe they will not be loved or accepted (by God and/or a religious community) if they do not suppress their sexuality or change from gay to straight. You can read about this here on the conclusions page of his survey results.

As I work on my books about conversion therapy, I am using information from researchers like Dr. Rix. Keep following me to discover what other experts in this field have to say on the subject.

Contact Me to Contribute

If you are an ex-gay survivor and would like to contribute to my book, please contact me! Thanks for being a part of positive change!