California could soon become the first state in the nation to ban “conversion therapy" for gay and lesbian teens.
On Wednesday, the state Senate approved the proposed bill authored by Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu.
That was welcome news to Peter Drake in San Francisco. For most of his life he lived the life of a straight man but realized he was not being true to himself, so he went through three years of conversion therapy to try to remain heterosexual.
Drake said the therapy made him feel worse. “I was so depressed I was suicidal,” Drake said.
He also says it did not change him from gay to straight.
“Where it started to get discouraging was when the therapist told me to play more sports, like gay men don’t play sports. Then I was told to look at pictures of women and try to lust after them.” he said.
Drake recently testified before California lawmakers supporting a ban on conversion therapy aimed at making gay kids under 18 straight.
Psychiatrist Dr. Manuj Nangia at the San Jose Integrative Wellness Center says the American Psychiatric Association does not support conversion therapy.
“I think this ban will protect kids from engaging in something that could be potentially harmful to them” said Dr. Nangia. “What conversion therapy does is view being gay as a choice, that the individual chooses whether or not to be heterosexual instead of seeing it as a biological phenomenon and for a young person developing their sense of self this approach can be harmful because it encourages them to be something they’re not.”
The National Association For Research and Therapy on Homosexuality (NARTH) does not support the legislation. An analysis of the ban on NARTH’S website suggests the bill could reduce the number of therapists willing to offer other psychological services to lesbian, gay and bisexual youth of California.
Peter Drake says this is a ban worth fighting for so children won’t be subjected to the therapy he believe can do more harm than good.