Achieving LGBTQ Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

#BornPerfect: Survivor Stories & Survivor Network

Survivor Stories
Survivor Network

#BornPerfect is rooted in NCLR’s vision of advancing public policy by empowering the people most affected by the issues to become the agents of change. We are working to raise awareness about conversion therapy and the havoc it wreaks in the lives of LGBT children by empowering survivors to speak out about their experiences.

Though as many as one in three LGBT people have been subjected to conversion therapy, whether by a licensed clinician, a religious leader, or another trusted adult, the trauma of these experiences can make it difficult to come forward. The work we are doing would not be possible without the involvement of the courageous individuals who do, and we are committed to maintaining a network of support and understanding to ensure the well-being of every person who is ready to speak out.

Survivor Stories

Deb Cuny

BY DEB CUNY NCLR Contributor

As a child, I loved to dress up in my dad’s Sunday best to preach the Good News of Jesus to a congregation of furry stuffed animals. Little did I know that my favorite form of make-believe would foreshadow the painful journey of deciding between a call to ministry and fully embracing my own expression of humanity that separated me from the very church I loved. It would take many years before I learned the two were not separate. Read more.



Sam Brinton


Months before my seventh-grade year, I realized I had a crush on my best friend, who happened to be male.

I was too young to understand why anyone would think this was wrong and that not everyone would support me. After beatings failed to work, and at the beckoning of my church, I was put into conversion therapy, the dangerous practice used by some therapists and counselors to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more.



Michael Bussee


I decided to start a small Bible study and prayer group for other “same-sex attracted” Christians like me. Maybe full time ministry would help. We called the group, “EXIT”, believing that we would find the way out. In 1976, with two other friends, we hosted a conference, the result of which was something brand new. That week, we created Exodus International. I think we actually coined the term “ex-gay.” We took it as a statement of faith. If we said it, it would happen. If we believed it, we would get a miracle. But we didn’t. No one did.  Read more.



Mathew Shurka

NCLR Contributor

Six weeks and I’ll make you straight. Guaranteed.

That’s what a mental health professional told me when I was 16 years old, and trying to understand the feelings I was having for another teenage boy. Read more. 




Ryan Kendall


I was at home, deep into studying for my fall-semester class load at Columbia University in New York City, when I got the news that California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172 into law, protecting young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from the same type of psychological abuse that I endured at the hands of mental health professionals who tried to change my sexual orientation.
Read more.



Peter Drake


I’ve known since I was 13 that I was attracted to men, but I buried these feelings after becoming a born-again Christian at 19. For the many years that followed, I lived a faithful straight life – getting married to a wonderful woman, having two beautiful children, and immersing myself in my church.  Read more.




James Guay


I have known I was gay since I was a boy growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household, and was increasingly becoming desperate to escape what I was taught was the shame and sin of my sexual orientation. Back then, a psychotherapist promised my parents and I that he could make me straight. I latched onto his words, envisioning a life in which I could be accepted by all – including my family and friends.   Read more.



Survivor Network

Are you a survivor? Consider sharing your story and speaking out to protect others.

If you are a survivor of conversion therapy, consider sharing your story and speaking out to protect others. Your email to us will be confidential. We will not share anything you tell us without your permission. Even if you do not want to share your story publicly, hearing about your experience can help us learn more and protect others from being harmed by these damaging practices.

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