Last year I came out to my family and although they seemed relatively ok, I realize now they were hoping it was just a passing phase. I’m the youngest of 5 and I’ve always had the reputation of being the drama queen in my family. Here I am a year later –still gay—and I just turned 25 which in my family means I begin to access my trust account. But not for me. I was just told by my parents that unless I agree to go to a ‘reparative therapy’ program for two months (where I’ll have to live), and make an ‘honest attempt to be strait,’ I don’t get a time in my trust account ever. Can my parents really keep my money from me and does reparative therapy even work?
I thought I’d heard every example of parents leveraging their financial power to influence their children’s lives until I read your email. Your story leaves a particularly acidic taste in my mouth and I’m very sorry that you’re contending with this. I’ll try to keep my emotional reaction in check and provide you with what I suspect will be more useful information:
There are several organizations in the field of mental health that conduct research to determine what constitutes ‘disorders’ and effective ‘therapies’ for the treatment of disorders. The American Psychiatric Association is one such organization and in 1973, they determined that homosexuality is not a disorder and it was removed from the DSM (shrink bible). The American Psychological Association doesn’t believe that sexual orientation can be influenced by therapies claiming to convert/repair individuals. They go on to say that individuals seeking out such services are “often coerced by family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable."
Your first question is one that you need to discuss with an attorney. Let me know if you need a referral. If you can’t afford to pay for an attorney, I’ll help you find a way to access the legal services you need. Your second question is a definitive NO, these so-called therapies don’t work. Moreover, I want to caution you against complying with your parents’ requirement to attend such a program. Aside from the potential dangers to your well-being, it could set a precedent in your relationship for years to come. Given how young you are, there’s no telling where this can lead.