Weston Ashley is a 25 year old out and proud gay man working as a studio maintenance hand. It was only a few years ago, however, that he was a helpless teen forced into “gay rehab” by his parents. After his Arkansas parents found his diary — they confronted him about his sexuality. He acknowledged his sexual orientation and they immediately adopted tough measures to “reform” his behavior.

“That summer my father forced me to work as a maintenance man,” Ashley wrote in the Huffington Post. “I had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most ignorant, grotesque men. These middle-aged men would spit homophobic slurs and make sexually suggestive comments about my sisters, and when I used their restroom, I was forced to stare at pictures of naked women that they had posted on the wall. As I endured my own personal hell, I came to the conclusion that my father was somehow trying to butch me up. It was as if he thought that if I spent enough time doing manual labor, listening to crude humor and keeping away from the arts, then the gay would eventually just wash away. It didn’t work.

When this attempt to butch Ashley up did not work, he was whisked away from his private school and taken to a series of clinics:

As we walked into the admissions building, I could see two men sitting on the couch eyeing me suspiciously (I later found out that they were narcotics officers who had been hired to restrain me and escort me if I tried to escape), as well as my advisor’s husband and the dean of students. Everyone was just staring at me with the saddest look in their eyes. My advisor then walked me to the door, and I will never forget what she said to me: “I’m so sorry about what’s about to happen. Just know that Tom and I love you. And everyone here at Stevenson does, too. Your parents are here, and they’re taking you away.” She then opened the door, and sitting there were my father and stepmother.

The narcotics officers were bizarre, because Ashley was not on drugs. This was the beginning of a series of gay rehab institutions where he did not belong:

I was being put away against my will for being gay, not to mention in a drug and behavioral facility that focused on kids with eating disorders, drug problems and suicidal tendencies. I didn’t belong there. I was stripped of my shoelaces so that I couldn’t kill myself with them. I was tested for drugs (it came out negative), given a full body cavity search (completely clean) and started on a dose of Zoloft that rendered me incapable of feeling any type of emotion. Talk about completely losing every shred of privacy in a matter of 24 hours. I was a zombie. I was stuck. I was gay and couldn’t get out of there.

This is an important story because it highlights the need to ban reparative therapy and other misguided or malevolent attempts at changing the sexual orientation of minors. No LGBT youth should be subjected to such child abuse. We thank Ashley for sharing his cogent and entertaining story that shows the degree of coercion and cruelty faced by too many children in America. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to shut down quack clinics and strip the licenses of crackpot doctors who exploit the fears of parents for the purpose of ideology and money.

Truth Wins Out is proud to be in the forefront of such efforts.