The Emotional Reason This Teen Refused to Watch the Vice Presidential Debate

October 5th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

An unidentified student, who claims to have gone through gay conversion therapy in his early teens, explained on Twitter Tuesday how the experience left him psychologically scarred.

The user said he refused to watch the vice presidential debate because Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, advocated for the controversial procedure.


Pence called for federal resources to be "directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior" in 2000 when he was running for Congress, PolitiFact reported.

PolitiFact's researchers were not able to find any evidence showing that Pence has changed his position on the issue. Here's how part of the section "Strengthening the American Family" read on Pence's 2000 website, according to Buzzfeed News:

  • Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.

  • Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a "discreet and insular minority" entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.

  • Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

There is evidence that attempts to force individuals to change their sexual orientation are ineffective and actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts.

Here are some of the tweets. Read the full thread here.

There's a lot to unpack here, so let's take it step by step.

ATTN: was not able to independently verify the specific claims and events detailed in this thread. ATTN: reached out to the Twitter user and will update if he responds. That said, these tweets call attention to an issue that warrants discussion.

Here's what we know about gay conversion therapy. In the mid-20th century, attempts to "cure" gay individuals involved techniques such as "ice pick lobotomies, electroshock, chemical castration with hormonal treatment, or aversive conditioning," according to the American Psychological Association.

gay conversion therapy

Self-hatred, depression, and suicidal ideation are common among individuals who undergo gay conversion therapy, the APA determined in a 2009 report that reviewed studies on the practice from 1963 to 2007.

That's consistent with previous research showing that gay individuals who are rejected are eight times more likely to attempt suicide and six times more likely to suffer from high levels of depression than those who are accepted, the Human Rights Campaign reported.

The APA review concluded that the process is ineffective because — despite of claims made by proponents of gay conversion therapy — being gay, lesbian, or transgender is not a mental disorder.

The Obama administration agreed in 2015, expressing support for efforts to ban the practice outright. So far, however, only five states — California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, and New Jersey — have successfully banned gay conversion therapy.

ATTN: has reached out to Pence's office for clarification on his stance on gay conversion therapy. A representative was not immediately available, but we will update this story when we receive a response.