10 Shocking True Stories from Gay Conversion Camps

Forget ghosts and demons, the scariest types of stories might be horror stories from gay conversion camps. These camps have the singular goal of convincing homosexuals that there is something wrong with them – but if they work at it, they can just stop being gay. As you can imagine, these reprogramming camp horror stories are nothing short of barbaric, and some border on outright torture. What’s more, they have been proven by the American Psychological Association to be totally ineffective and are even banned in some states.
Below is a list of some of the worst things that have happened at gay conversion therapy camps. After reading a few of them, you would think these are people recounting stories from forty or fifty years ago, but no. These are surprisingly recent true stories and show just how far we still need to go when it comes to true equality and acceptance.

A Girl Commits Suicide After Attending a Conversion Camp
This redditor had a friend whose 17-year-old cousin was sent to a reprogramming camp, and the results were both tragic and avoidable. While she was there, she begged her parents to pick her up and take her home. She told them that all the camp was doing was making her hate herself for who she was. She was absolutely miserable, but her parents insisted she finish the program. Of course, it didn’t work.
A month later, she committed suicide, with a letter to her parents saying, “Mom, Dad I love you despite how misguided you are, you taught me how to hate and feel disgusted with myself rather than to love myself.”
An Undercover Straight Reporter Watches as a Gay Man Beats His Imaginary Father to Death
In his undercover mission to research the harmful and deceitful reprogramming camps that were designed to offer a “freedom from homosexuality,” Ted Cox witnessed some crazy and truly horrendous acts. Throughout his weekend posing as a gay man on a quest to cure his “disease” at the Journey into Manhood retreat, he was constantly asked to define what manhood and masculinity was, and was forced to face his most traumatic memory. Most of the other men in the group had memories dealing with neglect from their fathers (a big talking point of the conversion therapy camps is that homosexuals just didn’t receive the proper love from a father figure), but when the time came to face those memories, things got violent.
A majority of the men in the group recreated scenes with counselors portraying their fathers and then were forced to physically drag the counselors out of the room and shut the door. One of the younger guests was given a bat and a punching bag was placed in front of him. He started whacking the punching bag with half-hearted enthusiasm, but with the encouragement of the counselors, he was told to really hurt the bag until it was dead. While he was hitting it, the man’s imaginary father died, and in his place a new father appeared, one who was more accepting. This was to help the man get over his father issues and therefore, no longer be homosexual.
To Earn Dad’s Approval, a Boy Gets His Testicles Electrocuted
The only reason this kid went to a reprogramming camp was because his father didn’t see him as normal. Many of the other stories on this list include people who worried about eternal damnation, but this boy was only worried about his father’s approval.
At the camp, counselors would tape electrical pads to young men’s testicles while making them watch gay porn. If they got an erection, they got zapped.
After the camp, this man got married to a woman, only for it to end in divorce later when it turned out that both he and his wife were homosexual.
Pray the Gay Away Gathering Leads to Admittance to the Psych Ward
After she was outed by her brother, a lesbian’s parents made her go to “family counseling” that turned out to be a “pray the gay away” meeting. Throughout it all, her stress continued to grow. Not only was she constantly told by both her family and the staff that she was going to tell, but her parents took it a step further by whipping up a contract she had to sign in order to continue living in their house.
At that point, the pressure became too much. The girl, age 16, asked to be admitted to a psych ward and stayed there for a week just to get some space from her family and the camp counselors.
A Gay Man Was Brainwashed Into Believing He Had Been Abused
For James Guay, life was torture growing up. He was born into a strict Christian household where homosexuality was seen as comparable to murder, rape, and child molestation. When he started to realize he was attracted to boys, he tried everything he could to make the feelings stop. Although he tried everything, the only thing he could really do effectively was hate himself. Guay regularly contemplated suicide, but he was stopped by the fear of burning in hell for the sins of both suicide and homosexuality.
When his parents saw that Guay was cutting himself, they sought out help. For over a year he attended individual therapy sessions where he was told he was gay because of an overbearing mother and distant father, even though that wasn’t the case at all. He was encouraged to “remember” nonexistent instances of physical and sexual abuse from his childhood.
At last, Guay went to a series of conferences put on by Exodus International (the largest ex-gay organization) and while he was in groups with other similar people, he was told that he just needed to become more manly. If he did that, it would instill in him heterosexual desires.
At last, Guay learned to accept who he was and be happy with himself. He is now a psychotherapist specializing in LGBT issues, and campaigns to ban ex-gay conversion camps (they are now illegal in his state of California).
A Conversion Camp Creates a Ticking Time Bomb of Violent Rage
The biggest thing this redditor is mad about is the damage these camps do to a person’s sense of self. At a young age, this man’s father went to one of the camps after being told by his church that he could be normal and cured of his sinful thoughts. At the camps, they claimed an abusive home, depression, and a poor relationship with one’s father is what leads to homosexuality.
After he left the camp, the man’s father was told he was “cured.” He married a woman without telling her his past and they had kids. Throughout their almost 30 years of marriage, he was a bad husband and father. He was abusive, angry, and even violent before finally leaving his wife (the redditor’s mother) for a man.
Today, his son doesn’t entirely blame his father, but rather he blames the camp and the church that convinced his father that he was wrong and sinful, ruining not only his own life, but the lives of his wife and children, too.
After Realizing He Didn’t Belong, a Young Man Plans his Great Escape
During a “pray the gay away” weekend, a gay teen realized that he wasn’t in the right place. He was subjected to sermons about how the homosexuals were destroying the world and he was treated like a leper. He realized that staying at that camp would only be bad for him. So, fearing for his safety and believing that he would quite possibly become suicidal after the ordeal, he woke up early in the morning and fled into the forest.
In the end, when he called his father to tell him he’d escaped, his dad was proud that his son stuck to his guns. Though the counselors themselves weren’t too happy and were convinced that the kid was an abomination and going to hell.
A Straight Girl Was Sent to a Camp Accidentally and Her Heterosexuality Was Taken as Proof the Camp Worked
This redditor was put in a situation straight out of a 90s sitcom. When she was younger, her best friend was gay and the girl’s Catholic parents thought they were dating. They forced her to go to one of the “pray the gay away” camps where she was subjected to “prayer circles and abuse.”
After a week there, where she witnessed a bunch of strange things (including a camper hooking up with a counselor of the same sex on the obstacle course), she decided to run away. The camp staff waited two days before reporting her missing, because they thought she would return, but she didn’t. The girl called one of her male friends to pick her up and she stayed in his treehouse for a few days. When it was raining, she snuck inside his basement, but was caught by the boy’s parents.
Her parents were furious at her for running away, but also saw her staying with a boy as a sign that the camp was a big success.
A Woman Goes Undercover and Is Taught Absurd Myths About Lesbianism
Clair Weaver was curious about how Living Waters, an organization dedicated to help people overcome their homosexuality, got their message out, so she decided to infiltrate one of the camps. During her investigation, she attended seminars where she was told that 80-85 percent of lesbians were sexually abused in the past, that women who weren’t breastfed ended up sexually attracted to women, and that popular culture is somewhat to blame for glamorizing same-sex relationships and making them seem okay.
She was also told that it parents should push feminine things onto girls and masculine things onto boys so they aren’t confused about what they like when they grow up. According to the camp, if you keep up a healthy childhood filled with strict gender distinctions, homosexuality can be prevented a majority of the time.
Conversion Camps May Just Offer Some Young People a Place to Hook Up
This story isn’t verified, but this reddit user claims he has a friend who was forcibly sent to a conversion therapy camp, and then proceeded to have more sex there than he had ever had before. On some level, that doesn’t sound too far-fetched. You’re putting a vast number of boys or girls who are questioning their sexuality all together in one place, away from home, and then putting them through exercises that involve a lot of touching and emotional connectedness.
Is it that hard to believe some campers would start having sex with one another?