Gabriel Nadeau, a gay man from Quebec in Canada, spoke in an interview with the CBC programme ‘Breakaway’ about his life in a deeply religious community and how it led to him undergoing extreme conversion therapy. “I didn’t want to be gay”, he said, “Being Christian and being gay was not an option in my community.”
The insularity of his community and the strict nature of its beliefs coupled with a lack of knowledge on homosexuality meant Nadeau first approached his parents at aged 12 believing his feelings were evil. It was decided conversion therapy would cure him. “Some Christians believe that homosexuality is a demon, so basically you need to go through an exorcism session to be free of it.”
The conversion therapy consisted of being held down on a table by 4 people, who were there to “contain him” while the “homosexuality spirit” was forced out. During the process he was made to drink olive oil all the while his pastor screamed words and prayers into his ear. This was just the first time he would endure the therapy, it being decided he would undergo the traumatic experience again at the ages of 16 and 18.
When Nadeau eventually left the church and the strict religious community he was raised in behind, he was able with perspective to realise there was no shame in being a gay man. He now wants to use this position of awareness to speak to others who may be in a similar situation in an attempt to guide them through. “I want those people to know that it’s ok to be who they are”, he said, “I just wish that they stop rejecting themselves, and start loving themselves and loving who they want to love.”
Ireland recently passed a bill making the practice of conversion and reparative therapies illegal. The Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018 means that along with fines for individuals who provide the service, prison sentences would also be handed out in extreme organisational cases.
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