• Samuel Brinton is a survivor of gay conversion therapy, and is now an ardent activist against the practice. (Instagram / radioactivenerd1)Source: Instagram / radioactivenerd1
"Needles were stuck into my fingers, and electricity was shoved through my body as pornographic images - the first I'd ever seen - were shown to me. They are allowed to do this to children in 41 states around [the US]."
By
Chloe Sargeant

31 Jul 2017 - 3:29 PM  UPDATED 31 Jul 2017 - 3:29 PM

Content warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of assault and abuse within the context of 'gay conversion therapy' (written and spoken in video) .

Over the weekend, the Equality Federation’s 20th Annual Leadership Conference happened in Virginia. More than 200 leaders gathered for workshops on how to the world can achieve LGBTQ+ equality, organised annually by the Equality Federation Institute.

Sam Brinton was one of the speakers at the US-based event, and presented members of the audience with a heartbreaking speech about their experiences with gay conversion therapy. 

The nuclear physicist, who recently graduated from MIT and now works as an advisor to Congress and the President on nuclear issues, says that their 'night job' is working towards eradicating conversion therapy. They say that majority of people believe the abusive, anti-LGBT practice no longer exists in modern society - but it certainly does, and is in fact still legal in many US states.

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Brinton is the founder of 50 Bills 50 States - a campaign that aims to eradicate conversion therapy by urging each state to present a bill to protect LGBTQ+ youth, preferably by criminalising conversion therapy.

As the child of Christian missionaries who lived in a commune when they were not travelling, Brinton was forced into conversion therapy after they accidentally 'came out' to their father, despite being so young that they had no knowledge of what homosexuality - or sexuality in general - actually was. 

"My hands were bound, placed in ice, and pictures and men touching other men, just holding hands, was shown. I was supposed to associate the cold I was feeling with the images I was seeing. For those of you have been to psychology class - Pavlov's dogs: the idea that if you rang a bell, the dog would start to salivate because it had always been given food when that bell was rung. 

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"When the cold didn't work, heat was applied, wires were wrapped around my hands... When heat didn't work, electricity was applied. Needles were stuck into my fingers, and electricity was shoved through my body as pornographic images - basically the first pornographic images I'd ever seen - were shown to me.

"... They are allowed to do this to children in 41 states around the country."

You can watch Brinton's incredibly moving speech about conversion therapy below, via the Equality Federation:

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