When Parker Howard was in middle school, growing up in Kentucky, he went to a summer church mission camp. It wasn’t his first year at the camp, but that summer was different from the others.
“In the middle of the mission camp,” says Howard, “they sat us down in this room and they were telling us that we were horrible people and that we were going to go to hell.”
Sins discussed included everything from breaking the Ten Commandments to having an eating disorder. Howard’s sin: being gay. That day he was outed by his youth pastor and subjected to a lecture about the “evils of homosexuality” in front of his peers.
“I did not go back after that,” Howard says.
Years later, working as a coordinator at Pittsburgh’s Gay Lesbian Community Center, Howard says what he experienced was a form of conversion therapy, a practice of psychological treatment or spiritual counseling meant to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual.
Last week, Pittsburgh City Council proposed a city-wide ban on conversion therapy….