– I was beaten with a Bible and told that I needed to repent
the demon of homosexuality and expel him from my body. – Wow, if I heard someone was
beatin’ my kid with a book, I would’ve beat them with a book. (laughing) (light music) – Hello. – Hello. – My name’s Marcus, what’s your name? – Jules. – I’m Annie. – Nice to meet you.
– Nice to meet you, too. – What are we here to talk about? – Do you know what coming
out of the closet means? – A kid in the closet
playing hide and go seek, and then it’s coming out of it. – Not literally, but that’s
actually a really good metaphor. Coming out of the closet
means that you reveal to other people something about yourself that’s been a secret. This is more often than not
used for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Have you ever met a gay person before? – I think I have met somebody who is, but they’re my age. – Have you ever known any LGBTQ kids? – My sister. – Oh, wow.
– She started dating a girl, and I was like oh, okay, she’s nice, I can get used to this, no it’s fine. Of course it probably wasn’t
our parents’ first option. – Right.
– And stuff like that, but they were there for her. – That’s really wonderful
and good to hear. – I do attend church,
and I’m Presbyterian. I don’t agree with homosexuality,
but it doesn’t mean I don’t have friends and
family that I love and respect and adore who are. – Sure.
– So I believe it’s their choice. – Where did you get
that idea that, I guess, that it’s a choice. – I didn’t ever really
have that exact idea. – Oh yeah, there you go.
– Oh, okay. I think it depends. If you’re born into the world,
and you know you’re different at such a young age, then
yeah, but if they’re 25, they’ve been straight all their lives, and then they realize oh, I’m
kind of diggin’ girls now, you can change that. – So there’s a lot you
can lose in coming out. You can lose your friends,
you can lose your family. – Yeah.
– Your home. There’s all these things that create fear. So you just been forever avoiding it. It can be a long time before
you’re willing to accept it. When you were coming out of the closet, how was people reacting when
they heard that you were gay? – I first came out to
myself when I was 13. My family, unfortunately,
wasn’t very supportive. I was sent to my grandfather’s,
and he and his church put me through conversion
therapy to try to change me. Have you ever heard of conversion therapy? – I think. – What does conversion or convert mean? – Try to switch someone’s mind or… – Correct, actually. The intent of this is to
get the person to change. It’s to make them not be gay anymore. – So, in conversions
therapy, you go to this place where they’re trying to
change how your personality and how you are. – Correct.
– That would just be pure mean. – They’re trying to make
you like girls again? – Mm-hmm.
– For some reason. – Yeah, and the reason why
is because, unfortunately, a lot of people don’t like gay people because maybe their
religion tells them not to. Did you grow up in a
religious environment? – Yeah, I am religious, but
it’s not meant to hate everybody because hate’s not gonna get
you anywhere in the world. God gave us a choice,
my choice is to love. – That is powerful. You’re a very, very, very enlightened kid. – Can I ask you what techniques were used during your therapy? – First, I was forced to do manual labor in the yard from sun up to sunset while repeating bible passages. I was told that my friends
were all going to die of AIDS, that I was going to die of AIDS. I was beaten with a bible
and told that I needed to repent the demon of
homosexuality and expel him from my body.
– Wow, if I heard someone was beatin’ my kid with a book, I would beat them with a book. (laughing) – I was not allowed to
communicate with anybody. I couldn’t even talk
to my mom on the phone. – How old were you when that happened? – I was 14.
– 14? That’s actually pretty young for that. – Yes, the more I was resistant
to what they were trying to do, the abuse increased to
what’s called forced fasting, which is just a polite way
of saying that I was starved. – That’s just wrong. – It is, it’s very wrong. – Which one of those was actually the one that you felt the worst about? – It was the loneliness. Part of conversion therapy, before any physical abuse starts, it’s all about breaking down your spirit, it’s all about breaking
down your mind and, unfortunately, oftentimes,
it’s successful. – When that happened, were
you faking like it was working so that they wouldn’t abuse you anymore or to try to stop it? – No. The reason why is because I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with me. The worst thing that you
can do is deny who you are, and that goes for anything,
because you like… Do you like Dr. Who? – Yes.
– Let’s say a lot of other people don’t, and
let’s say all of your classmates said we’re not gonna be your friend because you like Dr. Who, but if you say that Dr. Who is stupid,
we’ll be your friend. Would you do that? – Well I’d not stop ’cause I
just love watching Dr. Who. – Exactly, so I don’t believe
in lying about yourself to make other people happy. I just stayed true to who I was. – That’s really clever. – Thank you.
(laughing) – Could you give me
some tips or something? – I can.
– To be a good friend to my friend? – The biggest one is just
to be a friend, be there, because coming out, it’s still so scary, and it’s confusing, and
sometimes that journey takes a really long time to get there. – To this day, do you feel
at peace with yourself? – I do. If someone said tomorrow, oh here’s a pill l to make you straight, I woudlnt do it. I love being gay, I wouldn’t change it. – That’s good.
(laughing) – Hi, I’m Marcus James,
thanks for watching Kids Meet. To find out more about
me or to read books, click on the link below, and
if you or someone you know is in danger of going
through an experience in conversion therapy, check
out the resources down below.