It will take more than one day to fight conversion therapy

If you don’t know who I am, my name is Matt Ashcroft, and I am a conversion therapy survivor. I now advocate for the criminalization of conversion therapy in Canada and abroad and have been featured in many different news and information sources. I’ve taken part in panel discussions across the country and spoke at a round table discussion hosted by the United Nations. My goal is to raise awareness for the harm done by conversion therapy and to tell all people responsible for or participating in this disturbing practice that they are hate groups who unreasonably only believe in nuclear households which consist of a man and a woman who are married with children and never divorce under any circumstances.

These hate groups hold this idea as the only way of being. I know for a fact that today, in Toronto, there are LGBTQ2S+ hate groups that discriminate and are violent against Queer, Trans, and non-conforming folks on a regular basis. In fact, one company is a known financial contributor to Exodus International Ministries, an anti-Gay organization located only one subway stop away from Toronto’s Church & Wellesley LGBTQ2S+ Village. This organization says they want to “save the LGBTQ2S+ community,” but their history of financially supporting the largest “ex-Gay ministry” in the United States is very harmful to our community. They also support the Conservative Party of Canada, who continue to preach “good Christian values” with the underlying message that being gay is wrong, ungodly and in need of fixing. But we are not broken.

Conversion Therapy Survivor and Activist

Throughout our history, Queer rights have been threatened by societal norms. The standard of white, hegemonic practices is something that no Queer folks want to have (or need to have) to be an equal part of society. However, we as a community have always had to fight for equal rights! Even in 2020, during a global pandemic, our rights are still being stripped away. Conversion therapy is happening across the globe. This practice continues to openly oppress our community and we need to put a stop to it.

In the ’90s, talk show hosts would do an “exposé” of homosexual sex and embarrass their guests on national television, saying things like “having gay sex with the same gender is just a phase.” They have hosted conversion therapists on nearly all of these daytime talk shows as well, sometimes with the therapist’s wordsmith in order to make conversion therapy seem legitimate and normal. It’s not.

Hegemony is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.” Conversion therapy is rooted in the traditional church, which is still dictating how we – the LGBTQ2+ community – are supposed to behave. It is up to us to continue to bring awareness to these injustices happening to us every day.

Keynote Panel: Ending, Healing, and Learning – The Current and Future State of SOGICE
Panellists by Matt Ashcroft, Erika Muse, Wendy VanderWal Gritter, Nicholas Schiavo.

So we cannot protest for one day and think that it is enough. As someone who fights a battle all year round and knows the history of what conversion therapy continues to do, I know that we need to care more and support each other. We need to stand up against what these groups are trying to do.

We deserve respect and equality as human beings, and in no way should we accept anything less. One day of protesting doesn’t create change. It helps, but we create true change by being committed to the fight against pro-conversion therapy believers at every opportunity. Focus your time, your talents, and your energy on helping the community instead of only reaping the benefits of our past hero’s that have paved the way for all of us.

Marsha P. Johnson threw a brick and fought for our rights and I will be damned if I sit around in the background. I strive to fulfil my dream of a better life for our community and our future generations deserve it.

You do too.

We all do.

Community-Based Research Center (CBRC) event: From left to right: Reverend Dr. Cheri DiNovo, Dr. Kristopher Wells, Matt Ashcroft (Conversion Therapy Survivor and Activist), Michael Kwag (CBRC’s Knowledge Exchange and Policy Development Director), Nick Schiavo (Founder of No Conversion Canada), and Erika Muse (Conversion Therapy Survivor and Activist)

Matt Ashcroft is also the co-founder of “CT Survivors,” an online community of conversion therapy survivors and their supporters with medical professionals including a neuroscientist out of Harvard.

Are you LGBTQ2S+ or an ally? You’re enthusiastically invited to 𝙀𝙣𝙙 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙮: 𝘼 𝙑𝙞𝙧𝙩𝙪𝙖𝙡 𝘼𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙎𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙩 on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, with presenters from law, medicine, faith communities, & CT survivors. Registration now open!