Should someone who practiced conversion therapy be allowed into "safe" LGBT group?

If a person has in the past practiced conversion therapy and “changed” a gay subject into a straight person, and this practitioner has not had some kind of change of heart, but rather still considers this practice a success, would that indicate he’s an inappropriate person to let participate in a group for LGBT people that is advertised as safe? Assume the group does not know this history about the person.

Would it depend on other considerations?

Regardless of whether or not the “therapy” “changed” the subject, I would expect that it would be difficult for this person to pass as sympathetic to members of the community and the community as a whole, since the community is counter to the entire purpose of conversion therapy (which, according to your setup, this person still believes in). I’m not sure what you mean by “advertised as safe.” Chances are he’d be about as successful at passing as Kirk, Spock & the gang from the evil Mirror universe were in Mirror/Mirror.

That said, assuming he is able to hold a conversation with them, he might learn something.

It kinda depends on the person. There’s a risk that someone like this is coming for purposes of conducting “research.” Ask them directly if they plan to engage in conversion therapy again in the future. If they say no, and seem nice, I would let them come to a meeting on a probationary basis–after making it clear that conversion is not a safe topic at all. If they start in on the topic of conversion at the meeting, or start writing stuff down, or seem like they’re there to gawk, a firm escort to the door is warranted.

If they say they would still try to convert people in the future, they’d get a big fat no in the face.

Could you elaborate on the term ‘safe’ in this context? I feel ignorant and would like that fixed.

About “advertised as safe”, this is a group whose stated purpose is to provide a safe place for LGBT people to talk, network, deal with LGBT issues, and the like. The group is advertised in several different places as “safe” and “providing a safe place”. As used here, “safe” is meant to imply that people who are not out will have their participation kept strictly confidential, and that the meeting times and places are confidential, and that people only participate after being screened by a knowledgeable gateway person, and that there will be no harassment. It is possible that there is intentional or somewhat unintentional deception involved in this specific case, such that the gateway person is unaware the participant has a history practicing conversion therapy.

Thanks for that - I guessed it must mean something along those lines, although I don’t think I’d have guessed all the specifics - in particular the confidentiality just didn’t occur to me (although of course it makes perfect sense).

Why would the “convert” want to join a safe LGBT group? To preach? To recruit? To get blackmail info–an even better way to force “recruitment”?

Of course, it sounds like a great place for converts looking to backslide…

It sounds like it’s the converter and not the convert looking to join.

I would say absolutely not, if they haven’t had a change of heart or are not looking to have a change of heart. If they still look at homosexuality as something to be “changed”, how are they safe and supportive of gay people? I would be pissed as shit if I were a gay person in that group and someone knowingly let a practitioner of so-called coversion therapy in. I’d consider calling the group safe to be false advertising.

It’s the converter wanting to join; sorry I didn’t make that clear.

Also, in further conversation, the converter told me “well, we use the word ‘discipleship’” rather than “conversion therapy”. He’s said, too, that I cannot understand these things or represent them correctly because I am not a Christian. If you think that changes anything please tell me.

Thanks for what you’ve given me so far, folks. I can’t lay all the details out though I wish I could. Suffice it to say that this would be a great time for me to be way more experienced in these matters than I am, and I’m really trying. I have to act soon because it’s a safety issue. I need my actions to be as well informed as possible. Keep the insights coming please!

Whatever the hell he thinks it means, it really means that he thinks homosexuality is a negative trait that needs to be changed, and that he can change it. Both of those things are untrue and his motives for wanting to join are automatically suspect.

IMO it’s dangerous to have him around LGBT people looking for support, especially if his past (and present, from the sounds of it) activities are not known to them upfront.


I’d assume that the “converter” was trying to join the group in order to “convert” its participants. Unless he had another, compelling, reason for joining, I wouldn’t want him in the group, and I’d consider it a betrayal if the group’s organizers knowingly let him in. I might be reluctant to trust the group’s organizers enough to participate further even if they didn’t know about his previous activities and apparently current beliefs. At the very least, I would want to be consulted before someone of this type was invited to join in.

I’m assuming this group isn’t meeting for the purpose of debating whether or not one can somehow quit being gay or whether or not being gay is incompatible with Christianity. As I read it, this is a support group. There’s nothing supportive or “safe” about having someone who’s determined to change you and people like you monitoring and participating in your group.


But you only have to ask one question: Would the people in the group want him there if they knew? I’m guessing the answers would be overwhelmingly negative.

That’s my opinion as well. I’m bisexual, and if I was looking to join a “safe” place like that, I would feel betrayed and sick if there was a conversion therapist present, because their presence and judgement would automatically make everything said there unsafe.

To me it would be like joining a safe woman’s support group and having one of the men involved a convicted sex offender. Just, no. Too much violation.

No, absolutely not, never, under no circumstances.

Thank you for all of this. My own view was already that this person’s participation was inappropriate by a wide margin but I wanted to hear some of your opinions before saying so. I believe something here has inexplicably run way off the rails, and believe I must act though it is overstepping my role.

The strong confirmation is very helpful.

It appears you have already made your decision, but I’ll go ahead and add my .02 - not just NO, but OH HELL NO.

Someone who uses “you’re not a Christian, you don’t understand” is not going to be concerned about the privacy of participants in your group.

Pardon my french, but fuck that noise. His Christianity is not relevant. Not all LGBT folk are Christian, or want to be. Some Christian folk, both LGBT and straight, don’t find Christianity incompatible with being gay.

I’m not particularly in the closet, but if I’m going somewhere advertised as safe, the last thing I expect or want is someone trying to convert me to anything. If I need safe space to discuss and sort out some things, I really don’t need to waste time on the “different does not equal wrong” conversation with someone who I expected to be supportive and helpful.

In my case, it would be dual levels of WTF: I’m neither Christian nor straight, and have no interest in converting in either case, or in being forced to fend off someone trying to convert me.

Yeah, and some muggers use the term “refinancing” rather than “strong-arm robbery.” That’s just a blatant attempt to obfuscate and euphemize what they know is an objectionable term that accurately describes an objectionable practice.

What a pompous condescending load of bull. As a Christian I take offense at this holier-and smarter-than-thou attitude. Non-Christians are perfectly capable of understanding this stuff. What this really means is that as someone who doesn’t ascribe to his particular vision of Christianity, you won’t buy into it the way he does and you won’t present it in a sympathetic light. This statement alone tells me this person is utterly convinced of his rectitude and equally convinced that anyone who disagrees with him is flat out wrong, and probably evil to boot.

I recommend making the strongest, loudest objection possible to this person’s presence in the described group. No good can come from his participation.

As others have said,


His presence would be a violation of the group’s policy of “safety.”

I’m not LGBT nor have I ever been to group counseling for anything. IF I decided to go to to such a meeting I would want to be sure that what I told about myself would not be judged in any way, at least at first. One comment about how I could “fix my problem” or about how what I was doing was wrong and I would be out the door. “Safe”, to me, means you promise that will not happen and I would feel very betrayed if I revealed a deep secret and was judged rather than accepted. Just the idea that Christian conversion people are trying to get into such groups would make me hesitate to go to one.