In this episode Matt Landsiedel interviews Dr. Lucas Wilson about the psychological impact of conversion therapy. They explore how shame and internalized homophobia are typically precursors to making someone susceptible to agreeing to do conversion therapy. Dr. Wilson shares his own personal experience with conversion therapy and how this experience has impacted his life. Both Matt and Dr. Wilson share how they have approached their own healing journey through shame and internalized homophobia and how to move through the trauma caused by conversion therapy.
These are the questions that were explored in this episode:
- What is conversion therapy?
- What is your personal experience with conversion therapy?
- What impact did conversion therapy have on your psychology?
- How is conversion therapy connected to religion?
- What is affect theory and how does it relate to conversion therapy?
- How can someone who has gone through conversion therapy begin to heal?
Born and raised in Toronto, Dr. Lucas Wilson is the Justice, Equity, and Transformation Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Calgary. He holds graduate degrees from McMaster University, Vanderbilt University, and Florida Atlantic University. He has authored several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and his public-facing work has appeared in The Advocate, Queerty, LGBTQ Nation, and Religion Dispatches, among other venues.
Connect with Dr. Lucas Wilson:
- Website link: https://ucalgary.academia.edu/LucasWilson
- Instagram: @lukeslamdunkwilson
- Twitter: @wilson_fw
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/luke.wilson.96
– Connect with us –
Welcome to Gay Men Going Deeper, a podcast series by the Gay Men’s Brotherhood where we talk about personal development, mental health, and sexuality. I am your host, Matt Landsiedel. I’m a transformative life coach, empathic healer, and spiritual teacher. I specialize in teaching people how to heal shame and trauma and embody their authentic self so they can enjoy it more meaningful connections in their lives.
My areas of expertise are working with highly sensitive people, empaths and gay men to develop a stronger sense of self worth. Today’s topic is shame and trauma of conversion therapy, and we are d joined by Dr. Lucas Wilson. Welcome. Hi, Matt. Hi. Good to have you here. I’m looking forward to picking your brain. You have a lot of wisdom and a lot of experience to share with us,
and I’m, I’m excited to have you here. So Yeah, it’s great to to be in conversation. Yes, I agree. So, I wanna share a little bit about you. You are born and raised in Toronto, and you are the justice, equity and transformation post-doctoral fellow at the University of Calgary. You hold a graduate degree from McMaster University,
Vanderbilt University, and Florida Atlantic University. And you have authored several peer reviewed articles and book chapters, and your public facing work has appeared in the advocate query, LGBTQ Nation and Religion Dispatches, and among other venues. So it sounds like you’re doing a lot of really amazing work, and I’m looking forward to being able to pick your brain today. And the listeners are gonna benefit greatly from,
from the wisdom that you have to share with us. So the questions we’re gonna be exploring today are, what is conversion therapy? What is your personal experience with conversion therapy? What impact did conversion therapy have on your psychology? How is conversion therapy connected to religion? What is affect theory and how does it relate to conversion therapy? And how can someone who has gone through conversion therapy begin to heal?
So this is, this is quite a heavy topic today, so I really wanna preface that, that we’re gonna both be, well, mostly you’re gonna be sharing your experience. I don’t have an experience with conversion therapy, but I have experience clinically working with clients who have been at survivors of, of conversion therapy. So I’ll be able to share from that perspective.
But yeah, so why don’t we, well, first of all, is there anything that you would like to add to, you know, about you that maybe you’d want to share with the audience? No, I, I feel like those things will be added throughout. Okay. Okay. Perfect. Yeah. Okay. Okay, great. So why don’t we start with what is conversion therapy?
Yeah, So conversion therapy is the express attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation and or gender identity and expression. So oftentimes with the way that conversion therapy operates is through a pseudo Freudian approach where it very much seems like it’s a scientific, or, you know, you know, a reasonable attempt to change someone. However, when, you know, if you do a little bit of thinking,
you realize very quickly that this is of course not possible. But a lot of people are convinced that this is something that is, is achievable, that one can change one’s sexual identity and or gender identity and or expression. And so the way that it starts oftentimes is that they, they will, the conversion therapist will attempt to figure out your, your family background.
And so they’ll ask you questions about your mom and your dad and your relationship to both of them, and then your relationship to your siblings or to, you know, individuals of the same sex from, you know, growing up. And they try to then construct a narrative. And the narrative is oftentimes that there was an emotionally distant or absentee father, or there was a mother who was overbearing.
And for me, in my experience with conversion therapy, I had an overbearing mother. However, I didn’t have an emotionally distant or absentee father. My dad was quite great. But what they’ll oftentimes do is that they’ll, they’ll take what they, what fits their narrative, and then they’ll leave what doesn’t. So for me, it didn’t matter about my dad,
it more so mattered about my mom, and they sort of focus on that. So, conversion therapy, then once they, they figure out the root or the source of your, you know, same sex attraction as they oftentimes put it, which is synonymous with being gay, you know, that they, they use a lot of coded language when in fact,
you know, again, it’s not that someone struggles with same sex attraction, it’s that they’re, they’re gay or that they’re queer, that they’re bi or, you know, they have a different attraction than the norm. And so from there, it’s oftentimes, you know, if you’re in a religious context, you’re going to be speaking with someone who’s going to be bringing up scripture.
So the Bible, you’ll have a workbook or a work manual, You know, if you’ve ever seen the film, Boy Erased. You can see in that, that film that the Love and Action where the, the main character in the film and also in the book where he goes, they have an in-house, you know, manual. For me, my manual was written by someone,
not at my institution, but they’ll oftentimes have a manual, and you’ll read through that, you’ll work through that quote unquote, And you, there’s a lot of prayer when it’s in a religious context. And there’s also a lot of, how do you say, stock that’s taken about each week. So, you know, what did you do this week where you were,
you know, overcoming your same sex attraction? Or what were you doing this week where you were giving into it? And so there’s a lot of confession based therapy where you, again, therapies in quotes, conversion is in quotes, it’s all in Mark, right? Like, yeah, I think that’s the thing about conversion therapy and evangelicalism, there’s so many quotes you have to put in there that at the end of the day,
we just don’t put them there. So with that being said, the, the program in order to actually become straight is all of this, all of these sort of, you know, aspects where you have, you know, prayer scripture, workbook talk therapy, quote, unquote. But a big part of it is that conversion therapist will oftentimes say, they’ll say,
It’s not a matter of what you do that’ll make you straight, It’s just a matter of what you do that’ll make you straight. And you’re like, Wait, what the hell did you just say? Right. That did. And it’s, it’s, it’s incredibly contradictory, of course, as is most of what these folks talk about and a lot of their ways of thinking,
but it’s where they say essentially that you have to act like a man in order to become a man. So if you act, you know, according to hegemonic scripts, according to what it means to be a stereotypical macho man, over time with this habituated performance emphasis on performance, that you will then become what you are performing. And so this is something of course that isn’t possible,
right? That if you start playing sports, or if you start, you know, watching sports, or if you do carpentry, like I was encouraged to, which I never did, but I was like, you know, very Jesus of you to ask me to do woodwork. And there’s a pun there, but neither here nor there, all this to say is that there was this,
this strong emphasis on performance. And so of course, you know what happens when you know you’re told to, to perform is that you’re living inauthentically, you’re living a lie. And I think a big part of what’s so, what’s so dangerous about this, and what’s so cool about this is that you are promised that you will become straight. Now, a lot of queers today are,
you know, they wouldn’t want become straight if they even at the choice now. And you know, a lot of people would say, We don’t wanna be bored. Right? So I think that a lot of, but at the time when, you know, I was in conversion therapy and at the time that a lot of people were in conversion therapy,
that was the goal. And of course, the, the promise that you’re given that you can become straight is precluded from its very inception, which is to say that you are never able to achieve and you, you will never be able to achieve the, the, the goal, which of course is this. It, it creates what 1, 1 1 affect the is Lauren Berlin.
She calls cruel optimism. And this cruel optimism that you have this optimism that you are going to become straight, that your goal, you know, will be achieved if you are to follow this habituated program. Of course, again, it’s not possible ever. Yeah. And so this creates this really, what’s the word? Sticky, complicated, difficult, dynamic.
And it creates individuals who are reaching for something that they’ll never reach. And of course, when one doesn’t reach that goal, that creates a lot of issues. Of course there are issues before that, but then again, there’s sort of those enduring issues afterwards where one does not become what one has been told that they want to become. Yeah. So that would be an overview of conversion therapy.
It’s habituated gender performance by also includes talk therapy, A lot of religious abuse to put it, frankly, among other aspects. Yeah. Wow. That’s a great, a great overview. I like this, this term of cruel optimism. And it made me think like there would obviously need to be some sort of self rejection, whether that’s through be through internalized homophobia or some sort sort of shame that a person has to have present in order to be able to go into conversion therapy.
Would you say that’s true? Or 100%. And I think that, and, and shame is, is really what shame and guilt and anxiety and self hatred. These are, this is, you know, I know we’re gonna talk about affect theory later, but these are all what academics will refer to as afx, which are really, they’re emotions, right?
We Can talk about it now if you want to. We don’t have to go in this order. So whatever feels right for you. Yeah. Yeah. So I think, I think to give an overview of affect theory and then to answer your question about how, you know, shame and guilt and these other effects under group conversion therapy and, and make conversion therapy actually possible is the,
so affect theory, the, the best sort of definition or, or, or description or explanation of what it is, is given by this one theorist. And she talks about, she says, You ever walk into a room and there’s just that feeling, and you’re like, Yes, I do know that feeling. I have walked into that room, and I felt that feeling,
you know? And so she says, this is affect, it’s that which comes before language. So it’s pre linguistic, which is to say that you register emotions before you even think about them. And affect theist will actually say there’s a difference between emotion and feeling. Feeling is where you’ve sort of thought through it and, and, and, and begin to put into words your experience.
Whereas affect is that sort of that visceral cial register of intensities or of energy. And so, and it sounds kind of new agey, right? Like intensities and energies, but really we all know what we’re talking about when you do, you walk into that room and there’s that uncomfortableness between some or some others in the room. And affect is always social.
It’s something that travels between people or is registered between people or communicated or passed on between people. And so when you have a, you know, when when you, when you walk into the room, you feel that that’s affect, right? And so different affect joy or maybe, I guess joy could be anyway, shame, guilt, anxiety, fear.
Like these are the, these are the affect that I think a lot of people think of when we think ofx. Yeah. And this is oftentimes what I think about when I’m thinking about conversion therapy. And to your question, this idea that shame is almost necessitated in order for conversion therapy to work. And that’s absolutely true, right? Because if you think about people who want to become straight,
you and I do not want to become straight because that is not unnatural for us. Right. That is not who we are. Yeah. And so when you think about shame and, and, and, and the how that relates to people wanting to become straight, it’s be, it’s not that that person wants to become straight, it’s that they were told that they wanted to become straight.
Yeah. Right? Because of course, we live in a culture where it’s not cool, it’s not street cred to be queer in a lot of ways. Right. Especially if we’re living outside of cities, if we’re living in suburbs or rural areas, this is something that is looked down upon, right? We live in a very homophobic culture. Homophobias diffuse throughout all institutions.
Yeah. Whether the educational, religious family, otherwise. And because of that, a lot of people are made to feel like they shouldn’t be themselves. And when they do act like themselves or when they, you know, are themselves, they are made to feel bad about that. And conversion therapy really is, the way I think about it is that it’s a concentrated form of cultural homophobia and religious homophobia depending on what your brand of conversion therapy is.
Yeah. And so when people go to conversion therapy and they’re trying to become straight, they’re doing that out of the, the, I guess this affect of push that was made possible by the, the, the greater culture in which they live, Right. That they wouldn’t be there had it not been for them being made to feel bad about themselves, made them,
for them to have been ashamed of who they are. And again, shame one, one doesn’t feel shame really by oneself. One feels shame when one is viewed by another. Yeah. Right? When if you’re sitting there by yourself and you’re living in the middle of nowhere, you’re not gonna feel shame. You’re not, when you’re naked or when you’re doing whatever you’re doing in the middle of nowhere and no one’s there to watch,
you’re not gonna feel ashamed. But the moment someone shows up and you’re naked, there’s the moment that someone shows up and you are doing something that they think is bad, they make you feel bad about it. And that’s when all of a sudden you register shame. Yeah. Right? And so conversion therapy, people would not be going to these, these programs unless of course they’re forced.
Right? That’s something else. When people are forced to go to these things, sometimes they’re like, I’m not ashamed of this. This is who I am. And they don’t, you know, and they just kind of, you know, muscle through in some senses. But for those who actually go, because they feel convicted or they desire a quote to become straight,
this is because of shame, right? Shame is that which is necessitated for conversion therapy and it’s the foundational underground for conversion therapy. Because without shame, these programs wouldn’t work. Right. And so shame, guilt, and we can get into the specifics and the differences between shaming, guilt, very like Brene Brown kind of thing, but also very academic.
And we can get into that later. But absolutely. To answer your question, like shame is, is a central ingredient in order, you know, for conversion therapy to, to work. Yeah. Work as in, in the sense of operate as like a Practice Better possible. We know It’s, Yeah. To have, How, actually, how would you even define efficacy in that sort of,
would that be like, you know, qualitatively researched based off of participants saying, Yeah, I feel like I’m now heterosexual. Or like, how is that, how is efficacy determined or measured? Well, what do they say that nine out of 199 people for, for 99 people, conversion therapy doesn’t work. And for the one person who it does work,
they’re lying. Yeah. They’re in denial. Yeah. Yeah. And so here’s the thing, unless you’re Nick Alosi, who’s one of these, how do you say dumb dumbs who presents his research, again, to put it academically, who presents his research as if this is like actual research, though of course the entire, like academic community and beyond him,
or, you know, in which he sort of tries to publish his work. Yeah. None of them find him. They’re all like, this is bogus research. This is just a joke. And so, unless you’re nicolosi, no one in the academic community believes that conversion therapy works. No one in the clinical community, unless they are, again,
conversion therapist, which, you know, it’s quite, you know, how do you say convenient that, that they believe that it works, whereas the rest of their peers, even though they’re not their peers, cuz they are actual, you know, therapists or actual psychologists, they don’t agree. Right? And so, like, if you, if you’re the only person in your,
your cohort who believes in something, maybe you should question your beliefs. So to answer your question about efficacy, there is no efficacy. Right? There are people who claim to be straight, there are people who claim that they didn’t necessarily become straight, but that they did change their orientation to the extent that they are attracted to at least one woman or one man,
or, you know, depending on the gender. Yeah. And so there are people who claim this, but again, it’s kind of like, for instance, my, I, this is something that just a friend of mine brought to my attention. He actually, my conversion therapist was on Facebook one time, and he was friends with this, my conversion therapist on Facebook as well.
And when he was on Facebook, sometimes when you look at different websites at the bottom of it, it can, it’ll say like, do you wanna share this link or this like video if you’re on, you know, YouTube or whatever, do you wanna share this on Twitter or do you wanna share this on this? Or if it’s an article, you can share it on different platforms.
Yeah. Well, the conversion therapist obviously made a mistake. And when he was looking at porn, he accidentally shared it to his Facebook. And then, you know, and then everyone’s like, Wait, what? And then the ER started commenting, he was been hacked, he’s been hacked. It’s like, Mm. Like the man has not been hacked.
The man was looking at porn. Yeah. And so it showed up. And so it’s, it’s, it’s just, again, it’s funny that you have these conversion therapists who, these are x gays, quote unquote, Right. These people who are, are overcome their same sex attraction, or at least I are, are now successful in, in becoming attracted to women,
yet they’re still looking at gay porn. Right? Yeah. So the efficacy rate is zero. Right. And I, I’ve written a few times in different venues, one of the things I’ve said is that, you know, if I have, if I’m able to, to convince one person that conversion therapy is harmful, that I’ve done a better job at my job,
then every single conversion therapist combined in their job, Right. Which is to make people straight. So in other words, there is no efficacy rate, there is no way to measure that because it just doesn’t happen. Yeah. Fascinating. Fascinating. I, I work predominantly in, like, in my private practice, I work with shame and internalized homophobia would probably be one of the more,
the bigger things I work with. And the work I do is all authenticity work, Right. Helping people move towards the essence, the essential energy of who they are. Right. And I think, you know what, listening to you talk, it makes me think about these older gay men who lived most of their life as a heterosexual person, had kids,
had a wife, and the power of the mind when it’s being fueled by shame and how the stories that we tell ourselves of who we are in the mental construct, the self-concept of who we are in the mind is very powerful. We can actually believe that we are something other than what we authentically are. But I always think there’s this under undertone or this undercurrent of,
of auth authenticity. I think authenticity is that energy of who we are on a soul level. Right. And I think that, that, that is always, there’s always kind of that inner conflict. So a lot of the work I do with these older gay men is they come to me and they want to deconstruct this conditioning that they’ve, that they’ve inherited from society and from self.
And they wanna start moving more towards their authenticity, which is exactly this. So it’s almost like the opposite of what conversion therapy is doing. We’re as practitioners doing the opposite of that, but really kind of in the, we’re just helping leading people towards their, their most authentic self. Right. So I just see the, the, the trauma that this,
that this causes and the, the psychological impact of something like this is, is unbelievable. And it takes years for people to, to heal from it. So it’s, it’s very, That’s actually, that’s, that’s exactly it though, right? Authenticity versus performance. Yes. Performance idea of acting, Right. The idea of following someone else’s script. Following a script that has been given to you.
And then you were forced to be the performer. To be the actor. Yes. In a very like, legitimate sense you’re acting Yeah. That you’re, I remember like, it was things where they would say like, you know, you have to sit like this or stand like this or whatever. And however my bodily compartment didn’t align with what it meant to be masculine.
They would try to sort of correct and fix. Yeah. And so what you’re saying is the idea of like, of, of accepting and embracing authenticity and and diving deeper to who you are Yeah. Whoever that, that self is, or whoever that self is at that moment. Cause of course we change over time, but I think that that’s absolutely it.
That there’s just this absolute emphasis on artifice in conversion therapy, whereas psycho sort of like any sort of like, like therapeutic approach is going to be looking for the opposite. Right. Like it’s looking for authenticity and like you being yourself. Yeah. Which of course seems to be, seems to me to be a much healthier avenue Yes. To travel. Yeah.
And I think, you know, conversion therapy or not, I think most gay men listening to this episode are going to relate to that performative aspect or acting as you said, and trying to be somebody that they’re not. Because we, a lot of us grew up in family systems or social systems where we had to be something other than what we actually authentically were.
Right. So I think we all have at that, that experience of knowing what it feels like to have to censor aspects of who we are. And it’s, it’s very traumatic. Right? And, and that, that bleeds into the, to, into the community and how we interact with each other. Because if we come from this core wounding of like feeling like we had to hide who we were,
what does that, how does that impact how we relate to one another in, in authentic ways, in vulnerable ways, in intimate ways. I think that really there’s a lot of, a lot of wounding in that particular space because of that. And I’m, I’m curious for, for yourself being somebody that went through conversion therapy. Do you notice that that has impacted how you share yourself with the world?
Yeah, I’ll leave it there. Well, I mean, first of all, I mean, just to build on what you were saying before about how, you know, it’s for those who are not, who didn’t go through conversion therapy, there are parallels. Parallels. There absolutely are. Right? Yeah. There are so many parallels here. And even with the very,
you know, statement I made before that conversion therapy is really, in my estimation, the concentrated form of cultural or you know, religious homophobia. That if that’s the case, then if we are to, you know, to think about, okay, so if that’s cultural or religious homophobia, then in a concentrated form thereof, then all of us have gone through in some sense,
not conversion therapy definitionally, Right? But we’ve all gone through a system, right? We live in a sort of a culture or a society that, that functions as a system. And again, there are smaller systems, sometimes it’s the family, sometimes it’s the church, sometimes it’s the synagogue, sometimes it’s the school, whatever it is that we’ve been through a system or large.
And also systems, smaller systems that, that are pushing for us to conform. Yeah. They’re pushing for us to be straight. They don’t want us, you know, as queer individuals because we, we, well, we, we disrupt that binary, we disrupt that way of living. That’s easy and neat and and organized. And we, queers,
I think in some cases are a little chaotic, right? Yeah. In a, in the most beautiful and wonderful way possible. Right. And again, that’s why I said before, I don’t wanna be bored. Cause if I were to, you know, and, and being queer is oftentimes for me, like, you know, the opposite of that because it’s just kind of like choose your own adventure,
right? Yeah. It’s Make Your own rules in a lot of senses. Yeah. Nonconformity, which is beautiful. Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. And I think that these systems, what they do and how they force us to perform, cause again, it’s not just conversion therapy that’s doing that this is the greater society at large that they force us to perform.
Right? They force us to act in a way that is not authentic. They force us to be something that we’re not, or they try to at least bare minimum and they still try to. And I think what that does for those of us, especially when we’re younger, that we, when we’re performing, we’re doing our best to hide who we are.
So we’re constantly anxious. Yeah. Right? We’re constantly thinking, how am I presenting? Am I presenting too? Feminine is my, is my, is my, am I li being too much? Right? Yeah. Is my voice deep enough? Am I, are my wrist a little too loose? And you are constantly monitoring yourself, right? You’re constantly policing yourself where you are making sure that you are,
are presenting in a way that’s socially acceptable in a way that’s masculine. And if, you know, if you’re a male and if you’re a female, then of course that you’re, you’re presenting, you know, you know, a certain brand of femininity. Yeah. And so there’s this anxiety that we constantly have to check and recheck ourselves over and over and over.
And this is something that doesn’t really just go away. Right? This is something that talk about trauma and this something that, that that continues. And it doesn’t always continue in the way that we think, but sometimes, you know, you’re standing there at the, the subway and this woman walks by and all these men, and they all check her out.
I I, there have been times where in the past and now I, I caught myself and I was like, What am I doing? Where I thought, oh, I should look at her too, almost to sort of be one of the guys in like a public space. People I don’t even know. Yeah. Yeah. But these were sort of the,
the, the consequences in some ways that you are still to this or some of us are still to this day realizing how much, how ingrained this is in us, right? Mm. This anxiety that we feel is something that doesn’t go away easily. It’s something that a lot of us experience. But to your question about how my experience has, has shaped how I relate to others,
I think this is something that a lot of people, again, it’s not just those who went through conversion therapy, but those, you know, just queers in general, that we of course, police ourselves in that sense, the way that I was just describing. But I think ultimately sometimes to, or sometimes to, we, we police others, right?
And we want them to conform to a certain, you know, brand of whatever it is, mothery masculinity or queerness or what, whatnot. And I think that that’s something that can be quite damaging. It can be quite harmful, right? For, for a community or our community writ large, where we police each other. And I think that’s something that is,
is damaging. But I also think, you know, even just thinking about the anxiety that I felt in the past where you didn’t really know what was appropriate or you knew what was appropriate, but once you became, you became queer, Right? You know, once you accepted who you are, you weren’t also, you know, necessarily sure how to,
to navigate queerness. And it’s, and I think that can change relationships too, where, you know, you, you’re not sure if, if it’s too, if you’re being too much right. Because of that, that nagging voice in the back of your mind, like, am I being too much? Which of course that’s what we were always told.
We were too much, we were too extra, We were too, you know, loose or Whatever. It’s, Yeah. And so I think that can, that’s a consequence of conversion therapy or, or homophobia at large. Yeah. And I think, you know, when you feel ashamed about certain things or you feel bad about certain parts of who you are,
despite the fact that you shouldn’t feel bad about these certain aspects of who you are, that affects your relationships, Right? There’s insecurities, I think that’s where a lot of jealousy comes from, right? Yeah. That you’re insecure with yourself because of the system that you were in, which you were raised and you’re, and of which you were a product.
And that insecurity, a result of shame, guilt, whatever, and anxiety and list goes on. Yeah. That changes how you, you know, you, you relate and how you identify with others. And I think that that’s something that a lot of people have is this insecurity that is a result of these systems that affect how we are relationships today.
And again, I think that’s specifically to do with jealousy, but again, it’s not just jealousy, there’s much more. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s very stimulating. There’s a lot of things going through my mind right now, and I’m thinking, what do I wanna bring forward? I, I work a lot with sensitive sensitivity. That’s one of the,
the main focuses that I work with highly sensitive people, but I work with highly sensitive men. And some of them are, are homosexual and some of them are heterosexual. And the heterosexual sensitive men that I work with have the same core wounding that gay men have around internalized homophobia because sensitivity is viewed as and devalued in our culture around being too feminine, being weak,
these sorts of things. So it just makes me think that where, where the, the homophobia is coming from, in my opinion, it’s coming from the patriarchal system, this like over masculinized culture that we live in and that is fed down onto, doesn’t matter, gay or straight. And so, and then you have, you know, I’ll speak for myself like,
I was terrified of being my authentic self around other, predominantly around other or around heterosexual men that were really masculine because they have bought into this patriarchal system around masculinity is somehow superior to fem femininity. Right. And a lot of the work that I’ve been doing to get myself to a place of, of unearthing and healing my, my internalized homophobia, which by the way,
I’m still working on, it’s been 15 years. And when you think you’ve got there, there’s another layer to sit with cuz it’s so, it’s so, it’s like rooted in our subconscious and our psyche. It’s such a deep way, right? And so as I’m, as I’m making peace with, with feminine femininity, the energy and the gender, both like both,
right? And, and how that, how that is devalued and how I can start to value that. What do I value about my feminine qualities? What do I value about my feminine energy? That’s where my healing is actually taking place in such a deep way. Because before I wasn’t, I wasn’t able to kind of meet that part of myself. And,
you know, and for me that that comes into different, different playgrounds, right? It comes into how I view how I show up sexually as feminine or masculine, right? And like, you know, bottoming and topping that I always equated those two with masculine and feminine. And now I’m like debunking all that stuff and I’m, I’m really kind of meeting a lot of,
a lot more openness and healing. And I, I, I, I’m, I wanted to just share that because it’s, it came up for me in such a powerful way when you were talking about that. Like where does internalized homophobia come from? While it comes from the system, right? It comes from us as individuals buying into the bullshit that we’ve been fed and conditioned to believe about masculinity.
Right? And I think that’s the conversation that we need to be having more of in the gay community is like, what does it mean to be masculine? What does it mean to be feminine? And how can we intersect these two and, and let them both coexist in inequality, Right? And, and value both of them. And I think we got a long ways to go in this space,
but this is, these are the conversations I wanna have more of because they’re really, really healing. Yeah. And I think that like if we think about the system in which we live and the folks who are the upholders of tradition or traditional ways of being that they’re in a lot of ways jailers, right? They’re putting us into a little prison cell where we think we have to act a certain way.
Yeah. And the problem is, is that that just when those people, like when we actually remove those people from our life, they don’t really, they’re not really gone because, so you were talking about this idea of internalized homophobia, right? This isn’t just something that’s happening from outside, it’s something that we, we have within us as well. So we become our own jailers.
Exactly. So we Become those who keep ourselves in this, well little con these confines, these this prison of, of existence that is, again, inauthentic. It’s neither fit nor fair for us. And it’s something that, that we continue because it’s something that we, it’s, you know, it’s in some ways it’s so habituated, it’s so it’s been ingrained within us that we,
this takes a lot of uprooting and debarb in order to, to get rid of that, those con you know, those, those thoughts or those self techniques, Right. Techniques if we’re thinking like a fuco sense, like if text techniques of the self and you know, how we control ourselves and our bodies and whatnot. Totally. Yeah. And I think that when we think about internalized homophobia,
I lost my train of thought, so I can leave it there. Okay. It’ll come back. Yeah, it always does. Let’s move into, I’m just thinking, do we wanna, let’s move into your personal experience. Are you, you open to kind of diving into that right now? Yeah. Let’s go into your personal experience with conversion therapy and then what impact did conversion therapy have on your psychology?
Maybe we can kind of blend those two questions and I’ll just let you kind of take it in whatever direction you feel that you wanna share. Yeah. So I went to the world’s largest Christian fundamentalist university. I went to Liberty University located in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by Jerry Falwell, senior run by Jerry Junior when I was there. Of course, if you know anything about Jerry Junior and his cocking habits as of recent,
a lot of the there’ve been, there’s been a lot of news stories and, what’s the word? There’s just been a lot of, you know, chaos, chaotic sort of like story after story of him and his wife and this pool boy. But that’s a different story. We, we don’t need anything that, So I went deliver Like an interesting story actually.
Oh My word. It’s an absolute saga. Like you watch, he’s like, What is this? It’s just a circus. And so I went to, again, a Christian fundamentalist university, like a essentially evangelical university, though Christian fundamentalism and evangelism. Technically they do different things, but neither who nor there. So I went to this school for four years and for four years I wonder went their conversion therapy program.
This was a self elected moment. I chose to go to conversion therapy. Again, the idea of choice and agencies of course complicated in these contexts. But at the end of the day, I, I take full responsibility that I’m the one who I decided to go. So I, I had this big idea when I was gonna go to Liberty. First of all,
I knew about the conversion therapy program before I went there. And that was actually a big reason why I even attended the school in the first place. But I remember that my big plan was that I was gonna go down to Virginia. I’m from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I’m a Canadian and I was going to go down there and I was gonna have my fun with like,
go on dates with like Christian boys, you know, because up until that point, of course I hadn’t, you know, done any gay Christian dating. But I, in high school, I was like the only one of the very few Christian kids in my high school. And in Christianity, you always really wanna have like good PR for Jesus. You want everyone to think that Jesus is great.
You want everyone to think that your life is wonderful cuz Jesus has made a difference. And so I never dated any guys because I didn’t, I thought the homosexuality is wrong. And so if I were to be going on dates with guys, then that’d be bad image for Jesus. So I didn’t, but I thought to myself, if I go to Liberty,
everyone there is Christian. And so if I date Christian guys undercover, of course this wouldn’t have been like I was going around and like dating and telling everyone. But I was like, I wouldn’t be a bad witness for Jesus cuz the other guys would be doing the same thing that I’m doing. So it was kind of this like intellectual gymnastics that I was performing.
So that was my big plan. I was gonna go down there and, you know, kiss Christian boys and not feel as bad about it. Then I get down there and I, I did just that and, well, it happened once and afterwards, this guy who was actually my spiritual life director, he was in a position of leadership on my dorm after we had a very bizarre encounter.
He, he said he wasn’t gonna talk to me. He was like, he’s like, this can never happen again. And then kind of just excommunicated me. Like, just didn’t, you know, wouldn’t even look at me. And I was like distraught over it, right? I was like so sad and, you know, upset that this had happened.
And of course I didn’t have anyone I could talk to really, other than there was one individual who one time we were hanging out and he said to me, he knew something was up, he knew something was, I was sad about something or I was like upset. And he said, What’s wrong? And I said, Oh, I can’t tell you.
I can’t tell you. I said, But I did write a poem about it. Do you wanna hear the poem? And he was like, Sure. So I read him this poem and, and afterwards he looks at me and he, and you could, like, he was kind of like, he always had these funny lips whenever we talked about anything sexual.
And he had quiver lips like, oh like this. And so his lips started quivering and he was like, I think I know what you’re talking about. And I was like, Oh shoot. Like my, my problem wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t as cot as I thought I was. So I said, You do you think you know what I’m talking about?
He goes, Yeah, I think I struggle with the same thing. And the mon said, I, I think I struggle with the same thing that’s coded language oftentimes in evangelism for I’m, I’m gay or queer. And so, but not always cuz it can meets other things too. And so I was kind of like, well, what do you mean?
So it was clearly this back and forth, back and forth, like tango by the end of it, were both blurted out. We both liked men. And so I told him obviously, but I hadn’t told anyone else. And I also didn’t wanna like, burden him with all of my, you know, sadness. So I fast tracked my plan that I was gonna,
you know, go to Liberty, kiss Christian boys, and at the very end, you know, go to conversion therapy, become straight, fight a woman, marry, go home to Canada. That was my big plan. But that obviously didn’t work out. So I fast tracked it and I was like, I’m gonna go to conversion therapy now. So after like a month into school,
essentially like a few weeks into school, I, I made an appointment with, with this guy and he actually, I tried to make, make it so that he wouldn’t know who I was. When I contacted him, I was like, what’s the, And I made up a new email. So I made up an email that was like, as far away from like 18 year old Luke as possible.
And so it was like Texas football fan or something like this, that, and so I, you know, Texas football fan emails, Dan and Dana, er, who was the conversion therapist, Pastor Dana, er, and he, I said like, if I come and talk to you, will I be in trouble? Like, could I, could I be,
you know, there other consequences for me coming and speaking with you? He said, Unless you’re gonna self harm. No. I said, Okay. So I went to this guy and for four years I, I I, I talked with him. It was on and off in the sense that like my first and last year I was definitely there a lot.
And my second year as well, my third year I kind of dropped off a little bit. I was, but I was still going. And, you know, it was one-on-one therapy unquote. Again, therapy. It’s not therapy, but, you know, I was talking with him and in, in the sense that he, I was able to actually talk about it.
That was one thing that I thought was great at the time. Of course, the way that it was framed in conversion therapy, it’s not great because I was, you know, made to feel really horrible about what I had done or about who, pardon me, not what I had done, who I am, should I say. And so it was,
again, it was a lot of scripture that we read together. I had a, a workbook, it was called Growth Into Manhood, Resuming the Journey by a me. And so this is the idea of like under baked manhood that fully I’m to like do the things that men do. I can like develop fully as a man and then, you know,
resume the journey of manhood. Cause apparently I was off the beaten path. There’s a pun, but whatever. So all this to say that I, you know, had this workbook, I had scripture being, we were reading it other, but there was also, he was always praying for me, which is of course very indicative of how, you know,
of, of the, of the sort of power differential that he was prey on my behalf interceding for me. And it wasn’t me doing that. Yeah. And he also, whenever he prayed, he always put his hands on us, which always found very weird in to this day I kind of cringe at the idea of this man like touching me. But I think his way of,
I think what that was in his mind was like good touch, bad touch. Like this was how men touch each other. At the same time I think he was also like really enjoying it cause he was touching young men, which I think is again so bizarre today. So that was a big part of it too. And you know, I think that some people,
when they hear about the experience of conversion therapy in and of itself, in my experience specifically, they think, oh, that, that’s not that bad. That that wasn’t that big of a deal. Like that he, you know, told you how to act and he told you, you know, like he was praying for you. Like people were like,
like where’s the violence? And that. And I think for me it was again the promise that cruel optimism that was instilled within me that I was promised that I could become straight. And at the time I was under the impression that I wanted that I, of course today, no thank you, but I want, I thought I did. And so when I left Liberty,
I think that’s really where the violence set in, in the sense that, remember one time I was going to the pub to, to go for drinks with a buddy. And just beforehand I was in my basement. My, well the kitchen was in the basement of my apartment and I’m standing over the sink and I just like finished washing the dishes or whatever and I was like,
sobbing. And I was like, God, like what is this? I have tried so hard for so long. I’ve prayed, I fasted and I did a lot of fasting when I was at Liberty dealer. I wouldn’t eat for a week, I would just drink liquids. You know, I, I went to, I went to met with Pastor Dan.
We wouldn’t have conceptualized as conversion therapy until I did conceptualize as conversion therapy when a friend said, Hey, that’s conversion therapy. And I was like, Oh my gosh, yes it is. But up until that point I went, you know, I met with Dan, I, you know, pray, I read my Bible. I am like doing my best to be faithful.
And I have tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried to become straight and nothing has happened. And so I was kind of at my wits end and I was like, God, like what am I gonna do? But the thing was is that in that sort of being at your wits end, you think to yourself, well how come everyone else was able to become straight?
Cause a lot of people claim that they were straight or Pastor Dan claimed that he had found attraction to his wife and you know, how come so and so there was attracted to her and whatever. And when I realized that, I had not realized what I knew all along. But when I sort of like, it was in this, these moments where I was like,
well I didn’t change and everyone else did. What does that say about me? Right? What does that say about Luke as a person, as a Christian? And I thought that I was just disgusting and a failure and and screwed up. Right? I thought I was beyond repair. Mm. And so that’s where that shame isn’t just shame and Right.
And that, and it wasn’t just like that, the guilt that turned into shame was there. It’s also that turns into that self hatred. We were like, I hate myself. Yeah. Because I can’t change. But apparently other people can, something’s wrong with me and it’s not wrong with them, therefore, you know, and if it’s not God who’s the problem,
therefore it’s me who’s the problem. Right? And when you think of yourself as a problem, this is what I mean by like the sort of like the violence sort of setting in afterwards. Cuz at the time that I was in inversion therapy, the way that it was framed was that if I looked at porn or if I was attracted to, you know,
I saw a guy who I thought was, you know, attractive and I like lost it after him. That those were indi those were discreet individual actions. It wasn’t that those actions defined me, it’s just that those were actions that happened and that, you know, that sin. But Luke as a person is a home, is a heterosexual who just struggles with same sex attraction.
So it’s a way of separating the act from the person. And I was separated from the act, whereas afterwards I was like, those acts aren’t just like things I do. Those are like, those are functions of who I am. Mm. Right? And so when you realize that and you’re like, wait, that’s so I’m, I’m again, I’m gay.
And apparently everyone else over there isn’t, or at least they’re like, you know, at least finding attraction to some girl or woman, you know? And if, if I’m the one who is like constantly doing these things, then that makes me again, like I’m, I’m screwed up. Something wrong with me. So that’s what I would say how it affected my psychology.
How that affected, you know, who, how I saw myself, I saw myself as, as deficient. I saw myself as as as in need of, well I don’t really know what I was in need of cuz nothing was working. Yeah. Right. And you think about yourself as beyond repair that is so death dealing in, in, in your self-conception,
right? That you think that you are a problem that needs to be fixed. That you are something and someone that is well to use, like sort of like scriptural, you know, diction and abomination, right? You think about yourself in those terms and that screws you up. Right? That screws you up for a long time. For me, thankfully.
Right. I’ve been very, very fortunate to be in school and to have classes, a lot of classes that have actually spoken to these, so to different aspects of conversion therapy or sexuality and gender and religion and that kind of stuff, which has been very helpful and very, you know, life giving. And it’s allowed me to think and also to feel through a lot of these things from my past.
But again, it’s like you were saying before in regards to internalized homophobia, it’s not a done deal. It’s not like, you know Yeah. At a certain point like, oh good to go like close that book moving forward. You know, these are things that that affect you for a long time. And I’d like to say that I have moved,
you know, be not beyond this, but you know, I’ve moving forward with this. But there are some things that yeah. That, that, that stick with you or that you have to, to work even harder to fight against on a habitual, in a habitual sense and over a long period of time. Yeah. Well I just wanna honor that share cuz I think there’s a lot of,
there’s a lot of stuff there. Yeah. And what you, what you went through sounds like really challenging. And I’m glad that you’re, that you’re living your authenticity now, I think is the biggest, the biggest thing. And seeing you live your authenticity and kind of knowing that you’re, you’re honoring yourself is huge. Yeah. Living that big gay lifestyle,
Huh? Living, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Before we go into the healing, there was one thing that I wanted to share. I’m not sure how I’m gonna articulate it though, but what, what, what came up when you were talking was like, again, I’m kind of thinking about my own journey and like journey of some of my clients and like the,
this notion of like rejection of identity and rejection of like who we actually are authentically and how this leads to like, almost like a fragile sense of self. And it’s almost like that’s the place like shame and, and a fragile sense self kind of combined it. That is the, probably the energy of somebody who’s walking into the office of somebody to get conversion therapy because Right.
And, and as you’re going through this journey and it’s creating more and more of an inner conflict because the authenticity’s never gonna change. You can’t change authenticity, Right. You have to embrace it and you have to celebrate it. And you know, it’s the damage, and I like the word that you use like the violence towards self that really is an act of violence towards self to try and change something that we innately and organically are as human beings.
Right. And I’m, I’m curious, would you be open to sharing a bit about your healing journey? Like what did you go through? I know like for you it sounds like there was a lot of knowledge is power, right? Like learning, you went through the education system and kind of learned about it and really mastered it from that level. But I’m curious for you,
like on an emotional level, like what did you have to navigate in order to heal and move towards living your authenticity? I think having a bad relationship is really illuminating. I had a really, really bad relationship. Like romantic relationship. You speaking With romantic relationship. Yeah, okay. Yeah. With someone who, you know, he was a liar,
a pathological liar, cheater. Just like downright like not a good human in a lot of senses, or at least should I say, has a lot of work to do. And so I think that that was one way that I had to confront who I am and also confront who I am in, in relationship to this person. But I do think that like that’s,
and that’s a not a very like, specific answer, but I do think that that was something that when I, when he and I split, that there was a lot of like sort of emotions and, and feelings about myself that came up that tied back to my time in conversion therapy. Right. A lot of like, I’m the problem, I’m the issue.
And of course you realize later on you’re like, I wasn’t the issue. Not to say I was like, you know, an angel or a saint, but I know where a lot of the issues come from now and, and you have that sort of critical distance. But I think that that’s exactly it. It’s a lot of like reflection. It’s a lot of like,
that was the emotional catalyst that forced me into thinking about these things. And again, feeling about these things. But same with academia. Like I went to divinity school, but, and a lot of people when they hear divinity school, they’re like, Oh gosh, that sounds like, you know, becoming a pastor or something like that. And I wasn’t like,
I had no desire to become a pastor at that point. And, but I think that divinity school where I went, it was a very, very critical, very, very theoretical, but also a very, very practical all in one program that they, it was very much like identify or not, it was very much speaking to the different aspects of who you are,
right? That they took the idea of the divine or, or spirituality in a very broad, broad, broad sense. And that allowed for a lot of contemplation, self-reflection, a lot of just thinking, to be honest. And so, like for instance, I took a class on men’s psychology and religion and that was phenomenal. And we did a,
I did a presentation on pornography. You know, I took an ethics class where I talked about the ethics of coming out and like why we need to come out, you know, in, in evangelical communities. At the time I was still somewhat dabbling in evangelicalism. I’m no longer, I’m not religious at all anymore. But, you know, there was also a spiritual of biography class where actually a lot of what I wrote in that class came back to my family and thinking about my relationship to my different siblings and my,
and my parents and how that has affected me and how that’s shaped me in, in so many ways, right? Specifically my parents, less with my siblings, but along with my siblings. And, you know, those are, those are things that I think those different classes and those are just experiences that come off the top of my head that there were so many more that I had to evaluate myself in these assignments.
But again, also, you know, sometimes it wasn’t about myself. It was something, a lot of classes I took were, were in Jewish studies and I’m not Jewish, I don’t have a Jewish background, but these were classes too that, you know, if where, where you were forced to, to think about things that you normally don’t, I guess,
think about or at least don’t have time to think about in some senses, right? I think that’s the beautiful thing about academia is that you’re afforded time and space just to think like what a privilege and honor that is and that you are able to, in some ways be a thought leader depending on how you deploy your thoughts and what your thoughts are. Of course.
But, you know, I, that, that those were, those were times that I was able to just really think through myself and also my relationship to the, the subjects that I study. Cause again, most of what I’ve done, or I should say, most of what I’ve done has been in Holocaust studies and the intergenerational transmission of trauma from Holocaust survivors to their children,
to their grandchildren, and the after effects of the Holocaust, but also things that led up to the Holocaust, right? So that these different aspects of Holocaust studies. But for me, more and more, I’ve been moving into the direction of studying evangelicals, the, the new Christian, right, from the 1970s onwards. And of course when thinking about that,
I think about my own biography, like how could I not think about my own biography? Right? And so these are topics that I’ve been really fortunate to have, have I’ve considered and contemplated. And I think because of that, that’s really where a lot of the, the healing comes from. And then also just being in dialogue with other people, people who are different from me.
That was something that was very different for me when, once I was in grad school, was that in undergrad sim seemingly everyone just kind of agreed and everyone believed the same thing. Of course, that wasn’t like that in high school. I went to an arts high school in downtown Toronto where I was the minority. But that was, you know, that was different from when we were actually like sitting there and,
and sort of like taking your studies as, as it’s your, your sort of like be all and end all. Cause when you’re, you’re under undergraduate takes a lot more time than it does in high school. All this to say is that grad school, I had differences of opinion and there were people with different opinions I was in, in conversation with.
And that, that changed things too. And that allowed me to see myself differently and see myself from other people’s eyes, which of course sometimes is illuminating, oftentimes is sometimes not, you know, it oftentimes is. And so I think all of these different dynamics of academia and sort of like academic culture have allowed me to think through and, and, and I would say feel through my past.
Hmm. I like that a lot. It’s, it’s almost like your experiences and all the, the vast experiences that you’ve had, like have helped like thicken your self concept. And it’s like when we do have that fragile sense of self, then it’s like we’re very narrow in how we view ourselves. And it’s like we are, I think authenticity is the expression of,
of the moment. Like, and that means we can express ourselves in any way, shape, or form, right? So it’s like when we give ourselves permission to be the fullness of who we are, we can be anything. Right? I really truly believe that. So when we, and that, I think a lot of that happens in relationships.
Different relationships are gonna mirror different things to us and we can choose whether or not we want to take that on and become that concept or we wanna reject it. Right. So I think it sounds like you were surrounded by like, you know, people that were helping you expand your sense of self. And I think that’s really beautiful. Well, you know,
it’s funny too that you say that cuz I think I remember like the times where I first got to grad school and I would say things like, you know, I’m attracted to men sexually, but not emotionally cuz I don’t, I don’t know how I’d be in a relationship with a, like that kind of stuff. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I remember my friend,
specifically my friend Megan, she was just like, what? Like, huh. And it was always a very gentle kind of like, Huh, I, you know, move. But she, and and hearing her response to me say that and hearing her like, see me, I think people, I think sometimes people see you for who you are and you don’t yet see that.
Yeah. And when they see that and they recognize it, and then they articulate that to you, your realm of possibilities in your own mind becomes greater if it expands. Yeah. And I think that people saw me and I think in part they saw me as a gay guy and I was like, No, I’m bisexual, but like, you know,
I, I, I saw myself as bi or I saw myself as like romantically limited with men and they were like, Hmm, that’s bs. And they were much more, you know, loving than saying that. But I think that they saw me as some, as, as as myself or saw me in a, at least the possibility or the potential I had.
And when they recognized that, that expanded how I saw myself. And that was, again, I think that’s a huge way that I was able to grow. And it, and it’s because of others. Right? Yeah. I love that. And that’s, that’s, that’s the mission that we have at the brotherhood as well is like, you know,
I, I have the experience and have had the experience of, of, you know, not loving myself and having people love me. And, you know, I I, and now I’m starting to have that experience where I see somebody who doesn’t love themselves. And I, I’m just like, Wow, you are so lovable. Right? And it’s like,
that’s the mirror we’re all offering to each other. It’s like, I will love you until you can love yourself. Right. And I think that’s why there’s so much therapeutic and healing that can come out of community and connection with others. Right. And, and it’s really beautiful. So with that note, I want to just talk a little bit about the healing.
So how can someone who has gone through conversion therapy begin to heal? I think we’ve talked a lot about this, but I want to add my flavor because you know, I, I haven’t been through conversion therapy, but I have had extreme amounts of internalized homophobia and I became my own conversion therapist. I was trying to be somebody that I wasn’t. I was,
you know, you know, riding motorcycles, I was playing hockey, I was doing all these things. I, I love those things, but I was, they were very performative to a certain degree. So I was kind of being the opposite of who I was. And believe it or not, the irony of this situation is I was rejecting my feminine the whole time.
That was the part of being gay that I really rejected because I came from a very, you know, patriarchal family that really valued masculinity and these sorts of things. And it was the embracing my feminine energy. That was the, the inner healer. As soon as I started to embrace that energy, I developed an inner healer that would, that was able to start healing.
So for people that are really struggling with like, how do I overcome this shame? How do I overcome the trauma of abandoning myself or rejecting myself? And I think, you know, the way that I navigated this terrain was I had to get out of my mind because I was quite associated from all the trauma, from all the attachment, trauma, from,
from hating who I was. And I lived in my mind for so long. And I, I view the mental energy of, of, of the human being as more the masculine. And I view the embodied energy, the heart centered energy as more feminine, Right? And I, speaking of energy, I’m not speaking of gender when I speak of those.
And so for me it was like, how can I move from my head down into my heart? How can I start to feel my emotions again? Because that was when I was able to start to feel right. I’ve talked about authenticity as the felt sense of who we are, the essence energy of who we are. And that happens more in the body,
right? The mental energy of who we are is the stories that we tell ourselves of who we are. And those narratives, when they, when we come from a place of self-hatred, self-rejection, those narratives are not accurate. They’re, they’re what society has taught us of who we think we have to be in order to fit in or belong. And I think for me,
it was like, let, I had to stop listening to, to the, the tapes in the mind. I had to start connecting down here more into my body, then into my heart. And then something magical happened, the tapes in my mind started shifting, right? Because it’s like I, I went to therapy, I tried narrative therapy, I tried all these things and it was just working with my mind.
C b t like cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s the same thing. And it wasn’t sticking, I wasn’t learning how to love myself, right? Because I wasn’t feeling into my body. So I just think the, the most important part of healing is feeling. So that’s kind of the, the avenue that I would direct people too, is like anything that’s gonna get you feeling your feelings again.
Because a lot of us are walking around as men and we’re quite associated from our emotions. And like the healing work happens in the emotional body. So anything that brings you into the felt sense, you know, is really powerful. I recommend like, you know, watching YouTube videos, watching movies that make you bring up emotion in you. If, if you’re,
if you’re unable to connect to your own emotions, do it vicariously through other things and that’ll bring you back online into your felt sense. And then I think that brings you into, into that healing energy. So that would be my little tip, but I’d love to hear what you’d have to share on that. Yeah. And it’s funny, like, I just gave like the exact opposite answer us,
like yeah. It’s all to do with like thinking and reading. It’s, it’s both though, in my opinion. It’s a that’s exactly right. Exactly. Yeah. And I, and I think part of healing too, I think a lot of what we’re talking about is like, like gender specific trauma and sexual like, like trauma that has to do with sex or,
or sexuality. Yeah. Straight up. It’s kind of like diving into both of those things head long. And I don’t mean to say like go and like, you know, have a bunch of sex. Like that’s not what I mean. But I do think there is something to be said about like, even just like dating, right? Like throwing yourself out there.
And I think that for a lot of the trauma that we have where it’s this like that, that affects how we see ourselves talk about holding a mirror up to who you are is, is dating, right? Like people. Totally. And sometimes it can go really well and can go really poorly, right? When you’re, when you’re dating someone. But like,
and to, and to explore that and have fun with that and your sexuality. I think even too, like you hear about so many drag queens when this has to do with gender. You’re so many drag queens who say that drag saved their lives, right? That they were so uncomfortable with their gender performance, or pardon me, their gender presentation and their gender identity and their gender expression.
And that drag playing with it and being in a very embodied sense, you know, you know, masculine, a very embodied sense feminine or whatever that is. Or sort of like playing with the, the boundaries of those two or like the spectrum or whatever that that can be so therapeutic. Yeah. And I think that, you know, I know a lot of people who like naturism nudism,
that’s a huge thing for a lot of people. I know that, I know a lot of actual, I know a few new, I should say I know a few nudists who come from very Christian backgrounds, right? Yeah. And these are people who it’s, it’s almost like the freedom of naturalism has allowed them to rebrace their body or at least to embrace their body for the first time.
Yeah. Right. And I think that there are things like that, that are oftentimes overlooked and they’re oftentimes not considered when, when thinking about how to deal with one’s past. And so I think that, you know, with sexuality, you know, and, and sex, again, I don’t, I’m not saying like, go and have a bunch of sex or if you want to do it,
like why Exactly. But I think that’s exactly it is having fun in that play Yeah. And play full with these things. Yeah. That I think has so much generative possibility and potential that if you are to explore those sides of yourselves, especially if that’s where your trauma lies. Yeah. You’re in some ways confronting that in a very visceral, real al embodied sense.
Yeah. That I think is, has so much potential. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I love that. And I think what, what I take away from what you just shared is exposure, right? Like, if we have been through this and we are rejecting ourselves, a lot of us want to become lone wolf. We don’t want to be around the things that trigger us into seeing the parts of ourselves that we’ve split from.
Right. And a perfect example of that for me is I hated drag queens before I had integrated my feminine. They triggered the shit out of me, and I would always stay far away from them. I, I found them to be so annoying. And then I started to develop more consciousness around this and I’m like, Whoa, Matt, like what is this energy?
Where is it coming from? Right? And then as that part of me softened through exposure, then I was able to meet the part of me that needed love, Right? And that was the part of me I was rejecting and I was hating. So what we’re often hating in others, it’s, it’s usually the things we’re hating in ourselves as well is just so deep and so much in our shadow that we can’t see with clear,
with clarity. A and you know, that’s what the beauty of relationships in community, they mirror to us the parts of us that have yet to be loved and, and tended to. So it’s beautiful. That’s why I love community. I love people, I love connections. Yeah. It’s beautiful. Yeah, no, I think that, I think you’re right though.
It’s, it’s a both end. It’s both thinking about these things and sometimes at a certain point, like there’s just an end to thinking, right? And then you just kinda have to like, or now not an end, maybe a pause that we need to sort of like, Okay, now let’s, let’s think about these things. Think about these things.
Let’s, let’s, you know, engage with these things in a, an embodied sense in a different sense. And I think that both are necessary and both are helpful when, when dealing with trauma, when dealing with, you know, different ethics, shame, guilt, anxiety, these different things that they are you, I don’t think you can, you can approach shame,
trauma, affect whatever, without both the thought, you know, the thinking as well as the, the feeling. Very much so. Yeah. It’s the marriage of the two that leads to healing and liberation in my opinion. Like when the mind and body are working in harmony, that’s true enlightenment in my opinion. And when we are split from one or the other,
then it’s, it’s problematic. So yeah, man, this has been great. I’m very stimulated now. I’m like, this is, I just love being able to have awesome conversations like this and then being able to release them and, and share them with, with our audience. So is there any final thoughts or comments that you wanted to share with the audience before we wrap up?
Matt? You know, I’ve, I’ve talked about this with you before, but that Alberta accent, that’s where I want to end this man. You’re not man. I am just, Oh, I just love it. What a, what a treasure. Yeah. That’s all I gotta say, man. You’re cute. You’re cute. Thank you. Okay,
Well again, just from, honestly from the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of everyone’s heart in this community, we are grateful that you took this hour and a bit to come and, and share your wisdom with us. And I know a lot of people are gonna benefit from this and hopefully this inspires people that maybe sitting on the sidelines to kind of jump into community and start to,
you know, bring forth their authentic self and share it with the world. Cuz that’s the yumminess of connection, right? So as far as people being able to connect with you, your Instagram is at Luke, l u k e s l a m d u n k, Wilson At Luke Slam Dunk Wilson. That’s it. Oh, Luke Slam Dunk Wilson.
Okay. That would’ve been just way easier to say. And your Twitter is at Wilson underscore fw. I’ll put all this stuff in the show notes, so to make sure that you have that. And there’ll also be a website link to all of Luke’s academic research, which is very cool, very interesting. So be sure to check that out. And if you’re listening and you have not yet to join the private Facebook group,
the Gay Men’s Brotherhood, go and join that. We would love to have you there. We’re sitting at around 5 50, 700 guys now and we have a really beautiful community down there. So come and join. And if you’re watching on YouTube, please subscribe and leave any questions or comments that you might have for myself or Luke. We’d be glad to answer them.
And if you’re watching or listening on your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to leave us a rating, Preferably five stars, if you enjoyed what you heard today. And until next time, much love, everybody.