That was the testimony of Jacob Rudolph, a bisexual young man who struggled to come out and eventually did so in a speech to about 300 of his peers.
Today, the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee heard three hours of testimony concerning a bill sponsored by Senators Lesniak, Sweeney, and Weinberg (and co-sponsored by Senator Buono) that would protect minors by prohibiting counseling attempts to change sexual orientation – so-called “gay conversion therapy.”
The panel heard compelling stories from gay individuals who have been traumatized as children when forced to undergo these conversion attempts. Some of these “therapy” sessions included electric shock therapy (with their parents’ permission!) and forced masturbation with images of women.
Of course, the opponents were there, too, claiming that this legislation is unconstitutional. But as was pointed out by one witness, this bill does not prohibit therapy, it just prohibits advocacy therapy.
In the end, the bill passed with the following senators voting yes: Rice, Whelan, Gordon, Buono, Vitale, and Madden – all Democrats; and a yes vote from Republican Senator Allen. Among the other Republicans, Senator Thompson voted no, and Senators Singer and Addiego abstained.
Before the hearings, I spoke with one of the sponsors, Senator Raymond Lesniak, and the Executive Director of Garden State Equality, Troy Stevenson.
Correction: The original version of this article stated that Rudolph underwent conversion therapy. He did not. I regret the error.