“It gets better, no matter what you’re going through. There are people out there who want to help you,” said Alex Cooper.
Alex Cooper was 15 years old when she came out to her parents — a week later she was forced to drop out of high school and sent away to conversion therapy. She was sent to a family home not far from where she grew up with two other gay boys. Cooper was forced to wear a backpack filled with rocks, sometimes weighing up to 40 pounds, to represent the “burden of being gay.”
In this powerful video from the Human Rights Campaign, Cooper says that she felt she could never not be a lesbian but she tried to conceal it during those eight months in conversion therapy camp. “I felt like they got some sort of weird joy out of torturing children,” Cooper recounts in the video, affirming that conversion therapy relies on emotional and physical pain as its primary tactic.
HRC released this video in hope to shed light on the deep pain caused by conversion therapy. The non-profit organization has helped in banning this practice in ten states, plus the District of Columbia. “The discredited, abusive practice of ‘conversion therapy’ has been proven to cause lasting physical and mental harm and can be life threatening,” HRC writes in the video’s description. Maryland recently became the 10th state to ban the practice on minors; New Hampshire and Hawaii have recently passed protections that await approval from their governors.
Eventually, Cooper was able to escape the house she was being held captive in and find help through a teacher at her high school. Today, Cooper is a youth ambassador for the HRC hoping to help kids just like her find their strength and healing from this horrible practice.
The Williams Institute released a report in January estimating that 698,000 LGBTQ Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 have undergone conversion therapy at some point. About 350,000 of those received “treatment” as adolescents, according to the report.
You can read Cooper’s memoir and her full story in her newly released book “Saving Alex.”