When he was 15, Samuel Taylor came out to his mother, Connie Casey.
In an attempt to “fix” her son, Connie sent Samuel to a series of conversion therapy ministries affiliated with Exodus International — The “ex-gay” Christian organization that folded in June 2013 and apologized for promoting reparative therapies.
Now, 22, Samuel came to StoryCorps with his mom to talk about that experience.
Click here for the transcript.
Connie Casey (CC): At the time that you came out, I blamed myself. You know, it's because I'm a single parent mom, and I don't know how to raise a son, and there needs to be a man around here. Somehow I did this to you. And now you were going to be relegated to a life of horror.
ST: Those couple of years were very hard for both of us.
CC: Your first year of college when you went away to school and came back, and we had this conversation again, was the first time that I really felt in my heart that it was time to take a look at everything that I'd ever been taught to believe.
ST: I can just be completely honest, I didn't care at that point whether you accepted me or not. But it ended up being more important than I thought it was.
When I had come home sophomore year, I saw on the fridge a magnet. And on the magnet was a rainbow heart that says, love is spoken here. And so, what kind of advice could you give to a parent who has not come to that same conclusion?
CC: I guess the overriding feeling is that, no matter how strongly you think you believe something, at the end of the day, you just always have to love and accept your kid. It's non-negotiable as far as I'm concerned.
ST: I don't think I've ever told you that I completely and 100% forgive you. It's part of what we had to go through to get to where we are today. And for that, I'm not only forgiving, I'm grateful.
CC: If this were to be the last five minutes of conversation that I ever got to have with you--and I think you already know these things but it doesn't hurt to say it again--I'm so sorry, and I could not be more proud of the human being that you are. You're just an amazing awesome human being.