TikTok is not just for viral dances or Chinese surveillance software—like other social media, it’s a place that provides community. Take, for instance, therapy TikTok, which a friend turned me onto recently. The Independent reports on another example: LGBTQ conversion therapy support.
According to the Independent, survivors of LGBTQ conversion therapy have been sharing their experiences on TikTok, and those who share are “overwhelmed by the response” from other people who were forced to go through it. Mike Dorn, who was sent to conversion therapy when he was 15, told the outlet he started making videos while in isolation during the early days of the covid-19 pandemic:
“I was going through a pretty dark time being at home all the time and I knew that I needed to talk about it,” said the 30-year-old sign language interpreter, whose videos have been viewed 1 million times, with thousands of supportive comments.
“A lot of people were messaging me, and it was this form of love and support and family that I’ve never experienced before.”
LGBTQ conversion therapy laws in the U.S. vary by state—though some jurisdictions have banned it outright at least for minors, others have no limits, and only Washington, D.C. has banned it for adults. It’s still happening today, and people who go through it, especially teens, often lack support systems to help them cope with the trauma these programs leave on them.
20-year-old Merry, who went through conversion therapy when she was 17, has been getting contacted by other survivors since she started putting videos on TikTok:
“I got some terrifying messages from some kids where I ended up seeking out legal intervention to get them out,” she said.
One girl in New York, where conversion therapy for minors is banned, said her aunt and uncle wanted to take her to another state for treatment. Merry said she contacted child protection services who sent the girl to live with other relatives.
She was also contacted by a gay 18-year-old living in her town whose pastor was trying to get him to suppress his attraction to men.
Merry gave the teenager support after each session with the pastor and they now attend the same LGBT-friendly church.
You can read the whole story here.