On June 17, 2018, CBC journalist Wendy Mesley interviewed me for her Sunday morning show, “The Weekly,” about gay conversion therapy in Canada. Within a day of that interview, a link to my segment appeared on several websites, including, of course, on CBC’s site for “The Weekly.”
That is—until just the other day.
Now when I search for my name on “The Weekly” site, nothing is found. If I search on the CBC main site, the June 17 episode is listed with the heading: “Gay conversion therapy in Canada,” followed by a summary: “Is gay conversion therapy growing in Canada? While there is much to celebrate during Pride month, there are faith-based groups in Canada planning events this summer that, LGBT activists say, are practising a version of ‘conversion therapy,’ which purports to change sexual orientation. Wendy Mesley talks to author Peter Gajdics about the influence of the controversy ideology.”
However, clicking on the body of the above paragraph brings up only an error message: “Sorry, we can’t find the page you requested, please try again from the homepage.”
Mesley had opened the actual segment, called “Pride and Prejudice,” by mentioning a man named Michael Carducci, from a U.S.-based organization called The Coming Out Ministry, who the 7th Day Adventist Church in Canada had invited to Nova Scotia to speak about being “freed from the chains of homosexuality.” She played a short video clip of Carducci: “Before I was even conscious,” he stated, “Satan began tying knots through the rope than became my life. I thought that God had made a mistake and I’d pray at night that I would wake up the next morning and I would be a girl.”
Mesley went on to reference another organization, called Journey Canada, based in Vancouver, B.C. She showed the image of one of their website pages, highlighting a section that read they offered “sound biblical teaching for the relationally and sexually broken.”
She showed a map of Canada, and said that Journey Canada was “big and growing, with ministries in 42 cities, offering retreats across the country. Last year, it raised over $600,000 in donations.”
Mesley continued: “LGBT activists say the group’s approach sounds a lot like conversion therapy—the idea that homosexuals are broken, and can be fixed with spiritual intervention.”
She then introduced me onto the program.
She mentioned that I had helped “persuade” the city of Vancouver to ban conversion therapy, and she asked for my thoughts about these faith-based groups and ministries in Canada.
“It’s the same ideology of what I went through,” I said, “which is ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’ It’s a shame-based approach to who a person is. ‘You are not to be, you are not to experience, you are not to desire these feelings in your body and in your mind,’ and so you do anything to exorcize yourself of them. That sets up a person for years of suffering and prolonged distress. This is torture.”
Mesley told me how both Journey Canada and The Coming Out Ministry state they are not involved in conversion therapy. “So I’m just wondering,’ she asked me, “is it conversion therapy?”
“I think a lot of these ministries change their language,” I said. “They’re much more subversive and subtle, so now they talk about ‘helping the homosexual.’ But it’s the same ideology; it starts with the same lie, which says a gay person, a trans person, is inherently broken because of their homosexuality or trans identity, and so they can ‘help them’—help them overcome this brokenness.”
Mesley asked me if I thought there was a “resurgence” of these types of “treatments, or healing, as they call it.”
“I don’t think it ever went away,” I said. “Conversion therapy is an umbrella term and these types of treatments happen subversively under many labels. Of course, people who practice them don’t refer to themselves as practising conversion therapy, so, the nature of these treatments is they’re very hidden. They’re covert.”
Mesley referenced the legal bans emerging in Canada—by legal statute in Ontario and health regulation in Manitoba (2015), and the recent city-wide ban in Vancouver. She asked me if I thought these bans were enough to “stop it.”
“No, it’s not enough to stop it. I’ve said to everyone, including through City Council [in Vancouver] in the process of getting the ban through, that these bans won’t stop them, because the nature of these treatments are they’re covert and subversive—but it’s a definite step in the right direction.”
Mesley mentioned the obvious discrepancy in the language used by these organizations, since they state they don’t want to “change” people, but “then go on to say they are able to help people reconcile their faith with their physical desires, and to bring those together. And they end up happier. They end up with less desire for the same-sex person.”
“When we’re talking about faith-based organizations in particular,” I responded, “you’re talking about wanting to belong, you’re talking about wanting to stay with your church, your community, your family, for sure, who’ve raised you with this faith. To lose contact with your family and your faith is enormously distressing. People have killed themselves over things like this. And so, when you’re faced with this, of course, sometimes you choose to stay with your faith, and you do whatever you need to do to suppress . . . the desires, your same-sex feelings.”
In closing, Mesley mentioned that CBC had contacted Journey Canada to ask them to respond to these concerns, and they had declined to comment. Then the interview wrapped.
For several weeks the interview, as a stand-alone segment, was available on-line. Now it is gone. For some reason, it has been severed. It is also not searchable.
I emailed the producer of the show. He and I had spoken several times in the days leading up to the interview. Even as recent as July 4, this producer had emailed to ask for more information about Journey Canada’s “methodology.” I was happy to tell him what I knew, and he responded again and thanked me.
But now, he would not respond to my email, or even a voice mail that I left on his personal cell.
Fortunately, I was able to retrieve a lingering copy of the stand-alone interview,