Community Maplewood

After SCOTUS Decision on Conversion Therapy Challenge, Maplewood Committeeman Dean Dafis Shares His Story

Maplewood Township Committeeman Dean Dafis. Photo by Matt Peyton.

As the Supreme Court of the United States yesterday declined to hear a challenge (King v. Murphy) against New Jersey’s ban on gay and transgender conversion therapy for minors, many in South Orange and Maplewood — celebrated as welcoming towns to the LGBTQ community — celebrated.

One person in particular caught locals’ attention with a powerful post to social media: Maplewood Township Committeeman Dean Dafis.

In a post on his personal Facebook page, Dafis outlined the abuse and scars inflicted upon him through conversion therapy as young gay person: “By the time I reached early adulthood, I was beaten – literally electroshocked – into ‘submission’ and proceeded down a path of darkness, depression, self hate, reckless/self destructive behavior, and lies for too many years. It wasn’t until 9/11/2001 when I was witnessing colleagues jumping to their deaths right in front of me that I realized what I had lost all those years and what I had to do to become healthy, to reclaim and reassert my true self, and to serve others so that they never suffer like me.”

Village Green is posting Dafis’s full post — with his permission — below.

LGBTQ Conversion Therapy is not ‘therapy’ … it’s CHILD ABUSE,” wrote Dafis. “While the medical community has since outlawed the practice and 16 states (plus DC) have explicitly banned it – bans pending in 18 other states – youth are still being abused by it. It’s estimated that over 700,000 LGBTQ Americans have been subjected to it. Many of those are no longer with us as there is a direct correlation to suicide – I’m one of the lucky ones. Thank you SCOTUS for upholding NJ”s ban on conversion therapy today (for the second time), #GardenStateEquality for defending our ban, and to all those survivors out there who have like me courageously told their deeply personal stories on panels and public forums across the country.”

When contacted about publishing the post on Village Green, Dafis shared that he had been hesitant to share on social media at first and  had canceled his post on Facebook twice. “But if we don’t share our personal narratives, we won’t build community, grow close together or be able to advocate for necessary change or reforms.”

“Ultimately it speaks to who I am today and why I do what I do,” Dafis told Village Green. “So, yes, go ahead.”

Read Dafis’s full post here:

I was barely a teen when I was first led into a psychiatrist’s office to be “cured” of my physical & emotional affection for men, my effeminate body language, “weak” voice, and “artistic” sensibility; I had just come out to my parents.

They didn’t understand – I didn’t understand (despite ‘knowing’ as early as 8).

Exorcism at church did not work. Once a week I was driven to my appointment with a total stranger – a licensed medical professional – with whom I shared intimacies I didn’t even understand yet, who “taught” me how to be a “real” man, who subjected me to pornographic and violent images, who made me scream in anger and cry so that I could according to him “reach my ‘breakthrough.” The reparative behavior exercises were reinforced at home, my father forcing me to ‘walk a straight line’ from the living room to the dining room – any slight ‘unmanly’ swish of the hips was met with a bold strike of the rolling pin, again and again until I got it ‘right’.

By the time I reached early adulthood, I was beaten – literally electroshocked – into “submission” and proceeded down a path of darkness, depression, self hate, reckless/self destructive behavior, and lies for too many years. It wasn’t until 9/11/2001 when I was witnessing colleagues jumping to their deaths right in front of me that I realized what I had lost all those years and what I had to do to become healthy, to reclaim and reassert my true self, and to serve others so that they never suffer like me.

LGBTQ Conversion Therapy is not ‘therapy’ – whether practiced in a medical office or at a bible camp by ‘counselors’ – it’s CHILD ABUSE. While the medical community has since outlawed the practice and 16 states (plus DC) have explicitly banned it – bans pending in 18 other states – youth are still being abused by it. It’s estimated that over 700,000 LGBTQ Americans have been subjected to it. Many of those are no longer with us as there is a direct correlation to suicide – I’m one of the lucky ones.

Thank you SCOTUS for upholding NJ”s ban on conversion therapy today (for the second time), #GardenStateEquality for defending our ban, and to all those survivors out there who have like me courageously told their deeply personal stories on panels and public forums across the country.

We must continue to speak up and build empathy, one community at a time because the ‘righteous’ will keep on trying to beat and erase us. #noshame #bornperfect #PRIDE#useadversitytoeffectuateCHANGE

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