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    Posted June 8, 2011 by
    smodda
    Location
    Gardena, California
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Parents and their kids' sexual identities

    Parallels to Kirk's story

     

    I read and watched the story about Kirk Murphy, and all I could think was 'There but for the grace of God go I'.

     

    Kirk was about the same age as me, and at the times these experiments were carried out, my father was a doctoral student at UCLA. I know my parents had many of the same observations that Kirk's parents did, and I do vaguely remember some experiments such as the ones described. My father passed away 6 years ago and my mother really does not remember (she was not raised in the U.S. and her English back then was not very good), so I really have no way of confirming whether these same 'treatments' were given to me or not (I would give anything to know). But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes; the only reason my parents possibly did not follow through is my dad graduated and we moved away. I do not remember any sort of 'poker chip' reinforcement, but I do remember being punished once when I was 9 for calling my brother a 'homosexual', even though I had no idea what the word meant (someone had called me that at school; all I knew was that it was an insult).

     

    I can identify with many of the things Kirk's brother and sister described about his behavior. From the age of six, I knew I was not being treated the same as other kids and could sense something was wrong. I tried to commit suicide when I was 12 years old because it just became too much for me to handle, and I could not think of any other way to escape. I was sent to a child psychologist, but the basis of the treatment I felt was to 'cure' me, not to help me. Like Kirk, I cannot remember eating lunch even once in the cafeteria my entire time in middle or high school; I would often throw my lunch away on the way to school or put it in the refrigerator and eat it when I got home.

     

    Ironically, I went to UCLA as an undergrad, and within 2 months of my freshman year, I was the victim of a bashing incident. I dared not tell my parents about it, because I knew what was ahead of me if I did; more therapy to 'cure' me. I must have been about 19 or 20 when my father began to suspect I was gay. He wrote me a letter that he was 'more worried about me than when I tried to kill myself' and that he would pay for therapy to cure me. Somehow, I was able to finesse my way out of it. I still have the letter. I have not reread it as it is just too painful, but I can't bring myself to throw it away.

     

    It was only when I was in my late twenties that I began to come to terms with my sexuality. My father (being the scientist he was) changed his attitude shortly after one of the first studies confirming a biological basis for homosexuality was published. Again he confronted me, and this time I said yes, I am gay. I was totally prepared for a fight, but this time his response was 'I still love you and don't do anything stupid'. We left it at that. But in many ways, the damage was done and I am still trying to come to terms with a lot of ghosts from the past. When he passed away, I was just very sad that things were not different. I keep going back in my head to see how I could have changed things or acted differently, but how can you change everything that you have been that makes you 'you' since you were four years old?

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