Samuel Taylor was raised in a religious family. When he came out to his mother, Connie Casey, she sent him to a series of conversion therapy ministries affiliated with Exodus International, the Christian organization that folded this month and apologized to the gay community for trying to "correct" same-sex attraction.
Samuel, now 22, was in therapy from the age of 15 to 18. "You feel like being gay is like a virus," he told Connie during a visit to StoryCorps. "It's like, you have to get rid of this because this is what you're doomed for. And I remember, I thought, 'Well, I can of course behave like a straight man....'
After coming home from his sophomore year, he found a refrigerator magnet that had a heart and rainbow with the words "Love spoken here." Samuel knew at that moment things had changed.
"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," Connie says. "It's nonnegotiable as far as I'm concerned."