Alyson Stoner uses her platform to address the unique and disproportionate challenges the LGBTQ community faces with regards to mental, emotional and physical well-being.
The 27-year-old former Disney star went public with pansexuality in 2018 when she wrote an open letter to Vogue teens. She also appeared in the 2008s Camp rock alongside Demi Lovato, who recently revealed they weren’t binary.
But before she stepped out, the child star signed up for an “outpatient variation” of conversion therapy as she struggled with her sexuality and romantic feelings for a woman, leading her to wonder “if my life was worth living ”.
“I felt stuck. I felt miserable, ”Stoner said Initiated. “I felt like everything was not right with me, even though, deep in my heart, I only wanted to be a devoted follower of God. So hearing from people you trust, people you respect, people you might even aspire to be, that you are basically “rotten”, “abominable”, that the devil has a target on your back because of it. of your position in Hollywood… It just sends you on a spiral, at least for me, because I just wanted to do the right thing.
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Years after quitting “dangerous” conversion therapy, the actress still has “legitimately difficult” to talk about.
“My mind doesn’t even want to go there,” she confessed. “My legs started to shake at the thought of reliving part of it. I know how dangerous it is for me as a person who has had access to therapy and other supports. And I always wondered if my life was worth living or, if everything was not right with me, then what good was it for me to be there, starting to see myself as someone who didn’t. was only harming others in society.
Stoner admits that conversion therapy, which is discredited by the World Health Organization and more than 60 medical professional associations in more than 20 countries, can make people feel ashamed of themselves, to feel that they belong to nothing and have no value to society, which can trigger suicidal thoughts and actions.
“It breaks the mind-body connection because I see the body as something shameful, that you shouldn’t trust,” she said. “In fact, it ends up disrupting my ability to foster real relationships with others and myself, because now I’m suppressing a voice. I’m trying to change something that’s what I understand now [to be] very natural.
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A peer-reviewed study published by the Project Trevor in the American Journal of Public Health found that LGBTQ youth who were placed in conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report attempting suicide and more than 2.5 times more likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year.
“The dangers are measurable,” says Stoner. “They are measurable. Even if someone comes out on the other side and says, ‘Hey, no, I’m living a good life,’ there are scars there. There are shadows.
Stoner, an advocate for health and wellness focused on the LGBTQ + community, recently published a book, Pride body mind, which will donate 100% of the proceeds to support the well-being of LGBTQIA + youth.
“I wrote Pride body mind because LGBTQIA + people do not have appropriate health resources and safe spaces to understand and affirm our genuine humanity, ”said Stoner, who works with the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organization. health, TED and the Los Angeles LGBTQIA + Center. Vogue teens. “The queer community faces unique challenges related to mental, emotional and physical health and there is currently a major gap in the wellness space that we need to fill. “
More than 700,000 LGBTQ + people have undergone conversion therapy, and around 80,000 LGBTQ youth will experience this unproven therapy in the years to come, according to studies by the UCLA Williams Institute.
Conversion therapy is still legal in 30 states in the United States.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and has been reproduced with permission