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Iowa Man Describes the Horrors of Home-Grown Ex-Gay Therapy

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011
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Samuel Brinton, a student at Kansas State University, describes growing up under his Southern Baptist missionary father, who beat him, burned him and shocked him with electricity to try to change him from being gay after Samuel came out at the age of twelve. The video is compelling.

We first heard from Samuel about a year ago when he first talked about his experiences for an “It Gets Better” video for the web site I’m From Driftwood.

Update (10/10): Wayen Besen at Truth Wins Out posted this comment yesterday on Towleroad:

Truth Wins Out has tried verify this story for more than a month. Our phone calls have gone unanswered. We hope that the full range of facts can come to light. For example, who was the specific therapist who performed these abusive actions?

We are always pleased when “ex-gay” survivors are brave enough to come foward and share their experiences. We look forward to Samuel providing further information in the very near future.



October 7th, 2011 | LINK

A happy continuation of this story

Regan DuCasse
October 7th, 2011 | LINK

We’ve seen often how resentful the anti gay are at what they consider ‘special’ attention given to gay young people with regard to bullying.
I was on one of the sites linked to FRC and a woman complained about what’s so special about gay kids being bullied and that she was bullied at school for being fat and wearing glasses.

And WE all know well this complaint from conservatives, and the religious right that ALL kids are bullied or OTHER kinds of kids are bullied.
Even when an opportunity to tell them why the issue of being gay is SEPARATE and more URGENT, how open are they to the truth?
If someone is already lined up to be LESS empathetic of gay kids instead of MORESO, then their very attitude speaks to our whole point.

The layers and layers and sheer DEPTH of how intensely these folks are focused on their own navels boggles the mind.

Sure, that woman was bullied and teased for being fat and wearing glasses.
But it’s more than a bet her parents do too, as well as her pastor and a quarter of the other church members as well as members of the educational staff at her school.
THEY wouldn’t ALSO engage in abusing her for that reason.

So if you don’t want gay people to get what you think is ‘special’ treatment, or even sympathy.

Perhaps the anti gay shouldn’t then set up gay people for SPECIAL discrimination, PUNISHMENT and TORMENT either.

Seriously, the layers we confront is a whole LOT of stupid, isn’t it?

October 7th, 2011 | LINK

I have no love for the “ex-gay” movement, but I called fake on this story a year ago and I call fake on it again now. The story has too many elements that either make no sense, ring false, or are significantly different from any conversion therapy that I’ve ever heard of. Ice and hot coils? Never heard of that form of aversion therapy being used in the United States in this decade. Even more difficult to believe is that the aversion therapy caused him to experience pain in his hands when he hugged his father. Aversion therapy is ineffective. Yet here it super-effective as to his father, eliciting a sensation of physical pain that is not even the intended result of the therapy, but at the same time it is ineffective as to his attraction to other guys.

Other elements that don’t sound right:
– Won’t name the therapist, even though any such therapist would be a danger to the public and should be investigated

– Therapist tells him that all gays are being killed off with AIDS by the government and he believed this for years. Never heard of this unethical tactic being used and even if it were used, how is it possible that Brinton, a science genius who is studying nuclear physics, didn’t go on the interwebs at some point and in 30 seconds learn that it isn’t true.

– No Jesus angle. Any family that imposed this kind of coercive, painful conversion attempt on their kid is going to be driven by religion. Yet that element is absent from his story.

Obviously, I could be wrong and the whole bizarre story could be true. If that is so, someone should insist that he identify this therapist, who might well be torturing some kid today.

Priya Lynn
October 7th, 2011 | LINK

Theo, religion/jesus played prominently in this story.

Tony P
October 7th, 2011 | LINK

I broke contact with my father about a year ago. I had enough of his shit over the years and after a nasty little episode on Facebook over immigration of all things, I told him not to contact me.

Of course he violated that. I simply deleted the voice mail. My parting curse to him, I hope you die a lonely old man.

And it well looks like it will become true.

October 7th, 2011 | LINK

Hi Theo,

I wouldn’t say aversion therapy is ineffective – it is simply classical conditioning. Aversion therapy is effective for conditioning an aversive response to a stimulus – but it is ineffective as a gay-to-straight repartive therapy.

I think I remember from my undergrad days that some member of the faculty had been through such an experiment – so that whenever he heard the word “Knickers” it would register a change in skin conductance ( )

October 7th, 2011 | LINK

Theo I understand where you’re coming from. I can’t nail it down but the story set my spidey sense tingling too.

It isn’t that I don’t believe him, but his story is pretty outrageous in places. A rule of thumb for me is that the amount of corroboration for a given story is directly proportional to the magnitude of the facts being purported. If you say you drive a Pontiac I might ask what model, but if you say you drive a Ferrari, then I’d probably want a picture of you in it.

While I’m prepared to allow that this young man’s story could be true, the facts he is asking us to accept are startling enough that I would like some evidence to back them up. And you made some very good observations that point out that such evidence is lacking. Things just don’t completely add up.

Or maybe I just don’t want to believe such things could actually happen.

October 8th, 2011 | LINK


Thanks for that insight. I should have said it has been ineffective in sexual orientation conversion therapy. No one advocates it anymore, not even NARTH.

And correct me if I am wrong, but in those circumstances where aversion therapy does work, it is not supposed to replicate the aversive stimulus. For example, let’s say I get electroshock to help me stop smoking. If the therapy is effective, and if in the course of daily life I pick up a cigarette, I am not going to actually feel like I am experiencing an electrical shock. Rather, I am supposed to get a feeling of displeasure or anxiety or fear, a lingering association of the cigarette with the shocks I got in therapy. But Brinton claims that when he hugged his dad, he actually experienced pain in his hands. It is very odd, just as it is odd that hugging his dad would cause this to happen, since they use nude or sexually explicit photos in aversion therapy so that the negative stimulus would be associated with sexual arousal.

I hear you, my friend. And I absolutely do not want to come off like I know for certain that this is a fake. It could be true and if it is, he deserves a hell of a lot of sympathy and that therapist needs to be investigated and prosecuted. I will also say that his stated educational background is true. A google search confirms that he is actually studying nuclear physics. And there are videos of him on Youtube showing him back when he was at KSU performing on stage – in Chinese. A very impressive and talented fellow by any measure.

But at the same time, it is true that people sometimes do make up stories for a variety of reasons. You may recall the recent case of a woman who actually burned her own face with acid and falsely claimed to be attacked by a Black woman. There have been a number of cases in the last several years where people have claimed to have been burned or to have had epithets carved into their flesh, and they had the wounds to prove it. But it came out later that these wounds were self-inflicted.

What seems to be present in most of these stories is extreme violent or antisocial conduct (burning, carving, torture etc.) that makes it stand out from the typical account of victimization. Also present is some act or statement by the imaginary perpetrator establishing motive and, often, placing the incident in a context that will immediately appeal to public sympathy. For example, there was a case last year of a gay college student who claimed he was burned in a hate crime attack in which the perp stated something like “You fags are going to burn in hell, so this is a taste of what’s in store for you.” He had a burned arm when he went to the police. But it later turned out to be fake.

In real life, gay bashers rarely enunciate in complete sentences the theological basis of their assault. When I heard the new story, that set off a red flag. Again, you can’t say for certain that it is fake on that basis; this may have just been an unusually articulate gay basher. But if something seems off, it seems prudent to proceed with caution.

For me, the equivalent in the Brinton story is this business of the conversion therapist telling his patient that every single gay person in the world is dying of AIDS at the hands of the government. I have never heard of that deceptive technique being used by anyone – Nicolosi, Satinover, Cohen, Socarides – no one.

October 8th, 2011 | LINK

What a confabulous young man!

October 8th, 2011 | LINK

Watch this interview with him for the Driving Equality Project – and notice the slight variations of his story…

+ manic delivery
+ too much trivial detail

October 8th, 2011 | LINK

After my father rejected me, his touch burned me for over a year. Any attempt at a hug or anything would make me shudder and feel a very localized burning sensation. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the trauma of this guys experiences made him feel pain in his hands when his father came near him.

October 9th, 2011 | LINK

I would have to guess that it would be physiological distress of a similar intensity to that of the electric shock.

October 10th, 2011 | LINK


That’s an interesting clip. I see that the “month of hell” in the above clip is the “year of hell” in the Driving Equality clip. Also, in the DE clip, there is a prolonged period of therapy that involved the therapist denouncing him as vile and evil. Even more interesting is that the therapist told him that the govt. had killed off all gay people in the world when they were still children. Which would mean that his observation of any gay person on TV or on the internet would expose the story as fiction. There is no mention of all other gay people being killed off in the DE clip.

The 2 clips are consistent in some ways. For example, completely absent from either clip was any attempt by the therapist to talk about how accepting Christ would effect the change. This whole conversion effort is supposed to be religiously motivated, but there is no prayer involved, no discussion of the Holy Spirit indwelling, etc. Contrast that with the LIA program, which forces participants to spend most of their day reading and talking about Jesus.

Also consistent is the claim that the electric aversion therapy was accomplished with tiny needles stuck in the fingers. I could be wrong on this, but I thought that such therapy involved electrodes attached to, and not injected in, the wrists.

Two other observations: Wayne Bessen of TWO wrote on Towleroad that he has been trying to verify this story for a month, so far with no success. Two, Brinton has a happy photo of him and his family at a commencement ceremony from May 2011. He also reports on his Facebook wall that he is going to his sister’s wedding. I guess bygones are bygones.

As I say above, I don’t know if the story is true. But there are a lot of red flags flapping in the wind. Burroway, you were off base when you called the video compelling.

Lightning Baltimore
October 10th, 2011 | LINK

Chipsy, thanks for the link to the other video! His story varies pretty wildly from the Driftwood one.

The age thing is the clincher for me, though. In the Driftwood video, he was 12 when he saw the Playboy and 14 when he almost attempted suicide. In the Driving video, however, it all started when he was 10, apparently, and he was getting electric shock “therapy” when he was 12. Those are rather significant ages to be messing up, seeing as puberty hits somewhere in there, for most boys.

hector de hector
October 11th, 2011 | LINK

The New Civil Rights Movement reached out to Nathan Manske and Samuel Brinton for more info, and Manske (of I’m From Driftwood) replied:

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