Op-Ed: The Second Coming

Stevie File

September 13, 2022

Photograph of a protest sign reading "Conversion Therapy is Violence"

Executive 2022-2 and the State of Conversion Therapy in Pennsylvania

Today marks almost a month since Gov. Tom Wolf signed an Executive Order against conversion therapy—and I’m still struggling to celebrate. 

     Executive Order 2022-2 has been characterized in national news and private conversations as a “conversion therapy ban.” True, Gov. Wolf has directed all Commonwealth agencies to discourage conversion therapy, banning state funds, programs, contracts, or other resources going to the practice. He has even directed state agencies to promote evidence-based practices and updated policies that protect LGBTQIA+ Pennsylvanians. 

     But we must keep in mind the specific nature of this “ban.” This Executive Order is only secure under the Wolf administration; any future governor could easily override it. No penalties for those who violate the order have been outlined, either. As queer folk, it is difficult not to instinctually view this order as temporary and idealistic. 

     Still, we must acknowledge the immense potential of this order. The Williams Institute at UCLA predicted in 2019 that 16,000 LGBTQIA+ youth would undergo some form of conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional in states which did not have ordinances preventing its practice. Pennsylvania’s alliance with twenty-five other states in partially or fully banning conversion therapy is a massive triumph. 

     Executive Order 2022-2 has succeeded as such in banning what I understand as “first-wave” conversion therapy: “medical” institutions. Their notorious practices have included hypnosis, electroconvulsive shocks, lobotomies, and even castration. Following the national decriminalization of homosexuality and the widespread declassification of homosexuality as a medical pathology, the turn of the 21st century saw a shift in the state of conversion therapy from medical institutions to religious organizations.  

Unlicensed individuals gained thousands of dollars from their businesses, leaving survivors without faith and with alarming rates of anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behaviors.

     These institutions, like Love in Action and Exodus, were outright closet cases. They fronted themselves as “ex-gay” and “reparative” organizations—and ran to far-off, isolated locations. Unlicensed individuals gained thousands of dollars from their businesses, leaving survivors without faith and with alarming rates of anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behaviors. In the past decade, many leaders have shut down their organizations and even come out as LGBTQIA+. A former chairman of Exodus even admitted, “I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.” These institutions consistently go against the very promise they feed to their victims. Conversion therapy has become a discredited and dying “therapy;” as Wolf called it, a “traumatic practice based on junk science.” I call it quackery. 

     This is where I see the “second wave” of conversion therapy resurrecting. 57,000 other LGBTQIA+ youth were predicted to be exposed to another form of conversion therapy: Religiously-protected institutions—an even more “closeted” form of conversion therapy—have become the “second-wave” site for 82% of the practice. Their methods have included “talk therapy,” tracking familial sin, public shame, and exorcisms. Account after account, survivors have shared stories of similar damage to psychological states as those from the first wave. These institutions can function invisibly and legally, though. The First Amendment right to religious freedom protects these institutions from any consequence of Gov. Wolf’s Executive Order. 

57,000 other LGBTQIA+ youth were predicted to be exposed to another form of conversion therapy: Religiously-protected institutions—an even more “closeted” form of conversion therapy—have become the “second-wave” site for 82% of the practice.

     We now understand conversion therapy has not been banned, but limited—and is still very much alive. State funding has been banned from public conversion therapy organizations; however private funding has and will continue to go towards these religiously-protected institutions. Conversion therapy is a business that costs our country $9.28 billion a year. This invisible practice surrounds us, and so do its victims. 

     This being said, we must resist our anger for joy. Far too often, queer history has been defined by loss and neglected moments of progress. We must approach this Executive Order as both a public ban and a private approval. It is cause for critique, but also for celebration. 

     We must remember August 13th as a historic day. Historic for more than the ban on “first-wave” conversion therapy; Gov. Wolf put down his foot and told our community: “I want LGBTQIA+ youth and individuals across Pennsylvania to know that I stand with you. I see you, I respect you, and I support you.” I never thought this possible—did you? So many of our lives could have been saved. Same-sex marriage legalization preempted far lower rates of LGBTQIA+ suicide attempts, especially among youth. One affirming adult in a young person’s life makes them 40% less likely to attempt suicide. We can only imagine how this statewide recognition has not only rescued but empowered queer lives across the Commonwealth. This is especially true for trans and gender-nonconforming youth, who are often neglected in these conversations and disproportionately threatened by this practice. 

     True, “second-wave” conversion therapy is still an invisible threat—but not an invincible one. Twenty states and D.C. have banned conversion therapy for minors. They have cited either LGBTQIA+ youth’s inability to consent due to lack of brain development or the aforementioned mental disparities of conversion therapy survivors. Look to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Scranton, Eerie, State College, Reading—they have all done the same. Sixty-five counties in Pennsylvania have yet to do so. While it is often unclear whether or not these bans include religious institutions, they at least include convictions and revisions.  

     National news always will begin with a private conversation. It’s how one survivor’s account can turn into Executive Order 2022-2, how a limitation becomes known as a ban, or how a governor can rouse a generation of LGBTQIA+ folk. Connection comes through conversation—and this is how we construct progress. 

     Listen to and amplify the stories of conversion therapy survivors. Over 680,000 LGBTQ+ adults have predictably underwent conversion therapy—all you need is one. Relay statistics. Warn those you love about sites of “second-wave” conversion therapy. Call out the Executive Order for what it is: a limitation. Call it out for what it lacks: convictions. Call out conversion therapy for what it is not: therapy. But most of all, call upon your community to celebrate each moment of liberation. 

     Call upon your community to second what else must come. 

We Stand with Trans Youth Athletes

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

August 22, 2022

With an upcoming Mainheim school board discussion involving the “integrity” of athletics, it’s become once again important for us all to voice our support for trans athletes’ participation in the sports teams of their gender.

Peer-reviewed data and expert testimony overwhelmingly show that exclusion from athletics based on gender has adverse effects, and there’s no medical standing to exclude trans athletes.

Please consider sharing your professional expertise (medical, social, psychological, etc) and/or your expectations of Manheim Township School District regarding the treatment of all students via email to the board at boardsecretary@mtwp.net.

Board discussion will take place on September 8th at 7pm in the district office. 

You can watch the livestream on the Manheim Township School Board website, but you can’t make Citizens’ Comments unless you’re a resident or employee of MTSD in the board room. Only discussion will occur at this meeting, voting will not take place.

In February 2021, the National Coalition for Women & Girls in Education issued a statement supporting transgender and nonbinary students’ full and equal participation in all education programs and activities, including sports. Making a talking point out of gender inclusivity in sports has never been about fairness or competition—it’s a thinly-veiled push to exclude trans people from society and perpetuate a culture that sees trans identities as shameful. To imply that these students bring a lack of integrity to athletics is a repulsive notion. It can not and must not gain traction.

Trans Youth Wellness Study Needs Participants!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

July 19, 2022

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evidence for Action Program has funded an international study to understand the experiences and needs of transgender and gender diverse young people in the United States as compared to the Netherlands.

This study is a partnership between Children’s National Hospital (Washington, D.C.), VU University (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), and US and Dutch experts in trans health and equity.

The study is open to transgender and gender diverse youth who are 11-16 years old. The study is conducted fully online and takes a total of about 3 hours to complete, split across 3 shorter sessions.

Families are compensated $200 for their time.

The questions included in the study focus on strengths, areas of challenge, and hopes for the future. The ultimate goal of this work is to inform improved care for youth in the United States, including greater access to the supports youth may need.

To learn more, please contact the US research coordinator, Abby Fischbach afischbach@childrensnational.org

Why are pronouns important?

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 15, 2022

May be a cartoon of text that says '+ $ Respecting a person's pronouns is suicide prevention GREATIST TREVOR'

Pronouns can sometimes be a signifier for someone’s gender identity but not always. We do not want to assume people’s gender identity based on expression (typically shown through clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms etc.) By providing an opportunity for people to share their pronouns, you’re showing that you’re not assuming that their gender identity is based on their appearance.

GLSEN Pronoun Guide

https://www.glsen.org/activity/pronouns-guide-glsen

If you don’t know what pronouns to use, ask. A simple way to see what pronouns someone uses—he, she, they, or something else—is to wait and see if it comes up naturally in conversation. If you’re still unsure, ask politely and respectfully, without making a big deal about it. Sharing your own pronouns is a great way to bring up the topic—for example, “Hi, I’m Rebecca and I use she/her/hers as my pronouns. How about you?” If you accidentally use the wrong pronouns, apologize and move on. Making a big deal out of a pronoun mistake may be awkward and often draws unwanted attention to the transgender person.

National Center for Transgender Equality

https://transequality.org/issues/resources/supporting-the-transgender-people-in-your-life-a-guide-to-being-a-good-ally

Can’t Cancel Pride 2022

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 14, 2022

Can't Cancel Pride 2022

iHeartRadio and P&G’s Can’t Cancel Pride 2022 – Proud AND Together. A fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ community celebrating visibility and inclusivity for all.

P&G and iHeartMedia join forces again for the return of Can’t Cancel Pride 2022 – Proud AND Together, the third annual fundraising event bringing together the most influential voices in the LGBTQ+ community as well as the biggest names in culture and entertainment. The event is hosted by JoJo Siwa and will focus on the challenges and celebrations of “The Year in Pride,” showcasing twelve months of community and activism and the issues that continue to impact the LGBTQ+ community in 2022, as well as intersectional messages of spirit and strength.

Tune in today for performances by Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Anitta Dove Cameron, Kim Petras, Betty Who, and more

LGBTQ+ Birthing & Affirming Doula Conversations

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 8, 2022

Join us at the Loop on Sunday, June 12 from 6-7PM for an affirming, non-gendered conversation about birthing and doula services free from binary language. This event is geared toward the unique pregnancy experiences of LGBTQ+ birthing people, and will be led by Rae Johnson-Bundy & Madhumitha Rajakittu Pudupatti.

Masks are required for the in-person event. Can’t join in person? Feel free to attend our digital simulcast!

Rae Johnson-Bundy, certified Doula Trainer and Mentor, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, Evidenced Based Birth Instructor and a Certified Birth Doula (CD) DONA at Doula Right Thing. As a Birth and Postpartum Doula Trainer for National Black Doula Associates (NBDA), Black Childbirth Educator and Doula she supports and brings awareness to the much needed maternal health care People of Color are facing today.

Madhumitha Rajakittu Pudupatti, National Black Doula Associates (NBDA), Certified Birth Doula at Guiding Hand Doula. As a Woman of Color, immigrant navigating in a different culture, birth professional, and mother herself, she has experienced and witnessed situations not completely respectful to the birthing person. She strives to support birthing people from the experience of a Person of Color, and through her program strives to reach Communities of Color, bring awareness to Maternal Health, and represent POC during pregnancy and bring in the respect they deserve for their values, beliefs, and choices.

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition Unveils The Loop

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 7, 2022

The Loop, Central Pennsylvania's first nonprofit hub

On June 5th, 2022 Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition launched The Loop: Central Pennsylvania’s first nonprofit community hub. Along with the Coalition’s LGBTQ+ center, this space will house multiple other nonprofit agencies led by or serving BIPOC communities including:

  • Patients R Waiting
  • Common Wheel
  • NAACP 
  • Raiz 
  • Latino Empowerment Project
  • Union Community Care
    • Our 1-3 year plan includes a free health clinic focused on LGBTQ+ proficiency, spearheaded by Lancaster LGBTQ+ Health Consortium. 

This space will represent a true powerhouse of individuals and leading nonprofits working with vulnerable populations coalescing to create meaningful progress towards an equitable Lancaster County.

The Loop will represent a fully affirming location where all intersections of our community will be served among the growing services of the Coalition. This will include youth programming, a transgender and nonbinary support group, library and community connection space, case management services, legal support, educational opportunities, and a low-cost health clinic. 

HEART (Homelessness Emergency Assistance Response Team)

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition’s HEART Program is a subsidized communal housing model that provides a supporting home, resources, case management, and skills training so that vulnerable LGBTQ+ community members can truly thrive.

A primary focus and cornerstone of services is HEART’s SEED (Social Emotional Enrichment Development) Program, ensuring that individuals experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless can receive culturally competent case management and referral services. This program was developed to serve the residents of our HEART Program. 

Queer Health Advocacy Alliance

We will be working along with Dr. Lake from Comprehensive Health, Penn Medicine and Dr. Sharee Livingston, representing UPMC & Patients R Waiting to identify and connect LGBTQ+ proficient healthcare providers, while conducting and influencing research for Central Pennsylvania and all intersections of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Even more important as we know: 

  • In 2019, 56% of LGBTQ+ individuals reported facing discrimination in healthcare settings
  • In 2020 this number increased to 61%

Stage Q

Among our many enrichment and educational offerings, The Loop presents Stage Q; a welcoming space for emerging artists to share their talents. 

We are grateful for the opportunity to make this dream a reality with your support. This kind of collective effort from established entities and community stakeholders emboldens our mission toward true equity in action. This is a monumental step towards creating a Lancaster County where we all live full, courageous, and authentic lives. Thank you for your help in making history! 

A Brief History of PRIDE

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 3, 2022

Stonewall Inn (Source: Diana Davies/ New York Public Library)

The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

[…]

Armed with a warrant, police officers entered the club [Stonewall Inn], roughed up patrons, and, finding bootlegged alcohol, arrested 13 people, including employees and people violating the state’s gender-appropriate clothing statute (female officers would take suspected cross-dressing patrons into the bathroom to check their sex).

History.com – Stonewall Riots
Christopher Street Liberation Day (Source: Leonard Fink)

On the one-year anniversary of the riots on June 28, 1970, thousands of people marched in the streets of Manhattan from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park in what was then called “Christopher Street Liberation Day,” America’s first gay pride parade. The parade’s official chant was: “Say it loud, gay is proud.”

History.com – Stonewall Riots

Learn more: https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/the-stonewall-riots


Marsha P. Johnson (Source: Ron Johnson/Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture)

Marsha P. Johnson, a self-identified drag queen and a prominent gay liberation activist, is one of the most well-known participants in the Stonewall uprising. After Stonewall, her activism continued—she joined the Gay Liberation Front, ACT UP, and cofounded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Sylvia Rivera. (Johnson also referred to herself as a “transvestite,” and never used “transgender” to describe her gender identity, since the term was popularized after her death in 1992.)

Smithsonian Institute – Marsha Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and the history of Pride Month
Sylvia Rivera with Christina Hayworth and Julia Murray (Source: Luis Carle/National Portrait Gallery)

Rivera was also involved in Stonewall, and the experience led her to campaign with the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) for a city nondiscrimination law. But Rivera, who was a transgender woman and Latina, faced discrimination from established gay rights organizations like the GAA that were predominantly led by white men. The GAA’s leadership often rejected the role transgender people—many of them people of color—played in Stonewall.

Smithsonian Institute – Marsha Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and the history of Pride Month

Learn more: https://www.si.edu/stories/marsha-johnson-sylvia-rivera-and-history-pride-month


Participate in the Global Pride Study!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

May 30, 2022

Participate in the Global Pride Study today!

The University of Washington’s Goldsen Institute is seeking LGBTQ+ individuals age 18+ to participate in their Global Pride Study, Global Health, Sexuality and Gender: Longevity Across Generations!

This project is a collaboration of more than 40 scholars from across the globe and is designed to address health and well-being holistically in adult sexual and gender minority populations and to develop the knowledge base needed to guide future international research, practice, and policies for promoting health equity for these communities and populations around the globe.

10 randomly selected individuals who complete the survey and a participation form to enter the drawing will be awarded a gift box of United States Pacific Northwest favorites.

For more information, the study facilitators can be reached at: GlobalPride@uw.edu.

Pride Month 2022 Events

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

May 27, 2022

Pride Month is here, and now that events are back to being in person – we are excited to celebrate with you!

June 1st 12PM: Flag Raising Ceremony
Lancaster Pride will be at the Lancaster City Visitor Center for the flag raising.
Lancaster City Visitor Center – 38 Penn Square, Lancaster, PA 17603

June 1st 5PM – 9PM: Pride Beer Release Party
Lancaster Pride is releasing Pride Parade, a Raspberry Petite IPA
Our Town Brewery – 252 North Prince Street, Lancaster, PA

June 3rd, 4th, and 5th: PRIDE Pop Up Art Gallery

Pop of Color Art is hosting a Pride themed art gallery that showcases work by local artists and makers. All works of art are available to purchase, and a special piece of art by Jeff Sibbert called “brave. loved. valid.” will be available for auction, with all proceeds from the auction donated to the Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition. The gallery will be open from 10am-7pm on Friday/Saturday, and 10am-5pm on Sunday.

Pop of Color Art – 50 N Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603

June 4th 6:30PMPride Night @ Lancaster Barnstormers
Lancaster Pride is hosting a night of baseball and drag
Clipper Magazine Stadium – 650 North Prince Street Lancaster, PA 17603

June 5th 4PM – 9PM: Ribbon Cutting & Tea Dance Ceremony
Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition is opening The Loop – a new community space and nonprofit seedbed where every intersection can feel safe and celebrated.
The Loop – 117 E Chestnut Street Lancaster PA

June 11th 12PM – 1PM: Pride Pet Parade
Lancaster Pride invites you to bring your pet to a walk in the park – pride swag is encouraged
Buchanan Park – 901 Buchanan Avenue Lancaster, PA 17603

June 15th 6PM – 8PMLancaster Pride and Keystone Business Alliance Networking Mixer
Lancaster Pride and the Keystone Business Alliance are hosting a Pride Month event
Burley Bar (Thistle Finch) – 417 W Grant Street, Lancaster PA

June 18th 12PM – 6PMLancaster Pride 
Lancaster Pride is hosting in-person events, talented musicians, extraordinary drag performers, and dozens of vendors.
Clipper Magazine Stadium – 650 North Prince Street Lancaster, PA 17603

June 19th 12PM – 8PM: Lititz PRIDE Festival
Join Lititz Chooses Love for a family celebration of PRIDE & JUNETEENTH!
Lititz Springs Park – 18 N Broad St, Lititz, PA

June 24th 6PM: Studio 43 (70’s Pride Night)

Escape. On Queen is hosting a family friendly pride event as part of Celebrate Lancaster. There will be fun, music, and more!

Escape. On Queen – 47 N Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603


June 24th 7PM: Slow Ride Pride Ride
Trek Bicycle Lancaster is hosting their monthly slow ride with a PRIDE theme, in support of our community and Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition.
Buchanan Park – 901 Buchanan Avenue Lancaster, PA 17603

June 25th 12PM – 1PMPride Pool Party
LGBTQ+ affirming pool party for all ages hosted by Lancaster Pride and the Lancaster Recreation Commission
Conestoga Pines Pool – 3200 Arthur E Morris Pkwy, Lancaster, PA 17601