It’s been over three years since Alyson Stoner first opened up about her sexuality in a poignant essay for Teen Vogue, but the time she spent wrestling with her real self was fraught with pitfalls.

Stoner, who is pansexual, spoke to Insider this week about her new memoir, “Mind Body Pride.” She revealed that she briefly attended restorative therapy, or “gay conversion” sessions, in hopes of reconciling her sexuality with her religious faith.

“I felt like all was not right with me, even though deep in my heart I just wanted to be a devoted follower of God,” said the actor, whose credits include “Step Up.” and “Cheaper by the Dozen”, as well as Missy Elliott’s “Work It” video. “So hearing from people you trust, people you respect, people you might even aspire to be, that you are in your essence ‘rotten’, ‘abominable’, that the devil has a target on your mind. back because 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.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have discredited so-called conversion therapy, which attempts to end or reduce same-sex attraction or sexual activity.

"I am not yet able to go back and tell details, which is an indicator of how difficult this chapter is w

Presley Ann via Getty Images

“I’m not yet able to go back and go into details, which is an indicator of how difficult this chapter is for me,” Stoner said.

Stoner, who grew up in Ohio, did not disclose details of the conversion therapy sessions except to point out that it was an “outpatient” program. Still, she said she continues to feel the painful weight of the experience to this day.

“My mind doesn’t even want to go there,” she told Insider. “My legs started to shake at the thought of reliving part of it. … It breaks the body-mind connection because I see the body as something shameful, which should not be trusted. It ends up disrupting my ability to foster true relationships with others and myself, because now I am suppressing a voice. I’m trying to change something that is what I understand now in a very natural way.

“The dangers are measurable,” she added. “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. So yeah, I’m not yet able to go back and go into details, which shows how difficult this chapter has been for me.

Currently, 20 states in the United States have passed laws prohibiting licensed mental health professionals from performing conversion therapy on minors. The most recent state to pass such legislation was Virginia in 2020.

The controversial practice, however, continues to be promoted, often by members of conservative religious groups. In 2019, the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law released a report that found that 698,000 LGBTQ Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 had undergone conversion therapy at some point in their life. life.

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