Coming out at a young age as bisexual to two Southern Baptist Missionary parents was extremely difficult for Sam Brinton. After coming out, Sam was subjected to physical and emotional abuse and ultimately, Sam’s parents sent Sam to so-called “conversion therapy,” the long-debunked practice of seeking to change someone’s sexual orientation. For more than two years, Sam endured physical and emotional torture. Since then though, Sam has healed some wounds. Sam is now proudly bisexual and identifies as gender-fluid. While many people know from a very young age that they are either a boy or a girl, that is not true for everyone. Some people, including Sam, know they don’t fit into being a man or a woman exclusively and use a term like gender-fluid to describe their gender. Sam, who uses “they” and “them” pronouns, serves as the head of advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, where they’re actively working to outlaw the dangerous practice of conversion therapy nationwide.
“We constantly hear from survivors of conversion therapy who have been so hurt that they are contemplating suicide. So we know the severity of the problem,” Sam said. “I vividly remember calling the Trevor Project a decade ago as a young college student who was just realizing that the trauma of conversion therapy had devastated my ability to cope with the myriad challenges LGBTQ youth must survive on a daily basis. I now hear similar stories of calls just like mine. We must pass legislation to stop licensed therapists who seek to harm LGBTQ youth with conversion therapy. Everyone should know that you can’t change what you never chose.”