Former Disney star Alyson Stoner has opened up about her “dangerous” experience with conversion therapy.
The actor, known for her roles in Camp Rock and Cheaper by the Dozen, recalled how she admitted herself to an “outpatient variation” of the pseudo-scientific practise when she was younger.
Speaking during a Facebook Live session with Insider, Stoner described how her religious background, faith, “internalised homophobia” and her sexuality warred with each other during that period of her life.
She said she felt “stuck”, “wretched” and “like everything was wrong” with her despite her desire to “be a devoted follower of God”.
“So to hear from people you trust, from people you respect, from people you might even aspire to become, that you at your core are ‘rotten’, ‘abominable’, that the devil has a target on your back because of your position in Hollywood… It just sends you into a spiral, at least for me, because I just wanted to do the right thing,” she said.
Alyson Stoner, who is pansexual, first came out in 2018 in an emotional essay for Teen Vogue, explaining that she is “attracted to men, women and people who identify in other ways”.
She said that she can “love people of every gender identity and expression”.
“It is the soul that captivates me,” Stoner added at the time, admitting at the time that she had spent “years” in therapy “trying to identify the source” of her attraction.
Stoner told Insider she came to realise that the pastors involved in her conversion therapy experience developed their views on the LGBT+ community and queer people from a very specific “environment and time period”.
Discussing her experience with conversion therapy is “legitimately difficult” even now, she said, describing how her legs “started shaking” at the thought of “reliving some of it”.
“My mind doesn’t want to go there,” she added.
The “dangers” of conversion therapy “are measurable”, Stoner added – but she doesn’t yet feel capable of “going back and recounting specifics” of her experience because that’s just “how difficult that chapter was for me”.
“Even if someone comes out of it on the other side and says ‘Hey, no, I’m living a great life’, there are still scars there,” Alyson Stoner said. “There are shadows.”