Columbia man describes trauma after father tried to break him of being gay

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COLUMBIA – Dayan Reynolds said he didn’t know his dad had a mission to convince people they aren't gay, until coming out as a teenager. That’s when, he said, the emotional abuse began.

“Over those two years, the tactics that he used on me, the kinds of breaking down your mental processes, breaking down my confidence, my understanding of myself, my self-trust,” Reynolds said.

He said his father told him he was a "biological disease."

“He got me to the point where I felt alone, I felt isolated, I felt like no one wanted me, no one accepted me for who I was, what I was," Reynolds said. 

Missouri House Bill 516 would prohibit such conversion therapy with minors. On Monday, the Columbia City Council unanimously voted to support the bill. Reynolds was at the meeting.

“I wanted to say something and share my case,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he went through two years of the therapy, what he calls "the breakdown."

“Tear me down to the point where I was nothing but a shell,” he said.

When his father realized he couldn’t be fixed, Reynolds said, he made sure Reynolds didn’t come out to others. 

“He even said at one point was that, like, I wasn’t able to come out because, if I did, I would hurt his business being a case where he wasn’t able to fix me,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said he was able to go to college after those two years with help from loans, grants and a supportive mom. In that way, he said, he was lucky, because after the breaking down stage comes the rebuilding.

He said others from his church would’ve had to go through the rebuilding stage where they are taught that they are straight.

Although he left early, some damage was done.

“I developed a mental disorder, coming out of those two years,” Reynolds said.

He was later diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and he blames it on the traumatic experience.

Some still think conversion therapy works. David Pickup is a conversion therapist and one of the leaders of the National Task Force for Therapy Equality. He didn’t want to talk to KOMU 8 News but did email a document urging people to oppose therapy ban bills in their state.

The document he sent is 33 pages. It argues sexual orientation can change and that conversion therapy is beneficial.

Reynolds said the people who are still practicing such therapy aren’t going to accept the scientific data showing it doesn't work.

Reynold’s dad, along with some other conversion therapists, has gone underground.

“He practices on the side with the church,” Reynolds said.