RuPaul's Drag Race star Monique Heart appeared on Hey Qween! With Johnny McGovern this week where she opened up about her experience with conversion therapy, and the difficult path to coming out that followed.
In the clip, McGovern asked Heart to go back in time with him to visit "little Monique on her way to church." Heart told the host that she was pretty much the same as she is now as a child, but that led to some issues as she was raised in a religious household. In 2008, Heart and her mother moved to Kansas City from Long Island, New York. There she joined a church ministry that asked her to share her testimony.
"I was like 'I struggle with homosexuality,' and they call it 'SSA,' Same Sex Attraction," Heart revealed. When they asked when she last "acted out," Heart laughed and said, "so I had just sucked this man's dick... I met him at TGI Friday's when I was working there!" Girl!!!
That encounter put her in the church's "Pure Heart" program, which was meant to "restore" her through the Bible. Even then, Heart knew that the core message of the program, why she was gay was nonsense. "The reason that I am gay is not because my father was not there and I had an overbearing mother," she said. Even back then she thought about her friend who was the only gay one out of five children, "well he's gay, so if it's a parenting issue, why ain't the rest of them homos?"
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning, Heart said, "then I went to the six month intensive" program. She was even selected as a leader in that group. "I did so well at praying the gay away!"
These programs would constitute conversion therapy, or a loose set of tools aimed at changing someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. They have been widely debunked and labeled as dangerous and ineffective but every major health organization. Methods used vary from praying the gay away to electroshock therapy.
But it was in the second program that Heart and a close friend started going to clubs together. Her friend had just been dumped, and after one prayer session, he asked if Heart wanted to go out to a club together. "Surely enough, for six months, we would pray with the homos, and then me and my friend would go to the gay clubs afterword!"
"It was amazing to me, it was freeing," she said, before adding, "I mean it was horrible, I mean coming out is not easy, but it was amazing to be in a room with other people who identified like you, and I had never had that experience, so it was just transformative in a way."
Heart was finally able to accept and love herself when she joined hair school a few years later. There she met a gay man who told her that he knows God loves him. "If He is who He says He is, then He has to love you no matter what," this friend told her, "you just have to go to Him as you are." It was this experience that led Heart to seeing herself in a new way. She said she realized that "I have to go accepting and loving all of this, not hiding it." Amen.