In a world that’s becoming increasingly inclusive and accepting of diversity, there are still corners where intolerance and prejudice persist. One such dark corner is the practice of conversion therapy, a controversial attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In this compelling interview, we unravel the poignant and inspiring story of Andrew Hartzler, who not only survived conversion therapy but emerged as a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
A Childhood Shrouded in Conservatism
Andrew Hartzler’s journey began in a conservative Evangelical family, where the teachings and beliefs clashed with his own sense of identity. Raised in an environment that deemed his feelings as “impure,” Andrew struggled to reconcile his authentic self with the expectations imposed upon him.
The Desperate Path to “Cure”
As a result of his parents’ convictions, Andrew was subjected to conversion therapy – an ordeal that would test his resilience and mental fortitude. The experience of being coerced into suppressing his true self led him down a path of internal conflict and confusion.
The Secret Exorcism
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in Andrew’s story is the secret exorcism performed in his room. Driven by the belief that demonic influences were responsible for his sexual orientation, his parents and their friends embarked on an exorcism ritual in an attempt to “cure” him. This disturbing episode sheds light on the depths to which some families are willing to go in their efforts to change their LGBTQ+ children.
Emerging Stronger Through Activism
Instead of succumbing to the shadows of his past, Andrew Hartzler transformed his painful experiences into a source of strength and advocacy. Recognizing the need for change, he became a plaintiff in a lawsuit against religious exemptions that enable discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. His journey from victim to advocate showcases the remarkable power of turning adversity into action.
Fighting for Equality
The interview unveils the troubling reality that over 200 religious colleges and universities in the United States exploit religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students. Andrew’s story underscores the importance of addressing these loopholes in order to ensure equal rights and protection for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Andrew Hartzler’s story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. From surviving conversion therapy to becoming a vocal advocate for change, his journey reminds us that there is strength in embracing our authentic selves. His advocacy serves as a call to action, urging us all to work toward a world where acceptance, understanding, and equality prevail over prejudice and discrimination.