British newspaper The Times said that Jamaican author Marlon James suffered mightily in his 30s when he sought help from “ex-gay” conversion therapists in his native Jamaica.
In the interview, James said that he was tortured by the so-called counselors and ultimately fled the country to escape the torment he endured trying to change his sexual orientation from gay to straight.
The Booker Prize-winning novelist said that in his mid-30s he desperately wanted to not be gay. His pastors referred him to “ex-gay” counselors, who claimed they could change James’ orientation through a brutal regimen of aversion therapy, prayer, vomiting and ultimately an “exorcism” to drive out his “demons.”
In a talk at Britain’s Hay literary festival, James said, “I thought ‘Great, I am getting rid of demons’, until I read up on the whole ex-gay thing.”
The claim by Christian counselors that they can convert people’s orientation, the author said, is “dangerously misleading and I think has been discredited. It is a really primitive and backward way of curing people.”
Jamaica is known as one of the most dangerous places in the world for LGBT people. Sex between men in the island nation is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and assignment to labor camps.
James is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize for his book A Brief History of Seven Killings, which explores issues around being gay in Jamaica.