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Conversion therapy survivor support group gets off the ground

Last Updated on July 12, 2021 by YGK News Staff

A survivor of and advocate against conversion therapy has started an initiative to fill the void in services for other survivors.

Ben Rodgers has been outspoken in support of Bill C-6 banning conversion therapy, which currently faces some pushback in the Senate.

Rodgers has recently started “C.T Services Connect”, a support group and services development program to connect survivors of conversion therapy and sexual identity/orientation change practices. He says when he began coming forward with his personal conversion therapy story, he noticed a huge disconnect in terms of getting help.

“When I started advocating I realized that basically across Canada there are no support systems for survivors or people that are going through any form of conversion therapy,” said Rodgers. Which kind of makes the fact that people don’t know what it is and that people don’t know much about it make sense, but that’s a very unfortunate fact.”

Recently he has received funding through the Awesome Foundation for the support group. The Awesome Foundation is a global community that gives out a number of micro-grants to help advance ideas with a no-strings-attached payment of $1000.

Rodgers became introduced to the Awesome Foundation through working with the City of Kingston on a bylaw banning conversion therapy. He became involved in that process after addressing Kingston City Council’s motion to support Bill C-6, pushing for stronger action against the controversial practice.

He says that it was incredibly difficult to face a former member of the Church in Mayor Paterson, who he adds has never formally apologized for his involvement in the church. However, seeing the enthusiasm put forward by the council inspired him to dive deeper into fighting the issue.

Rodgers’ first pitch towards the Awesome Foundation was initially declined. He says he thought the pitch did go well, but he was still in the process of getting some things figured out and questions that he was asked about it helped him to fill in the blanks in order to be successful on his second try.

After receiving the $1000 in funding, Rodgers has been working feverishly to get the support group off the ground. He has put the funding towards a Zoom account, a website domain, and logo among other costs, and his aim is to eventually have a social worker in house.

He is not qualified to provide counseling, but is hopeful to offer such services as the project grows. He also feels that while working in the HIV sector for a little over five years, he has developed a skillset that pertains to facilitating support groups.

“I want to make sure that people are aware that as a facilitator I am not licensed in any way and I will not provide counselling or any type of services in that manner. I am here to provide facilitation for a support group where people can connect to develop communication and community,” said Rodgers. “As it progresses, then I want to have a social worker type stuff, and I want to actually make this a proper organization that in my mind, will be broadly connected in Canada.”

To help this group continue to grow, Rodgers is trying to work with a number of organizations in the LGBTQ community and has also set up a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $14,000.

A Facebook group has been set up for C.T Survivors Connect, and the group’s first virtual meeting will take place in August.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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