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“I was introduced to my future husband by email, met him for the first time on Skype and married him two months later,” says Divya.
Divya got married two years ago to a match arranged by her father’s friend. According to her even though an arranged marriage doesn’t sound like the most romantic thing in the world, it’s the best decision she has made in her life.
When Pete Price was 12, he realised he was homosexual. But in 1960s Britain, gay sex was a crime. Pete agreed to have ‘aversion therapy’.
“You thought you were the only person in the world with this ‘problem’. Because people made it a problem. I wanted to be cured.” He ended up in a clinic for treatment with vomiting, sleep deprivation and electric shocks.
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Pete is now in his mid-60s and a well-known late-night radio personality in his hometown Liverpool, England. “I’m outgoing, full of life, very flamboyant. I certainly don’t take any garbage off anybody and I do speak my mind,” he says.
“The doctor laughed in my face,” Pete says. “He didn’t know what I was talking about or how to handle it.”
Pete even tried to take his life by taking children’s aspirin, but it did no more than give him a headache.
When he was 19, Pete’s mother found a love letter addressed to him from another man. So he admitted to her he was gay. She had a breakdown.
“We had to call an ambulance. She told me to get out of the house. When the ambulance arrived, she said, ‘I’m sorry about this. I didn’t mean it for you to get out of the house. Just let me get used to it.’”
But she never got used to it. “She cried herself to sleep every night for at least three years.”
So they went back to the doctor and this time he told them there was a cure – aversion therapy. For his mother’s sake, Pete agreed to try it.
After registering at a psychiatric hospital under a false name, he found himself in a small windowless room, with a male nurse, and crates of beer – it was Guinness. A male nurse told him to start drinking.
Electric shock treatment
“After an hour I got injected, which made me violently ill from both ends. And there I was lying in my own excrement and puke. And it went on for 72 hours with no rest. I wasn’t allowed to sleep. I just wanted to die. And all that was going on my mind was, ‘I’m never going to get out of here alive.’”
The nurse told him that the treatment was to continue for another day. And then the electric shock treatment would start. They would put electrodes on his penis and show him erotic pictures of men. If he got an erection, he would get an electric shock.
“I got so distressed. I said: ‘Let me have a shower’. I remember in the shower just scraping it off and feeling dirty and filthy. I wanted to wash everything out of me. I never felt so ill in my life.”
Pete decided he had to make a run for it. “I rang a friend of mine to come and pick me. And I got out. I was totally and utterly distraught and wept uncontrollably. ”
“I was doing it for my mom because I love her so much, I owed her so much. I was adopted and I was grateful to her for giving me a chance in life. She never forgave me for not finishing the treatment. I never told her what they did to me. I think that if I had, she would have committed suicide after putting me through this torture because she loved me so much.”
The so-called therapy has left him with permanent mental scars, Pete says. “I made myself get over it because I wouldn’t let it win. But in the back of my mind – no. I still have nightmares about it.”
But he does take something positive from his horrific experience as a teenager. It’s helped him empathise with other people, he says. And through his radio show Pete has helped many young people, their friends and families come to terms with homosexuality.
'Curing' homosexuality, fact or myth? What do you think?
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