[Guest Post] Conversion Therapy Has Rebranded and It’s Just as Dangerous by Violet Grey

I’m delighted to be welcoming the lovely and talented Violet Grey (she/her) back to Coffee & Kink with another guest post. This one is really important and also really challenging.

If you’re a straight, cis person, please take the time to read and absorb this one. If you’re queer and/or a conversion therapy survivor, please take care of yourself if you decide to engage with this <3

Amy x

Conversion Therapy Has Rebranded and It’s Just as Dangerous

TW for conversion therapy, spiritual abuse, trauma and suicide

If you’ve seen the news recently, you’ll know banning conversion therapy is back in discussion. Despite promises by the UK government to ban it back in 2018, conversion therapy is sadly still legal, with no swift action being taken to criminalise the practice. In its lengthy history and the outpouring of horrific survivor accounts, it has undergone a rebranding in recent years, but it is just as dangerous as ever. 

Being a bi person of faith (Christianity and Quaker teachings) I know not all Christians support conversion therapy. In fact, most I know are vehemently against it. However, it is a large, systemic problem in the church that needs confronting. 

What is Conversion Therapy?

Conversion therapy (sometimes known as Cure or Reparative Therapy) is a pseudoscientific practice of “repairing” or “curing” an LGBTQ+ person (usually teenagers and young adults) to change their sexual orientation to heterosexual, or gender identity to cisgender. 

It is usually undertaken by religious communities (in this case, I’m talking about Christianity), but is also known to be done by a select few medical professionals. It stems from the belief that being anything other than heterosexual and cisgender is wrong, and therefore should be treated. 

Such “treatments” to “cure” or “repair” someone of their homosexuality, bisexuality (often referred to as SSA or “Same Sex Attraction” in these circles,) or trans identity have included, but not been limited to: 

  • Biblical “counselling“: a mixture of psychotherapy-style sessions with spiritual advice. It is not uncommon for the counsellors to have no qualifications in counselling and people will be asked to sign a waiver acknowledging this. 
  • Praying and scripture study: Also known as “pray the gay away,” or praying for God to help the person with their “struggle” of Same Sex Attraction, again often reinforcing self-loathing. 
  • Physical torture, including starvation and beating
  • Exorcism
  • Electroshock Therapy 
  • Forced sterilisation and surgeries 
  • Chemical castration: The use of anaphrodisiac drugs to reduce a person’s libido or sexual activity. While it can be used to treat certain cancers, this has been used on LGBTQ+ people to “reduce homosexual urges.”

The medical community has denounced conversion therapy as a dangerous pseudoscience (with incredibly high failure rates) that contributes to PTSD, depression, anxiety, and even suicide in those who undergo it. There are countless studies with findings all pointing to the same conclusion: conversion therapy doesn’t work, and you can’t “make” someone straight any more than you can “make” someone gay.

Being LGBTQ+ it is not a choice, it doesn’t disrupt the family dynamic, and it is not caused by childhood trauma. We just are who we are. 

Rebranding: Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

Rebranding of conversion therapy has been happening in the last fifteen years or so, primarily since the legalisation of same-sex marriage across many parts of the world. Since then, in my experience with homophobic views, they have shifted from “being gay is a choice” to “God may have made you gay. It’s just the act of homosexuality that’s a sin” in order to come across as more accepting. 

This is just as bad. One: love (and sex) is not a sin. Two: it gaslights the person through spiritual abuse. Three: it leaves already vulnerable LGBTQ+ people with two choices: 

  • A lifetime of celibacy. So no masturbation, no same-sex relationship, no sex, no nothing. 
  • A heterosexual marriage with someone we might not even love. 

Either way the options are clear: a lifetime of misery, or a lifetime of misery. But hey, God loves you, right? 

Biblical “counselling” and prayer is being championed in the wake of this so-called progressive view, to “help” people who want this so-called help. However, this toxic doctrine has been internalised in not LGBTQ+ people, but the very people claiming to help them. 

These views usually echo in the various groups: 

  • Folks who like to Bible thump and control
  • Christians who still believe sexuality is a choice
  • Well-meaning Christians

Now, “well-meaning Christian” interlinked with homophobia does sound like an oxymoron, and it is. However, with such messages being preached from the pulpit or in a mistranslated Bible verse (there are 450 English translations of the Bible!) these views will either be all you know, or even be considered a liberal take – especially if you come from a conservative background.

Their view, from my experience, does not come from malice (though I don’t justify it at all.) They genuinely feel they are doing the right thing. They think they are helping, but conversion therapy doesn’t help and in fact, can and does still cause significant harm.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

For the well-meaning folks, who believe in “hating the sin and not the sinner,” I just want to say this: I’m not trying to attack you or limit your faith. But from a fellow Christian, and a queer one at that, this take is still hurting people and we need to acknowledge this. Then we can enact truly positive change.

Sadly, this doctrine of “tolerance but not really” further reinforces self-hatred in the name of love. It reinforces distress that shouldn’t be there in the first place, and is not justifiable with any of Jesus’ teachings. 

We are called to love our neighbour and consider the fruit we bear, but if the fruit we produce leads to trauma, self-loathing and even suicide, we can’t dig our heels in with, “But the Bible says…”. There is no Biblical justification for the torture we as a community have, and continue to, put LGBTQ+ people through.  Who are we as Christians to tear two adults in love away from each other and condemn them to a life of misery?

Breaking Up with Toxic Doctrine

The truth of the matter is that Leviticus, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah were about sexual violence and abuse of power. 

We are using the Bible as a weapon when it was never meant to be. The Bible is a rich, historical document full of context to be learned, as well as a religious text. Literalism is killing people and if we want to try to be more Christ-like, we need to focus on what Christ was about: love. 

Now, there is a shift towards churches becoming LGBTQ+ affirming and progressives, both clergy and parishioner, are leading the way through thorough research of doctrine. However, it goes without saying that there is backlash against this. So while we are making positive baby steps, we’ve still got a long way to go. 

Violet Grey describes herself as “your 20-something lady who loves to write. I write erotic fiction, along with real-life sex stories, thoughts on sexuality, kink, BDSM, and generally whatever else is on my mind.” Check out her blog and give her a follow on Twitter!

Oh, and if you enjoyed this post? Tips and shopping with my affiliates help me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

Pride Month Guest Post: Bi the Way… by Violet Grey

Happy Pride Month! I decided to put out a call for pitches for this month to showcase just some of the amazing, brilliant, and diverse voices that exist within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Today’s post comes from C&K guest blogging regular, the supremely talented Violet Grey.

Amy x

Bi the Way…

Hi, I’m Vi. I’m also bi. 

Yes, I’m bisexual. For me, that means I am attracted to both cisgender and transgender men and women. Some think that, as a bi person, I should mouth shut about LGBTQ+ rights and that I don’t belong at Pride or in other LGBTQ+ spaces. I’m here to tell you that is complete and utter horseshit

First let’s get some stereotypes out of the way:

  • Yes, bisexuals do exist. Surprise! *jazz hands*
  • No, our sexuality does not mean we are more likely to cheat on you. Never have, never will. Sexual orientation and infidelity are not linked. 
  • No, we don’t all have threesomes. Some of us do, but not all of us. Again, sexual acts and sexual orientation are not the same thing. There are plenty of straight, gay, pansexual, etc. people who have threesomes, and plenty of bi people who don’t.
  • The only things I’m greedy or selfish for are cuddles and chocolate.
  • Bisexuals don’t have to “pick a side.” We like more than just one gender. Get over it. 
  • Bi doesn’t mean having multiple relationships at one time. That’s polyamory. They are two very different things. 
  • We’re not just straight girls experimenting or gay men just biding their time to come out. We are bisexual. 
  • And sadly no, we don’t all cuff our jeans. As much as I love a good pair of cuffed jeans, they don’t love me. I do have a thing for leather jackets though…

Anyways, now we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to move on to a subject that is very personal for me: erasure. Among the fellow bisexuals in my friendship groups and family, I don’t know a single person who hasn’t experienced some kind of erasure or negativity, usually in the form of the harmful stereotypes listed above.

What I’ve found particularly jarring is when bisexuals experience negativity from not just certain bigoted straight people, but fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite us being right there in the name (what did you think the B stood for!?) we are often told we don’t belong in LGBTQ+ spaces or at Pride.

Having recently come out, seeing that marginalisation – within a community that prides itself on campaigning for the safety and rights of those marginalised for their sexuality or gender identity – is incredibly saddening. As a result , it’s not uncommon for bisexuals to feel like we don’t belong in either community. We’re told we a re “too queer” by people who are straight, but “not queer enough” by fellow queer people.

I am a feminine bisexual woman in a monogamous relationship with a straight man, and have been for almost five years now. Even in that dynamic, prejudice can rear its ugly head from those on the outside. A bisexual woman with a lean towards men, like me, is not seem as really bisexual (insert “not queer enough” prejudice here). 

People assume I’m just saying I’m bi so men will fetishize me, while having the privilege to “blend in.” Sometimes, this comes in the form of a backhanded compliment, such as: “Well, you’ve made the right choice if you want to have a baby.” Yes, people say that, and no, it’s not a compliment.

It may have taken me 24 years to accept that I’m bi and that there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve always known my sexuality was more fluid than my exclusively heterosexual peers. It’s ok to like one gender more than others, and doesn’t make you any less bisexual.

Let’s take a moment to discuss “blending in.” I won’t deny the privilege I do undeniably have. Both my partner and I are white and live in the UK. That in itself affords us a lot of privilege. However, anti-LGBTQ sentiments are still alive and well here in the UK. So what looks like “blending in” and benefiting from assumed heterosexual privilege to you, looks like having to stay closeted to me (which around certain people I am.) And believe me, being in the closet for the very real fear of negative reactions is no privilege. 

While I’ve been lucky to not experience as much of this as others, biphobia is a big issue that definitely needs tackling. So, here are a few things to help if you’re unsure and/or want to support a bisexual friend or family member: 

Believe Them

I can’t stress this enough. We bisexuals get enough of being erased or fetishized by society as it is. The last people we need it from is from those close to us. You may not understand everything about bisexuality, or any of it for that matter, but it’s important to keep an open mind and give your nearest and dearest a place where they can be safe. 

Don’t tell them that it’s “just a phase,” even if they’re not sure exactly where on the sexuality spectrum they fit. If someone is questioning or unsure of their sexuality, they are already feeling pretty vulnerable. So instead of dismissing their feelings, say something like, “It’s ok, you’ll figure it out. It changes nothing between you and me.” Let them know they are safe and loved. 

If You’re Unsure, Ask!

No one is expecting you to know everything. What we ask is for you not to be a jerk about it. Many of us have stereotypes about certain people reinforced by our surroundings or upbringings. That can take some time to get your head around and unlearn. But again, don’t be a dick. 

Someone is trusting you with personal information about themselves. Even for people like myself, who knew my immediate family would be accepting, I was still absolutely terrified. So it’s important to listen and learn. If you’re unsure about what bisexual means, ask. Let them know it doesn’t come from judgement, but wanting to learn so know how better to support them. 

Support Them

Homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic behaviour is bullying. So please don’t be a bystander. Support your loved one. Support and uplift bisexual and other LGBTQ+ voices. Don’t stand in silence. 

Be there for them if they need to talk to someone. Perhaps they’re having a bad day or they got bother from that homophobic auntie at the family reunion. When queer people come out, it’s important to know we’ve got support around us. Just that one person can make all the difference. 

Keep It Discreet

If your loved one have come out to you but not to anyone else yet, please don’t betray confidence. It is up to them to tell the people they wish to, based on their own comfort level and safety.

They have trusted you with this information, so be the good person and keep that discretion. Never out someone. Again, this is for their safety, because let’s face it: we don’t always know how someone will react. Keep it quiet until they decide, if they do, to come out to others around them. 

Love is love. Make sure your loved ones know that you are there for them.

Violet Grey describes herself as “your 20-something lady who loves to write. I write erotic fiction, along with real-life sex stories, thoughts on sexuality, kink, BDSM, and generally whatever else is on my mind.” Check out her blog and give her a follow on Twitter!

Oh, and if you enjoyed this post, tips help me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

Is This What They Meant by “Gay Sex Toys?” A Rainbow Round-Up for Pride

It makes me cringe when I see toys advertised as “gay sex toys” or “lesbian sex toys”. Toys do not have a sexual orientation or a gender! However, today I want to talk about a different type of queer toys – that is, those adorned in rainbows and pride flags and ridiculously bright colours!

An abstract of rainbow coloured smoke.Look, I acknowledge the problems with the way Pride celebrations have gone in recent years. I am, for the most part, firmly in the “Pride is a protest” camp. However, as a queer person living in a queerphobic world, I feel that it is my right to take joy and fun where I can get it – and one of the places I get it is through outrageous, brightly coloured, flagrantly queer-coded sex toys.

Therefore, for your reading and shopping pleasure, here is a round-up of some of my favourite “gay sex toys” currently on the market.

My left hand - 3 nails have purple sparkly polish and the ring finger has a blue sky and Rainbow design like on the Positive Vibes toy.Good (Rainbow) Vibes

I recently reviewed Lovehoney’s Positive Vibes line, one of which features a super cute rainbows-against-a-blue-sky design. There was even a mega-fun launch event during which I got my nails (pictured) done to match! These affordable as fuck vibrators are surprisingly strong and rumbly for the price point, especially considering they’re battery-operated.

Other good, affordable options for a fun and colourful vibrator are Rocks Off’s kaleidoscopic rainbow bullet, and this little cutie from Tokidoki.

Fuck the Rainbow

A rainbow dildo standing next to a glass full of coloured pencils.Rainbow insertables come in all different shapes, sizes and price-points, so there’s bound to be something to suit you whatever you’re looking for.

A good, affordable starter dildo is the Avant Pride P1 (pictured) which I reviewed yesterday. This also comes in trans pride and lesbian pride colourways, which is awesome. There’s also the always-popular Colour Pleasures Pride Edition, BS’s various rainbow dildos, and Lovehoney have a lovely wavy six-inch rainbow dildo.

Size queens of any gender should check out the Rivetor from Split Peaches, and serious texture fans will adore the Screw You from the same company.

Fancy yourself as part unicorn? You can now have sex with a rainbow unicorn horn.

Butt-ing In…

Anal toys are perhaps the most frequently coded as “gay sex toys”, which is clearly nonsense. Anyone can enjoy anal pleasure if they want to – it’s not an activity reserved for gay men! (And, straight dudes, listen up: liking having your ass played with means literally fuck all about your sexuality or masculinity).

However, despite this silly stereotype, there are a great number of brightly coloured anal toys that any of us can enjoy. BS have the rainbow BoBo, or the pink or blue Bingo which has a rainbow base. Avant’s Pride range has butt plugs in genderqueer, genderfluid and leather pride colours. Seriously! And if you’re into a bit of sparkle, Luxe have this lovely set of three plugs with colourful crystal bases.

A black butt plug with a fluffy rainbow tail.Hot on Your Tail

Want to be a queer-as-fuck pony, kitten, puppy or unicorn? You’re in luck, because this gorgeous BRIGHT fluffy tail (pictured) exists! And for a seriously luxurious treat, Crystal Delights do a beautiful multicoloured tail on a glass butt plug.

Not so much bi-furious as bi-annoyed-but-resigned

Are you surprised it was hard as fuck to find ANYTHING with the bi pride flag colours on it? No, me neither. It’s so fucking predictable I barely have the energy or fucks to be ragey about it. That’s why I’m bidding on the bi pride dildo from Godemiche in their pride month auction (well, that and the fact that it’s for a brilliant cause!)

Thankfully, the Official Bisexual Colour is purple (because, apparently, gayness is pink and straightness is blue and we’re a mix? I don’t fucking know, but it’s a good colour). And there are a LOT of purple sex toys out there. That’s why I hereby declare that all purple sex toys will now henceforth be coded as Bisexual Sex Toys.

Companies: rainbows are great, but get it together and make bi themed toys, please! In the meantime, it’s lucky the love of my life comes in purple really, isn’t it?

Happy Pride!

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