Mathew Shurka shares gay conversion therapy experience with News 12 Long Island amid new state Assembly bill

Surka says five years of undergoing the therapy has left him emotionally scarred. (6/11/14)

GREAT NECK - A new effort is being made by New York State to ban a therapy that claims to "cure" homosexuality.

One man spoke with News 12 Long Island about how five years of undergoing the therapy has left him emotionally scarred. Great Neck North High School graduate Mathew Shurka says he first told his father he was gay at age 16.

Shurka says his father came across a conversion therapist who told him he was simply suffering from a psychological condition that could be cured. He was told to hang out with straight peers, watch heterosexual pornography, and stay away from women, including his mother, to avoid picking up feminine traits.

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Shurka says his grades dropped significantly, and by junior year he was almost failing out of high school.  He says he also withdrew from his friends, and contemplated suicide.

Lawmakers in the Assembly are now considering a bill that would ban conversion therapy in the state. Opponents of the bill say it may infringe upon free speech, but Shurka says it could potentially save lives.

The 26-year-old says he now embraces his homosexuality, something he wishes he would have done all those years ago. He says he has only recently been able to repair relationships with members of his family that he was estranged with during his conversion therapy.

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