Hidden camera captures lesbian being asked to pray for her desire for women to go away.
By Melanie Nathan, April 10, 2012,
Bachmann & Associates had no idea that they were the target of yet another undercover gay advocate visit, and this time it was in the form of a young lesbian, a filmmaker from GAY U.S.A. the Movie. While the visit was contrived, and the character expounded upon, the reality and the seriousness of the possible harm to young gays and lesbians cannot be overstated.
Last week as co-producer on the film, I helped Kristina Lapinski set up and pursue a counseling session at one of the two Bachmann clinics in Minnesota, where she played the part of a confused 24 year old lesbian who had just moved from California to Minnesota to marry her long time male friend, Jake, all to please her Christian parents.
Last year, Bachmann & Associates had been stung by a gay man from the group Truth Wins Out, (TWO) making national headlines because of its high profile ownership by Marcus Bachmann, husband of then presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, with the resulting confirmation of disreputable reparative therapy practices and the revelation that the clinic received federal funding via Medicaid.
The purpose of Gay U.S.A. the Movie’s action was to obtain footage for a documentary, which after two years, is now in its final shooting phase, with a planned release for September 2015. www.gayusathemovie.com
We planned the visit to the Bachmann clinic with precision and clarity, at first trying to get an appointment with Marcus Bachmann himself, only to learn that he is no longer taking new clients; possibly a respite after the TWO sting.
We researched online for another counselor in the Bachmann office, and were led by the mission statements of some 26 counselors, most describing practices with distinct biblical and Christian orientation. With time constraints our limitation, the process of elimination was determined by availability and the appointment was made with a counselor by the name of Sheila J. Marker.
With six years of experience , as can be seen from the website description on the Bachmann page, Sheila J. Marker is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, State & AAMFT Approved Supervisor, and received her MA in Professional Counseling, from Argosy University, Eagan, MN, specializing in, inter alia, Pre-Marital Counseling, Relational, Marriage, Family Issues, and Women’s Issues. Her mission statement reads:
“To come along side of those who are struggling to offer hope and encouragement that they can find healing and wholeness in their lives with therapy that is psychologically sound as well as consistent with Biblical principles. My commitment is to provide a supportive environment, maintaining high professional and ethical standards, where I partner with individuals in finding the path to the abundant life, filled with meaning, purpose and fulfillment.”
Kristina arrived for her 3:00 pm appointment on Thursday April 5, dressed in a likely blue jean jacket with a hidden pen camera languishing visibly from its pocket. Upon arriving at the center, she filled out a patient form, signed a HIPPA Statement, and paid $50.00 in cash, declining to have her medical insurance billed when given the opportunity by the receptionist.
While walking in, she filmed herself in the mirror as she passed through the reception area and entered the ladies room, where she checked her rig and sent me a text for the final prep talk, noting with trepidation that Ms. Marker was approaching from down the hall and looked like a nice lady.
“Keep in character, I asserted, on the phone, “that is all you have to do,” wondering all the while if I would have had the courage to do what Kristina was doing. “All you have to do is be who you are, tell your story and she will do the rest.”
That is exactly what happened; it was not difficult for Kristina to dissolve into character for the full 60 minute appointment and that is where she remained, simply becoming a version of herself with the added component of being confused by her sexuality and about to get married.
“It was easy to be me and imagine that this scenario, of being closeted and fearful of my sexuality could be true, as I have heard so many such stories through my filming,” noted Kristina, whose years belie her comfort as a lesbian.
But nothing prepared her for what was to come and, she notes, “Although I was able to intellectualize the experience, for a whole three hours after I left the office, I was nauseous. I thought that it could have been real for someone else and it made me want to throw up.”
After the appointment was over, I received another text from Kristina, and even though I had an idea about where this appointment could lead, nothing could have prepared me for that text:-
“We prayed the gay away!”
Then it hit me too, like a kick in the gut, as I imagined the worst for those really in this predicament. I thought, “How could these people get away with this – they are playing with fire, with the lives of our kids!”
Below is Kristina’s full verbal account of the session, and after I heard it, I was left thankful that we have an opportunity to expose this type of practice through this article and GAY U.S.A. the Movie:-
“I went into the session using a different last name. I didn’t want to give my real last name just in case they ‘googled’ me and found out I was a gay rights activist. I described my future husband as my best friend, my buddy. I told her about my desire to start a family and please society and my religious community.
I told her I had been with a woman, and found that to be true love. I made my uncertainty clear, that I had two options either to go through with the marriage or to refrain because I thought I was a lesbian.
She asked me if I had slept with my fiancé and I told her that I had not yet and that I was not attracted him. She said “how can you know how it will be until you try?”
She asked if I believed in God, and I answered, “yes.” She pulled out a bible, handed it to me and asked me to read a passage out loud. It was about love, and then she asked me to analyze it with her. We talked about love and commitment, and even though I have never been attracted to my fiancé, the commitment, she noted, was a form of love.
I communicated that we played sports together and were buddies, and that we had a lot in common. She then jokingly told me that it is better than what most straight married people had together.
She told me to follow God’s road. “The bible says one man one woman… two great halves come together….” and then spoke to some extent about a woman’s duty to keep the man company… I found that oddly sexist.
She then went on to convince me about what was right and never ever explored the option that I could possibly in fact be a lesbian. She told me the commitment part was important and the love part would grow over time.
She asked me if I could “pray for a miracle to happen and wake up in the morning and have it be true, what would I wish for?”
I said “money, success, a happy loving environment with friends and family.”
She was clearly implying that my miracle would be the getting rid of my “desire” which she referred to as ‘same sex attraction’- (notably what many on her side of the issue call SSA, as if it is a disorder.)
I told her I’d want my miracle to just be happiness and did not submit to the suggestion of my miracle being a cure for my “desire.” I refused to give in to that notion.
That led to her question – She asked “What is the worst that can happen if you do get married?”
I answered by saying, “well I would get a divorce, and it would be my fault because I was never really attracted to men to begin with.”
I expressed I wanted a family, but thought I might be too young, to which she replied, “a lot of people start much younger than you!” She really pushed for the pursuing of a relationship with my fiancé and starting a family.
Given this was not a real situation it made me wonder what if I had in fact been a real patient and all of this was actually my situation, surely the therapist ought to have told me not to get married if I had these kinds of doubts and thought I was gay?
She talked a lot about submitting to God, giving my life path over to him and letting him direct the way. She told me if I wanted to be happy I could “give my problems to the Lord and he could take them away.”
We ended the session with a prayer and Sheila J. Marker asked the lord to take away my “desire” and allow me to pursue a relationship with my fiancé.
What made this difficult for me to do was that I found her to be really nice, she was a beautiful woman and I really believed she meant no harm and simply did not know better, but then wondered if this type of practice made sense in the context of her University degree and training.
I found it interesting that I gave Ms. Marker my options – the option between being with women or being with a man. I had clearly expressed I did not have a sexual attraction to men. It was astounding to me that she pressed her personal political and religious opinion on me about which path to pursue, without even exploring my feelings of being a lesbian, which was given no consideration at all on that day of prayer, even though she invited me back to further the discussion.
I feel the need to expose this kind of practice because I really believe that if I was that character in real life and uncomfortable with my sexuality, this so called counseling could have been very harmful to me.”
Kristina returned to base and immediately downloaded the footage, which will not be revealed until we decide what to include in the documentary. The experience left Kristina reeling for a day, and even impacted me remembering my own confusion and vulnerability at the early stages of my coming out.
The danger in this so called therapy or counseling was the injection of conforming ideas of family and marriage as being absolute, which together with the hope of a “miracle” through prayer, could ultimately result in dangerous paths and consequences for people who are truly struggling with acceptance of their sexuality.
Please view the GAY U.S.A. the Movie promo; and there are many ways you can help by contributing to GAY U.S.A. the Movie, please visit www.indiegogo.com/gayusathemovie
Article by Melanie Nathan, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Twitter MelanieNathan1
Photos from video by Kristina Lapinski
Photos and Article Copyright owned by GAY U.S.A. the Movie, © 2012, All Rights Reserved
UPDATED ; ARPIL 12, 2012:- Please note that GAY USA site is having a problem loading comments. We are in processing of fixing the problem. You will notice the amount of comments indicated does not correspond with the amount that are up. We have tried to compensate for the problem by publishing comments hereunder – especially those that did not make it onto comment section. Please be patient until we have the problem fixed. UPDATED 4/14/2012 – The problem was fixed on 4/14/2012 and comments should now appear in the correct order in comment section.
See this story picked up by Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/michele-and-marcus-bachmann-ex-gay-clinic_n_1420752.html?ref=gay-voices
See this story picked up by The Advocate at www.advocate.com/Politics/Marcus_Bachmann_Clinics_Caught_Again/