A survivor of conversion therapy, Justin Utley still bears the Scars
Justin Utley’s third studio album is called Scars, and he’s now released a video for the title track.
We caught up with Utley for a behind-the-scenes look at the music.
Was there a therapeutic element to working on this album?
It definitely helped me use the frustration and hurt I’ve experienced and the causalities caused by conversion therapy into something useful. It is its own therapy in a way. Really, there came a point in my life where I needed to either pull the plug on life, or the therapy and all the ‘logic’ behind it. I’m lucky I chose the latter of the two.
Is there growing support in the US for banning conversion therapy?
The support for the ban on conversion therapy is certainly growing, and is usually met with a disbelief that the practice is even still happening. But, that’s the most alarming thing to me, is that it has been re-branded, repackaged, and sold as something else – from support groups to retreats – some in an almost secret fraternal order or rite-of-passage process, and that it’s gone unnoticed for this long.
Do you ever think about how life would be different for you if you hadn’t been subjected to conversion therapy?
Everyday. Its not something easily gotten over if you’ve bought into it like I had. It was presented as the only option to me, along with using all too familiar religion-based fear tactics that if I didn’t do exactly as I was instructed, I would lose the chance to be with my family in the afterlife. The medications I was put on for supposed PTSD from the sexual trauma I experienced as a child – which I hadn’t – have lasting repercussions.
How do you hope that people feel when listening to your music?
That even if you can’t see a silver lining, you can still always make one.
Main image: Photo by Ryan Bakerink