The LGBT community in this part of the world is still a long way from being completely accepted by society at large – owing mostly to the staunch and stubborn belief in the ‘traditional’ way of life that most people in Asia still cling to.
This is a reality that prominent Malaysian activist Pang Khee Teik knows only too well. Pang has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights for years and writes regularly for Queer platform Queer Lapis about issues surrounding the LGBT community in Malaysia and abroad.
This time, he took to Facebook to share his experience with the Church as a young gay man. Prefacing his long post, Pang says “All these years, when I talked about my 12 years as a Christian trying to go straight, I have always framed it as, oh, I didn’t have it as bad as others…But yesterday, I was invited to speak with a small group of Christian leaders from different continents who are forming guidelines for the Anglican denomination. Yesterday, for the first time, I acknowledged the pain and trauma of my conversion therapy experience.”
Pang went on to talk about becoming a Christian while studying in Singapore, only 14 at the time. He mentioned the shame of being gay and the isolation and loneliness that came with that. He was told that God could heal him.
The Church offered him hope, he says. “When I was 18, I read in the papers about a Christian ministry in Singapore that was for helping people like me, to recover from our sexual brokenness, as they put it. I met them and I was so euphoric that finally I had some hope — to be healed, be straight, be normal.” He continued, “But at these meetings, I was told I’m gay because I’m incomplete”.
Pang continued this heart-wrenching account about the trauma of conversion therapy by the Church and effect that had on his relationships and own self-worth.
After 12 years, Pang eventually decided to leave the Church and undertake the long journey of recovery. “It was the church who made me incomplete. But when I finally found my voice and could tell my story I realise, it was my story that made me whole,” he wrote.