On last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the poignant moment of the week came courtesy of New York-based queen Dusty Ray Bottoms revealing his heartbreaking history of dealing with an unaccepting family. After Blair St. Claire commented that his conservative and religious family has been very accepting of his drag career, Bottoms opened up that his family hasn’t really approved of his sexuality or his drag career and actually tried sending him to conversion therapy when they found out he was gay.
“Me and my family don’t really talk anymore. My family doesn’t even know that I am here,” Dusty Ray Bottoms said. “When I came out to my family, the night before it happened I was literally at my breaking point. I was at my lowest low with everything. I literally called out to God and asked for a change in my life. I needed something to happen and for something to be different for me.”
Bottoms explained that the next day, after praying, his parents forced him out of the closet. The 29-year-old queen says, “My mom knocked on my door and says, ‘Your dad just found something on your computer.’ They lost it. They took me to church. They got me exorcised because they thought I was possessed by a gay demon.”
Holding back tears during his confessional, Bottoms explains that he had a “prayer warrior” standing in front of him, with his parents behind him, and that he had to list every person he ever had a sexual encounter with.
“I was so confused after the whole thing went down, because, well, was I straight now?” Bottoms says. “I had to go through therapy. I was on a track to go to straight camp.”
“I was meeting with this pastor who said in a homosexual relationship you will never find success. … You will never find love,” he says. “I stopped him and I went upstairs and I packed my car and said I couldn’t do this anymore. It was the most humiliating, awful thing of my life, ever.”
Bottoms’ story is actually more common in the United States than you may think. Despite widespread opposition from medical and mental health organizations, tens of thousands of LGBTQ youth in the United States will be subjected to anti-gay conversion therapy during their lifetime, a 2018 report estimates.
Released earlier this year by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, they estimated that 698,000 LGBTQ Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 have undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives. About 350,000 of those received that treatment as adolescents.
The report also estimates that 20,000 LGBTQ youths currently between the ages of 13 and 17 will be subjected to conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they turn 18. An additional 57,000 will be subjected to the controversial practice from a religious or spiritual adviser before age 18.
Bottoms shares that everything has gotten better over time. He’s now engaged (to quite the cutie, we must add), and has since fully accepted his own sexuality.
“I didn’t have to compromise or change for someone’s small minded view. But it was a journey,” he said on last night’s episode. “I still believe in God because I cried out and I was heard. My whole life is different because of that day.”
— The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject) April 6, 2018
Hopefully his family comes around. For now, Dusty Ray Bottoms is turning his harrowing experience into some good. He shared a campaign with The Trevor Project, asking for people to donate to the LGBTQ nonprofit to help fund the work they do trying to end conversion therapy and help LGBTQ youth.
What do you think of Dusty Ray Bottoms’ story? Has something like this happened to you? Tell us if you’ve had an experience similar in the comments below and on Facebook.
Featured image by Curtis Brown Photography