When Daniel Gonzales told his mother Carol that he was gay and wanted to become straight, Carol was heartbroken.
Not because he was gay, but because he was unhappy about being gay.
But Carol supported Daniel’s choice anyway…. And after two years of ineffective counseling by the nation’s most notorious “reparative” therapist, Carol provided Daniel with some of the first support that he needed to start being authentic.
By 2005, Daniel evolved into an early national activist for conversion therapy survivors, producing blog articles, protests, and very personal videos like this one, reflecting on how even the “best” conversion therapy damaged his faith and his relationships:
While Daniel spoke out against “gay conversion” programs, Carol would typically be the first person that he contacted after a successful public action. And she would aid with undercover research into the activities of suspect counselors — gleefully reporting back with the information that she gained from the counselor about their damaging tactics against families.
In 2011, Carol and Daniel appeared, with some hesitation, in a BBC TV documentary seen by millions worldwide.
Scroll to 46 minutes into the BBC program.
They shared deeply about the painful difficulties that the therapy inflicted upon the family.
The resulting flood of supportive emails for Carol and Daniel were, he says, “a defining point in my relationship with my mother. She very easily could have said no, this shared moment from our past is just too painful. But instead she chose to stand up with me in a bold and impactful way. And now, as I look back on it, this interview was just a continuation of what she had always shown me: unwavering support and love along my whole journey.”
The truth that Carol and Daniel shared with the world brought lasting criticism to the harmful and deceitful practice of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a founder of the modern conversion therapy movement and coincided with the collapse of Exodus International, then the world’s largest network of religious conversion therapy providers.
Carol died in June of this year after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Daniel later shared a touching eulogy for his mother on YouTube.
This week, on this occasion of Thanksgiving, we pause for a moment to thank Carol Ann Gonzales for her parental love, her courage, her spiritual integrity, and her inspiration to families everywhere.