Fighting for LGBTQ Youth in All 50 States

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Sam shares his personal story and why the 50 Bills 50 States campaign is so important for the LGBTQ youth community.

2/21/19 #2203






"We're pleased to welcome Sam Brinton who is head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. Good to see you, Sam. Thank you for having me. Describe the Trevor Project? Ah, The Trevor Project. So we are the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth. So, commonly called LGBTQ youth. We operate a lifeline that offers 24/7, so that when youth are in crisis, or... or feeling alone, they can have someone to talk to. How did you get into this? I am a nuclear physicist by training, went to MIT, did nuclear physics, was disarming nuclear bombs for a living. And by night, I worked as an advocate for LGBTQ youth. I was trying to stop the horrible practice of conversion therapy, which I had been through as a youth, and I got the call from Trevor. "Hey, want to switch it up?" And I did. I got to move over and get to work on LGBTQ issues full time, which is the dream. Getting to... getting to come into an organization that I called as a kid, and actually save more lives, is just truly wonderful. You know, the term conversion therapy is thrown around a lot. It is. Boy Erased gets a lot of attention. We're doing this at the end of 2018 and it'll be seen after that. Yeah. Describe for folks who may not understand what it means. Yeah. So, conversion therapy can cover a lot of different things. Describe your experience. Sure. My experience was... got into what it's called aversion therapy. So, aversion therapy tries to make you have a negative feeling or a negative reaction to an image or a thought, so that you won't do that again. So, kind of like remember when people were trying to quit smoking? They would snap rubber bands on their wrists. And that little bit of pain would be like, "Oh I don't want to smoke." Mine was that, but just a million times worse. I was tied to a table with ice placed on my hands while images of men holding hands would be shown, then wires were wrapped around my hands and heat would be turned on when images of men touching men were shown and turned off when images of men touching women were shown. And finally, it moved all the way up in through electroshock. So pornography played while I was shocked with electricity, trying to turn me into a straight person. You couldn't get out? I couldn't. I was a... an 11 year old child. There's... there's so..."