Ever since RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10, when they shared their heartbreaking story of surviving conversion therapy, Dusty Ray Bottoms has been one of the most outspoken critics of the harmful practice.
Now Dusty Ray — whose real name is Dustin Rayburn — is one of the five survivors sharing their stories in an emotional new documentary, Conversion, which recently received the Trailblazer Award from the Portland Film Festival, and had its East Coast premiere in New York this week.
As Logo previously reported, conversion therapy is estimated to affect some 700,000 LGBTQ youth in the United States alone. The debunked practice is proven to have devastating repercussions for survivors, including increased risks of depression, PTSD, and death by suicide.
Conversion director Zach Meiners tells Logo how his own experience with the practice was the genesis of the heartbreaking new documentary:
“When I found out that the conversion therapist from my childhood was still actively practicing in my hometown, I was shocked. Conversion therapy nearly destroyed my life, and I knew I had to do something to stop it from happening to other people," recalls Meiners. "I set out to create what I thought would be a 5-minute PSA against this universally discredited practice. But as more survivors began sharing their stories, it quickly evolved into a full-length documentary."
Since sharing their story on Drag Race, Rayburn reveals to Logo how they "received so much support," and did multiple interviews where they recounted their conversion therapy experience — but it wasn't until speaking with Meiners that Rayburn felt he could be truly open about their story:
"I went in for a 15-minute interview with Zach, and we talked for an hour and a half. It was the first time that I was sharing my experience with another person who had also gone through it and could relate to what I was saying," says Rayburn. "And because I was given that time and that space to really explain my experience, I felt like I was able to share my full truth and explain things that people hadn't really gotten to hear before.”
In an exclusive new clip from Conversion, Rayburn gets emotional saying how drag is "a protest" against how they were raised, and why their "very queer" chosen family is so important to them.
“I am so proud of Conversion because it goes beyond just an awareness of the topic. You get to hear from survivors, real licensed experts, and activists. This film amplifies the voices of survivors," Rayburn tells Logo. "But it isn't only about what happened to us, it's about how we can stop it from happening to other people. I truly believe that seeing this documentary will save people from entering or being put into conversion 'therapy.'”
Watch the exclusive clip from Conversion below, and head over to the film's website to learn more about upcoming screenings and availability.
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