Last week, CT Survivors Connect was awarded the June grant from Awesome Kingston. The $1,000 micro-grant supports local projects the Awesome Kingston trustees think will help keep Kingston awesome.
CT Survivors Connect is a support group/service for conversion therapy (CT) survivors. Ben Rodgers, himself a survivor of conversion therapy, created this group to provide much needed services and create a community full of resources for those who need them.
“Although the Province of Ontario created a ban on CT through Bill 77, no real change was made,” Rodgers said. “No services were created to help those who, like myself, had no one to turn to to deal with what I had been through, or even to affirm what had happened to me.”
Rodgers shared his story and has spoken in front of municipalities and federal legislation. He made the decision to create something that was desperately needed: a support group/service, for those who have gone through, are going through, or need help dealing with conversion therapy.
“When I was 19, I endured the torturous practice of conversion ‘therapy,’ through a church known as Third Day Worship Centre in Kingston, Ontario. This affected my life in many negative ways, but last year I was given an opportunity,” he shared with Kingstonist. “I was given the chance to finally speak up against this horrible place and the disgusting actions they committed against me. Through that strength, I was able to heal and realized that there is a lot of work to be done.”
He founded Conversion Therapy Survivors Connect to offer a safe and supportive space for survivors to come together and connect with other survivors, and to develop and direct people to services and resources for support.
Rodgers hopes to create both an online and in-person support network, once public health restrictions allow. By making local connections with various agencies like AMHS-KFLA, HARS, No Conversion Canada, CRBC, and others, CT Survivors Connect will be able to support people where they need it most.
“Currently, in Canada, there are over 50,000 members of the LGBTQ2S+ community who have gone through or experienced CT in some form,” Rodgers said. “This group is a small step in the direction of creating strong and accessible supports for conversion therapy survivors.”
The project is nearly ready to begin its initial start-up, which will consist of virtual meetings via Zoom, starting with one meeting per month. Rodgers plans to increase the number of meetings as necessary to accommodate the group as it grows. He is hopeful the first meetings could be as early as August 2021.
As far as the Awesome Kingston grant money goes, Rogers said it will be used for initial startup costs, such as a website, Zoom account, graphic design and print work. Other uses will be the cost of meeting spaces, the Not for Profit process fee, advertising and social media costs, and any other base developmental costs.
“I am so thankful for the Awesome Foundation and this microgrant,” Rodgers expressed. “It is just a starting point, though. As I have learned through this project, there is a lot of work to do, and more to be done. I have succeeded at achieving this grant and now I have some finances to get the basics of a support group off the ground. I have decided that, after months of conversations with other survivors and supporters, I realize more is greatly needed. I have decided to take on a goal of $14,000, through a GofundMe, to be able to turn this group into the first ever Canadian Support Service for CT Survivors.”
Visit the CT Survivors Connect GoFundMe page to make a donation. Rodgers is also looking for other options to support his group and any members who choose to join in. As the group grows, and he can see what supports are needed, he is hopeful he will find those resources in the local community and beyond.
“Please feel free to reach out if you are in need of support, or if you are a professional that may be willing/able to offer some extra support,” he said.
Read Rodgers’ pitch for the Awesome Kingston grant, and contact the CT Survivors group directly at [email protected]. A website is in the works at www.ctsurvivorsconnect.ca, and the group is on both Facebook and Twitter.