Andrew Beckwith found out on a Friday that a bill denying minors help from licensed mental health professionals for unwanted homosexuality or transgenderism would be up for a joint committee hearing in the Massachusetts Legislature the next Tuesday.

Knowing that such a bill threatened free speech, religious freedom and parental rights – as well as the right of minors to work with a counselor toward their own goals – Beckwith and his staff at the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) went to work. Within five days, MFI had more than 20 people prepared to testify against the bill.

Ken Williams was one of those who told his story, coming from California to explain how counseling with a licensed therapist saved his life:

I was exposed to gay porn real early, touched by boys in my neighborhood, and when my sexual desires emerged, they were only for males. …

By age 17 I was emotionally unstable, and walked out of a Christian bookstore suicidal, because there was not one resource there that offered any help. Finally, I broke down and told my parents about my homosexuality, and they helped me find a therapist, who helped me explore the changes that I personally wanted. And he kept me alive.

Williams’ story – and those of other men and women who walked away from homosexuality and transgenderism – sparked a passionate response from Representative Jack Lewis, a gay-identified legislator. Lewis said that “with kids in the room that are hearing what you’re saying, it’s hard to be quiet.”

Lewis said he was hurt and offended that several of those who testified mentioned early childhood sexual encounters, such as molestation and exposure to pornography, as contributing factors in their sexual and identity struggles. He said,

Because LGBT folks are not child molesters. We are not created by the indecent choice of another person. Sexual assault is not something to talk about so freely and flippantly. And I take offense, to be honest, with the idea that people are gay because their genitals were touched at a point in their life that wasn’t of their choosing.

Williams answered back,

I appreciate the sensitivity here. I certainly know what it’s like to be mocked, ridiculed, all of that. We love gay people. We love LGBTQ people. We’re advocating that there should be rights for people to determine whatever path they’d like to take. What doesn’t feel fair is to remove from the table the potential to move from gay back to straight if that’s what the person would like to pursue.

You know, in the nicest possible way, it felt like you were just saying to me that I shouldn’t have a right to share my own story. I would not suggest what someone else should be. I’m trying to protect a people group that now is having rights taken away from them, to get professional help.

MFI uploaded the exchange on their YouTube channel. The group promises to post more of the moving and powerful testimonies from those who walked away from sexual identity confusion and homosexuality, including two survivors from the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Luis Ruiz and Angel Colon. While the bill continues to move forward in the Massachusetts legislature, Beckwith and MFI are not giving up the fight.

Massachusetts Family Institute is just one of forty Family Policy Councils affiliated with Focus on the Family. The group works to promote policies that strengthen families, promote parents’ rights, protect religious freedom and preserve life – from conception to death. For those in Massachusetts with similar values looking to engage culture and policy on these key issues, connecting with Andrew Beckwith and MFI would be a good place to start.