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Press Releases :: 05/29/08

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Albany, New York -- 05/29/08

ALBANY, NY –  Lesbian journalist Lyn Duff, who has spoken out on leading network news programs about oppression based on sexual orientation, will appear at the New York State Museum on June 5 to talk about her own experiences being forced to undergo sexual conversion therapy as a teenager.

“Sexual Conversion Therapy: One Person’s Ordeal, The Story of Lyn Duff” will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Huxley Theater, in conjunction with the national and local observance of June as National Gay Pride Month. Duff will talk about the therapy she was forced to undergo to try to change her sexual orientation when she “came out” as a lesbian at the age of 14. Among other things, she says she was subjected to hypnosis, psychotropic drugs, solitary confinement, and therapeutic messages, linking lesbian sex with “the pits of hell.” Duff contends that teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered are still vulnerable to such treatment today.

Duff most recently worked as a journalist with the Pacific News Service with postings in Haiti, Israel, Croatia, several African countries and Vietnam. She also was one of the few non-embedded Western journalists on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan.

Her journalism career began in 1989 when she founded an underground school newspaper when she was in 8th grade. She was accepted as an early entrance student to California State University, which she attended for a year and a half. After publicly stating that she was a lesbian in 1991 Duff says her mother became concerned and had her transported against her will to a Utah psychiatric center, which now operates as a youth center. She says that although the center was not officially affiliated with the Mormon church, it had strong religious overtones, and missionaries from the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) visited her while she was there. She was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder and depression and given a regimen of what was considered to be reparative therapy. She escaped from the center and traveled to San Francisco where she lived on the streets and in safe houses for a time. In late 1992 she “divorced” her parents, an issue that gained national attention when reporters revealed that Hillary Clinton had completed her master’s thesis on the legal right of children to divorce their parents.

Duff eventually became a licensed clinical social worker. From 1992 through 1998, she was an outspoken critic of the mental health system, appearing on CNN and ABC’s 20/20. During this time she also wrote a weekly column for the San Francisco Examiner and her writing also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, Seventeen magazine, Salon online and the National Catholic Reporter.

              The State Museum is also sponsoring “Family Diversity Day” on Saturday, June 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free program, celebrating the diversity of family life and the communities everyone shares, will feature tours, storytelling, crafts and other activities. A complete listing of all of the Gay Pride events throughout the Capital District and beyond is available at

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department.  Started in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the United States. The state museum is located on Madison Avenue in Albany. It is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.  Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at

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